Thursday, July 17, 2014

I Joined the Club

Well, I know I always said I probably would never join the vintage sewing machine club many of you belong to because I already have several working sewing machines and so why on earth should I buy another? I just do not have the room to collect sewing machines. Yesterday, however,  that silly idea went flying out the window. 


Of COURSE I need a vintage sewing machine . . . . Who doesn't?



I always imagined that if I ever did cave I would splurge on a Featherweight first so I could join THAT exclusive club (Featherweights are smaller, lighter and much more collectible and quilters everywhere adore them, in case you're wondering. Plus, they're just so darn cute and sew like a dream, I hear.). But so many Featherweights that I have seen smell really bad and I was always afraid to take the chance. Okay, so the one you see here is not a Featherweight, but I still kinda like it. 


This little baby practically fell from the sky when I wasn't looking and just landed in my lap. I'm almost embarrassed to tell you how little I paid for it but it was next to nothing, so I told myself to go for it.  I couldn't carry it home myself because it's in a cabinet (a very, very beat up cabinet, I might add. It's no wonder no one opened it to look inside!). My husband offered to pick it up after work and when he went over to where I saw it in the afternoon the guy asked him if he wanted to make use of  the Senior discount  : )  He was not offended at all and just for having a little gray hair was given 20% off the already ridiculously low price,  LOL. Such a deal!



So my question to all of you vintage Singer collectors is - do I keep it? It seems to run smoothly but there is no foot pedal, although it's electric. Does this mean it's a hand crank too? There is no manual but now that I know the model number I will look online for one. Can I take it out of the cabinet and use it alone? Should I clean it? I once met a woman who damaged the scrollwork by cleaning hers so I didn't want to take that chance and just wiped it off with a cloth. It has some scratches but it looks good. Should I try to restore the cabinet? It's in pretty bad shape and I'm not fond of the style. Paint it, perhaps? It would have been much more fun to find one of those treadle cabinets like my mother had when I was really young. I love those.



Here's what I know: It's a Singer model 66 machine (thanks, Carol!). The Centennial edition, made in 1950 in NJ but labeled with a blue badge commemorating the 100th anniversary of the company in 1951. Thousands were probably made during this time so perhaps these are a dime a dozen and not anything special? I looked at some websites and did not see too many with the blue badge.



If I keep it, is it worth taking it in to have it repaired or serviced, parts replaced? There were no attachments or accessories included. They surely just wanted to get it out of grandma's basement along with her china as fast as they could . . . .


I'm having a lot of fun just looking at it today. The delicate filigree scrollwork is in pristine condition and really adds something to the appeal. My daughter said if nothing else I should keep it as a prop for my quilt photos. Let me know what you think or if you own one of these and have any tips for me.




39 comments:

Sue said...

Oh you will be so happy with your new vintage machine! I joined that club a long time ago and now have more vintage machines than I know what to do with :/ But that musty old smell that comes with them I actually like. I know! I'm a strange one, and I have the new machines too. There's just something about owning one of these old beauties. Sometimes I wonder why I have the new one with all its gadgets when these older ones sew so well.
Congratulations on your new purchase. I don't think you will be sorry. And she's a beauty!

Siouxzq64@gmail.com said...

Lovely machine. They are actually very simple to take care of. The musty smell is usually from the oil catch tray and pad underneath, which can usually be replaced. Ebay is a wonderful place to get replacement parts. The tire on the bobbin winder if it has a flat spot, or is brittle or cracked. They are also great little sewers which is nice to have sometimes.

Material Girl said...

I sew on 301 s from the 50s. They are abit bigger than the featherweights. I think they do beautiful stitching- better than my newer computerized machines. I do really tiny miniatures and the presser feet are smaller and less sloppy- probably because they don't snap on. They will sew balanced stitches with any thread, need no servicing, just a sip of oil. I prefer them for piecing over the new, expensive ones.

Susan said...

Yes, yes, yes...by all means keep this machine and use it! There's a reason why these Singers are still around...they run great and are build to last forever! I have a 66, 128, and a 301 and love to sew with them all! A great resource for parts is http://www.shop.sew-classic.com/main.sc

dolls5000a said...

I love vintage machines. For me the have their own personalities. I have 2 treadle machines a hand crank a 501 a 99 and hmmmmm about 12 others. I love sewing on theses machines, they sew like a charm and are beauties. I am currently taking apart and old treadle my hubby bought for $5.00 to see how the different cleaning fluids affect the machine and cleaning it up and then am going to try and getting it working again. Sew with your new machine you will love it.

lalaluu said...

My grandmother had a treadle machine, too! I wish I still had it, but my dad inherited an electric one (with cabinet) from his aunt who was a seamstress, so I might get to keep that one. I say refurbish the cabinet if you want to use it (and therefore look at it everyday) or just clean it up a bit (wood soap/oil/beeswax?) to use for those vintage quilt photos.
Enjoy your new machine, however you end up using it!

katyquilts said...

By all means, keep it! It looks great with your small quilts! I have a Singer from the same era (different model) and I recently painted the cabinet because it too was in bad shape. If you look inside the cabinet, you may find the foot pedal. Usually Singer put the foot pedal into a bracket and then the knee lever actually just presses on the foot pedal. Yours was getting to the end of the era for this model. The 66s had a very long run but I don't think I have seen many (any?) past the early 50s.

~Kris~ said...

Check on Bonnie Hunter's site. There is a tab on the top of the page for vintage machines. She catalogs all of her machines with photos included. At the bottom of the page is a list of links that will help you with all your questions.

Your machine is really beautiful and looks pristine. You are a lucky duck! Hope you enjoy it.

Rebecca in AK said...

Congratulations on the 'new' sewing machine! It does look like it is in very good condition, but I am not an expert at all. I own one Featherweight which I love!

Lia said...

I have an old Minerva, black with golden "embroidery" painted, so beautiful!!
It has a wonderful stitch, and the machine is so much more strong than my "new" Singer from 2003.
But usually "she" is exposed in my corridor. I smile everytime I see her... :-)

Corn and Wine said...

It's a gorgeous machine and I bet she'll sew like a dream! I have a Featherweight and a 301A - and I prefer to sew with my vintage machines over my new machine any old day. I bought the 301A on ebay and it needed a tune up and cleaning. Definitely worth every penny to take it to a professional. Use your "new" machine and enjoy!! :)

kdduncan said...

There is a facebook page called Vintage Sewing Machines. They will be able to answer your questions about this machine and point you to a parts supplier. Enjoy. She's pretty.

Anonymous said...

Yes, definitely keep it. There is nothing like the old vintage Singers. I have a 1949 Featherweight, a 1966 model 600E (which I still love) and a new computerized machine. But the Featherweight is Queen. Before long you will be joining the rest of us in search of all the wonderful old attachments for the short shank Singer...it is addictive. Check out April 1930's website for good info. Sandi S. in San Angelo, TX

Donya said...

Love your machine, I also have one. It had some issues but my husband worked on it and now it sews like a dream. I have another website and blog Nova Montogomery. She has a monthly newletter that you can subscribe to that has some great tips. Happy sewing!

Sue Bennett said...

Love your machine. WHY wouldn't you keep her. You will enjoy making a doll quilt with her, and then not in the label that you used this machine. I don't understand family's that just throw out items like this.

Sherri said...

Yay for you! I recently acquired one too...don't know so much about them yet but can't wait to sew on mine...it's at my local shop getting oiled!

herky907 said...

Ask bonnie hunter!

debstokes said...

Ask someone before taking it out of the cabinet. I'm pretty sure it can't sew sitting on a counter. You can find used cabinets pretty cheap. Keep it for certain.

Dora, the Quilter said...

It is *not* a 66. Looks more like a 15-91, but I can't see the motor so I can't be sure. Since the tension is on the front of the machine, it could be a 201.
(If it came with a bobbin, that would help; an online check of the serial number could also help.)
They use standard short shank feet, the most common kind.
Ordering a new cord is fairly easy.
Best choice for cleaning is sewing machine oil and cotton balls (or cotton make-up remover pads).
Various people make high quality wooden "boxes" to set them in.
It's not a hand crank; the hand wheel would have to be replaced with a different style for it to work with one of the after-market hand cranks.
It sounds like an adventure, but once you get to sew on it, the stitches will be so beautiful that you will really love, love, love piecing on it.
Congratulations on entry into "the club!"

Dora, the Quilter said...

Also, if it's not a "potted motor", you could remove the motor and place it in a treadle cabinet and treadle it. (It would fit most Singer Treadle cabinets.)

Such a lucky lady you are!

GabiP said...

I just got a vintage 1926 Singer treadle at an auction. The cabinet is solid mahogany and almost in pristine condition. The machine was in fantastic condition - all the accessories, an extra belt, original needle tin, manual and oil can - the works! The seven drawers (this had to have been a high end treadle) were full with needle cards, scissors of varying sizes and two complete drawers of wooden spools! I was in Heaven! After reading the manual, I held my breath and threaded her. Running the treadle was a little tricky but I have now got the hang of it and am in love. Sorry, my Bernina, Pfaff and Juki, there's a new "ole" gal in town! Keep her, work on her - you will be in love!

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Brenda DeBord said...

Definitely keep it. You will love using it.

Tina W said...

It looks very similar to the machine I learned to sew on in the 50's and which I inherited! The cabinet too from what I could see of it. Replacing the foot pedal/power cord shouldn't be difficult. It probably has/had a fold down knee lever for making it sew too. They sew wonderfully -just forward and reverse but what more would you need? It looks great as a small quilt prop if nothing else!
Tina in Pendleton, OR

Liz L said...

I don't know anything about these machines but yours is a keeper for sure. It looks beautiful. You will probably have to keep it in the cabinet because my mother had one similar to yours and she somehow lifted it up out of the cabinet and secured it with a lock ready to sew. A friend of mine has a vintage sewing cabinet like the one in your photo she found at a garage sale. Whoever the original owner was threw away the sewing machine. Shame.

Denise said...

Nice find, I was able to acquire my great grandmother treadle and cleaned it a little, got it running and will probably do very little as I want the "patina" from when my "Memere" used it.....I think you need to decide what you want to do with it and that will help you decide how far you want to go with cleaning and/or restoration. Maybe you want to pursue finding a treadle and get one of those, who knows! I am planning to make a quilt on the treadle, the only thing I am not looking forward to is winding a bobbin, I might cheat and use real power for that, LOL!

Karen said...

What a great find; lucky you! I'd definitely keep her. Love the scroll work. I have one very similar, and want to restore it. I started to refinish the table but now I don't think it's worth is, so I'm going to paint it. I have other old machines and find they can sew through much thicker fabrics with ease, compared to my fancy computerized one. I don't think I'll ever buy a new machine again. Good luck with yours!

Lorinda said...

They are beautiful. I purchased one that needed a few things. I found extra feet on craig's list. I had the power cord updated as the one on the machine was in poor shape, replaced the slide over the bobbin and replaced the glass over the light. It is as good as now. I am sure it will last far longer than my newer machines. They certainly do not make them like this any more.

suz said...

looks like a beauty and if you have someone in the area who repairs Featherweights, it's worth keeping. Take the photos to him/her and ask their advice on how to get it to them for cleaning at the very least. I'm fortunate to have a great fellow not too far from me - he keeps my Mom's Featherweights sewing like new. All my friends go to him as well. My machines are over 70 years old.

Ineke van den Akker said...

It's a beauty.

Anonymous said...

I have my Mom's Singer treddle machine purchased brand new in 1049 or 50. It sews beautifully and is in very good shape. I love the old ones, have never used a vintage electric though. It is amazing how fast you pick up the motion of treddling the machine. Glad you joined the club, Sure, Keep It!!!

Judymc said...

I love your beautiful machine--it's a real keeper! The smell of Featherweight machines comes from a dirty "gasket" liner of the bottom pan of the machine. You just need to purchase a new liner and clean the pan before screwing it back on. You can contact Nova Montgomery's website for information about parts and cleaning your new machine.

AnneElizablog said...

Welcome to the club! I just bought a Featherweight in April (it also fell into my lap) and am delighted with it. It coexists happily with my Bernina. There is lots of information out there about old Singers. Yours is beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Dora, the Quilter said...
It is *not* a 66. Looks more like a 15-91, but I can't see the motor so I can't be sure. Since the tension is on the front of the machine, it could be a 201.
.............
Dora, it definitely is a Singer 66. The 15 has the top tension unit on the faceplate facing left and a total different body shape. The 201 never had filigree decals, has the light in the front and has a round plate around the stitch length lever amongst other distinguishing features. Kathy's sm is definitely a 66.
Carol in Mid-Mich :)

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

I think I met the 'Carol' you were speaking of, at the Michigan TOGA this past weekend. She said she knew you thru the doll quilt group. What a pretty machine. Clean with sewing machine oil, and lots of cotton balls. You can get another foot pedal online (I can get you some suppliers if you need them). It should also be able to be hand cranked. You'll need the spoked hand wheel and the crank (same suppliers). The machine will also fit in almost any Singer treadle base, and can be treadled, too.

kiquilter said...

I'm no expert, but the machine looks like my 201-2. It is my favorite machine to sew on small quilts. It has a neat 1/8" presser foot which is handy for small quilts, but I bought a new presser foot with a 1/4" guide for other patchwork. My machine has a knee lever which you move down and forward when ready to sew. It has the most beautiful stitch, and best of all, it just hums when I sew. FOR SURE you should keep it and enjoy sewing on it!

Cheryl Barkdoll said...

I would keep it too. I also have a Treadle machine, my mother's anniversary Singer from the 1930's in a blond cabinet and a Featherweight known as "Pumpkin". I love her for piecing. She is a great machine to take to classes etc. You will love sewing on it.
Cheryl B / IL

Anonymous said...

Kathy, keep your machine!! I was reading a blog from Bonnie Hunter's site and she explains why these old machines sew so well for straight stitching and even better for a gal like you who makes doll quilts. It has something to do with the feed dogs. In new machines the feed dogs are wide apart to allow for zigzag and assorted computerized stitches while the old Singers have a narrow feed dog bed allowing for greater control and better stitches. Isn't that interesting??? Should be fun to see how you like sewing small pieces with this machine compared to a "new" machine Carolyn Barnett

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