Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I've just spent a few hours researching old singer machines and tracking down the dates of the serial numbers of our latest machines. This site is good; the pdf links on the right contain the models as well as the dates, so I was able to identify a couple of unmarked machines in our collection. I'm going to have to make a file card for each machine so I remember what it is and where we got it.

As soon as I bring a machine home I give it a good oiling, replace the needle and clean off the dirt. Some of these machines are filthy when we get them. At an antique shop last week Mereth dredged a 99k out from a sea of disgusting debris, and the dealer was so appalled at it's appearance that she got it for $10. It's covered in spider webs and bodies, plus pet hair and years worth of dirt. I'm going to have to be brave to tackle that one. The domed cover will clean up well though, so it was worth it for that alone.

Just to be safe, I always use a ShockSafe powerboard to plug these old machines in; their wiring can be a bit erratic, and I don't want them blowing fuses or worse.

Once the machine is clean I tweak the stitching until it's sewing nicely, then go through my collection of feet from lots of different machines, trying to find one that is a perfect 1/4" seam. I bought a 1/4" foot for my Featherweight here, and that has proved just right for several of the 99k machines. If I can't find a foot that's perfect, I have lots of these seam guides, so there can be one for each machine if I want.

I also acquired this beauty of a 201K, in a very sturdy table. She must have been well looked after, because she sewed the most perfect stitch without me having to change a thing. I can't wait to sew some piecework on her. The feed dogs drop down too, so I could free-motion quilt on this if I wanted. We're lucky that only one machine, the $10 99k, has refused to sew; all the others have been coaxed into producing impeccable 1/4" seams. The old Singers are fantastic machines.

What are we going to do with all these machines? Some of our beginner patchwork students don't own a sewing machine, so they can borrow one of ours to use while they learn. If they decide they don't like machine sewing they haven't gone to all the expense of buying a machine they won't use. And meanwhile Mereth and I have 18 machines to choose from when it comes time to piece our own quilts.

And just to prove that I still do piece, my Jacks On Six top is almost finished. It needs one final border at the bottom, but because the material was cut crookedly in the shop I couldn't get the required number of strips from it. So it means yet another trip back to the quilt shop, but that's no hardship. We are planning an excursion with friends, so I'll just wait patiently for this one to be completed.


Cornfield Quilter 12:15 PM  

What wonderful machines you have salvaged for future use. I have an old treadle machine that I wish I could coax my husband into fixing up for me. :D Your Jacks on Six top is awesome also!

Chookyblue...... 1:28 PM  

wow love your stories about your old machines........

I have 2 old is a treadle and the one electric........must take pics and pull them out and see if they work ok.....
both are from dh's heirlooms......

the quilt top looks good...........

julieQ 5:08 PM  

Love your old machines, and your new quilt tops! How many machines do you have?

woolywoman 9:45 PM  

Oh, I LOVE my 201 for free motion quilting. I have a nice 301 that I piece on as well. ( ANd, erm, a few other machines a s well...)

Helen in the UK 9:13 AM  

Another beautiful quilt. I have a Singer 99K handcrank .... reminds me I think it's time to use it for some piecing again :)

meggie 11:47 PM  

I love reading about your old Singers. I bought one at a garage sale for $5, gave it to a lovely neighbour. It is a nice machine. I have my Grandmother's old Treadle, 1915. I also have 3 modern machines, so space is an issue!

Henrietta 3:52 AM  

Another trick that works well on the oldies is to use a strip of magnetic material, like you use to keep your place in cross stitch, as a seam guide. You can often peel them off the back of broken refrigerator magnets etc. Do NOT use them on modern computerised machines.

The feed dogs are different so don't waste your money on a walking foot for a modern machine. Featherweight ones work.

Never use anything with ammonia in it to clean, it will destroy your decals. Always test with a Q-tip in an inconspicuous area.

I see the virus is spreading! Seriously these oldies are unbeatable for quality of straight stitch. I use my 33 Singer 15 exclusively to piece and it does great darning on ripped shirts and jeans too.

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