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Thread: I feel sorry for middle-aged sewing machines!

  1. #1
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    I feel sorry for middle-aged sewing machines!

    I'm starting to feel sorry for sewing machines manufactured between 1965 and 2000!

    People are elated about their scores with older machines and brag about their newer ones.

    Is there really a time frame when the machine quality really deteriorated? And if so, when was it?

  2. #2
    Super Member MartiMorga's Avatar
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    Have no idea, but I think that the main issue was more "built-ins" as to attachments. I had a 70's Singer with lots of wheels that I had to change to get different stitches, really only used the straight stitch and zig-zag. Purchased a 80's model and still have it. I use it often, but not as much as my newer embroidery machines- they just have everyting.
    God Bless Quilters and Sewers
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  3. #3
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    I don't know so much that the quality intentionally deteriorated so much as that the nylon/plastic gears were "the brand new wave of the future" and seemed like a vast improvement in making things more light weight.

    What was not understood was that these would not have the continued strength over time and usage.

    I don't think anyone expected the degree of breakage from deterioration of the materials or the fact that replacement parts would not be readily available due to constant upgrades with different parts being made.

  4. #4
    Senior Member crashnquilt's Avatar
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    We are no longer in the age of REPAIR, we are in the age of REPLACE.
    Crashnquilt


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  5. #5
    Junior Member Sarint's Avatar
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    I just had two old Kenmore's from that time period refurbished and they are wonderful! I like my new machine, but it seems so fragile compared to the old ones. It was the folks right here on this board who convinced me to keep them when I bought the new machine. They are the work horses for my heavy fabric projects.
    I know what I thought I was making when I started this quilt, but it has changed several times since then.

  6. #6
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    It is just one of those things--like Mustangs built in the '80s... :0)

  7. #7
    Super Member nanacc's Avatar
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    My DH bought me a Bernina 630E for our 36th anniversary and I use it most of the time. I have my DM's Bernina 830 record, purchased in 1982 and very, very well used by her, that is still a workhorse and my stand-by. I also have a Memory Craft 7000(Janome) that she purchased almost new from a friend many years ago that I used as primary until the new Bernina. I do not plan to give up any of them!

  8. #8
    Super Member jcrow's Avatar
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    I have a Singer 401 Slant O Matic that I love. I take it to classes. I wouldn't trade it for anything. I have the Bernina 830, the new one and love it also, but the 401 is awesome for an older machine. It's very heavy. I don't think it's made out of plastic. It has to weigh at least 40 lbs.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member Skyangel's Avatar
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    I got a Kenmore for my HS graduation in 1978, it was my only machine for 25 years, it's still going strong. Now my herd includes a Viking 6020 from 1970, an Elna Lotus from 1975, and a Bernina 910 from 1983. All great machines I wouldn't give up. AND I was elated with each of those acquisitions! Singers since 1965 don't have the same quality. All my Singers are much older ... and I have a newer Bernina 440 and Bernina serger.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Sideways's Avatar
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    Getting a new vintage machine to me is like getting a antique car! I go gaga over them!! I have a fancy dancey computerized machine but I sew all the time on my featherweight, it's the best.
    Never met a scrap of fabric or vintage sewing machine I didn't like!
    Many a lost and lonely vintage machine has found a home with me, 26 and------ uh oh lost count, who is counting anyway!

    Susan

  11. #11
    Super Member irishrose's Avatar
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    My go to machine for everything except piecing and quilting is a 1972 Elna. I don't think you can lump all '65-'00 machines together, but, in general, I know what you are saying.

  12. #12
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    I have a mid-90's Kenmore I'll probably keep forever - first "appliance" I bought when I moved out of my parent's house! It needs a cleaning and tune-up but it still works perfectly despite a ton of use and abuse! I have no idea if it's metal inside but it almost has to be, since it's still working after all I've done to that machine. I really did abuse it, poor thing. She is in a graceful semi-retirement now, as my backup machine.

  13. #13
    Super Member JenniePenny's Avatar
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    I suppose it's like being middle aged in life..... You become somewhat invisible.....
    "He who masters the grey everyday is a hero."
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  14. #14
    Super Member peaceandjoy's Avatar
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    I have a mid-80's Kenmore that has caused nothing but misery; moved it to FL a couple of years ago for an emergency repair machine @ our vacation home. Used it when there last year and remembered why I dislike it so much. Next time I am there, it's going to a donation center.

    My Bernina from the mid-90's is a completely different story, I love it as much as I did the day I got it. So much so that when I gave up on Janome Jem's for class/travel machines, I bought a Bernina 240.. Love that machine, too.

    I do think that, as new features have become available, folks who are intersted in what they offer want them. Embroidery, stitch regulator, etc. Luckily, for the most part, I have no interest in those things, so I can save my money!

  15. #15
    Super Member citruscountyquilter's Avatar
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    There's a lot of us out there that have machines from that era and are using them as their primary machines. Recently I got together with two friends for a sewing bee and they had those era machines and was surprised that I had one too.

  16. #16
    Super Member coopah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JenniePenny View Post
    I suppose it's like being middle aged in life..... You become somewhat invisible.....
    If you think you're invisible in middle age, wait until you retire and folks yell when they talk to you and act like you don't know anything. :-(
    Now to the machine discussion..I bought a no name sewing machine in the late 60s. It had multiple stitches. Sold it to my college roomie...she still has it and uses it. Probably has never even had it cleaned. Then I bought a FW for $15 at a flea market, paid $15 to get it running and still use it. Bought a Pfaff in the 90's for the IDT feature and use that frequently, too. Depends on what I want to do. I'm pretty basic and so are my machines, so we'll all grow old together.
    "A woman is like a tea bag-you can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water." Eleanor Roosevelt

  17. #17
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    IMHO many of the older machines were made of metel instead o plastic so the parts do not break or wear out. Lots of machines made in the 80's & 90's are stilling sewing strong! Many of the newer computerized machine are "fragile( per Sarint) and you have to be more careful about them then the older machine. I have a new Brother 1500s which is straight stitch only and does not have computer. Hope it is made like the "older" machine and will out last me.
    "In the crazy quilt of life, I'm glad you are in my block of friends."

  18. #18
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    I find that the older metal machines are much better made and easier to repair according to my sewing machine repair man. When a machine is unable to be repaired then it is time to retire it...I have an Elna SU 68 that has been giving me fits with repairs...I love the machine so I have had it repaired three times this last year...The last time I had it repaired, my repair man told me to take it home, enjoy it and give it a burial when it has another problem. I got the message....

  19. #19
    Super Member wolph33's Avatar
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    I have a collection of vintage machines that are awesome but mostly use my newer machines for the bulk of my sewing.I use the vintage every now and then because they are fun.
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/Upnorthcrafter

  20. #20
    Super Member Aurora's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashnquilt View Post
    We are no longer in the age of REPAIR, we are in the age of REPLACE.

    Fortunately, there are still a few of us who prefer REPAIR over REPLACE. I belong to a couple of vintage machine groups and for them, the cut-off point, is 1980.
    Aurora

    "A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot." -Robert A. Heinlein

  21. #21
    Super Member charsuewilson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mjhaess View Post
    I find that the older metal machines are much better made and easier to repair according to my sewing machine repair man. When a machine is unable to be repaired then it is time to retire it...
    I agree. It's when the gears went from metal to plastic, that the machines became less reliable. Mine I believe are bakelite. I just had gears replaced. I was told that parts for my Singer 758 were going to no longer be available. It's 40 years old.

  22. #22
    Super Member catmcclure's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mom-6 View Post
    I don't know so much that the quality intentionally deteriorated so much as that the nylon/plastic gears were "the brand new wave of the future" and seemed like a vast improvement in making things more light weight.

    What was not understood was that these would not have the continued strength over time and usage.

    I don't think anyone expected the degree of breakage from deterioration of the materials or the fact that replacement parts would not be readily available due to constant upgrades with different parts being made.
    The problem was that the men designing the sewing machine parts didn't realize exactly how much we women used the machines. They would never have put plastic parts in any of their toys.

  23. #23
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    I use my mom's old Kenmore (well, it's mine now). I'm going to guess it's 40 years old. It has the "cams" that you can put in to do a few decorative stitches, but I don't use those. I straight stitch and zigzag. It works great, esp with the occasional cleaning. I am happy with it. Now, it is heavy and not very portable, but that's ok.

  24. #24
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    I sewed like crazy using my mom's 1950 Singer, a 15-91. Then I got married in 1973 and moved to So. Cal. and had a 1973 Singer (don't know the style). It was worthless! The nylon gears were a royal pain and it spent more time in the shop than sewing. So between the costs of fabric and notions going up, I gave up sewing and turned to needlepoint, crochet and hand quilting. In 1990, my grandmother gave me a treadle that belonged to my Great Aunt Mae and I started sewing again. Shortly after that, my mother gave me her 15-91 and I have been sewing ever since.

  25. #25
    Super Member klgls's Avatar
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    My Sears Kenmore that I got in 1973 still runs perfectly - my younger sister, who doesn't sew very much, has it now. I have my New Home I purchased in 1990 - and my new Janome 6600. I still use my little New Home - it has a perfect stitch - actually better than the Janome - but I sure like the bells and whistles on the new Janome.

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