Monday, March 31, 2014

Vintage Sewing Machine Care

What is the most important things to caring for a vintage sewing machine in working order???


Love it... Sew on it... Oil it :)
(See my cute nieces and nephew?? lol)
This bottle should have enough oil for a pile of machines for years to come.  You will probably replace it because it is old before you will use it all... so buy a smaller size if you can find it!  But use only Singer machine oil or similar quality oil in your machines.  It is their life blood!

If you are in the "market" for a new vintage machine... here are some questions to ask yourself...

Do you want straight stitch or do you NEED zig zag?  I use straight stitch and reverse as my mainstays for piecing quilts and repairing clothing for my kids... My main machine lowers the feed dogs easily and can darn like a champ!  Too bad I am not into FMQ! lol

Do you want Singer or something more trendy?  All pre 1960's machines MOSTly have all metal parts... so it is necessary to keep them oiled and to use them instead of looking and petting only :)  IF they are in running condition... however I have found the Japanese clone machines from the early 1950's fun and useful AND trendy!

Japanese clones came about from a loophole in the patenting of sewing machines in the US.  Thus for a few years Japan via the Toyota and Koyo plants produced a lot of machines that were then put together in the US and given a motor here as well.  Each one was branded by the company that "sponsored" it... thus lots of names... such as Universal, Wizard, Morse, Nelco, and many many others... I saw one on Craigslist called a "La Salle" :)  Fun machines with outside motor... cool paint jobs and indestructible stitches with bobbins that never miss a stitch when cared for.

Singer at this time had the portable featherweight machine as women started being more portable with their sewing... and in the 50's opened a plant in Anderson, South Carolina (previously all Singers were made in Elizabeth, NJ I think) and started producing the 301A.... this machine was just a few pounds heavier but did all the featherweight did PLUS has a screw to disengage the feed dogs!  It comes with plenty of attachments available and is a great machine to have in your stash...

If you buy a vintage straight stitch only machine ... you will find minimal issues if you sew on it and oil it scant but regular depending on how much you sew... the machine will tell you when it is ready for a drink... just don't over feed it please :)

If you buy a vintage zig zag machine ... have a repairman grease and oil it for you the first time... save some money by cleaning it up before it sees the repair person too!!!  This will give you time to get to know your machine... then after it has been serviced... enjoy and ONLY oil your machine... grease is only necessary around metal gears inside the machine.  They don't need a repairman for regular oiling... it is possible and if you are the tiniest bit handy (I am not handy and I can do it!) to keep your machine oiled yourself once serviced :)

Not sure what to do?  Look and maybe try to test drive a few that are in running condition... a good machine is quiet (if the belt is noisy that is an easy fix) and peaceful to listen to as you sew.  Or if you find one at the thrift store consult your local vintage repairman for assistance in deciding on a purchase... most vintage machines don't stay around long...

For a vintage machine in restored running shape in a cabinet or table expect to pay $150 up for a Japanese clone or $300 and up for a Singer from this or earlier era.

If accessories are available for a machine you are interested in you want the accessories too.. you should expect to get a manual describing care (oiling points diagram, threading diagrams, bobbin case care and threading diagram) for your specific machine but for the Japanese clones this information is only available online.  They all work basically the same... easy to find parts for to if more bobbins/case/race is needed.

So now... do you wanna sew vintage???

Hope this post has informed you and helped you decide if vintage is right for you and if it is what is your style?  Do you want a desk to open or a cabinet/case to be portable?

Do you prefer modern.. if so why?  I get needing an embroidery machine or serger... but all else we can use what has already been made that will last my lifetime or longer to use to create with.

Love to know how you piece n patch!

If you prefer not to leave a public question please feel free to ask me and my honey anything via email listed in my signature :)






2 comments:

  1. Great post on what is important on buying a vintage machine. Older machines can often times be found at reasonable prices for both novice and experienced piecers. Simpler can be better. I am now inspired to bring out my vintage Singer and put away my newer machine to begin working on my next quilt.

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  2. I have an old treadle werthiem but it is in the shed, it only straight stitches and the bobbin doesn't hold much, it served me well when I was young, it even made part of my wedding dress

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