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Thread: Question for those of you with antique sewing machines

  1. #1
    Super Member Rachelcb80's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Raleigh, MS
    I see so many of you here with the antique sewing machines (by antique I mean the ones from the 1800's and such) and I know most of you sew on them. I've been wondering for quite some time what the draw is. Do they sew better than modern machines? Is it just the novelty aspect of sewing on an antique machine? I've never even seen one in person so I don't have the first clue about them, but I'm curious as to why they are so popular. I'm wondering if I should be dreaming of finding one. :)

  2. #2
    Super Member no1jan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Upstate New York
    I have 2 vintage Singers. I wouldn't consider them antique as they aren't over 100 years old.

    The first is a Singer Model 66 made in 1930. I love this machine. The stitches are perfect and it just hums. Yes, the age of the machine and the looks does appeal to me, but you can't beat it for straight stitching such as piecing. I bought it in a cabinet from Craigslist for $35.00. The cabinet needs some refurbishing and I had to replace the bobbin tire ($2.00) and the light bulb ($2-3). Otherwise it works perfectly, even though it was made before they had reverse.

    I also have a model 201 made in 1937. I have not used this much. I picked up this machine in the cabinet for $40.00. There is nothing wrong with it except it was filthy. When I opened the bobbin case it was packed with lint. I have cleaned it up and oiled it pretty good. When sewing at a fast speed it makes a squeeking noise, but I was told that it just needed more oil.

    You can't beat the straight stitch of the older machines. Once they started making zig zags, you no longer have the perfect straight stitch.

    Besides they are so beautiful!

    This is just my opinion! I would love to get my hands on a featherweight!!! :) :) :)

  3. #3
    Pam is offline
    Super Member Pam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Southern Illinois
    The old machines have all metal gears and they have such a unique sound when they sew, you can almost hear the pride of the makers in the way they sound. I have a Singer 99 and I do not use it often, but I am planning on giving my Bernina a "break" and making my next pieced quilt on the Singer.

  4. #4
    Super Member Maride's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    New York, NY
    I learned to sew in an old Singer and had not heard the humming again on a machine until I got my Featherweight. It brought me back memories of my grandmother sewing on it.

  5. #5
    JJs is offline
    Join Date
    May 2009
    LA - Lower Alabama
    well, for one thing there are no circuit boards to go blooie

    there are no plastic parts, gears, etc to crinkle, fail, break, dissolve

    they are cool as all get out

    get a treadle or handcrank and you can sew anywhere, anytime, with no electricity

    and as she said, perfectly straight stitches - watch a zigzag machine stitch a 'straight' line sometime - you will see teeny tiny deviations to the sides..

  6. #6
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    Aug 2008
    Home town: Rehoboth, MA Now living in OK
    I had one when I lived with my mom, I had to leave it when I moved.

  7. #7
    Super Member carrieg's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    S.W. Michigan
    I think it's the quality of the stitch. I am hoping to get my grandmother's treadle fixed. I learned to sew on it and could get it going pretty fast!

  8. #8
    Super Member raptureready's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    I've got several, from treadles to a hand crank portable to the early electric. Some in cabinets, some portable. I used to collect machines until I ran out of room. The antiques are just fun---a trip back in time. They have a different sound and feel to them. As I'm sewing on my hand crank from Germany I imagine the trip it made to get here:
    She wasn't shipped with crates of others, she was hand carried and placed in the cabin so that the woman that owned her could pass the time away by sewing. The young woman had been orphaned when her parents died. After everything except her clothing and her mother's sewing machine had been sold and all the bills were paid, she took the small amount left and purchased a ticket to America. When others on the ship found out that she had a machine she was begged to do mending, commissioned to make ensembles, etc. With the money she earned on her trip to her new home in America she was able to purchase a beautiful little cottage and start her own business.

    Now, to be honest I have no idea how my little machine got here but isn't that a wonderful story? That's what I imagine when I sew with my hand crank. Other machines have other "histories."

  9. #9
    LBryan13790's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Upstate NY
    I am a vintage Singer fanatic. I have a 301A, 500A, 301A shortbed, and 221.

    In agreement with the others, the vintage Singers are comforting to me. My mother used to sew all our clothes on a 301A after we went to bed, and I love that sound.

    In addition, they are simple to use. I tried a newer Singer, but the electronics were frustrating. I work long hours, so quilting needs to be a tension reliever.

    Now I have my son & daughter sewing on my Singers. It is a fun way to spend time together!!

  10. #10
    Super Member Charlee's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    PNW (I wish it was the Ozarks!)
    Blog Entries
    For me, it's the history. The nice stitches are important to me, but the thought of another woman, long ago, beaming with pride as her then new sewing machine was brought into the house and she sat down at it to sew...I love antiques, and often imagine the homes that they first "resided" in, and often wonder about the lives of those who owned them. I'm the same way with my cast iron as I am with the sewing machines. Who owned them...did they sacrifice and pinch pennies to be able to have them? How many Sunday dinners did my 130 year old cast iron roaster cook? How many Easter dresses did this "new to me" Wheeler and Wilson sewing machine sew? What little girl learned to sew on it? Did she learn as I did, making first an apron, and patching her daddy's work clothes? Did her grandmother help her? Her mother? A favorite auntie? I imagine that little girl sitting on the floor at her mother's side, waiting for her mama to finish that seam so that the hem can be pinned.
    It's those thoughts that run through my mind when I see the old machines in the shops or on the internet...and it breaks my heart that someone either didn't care enough about the family history of the machine to treasure it, or "had" to part with it either for space or money. I know that I'd so love to have my grandmother's machine, or my great grandmother's machine...

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