Tips And Tools Tuesday – A Vintage Machine, Some Elbow Grease, and Some Oil

I didn’t set out to be a collector of sewing machines. It just happened.

For 35 years I had one sewing machine. A Singer that my husband bought for me the first year we were married.

This machine runs beautifully and it has never given me any trouble. I have, however, worn down the disc inside that changes it from sewing a straight seam to a zig-zag seam. It has worn slightly down so that it no longer has a perfectly straight seam. There is an, ever so slight, zig-zag. I took it apart and that’s when I discovered the worn disc. I’ve searched for that part online, to no avail.  I still use it. Not for piecing a quilt, because that slight wobble takes up a smidge of fabric and throws off the seam allowance. But it still sews home decorating items and clothing beautifully!

Not too long after discovering the “wobble” to the straight stitch on my beloved machine, my precious mother-in-law gave me her old sewing machine. Guess what it does. Only straight stitch!  Problem solved!

This machine is old, but, it’s heavy and very well made. It is so quiet and smooth when it stitches. I love it. I keep it set up at my sewing station and do most of my piecing on it.

About a year later, one of my awesome sons-in-law, said they’d been cleaning out his grandparents storage shed and found his Maw Maw’s old machine. He asked if I’d like to have it. Sure! I really didn’t need another machine, but, I always liked his grandmother and would love to have something that belonged to her.

They couldn’t find a peddle or power cord, just the machine. I ordered a power cord/ peddle for it and it works great! I didn’t use it much until I wanted to learn to make rope bowls. I tried my trusty first sewing machine. it did NOT like to sew such thickness! I couldn’t use “Mom’s”, because it was only straight stitch. I noticed that this one had an adjustable presser foot so I thought I’d give it a try. Bingo! It worked great! I’ve made several bowls and even took it to a sewing class for others to make bowls on.

Then, I decided to go into business designing and selling quilt patterns. I needed a machine that could sew straight lines and would be easy to quilt with, too. I bought this Brother for that purpose. It does everything for quilting that I needed it to. I love using it!

Next, my mom gave me my grandmother’s old machine. WOW! Beyond cool!

I originally had it set up at my sewing station because it sews such a beautiful seam. I really liked sewing with it, except for the fact that there is no reverse. That was a bit of a nuisance. Then the belt broke, so I’ve retired it to the display area of my sewing room until I remember to order another belt.

Which brings me to the latest addition to my growing group of sewing machines. Ta dah!

A 450-mile-long yard sale happens every May and runs right through our town. A dear friend had a booth in her yard and several other people set up in their yard as well. She called and said a lady in her yard had a sewing machine for sale and asked if I was interested. She sent me pictures. I certainly didn’t NEED another one, but this was vintage AND unique AND in a cabinet! I jumped in the car and ran down to check it out. She wanted $40.00 for it. I noticed that the belt was missing and mentioned it to her. She said she’d take $30.00 for it because it was so heavy and she didn’t want to take it back home. SOLD! The cabinet is so heavy because it is REAL wood, not compressed particle board. And, the machine is a semi-industrial model so it’s parts are metal, not plastic, And it folds down into the cabinet when not in use. Awesome!

It was grimy, so I cleaned it well. I ordered a belt and put it on. It kind of creeeeeeeaked when it started to sew and was rather noisy. I oiled it really, really well, sewed a little to work it in and let it set over night. Next morning, the stitching was as quiet as you please. $30.00 well spent!

So, what could my “Tuesday Tip” possibly be?

If a sewing machine falls into your lap, keep it. If you are offered one, take it. If you can buy a good, used one cheap, buy it.

Each of my machines has it’s strengths and weaknesses. No matter what type of project I decide to try, one of my machines can and does handle it. And, if one ever needs to go in the shop, the wheels won’t fall off of my sewing plans bus! There is a back-up to my back-up to my back-up, etc.That’s a very good thing!

Today is a good day to be on the lookout for a good deal on an extra sewing machine.

Happy creating!


4 thoughts on “Tips And Tools Tuesday – A Vintage Machine, Some Elbow Grease, and Some Oil

  1. Charlene Kennett says:

    I too have that “acquired” collection of sewing machines. I have my grandmother’s treadle Singer , that I learned to sew on. The first electric machine I purchased when I first started working back in 1962.

    In 1971 I purchased a new Singer with built in stitches. I used it til I just wore it out 6 years ago. I finally found a repairman to work on it in Chattanooga at the Bernina store. He was unable to order new parts & talked me into buying a new Bernini that was on sale at half price. I had a backup I was using so left the Bernina in the box. About a year later he was able to rob a part to fix my Singer from another machine. My repair bill was $65. I have been using that old Singer til this day. The new Beenina is still in the box … be 5 years old in Dec. I have 13 other machines.

    Just purchased two vintage Singers in curved wooden carrying case. One is a 1939 model and other is 1951. They both sew well. Need a little TLC. Yes…. I’m a hoarder 😊

    • lookoutmountainquilter says:

      Oh, my, you do have quite the collection! That’s wonderful! It’s not hoarding if they are useful and still work. Right? 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  2. Dora says:

    Those 301’s are the greatest. So fast and with beautiful stitches. I won’t even go into how many vintage machines I have… They were truly built to last.

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