Tuesday, October 28, 2008

All my lovelies

I have a fondness for things from the past in case you haven't noticed before now. Call me a retro gal. One of the things I really admire from the past are sewing machines. Not necessarily antiques, but vintage machines really tug at my heart strings. I love the simplicity and power. I love that they were built during a time when people really appreciated being able to sew and that you were suppose to be able to really bond and care for your machine. I love that some of the machines I adore today were loved and adored by someone else long before me, and yet they still have to ability to provide pleasure as well as function beautifully 50 or more years later. I've been collecting vintage machines for about five years. I still have a few that I want to acquire such as a Bernina 830 and a singer 201, but due to my space limitation I have to be pretty selective about what I bring home. I'm not a complete Luddite, I do have several modern machines...but these are my old gals...my lovely ladies. A couple are missing, the elna supermatic (it's staying at a friends house until I can go get it) and the pfaff 260...it's in the garage (I know...I don't love it, but I can't seem to part with it either).
I try and sew on all of them every few months since they all are great and I want them to stay in working condition. Nothing is sadder than a lovely machine in disuse. I have to admit that my favorite is the Viking. It's just an awesome machine. I think the singer 221 is the cutest thing ever. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for my rocketeer as it was the first vintage machine I got. Let's face it...I love them all. They all have a story.
Anyway, here are my gals. Enjoy.

I always imagine this machine came from a tailors shop. It's so strong and powerful and was in impeccable shape when I found it at a thrift store, all that was missing was the bobbin case which I picked up inexpensively. It came in the cutest maple desk, very retro. That's actually what I noticed first, I thought it was a small vanity table...but it was a Bu Nova. Even though it was in a thrift store, you can still strike a bargain. I talked him down to $25 and loaded her in the back of my SUV.


Singer 401, I got it from a friend that I traded for a purse I made her. I guess outside of my time it maybe ended up costing me $3.


This brown beauty belonged to a lady who loved to sew and loved this machine. I bought it from her son off of Craigslist. She had a stroke and can no longer sew. She had everything for it including the original box. She had all the feet and cams that were available for it and it was serviced regularly as apparent by the machine shop stickers on it. I adore it and I feel so proud to be able to stitch on a machine that obviously has provided so many years of pleasure. I love the stitch quality and that low gear feature...talk about power!


The Alden. It's just visiting me until I can find a base for it. I plan to gift it to one of the girls from Step up, but it came in a cabinet and it's not practical for them to have machines that aren't portable. It's a nice little Japanese class 15 clone. Cosmetically she's seen better days, but she does stitch well, so just goes to show you can't pass up that diamond in the rough.


Kenmore 47. It came from the same thrift store as the necchi. They seem to get a lot of machines in. I paid $8 for it in a cabinet. It's high shank and runs like a dream. It's the machine I let the kids use since it has the knee pedal that they can operate.

This machine from Montgomery Ward (remember them?) is also Japanese. It's a nice little stitcher although quite heavy for a portable model. I acquired it for my mother, but it's been living with me for about two years. I do take her to classes and also let some of the girls in Step Up that don't have machines yet sew on her. She the baby of the bunch, probably from the mid 1970's...but still very nice.

Ahhh, the rocketeer. She's my first love and I'll never part with her. She was the very first vintage machine I got. She came to me free from a friend who decided that she would opt for a "newer" and easier machine. Honestly, what could be simpler than a rocketeer. She's a beauty and she absolutely purrs. I love that she's gear driven. No belts to trouble myself over and once I got her oiled and lubed there was no stopping her. She's a dear!

Talk about cute as a bug...this 1030 is just that. It comes in a clam shell case and has a little fold out extension table built in. It's from the 1970's built by Jaguar/Maruzen of Japan as a 3/4 head machine to rival a singer 221. It's actually has a much more powerful motor than the singer 221 and if you find one that is in great working condition you'll be amazed at just how powerful this little number is. It weighs in at about 14lbs with the case. Mine is the basic model, it does a straight stitch, zigzag and if I remember correctly a four step buttonhole. Later models had a few fancier stitches. I'm saving her for my daughter. I think she'll absolutely love having this cutie pie to learn on.

Last, but not least is my singer 221 featherweight. It was a gift from my dh for my birthday. I found her on Craigslist. She wasn't a steal at $175, but she was long desired, in awesome condition with the case, all the attachments, accessories and the manual so I was more than happy to bring her home. What's to say about a 221. They make an absolutely beautiful stitch and are very collectible and desirable. Quilters love them because they are portable and the stitch quality is unparalleled. What's the secret...it only does one thing, but does it well. Since it doesn't do zz, you don't get that wavy look that you get with machines that zigzag too. Once you see the stitch that a straight stitch only machine can produce you'll never look at a stitch line the same. I think if you ever have a chance to own a FW you should. They are amazing in what they do. Sure, they don't have the most powerful motor in 3/4 head machine from singer of that era...but could anything else more fully embody Singer than a featherweight?

So there you have it. That's most of my machines. Of course I didn't photograph any of my modern friends, I'll save that for another time.


Megh said...

Oh, how fun! I have quite a few machines as well- I can't pass up a good deal, even if I already have the same one at home. I have dreams of fixing them up and showing my friends how wonderful these old machines are. Sometimes I wonder if I like sewing machines even better than sewing.

Dawn said...

Thanks so much for sharing. It was so much fun to finally see all of your collection. I am taking good care of your Elna until she finds her way home to you.

Jackie said...

What a fantastic collection of machines you have! Would love to see the modern collection as well.

Chi-Chi said...

Wow, they are indeed lovely!! What a great way to start my day looking at all those fabulous, vintage machines. I have a very old sewing machine too but I don't even know the model (it's a Singer). I have to go take a look . . . maybe you could help me figure out some things about it.

I too love the older machines. When I was in Ghana, everyone used older, heavy sewing machines that were hand-powered. I was fascinated. It appealed to me so much more than the modern ones! It's nice to know I could sew by machine even with no electricity! :)