Tuesday, March 01, 2016

My favourite sewing machine

I've just realized that I acquired this machine almost 2 years ago, not just last year as I'd thought.

Anyway, I put a post on Facebook about it at the time, but now I figure I might as well include it here, since I've already put up some stuff on the treadle machine.

This is my favourite, bestest machine, partly because it's so good, and partly because of how I got it. I went to an auction out in Osnabruck Center in June 2014. It wasn't an auction held at a farm, which is what I enjoy most, but it was at an auction hall. I went there because there was a nice Victorian rocking chair that looked very similar to one we'd had in my mother's house. I got the chair, but I stayed to the end of the auction just for the fun of it.

By the end of a country auction, usually the best stuff has already sold, and much of the crowd has left, but you do find odds and ends that can be useful. This little sewing machine cabinet came up, and nobody wanted to bid on it. I'd just peeked under the lid to see there was a Singer machine there, but nothing more. As it was clear that no one wanted this machine, I felt pity for it, knowing that it would probably end up thrown into a mass lot of junk at the end and would probably end up going to the scrap metal dealers, so I bid $1.00 and got it on the spot.

I stuffed it into the van with the rocking chair and a few other things I'd picked up and headed home. The next day I pulled it out and took a closer look at it. Althought the cabinet was scratched on top and the wood had been sunned, it was in pretty good shape. The machine, too, looked nice, with no broken or missing parts. It had a serial number and model number: 201K.
When I went online to see what I could find out about it, I was stunned to read that the 201 was Singer's absolutely top-of-the-line home sewing machine from the time it was introduced, in 1928, until it was discontinued in 1963. (The "K" in the model number means that it was built in Kilbowie, Scotland.) This machine came close to industrial quality, and when it first came out it cost the equivalent of a car today! Singer pioneered the monthly payment system for this machine, so people could buy it and earn money doing home tailoring while paying it off.

My machine is a later model, from about 1956, I think. They'd modernized the design somewhat in the late 1950s, and introduced the beige colour, in addition to the original black. Also, it was no longer made entirely of iron, it had some aluminum in it, but it's still very heavy.

It was in great shape, I plugged it in and the motor just roared. Since I'd gotten it for so little, I decided to take it to the Sewing Machine Hospital to get it professionally cleaned and tuned up. So now it runs like a champion, and I've sewn a good number of garments on it already. It only does straight stitch, and I have another machine to do zigzag if I need it, but honestly, I just prefer using this one for everything, it's so enjoyable to operate.



Blogger Tina said...

I am enjoying your sewing machine posts. A dear friend who collected machines passed away some months ago, and it is lovely to hear someone delight in them again. :-)

Both of my grandmothers sewed for us, and one of them continued to make dresses for me until she passed away. My other grandmother had a machine the color of this one... she loved pink (even close approximations thereof LOL)! :-)

My own machine is the last one my great grandmother owned - a simple zig zag machine, that is in her old treadle cabinet. I have the head for the treadle too, but somehow the treadle itself has gone missing so one day I will need to replace it.

I rarely sew. I can, but I lack the attention span and patience. My sister sews as well as or better than, if possible, our grandmothers did.


6:43 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

My Auntie May used to sew clothes for my sister and me when we were kids. I even managed to save some cloth scraps from those early dresses, and incorporated them into a few of my quilts! I think hers was a Singer Featherweight - it was very small and black, with a fancy silver design on the front plate. I never thought I'd get so interested in sewing machines, but there's something about the early ones that's just very attractive. They were built to be beautiful, not just functional. Like cars - with attention to style and decoration. I'm embarrassed to admit that I have 6 sewing machines now, and I bought one with no real intention of ever using it, but just because it was so beautiful! I've got to stop getting them, because they are a bit too bulky to really "collect". The treadle is something that I've been wanting for a long time, though, and I couldn't pass it up when I saw it.

10:21 pm  
Blogger Tina said...

The thing to remember is that these are not only no longer made to work forever, but those that exist are being cannibalized for parts or melted down for scrap, so every machine you save is a gift to the future. Somewhere down the line, someone will bless you for saving them :-)

Sewing machines and table-top printing presses really "made" the modern world in so many ways. Before them, every garment had to be sewn with a hand needle. These machines truly allowed a middle class to develop, in enabling one-person in-home manufacturing to expand exponentially.

I use my little portable printing press to do Living History & Art demonstrations... the same press is effective for periods from the 1850s through the 1940s. People - especially boys and men - LOVE to see the mechanics in action. For little boys to discover that copies can be made without the hidden magic of computer printers, really opens their natural inventiveness and there is no telling where it might lead. You could do the same with your sewing machines if you ever get bored and want a new hobby LOL

BTW, on my blog list, your Blog is displaying with a post titled "You're Fired!" and has been for two days. Not sure if it is just Blogger's cache updates out of whack (the rest of my sidebar is updating properly) or if something is "stuck" behind the scenes here, but thought you might want to know. :-)

12:22 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

I was fascinated with the printing process when I was a kid. Even now, there are certain fonts that I just have to see and can flashback to my childhood. I can never resist looking at old elementary school textbooks when I'm at an auction, because I can almost imagine I can remember reading them when young. I might not have, but I recognize the font from the books I grew up with.

As for the blog post, I think I posted something under that title, but the YouTube video I was linking to was taken down, so I deleted it, since it didn't make sense anymore. I guess it still registers as a posting - it'll be replaced as soon as something new goes up.

1:33 pm  
Anonymous iReviewable said...

http://ireviewable.com/janome-712t-treadle-sewing-machine-free-bonus-package-review/ may also be helpful here.

9:01 am  

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