Introductions to our sewing machine family, Part 2

See Part One here

Fast forward now to the Wild Rose Antique Show 2012.  Going in, I recall muttering to Ryan that if we were going to pay that much for admission and parking, that I was going to have to spend a lot of money to make it worth it.

Ah.  Prophecy.

There were lots of interesting things at the show, but it was about 2/3s of the way through all of the booths that I spotted her.   We’d seen a few featherweights at the show, all at average prices.  Not ebay prices mind you, but still higher than I wanted to pay.  You see, Ryan and I had been talking about how neat it would be to find a 221 in rough shape:  bad decals, rough paint, etc but with good bones, that we could repaint.  You just don’t want to tear down one of those little cuties if there’s nothing wrong with them, especially at the price that they go for.

While I was taking a peek at this particular FW, I noted that she had the more interesting front plate, and the older style box. Her paint looked rough, and there were cup rings on her extension bed!! I was taking a peek to see if the bobbin case was in the machine, and trying to sneak a peek at her serial number to get an idea of her age, when the seller mentioned the price.  My eyes popped out of my head, and Ryan and I looked at each other.  This may be the one!  I asked him if I could test her out to make sure she sewed OK.  He let me do it.  She was a little sluggish, but her belt felt a little tight.  It shouldn’t be a problem.  I didn’t even negotiate.  That’s how good the price was.  As I was looking her over, other people were as well.  I talked to one lady, she said she loved the featherweights.  Then she blurted, “I have three of them”.  🙂  She’s not the first person I’ve heard that from.  Apparently, the featherweights like to congregate in herds.

When we got her home, I spent a couple of hours cleaning, oiling and adjusting her.  I took after the bed a little to see what I was dealing with.  Imagine my shock when the cup rings went away!

Midge - 1950 Featherweight 221
Midge – 1950 Featherweight 221


Oh no,.. now I had a dilemma.  I had bought her, because I wanted to repaint her, but I couldn’t justify it, because she wasn’t in as bad shape as we had initially thought.  It looks like my featherweight herd is growing.  I dub thee,  Midge.

Still smarting from that purchase, I thought I’d lay off for a bit.  After all, who needs that many sewing machines?  including the serger, that makes 5 now.

Unless, of course, I found a nice Model 15.  I’d heard they were pretty tough, and good solid machines, … and you can drop the feed dogs on them, so you can embroider freehand…. Oh! And Ron, the sewing machine repair guy said the 400 series were some of the best that Singer ever made.  In fact his wife sews on one.  If the Sewing machine repair guy will let his wife sew on it, it has to be good, right?  So if I ran into one of those, I guess that would be a no-brainer, too.

See, this is where it’s best to recognise the problem.  When you can justify why just one more would be OK if…. it may be time to seek help.  I’m fairly sure there’s going to be an intervention soon.  I suspect it will be at sewing circle.

I found the next one at the Strathcona Antique Mall while looking for oil cans for the featherweights.  A Model 15-91.  It was a rescue, I know it.  No bobbin winder tire, standard fare.  The carry case being full of duct tape and generally rough condition, a shame, but surmountable.  The motor and light needing to be rewired all the way to the armature, well let’s just call that a learning experience.  I used the tutorial I found here at the Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog  A real life saver, and timely, because he posted all of this scant weeks before I needed it.

Moose - 1936 Model 15-91
Moose – 1936 Model 15-91 – That’s the ratty case behind him.  I plan on rebuilding that too one day.

I knew I had a problem, but I couldn’t seem to help it.   I was still haunting the antique shops, and now I had another source for machines.  I’d begun perusing the thrift shops looking for the Singer Sewing Reference Library books.

One day, perusing the Value Village at the far end of town, I ran into the 403A.  I almost passed it up too, until I saw what was in the drawer.  Meet Archie.


Another few hours of cleaning, oiling adjusting and he looks practically new.  I took Archie to class the following Monday, and sewed on him there. One of the gals there said she’d used one growing up, and that it brought back memories.  Those smiles make it a pleasure to bring these machines to class.   While I was at class that day, the same lady who’d supplied me with the serger mentioned that she had her mom’s sewing machine, and wanted to give it to me if I’d take it.  Of course, you know, I said yes.  It seems the running joke at class now is, “if you have a spare sewing machine, give it to Tammi, she’ll take it.”

She brought it along next class.  A few more hours again cleaning, adjusting, oiling.  You know, it seems I always smell of sewing machine oil these days.  What’s up with that?

Singer Ultralock 14U64A
Kenmore 158.1595 Ultra Stitch 12

This is a really nice sounding machine.  It “seems” looser in the feel of it when it’s running than the 403, but it hasn’t disappointed me yet.  Its fancier stitches are quite impressive to watch.    It has a nice open arm for doing cuffs and such. The machine was manufactured by a company called Maruzen or Jaguar.  They seem to be the same company with two different names.  Contrary to popular belief, Singer has never manufactured sewing machines for Kenmore.

For a while there, it was quiet around here.  All of the machines and I just settling in.  I was getting caught up on the maintenance of the machines, and even finding a little time to sew (and blog).  Then came the Morinville Town wide garage sale, where we met the latest addition to the family, Mrs. Cooper, Betty’s mom, and the latest rescue project.

Mrs Cooper - 1889 Fiddlebed VS2
Mrs Cooper – 1889 Fiddlebed VS2
Mrs Cooper - In her Coffin Top cabinet
Mrs Cooper – In her Coffin Top cabinet

So those are all of the current sewing machine members of the family.   I’m sure there won’t be too many more.  Unless I find a really nice 3/4 sized machine.

Or a cool Willcox and Gibbs machine.  Or a Wheeler and Wilson.

I did see this really neat looking Winselmann in the local buy and sell too…

I guess at this point, if I’m being completely honest, I should mention too that I have a half dozen emails out to people on Kijiji with “Interesting” sounding machines… I may be updating this post sooner rather than later.

Oh well, I could have worse and scarier vices than this.  🙂

6 thoughts on “Introductions to our sewing machine family, Part 2”

  1. I laughed so hard that I had tears in my eyes . You bought a second “puzzle box” , to complete the first !!. I am an “incurable” sewing machine collector , & I do exactly the same thing with old sewing machines . Maybe the “penny has dropped” for you , in the same way it did for me . Buying another one to complete the first , is one of THE first signs of the dreaded “sewing machine sickness” , for which the only known cure , is “more sewing machines” . You disease is terminal (you will die one day) , & the only way to get any relief , is to buy another machine !!! . Maybe you should try to hunt down a sweet old “Minnesota” , or a “Western Electric” , or something similar . I discovered that these machines have a character all of their own , & they also have very strong “healing qualities” !!!. I shall now leave you with this lot of “drivel” . Welcome to the world of sewing machine addicts , and Happy Hunting . Robert .

    1. LOL! Hey Robert! I have probably reached my peak in collecting. I have only a couple left on my want list and they’re going to be fairly hard to come by. I did buy a 201 for parts just before Christmas though. It had an original Singer hand crank and hand wheel but the body was in rough condition as was the bentwood case. It tuns out that the body was a great candidate for learning to french polish and there’s no reason to part the machine. I’m going to use the bentwood to make a template to try to replicate a new one and there I am again with another machine I didn’t need. 😉 My collecting lately is leaning more toward the German machines and pre-1900. Those ones make my heart go pitter pat. 🙂 For some reason, I haven’t blogged about my German machines. I will try to rectify that this year. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Loved reading this story and I can honestly say I know just how you feel. My collecting started last Oct. 2013. (I had been watching Bonnie Hunter quilt cam videos, and just love her style of quilting, but she also collects machines, and has alot of them. And each time she has quilt cam night she would use a different machine. “OMG!! I was hooked”,”Her page is in case you want to check it out.”) I was strolling through the thrift store, when my eyes saw this beautiful blue little machine that looked liked a Corvette or a Corvair from the 60’s to me. So I ask the lady why was it only $5.00 and she said because it won’t turn off. Well I had to buy it, if for no other reason to find out why it wouldn’t turn off with out unplugging it. So it was Oct.18th 2013 and my birthday was on the 26th so I decided that would be my gift to me. So I bought that cool looking Japanese made machine badged a Dressmaker 30 Deluxe precision sewing machine, it is a 15 clone. And I got it for $5.00 because it had no shut off. I mean when you plugged this machine in it ran at top speed. Now at that time I didn’t know it needed a special cord, that had its own outlet for the motor and light, but after a little research, & 5 days later, I was in the same store asking the ladies if they had seen that special cord, we looked and found it much to my surprise. I brought it home and it worked they also gave me a new foot pedal to. So now my little blue machine that I call my little Hot Rod is running good, but now seems to be having an issue with the tension. Not bad but not perfect either. Then 3 days after that in the same store, I bought my 201-2 and my 301-A for my actual birthday present. And the collection has grown with leaps and bounds. A total of 13 in all, 3 of them being treadles. 2 Dressmakers, Brother 1241, 2-Kenmore’s a 158. and a model #35, a Davis Famous treadle, Singer redeye 66 treadle, Sears and Roebuck Franklin treadle, White model #765, 5-Singer’s a 221, 201-2,301-A, 403-A, and the first sewing machine I ever owned bought new for my Christmas present in 1992, from my husband and I still use it often, is a Singer 4622-A. Tomorrow I am going to look at a two-tone turquoise, and a two-tone pink both are White brand, and a Nelco that is pink & cream on top. and a pale green Kenmore with cream on top. And I am just itching to find a great deal on a hand crank machine. I let a Singer fiddlebase slip through my hands thinking it was to rough, but after seeing yours wishing I had gotten it now. Well good luck with your collection. Markay

    1. Hey Markay! I think you have more than 13 there, but I won’t tell anyone. 😉 I love those machines you talk about, the ones that look like 50s cars. They had so much style to them. For some reason, I never keep them though. That said, I’m down to about 17 machines, including Lucey and thinking of re-homing a few more so they get used. Lucey keeps me very busy. I have seen Bonnie Hunter’s site and I enjoy it, I don’t think I’ve ever watched any of the videos though.

      Hand cranks come up every so often. My 1912 28 was an accidental find. I was coming home from Calgary from picking up a knee lever 128 and found it at an antique mall with a motor kit and the hand crank both. It cost me less than the knee lever machine did. Alice, the fiddle base is one of 2 I’ve seen in person here. They seem to be popping up in the states lately though, so keep watching!

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