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Thread: What is the fascination in antique Singer sewing machines?

  1. #1
    Member apiarist's Avatar
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    With modern machines providing almost perfect tension, a vast array of stitches and reliability second to none - why do so many of you crave these older machines? I do have an old Singer treadle, but I have great difficulty sewing on it and it is only used as an ornament in the corner.

  2. #2
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    For me, the fascination is the fact something so old that is still working in itself is a marvel. But mostly, my treadle is one that belonged to my great aunt and using it is just plain fun. The rest of the family thought I was crazy until I made my sister try it, then she had fun and even felt she was getting exercise at the same time. My other machine is the one I learned to sew on, and it still works as well as it did in 1950. Had a great laugh when I used the zig zag attachment and it was throwing the fabric back and forth. (Something I had forgotten.)

    I have featherweights because they are so darn cute!!! And they sew well too, and I have 3 because I didn't know show to stop the bid once I won the first one. Oh well. So maybe I will have one painted, but not right now. May sell the extras too. Not sure what I want to do.

    But the older machines work so well and the newer machines seem to crash from time to time. I do have the Janome 6600 and love it!!! So I use the other machines for other things.

  3. #3
    Member apiarist's Avatar
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    Maybe it is my treadle machine that is at fault and would benefit by an overhaul. Who knows it may be reinstated yet!

  4. #4
    Super Member TonnieLoree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by apiarist
    With modern machines providing almost perfect tension, a vast array of stitches and reliability second to none - why do so many of you crave these older machines? I do have an old Singer treadle, but I have great difficulty sewing on it and it is only used as an ornament in the corner.
    Thank you for this thread. I don't "get it" either. I have always wanted to ask this question, so I am so glad that you asked it first. Seriously, what IS the big deal? I think that you and I are in for a huge amount of flack, but I did not start it. :wink:

  5. #5
    Power Poster alikat110's Avatar
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    Nostalgia. I remember my grandmother teaching me how to sew on one.

  6. #6
    Super Member Lucky Patsy's's Avatar
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    I cant take apart a computerized machine and work on it myself, but I can with the older mechanical machines! It is fun to tinker! I also think many of the older machines are a thing of beauty in and of themselves. And I am sentimental, I love knowing who first owned these machines, and like to imagine where they have been and what was created with them. :D

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    Super Member purplemem's Avatar
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    Here are my reasons to want a treadle:
    1. My grandmother had one that I used to sew
    2. It does not need electricity
    3. I like the "oldness" of it, recycling and reusing things past
    4. I want the exercise as I have very limited leg movements

    I don't want the featherweight, or hundreds more, just a good working treadle. I'll find one someday, when I have time and money at the same instance.

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    I was amazed that I saw 4 this past week end at yard sales. I thought of all of the people on here who love them. I don't have an interest in them myself.

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    Glad you asked because I don't understand it either. I have an old treadle machine and use it for an accent table. Never thought of trying to sew with it.

  10. #10
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    It took me a while to figure out why I love sewing on the 1941 Singer 15-30 versus all the other machines we have around, no high dollar ones with perfect tension, etc.

    Its the sound. Best I can tell without research is that it sews in A sharp. The New Home is E flat and I might as well be grinding corn.

    I wonder if manufacturers are onto this?

    Should mention we come from hillbilly musicians.

  11. #11
    Senior Member SharBear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TonnieLoree
    Quote Originally Posted by apiarist
    With modern machines providing almost perfect tension, a vast array of stitches and reliability second to none - why do so many of you crave these older machines? I do have an old Singer treadle, but I have great difficulty sewing on it and it is only used as an ornament in the corner.
    Thank you for this thread. I don't "get it" either. I have always wanted to ask this question, so I am so glad that you asked it first. Seriously, what IS the big deal? I think that you and I are in for a huge amount of flack, but I did not start it. :wink:
    I'd be glad to take the flack with you! I don't "get it" either!

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    Quote Originally Posted by apiarist
    With modern machines providing almost perfect tension, a vast array of stitches and reliability second to none - why do so many of you crave these older machines? I do have an old Singer treadle, but I have great difficulty sewing on it and it is only used as an ornament in the corner.
    Because the older machines (think featherweight, etc) also have a perfect straight stitch, equal or better than any of the modern machines, and many have more stitches, and you don't take an advanced degree, or take classes, to use all of their features. The older machines don't have a "shelf life", unlike modern machines that require a fair amount of servicing, and whose electronic components are vulnerable to all sorts of things including obsolescence. The older machines are much lighter and more compact than the newer, bigger machines, and these well-built, all metal machines, if cared for properly, will never wear out, unlike modern machines. If your electricity goes off you can still sew on a treadle, unlike a modern machine. And I certainly question the "reliability" part of your claim. I'm sure Billy can give you a lot more reasons, but these are some of mine.

  13. #13
    Junior Member Diamondrose's Avatar
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    I learned how to sew in the 50's. I had to thread the needle, cut the thread, etc. myself so I don't mind taking the time to do it now. I rarely use anything but a straight or a zig zag stitch so why invest in something I won't use and probably wouldn't like.

    It gives me a lot of satisfaction to sit and piece a quilt on a treadle that was made 115 years ago.

    If someone wants to give me a fancy machine that has almost perfect tension and sews a variety of stitches I wouldn't refuse it - but I wouldn't consider buying one.

  14. #14
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    I love my Singer treadle. It sews through anything! If you take a lot of workshops or classes, a Featherweight is nice (don't have one but have tried one at a class). The name says it all, the are very light to tote around. I must admit that I just don't trust older electric sewing machines (old cords and motors) so I don't have any. I think it's great that people are refurbishing older machines to use. It seems that everything made today is cheaper to throw away than repair.

  15. #15
    Super Member deedum's Avatar
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    1.They are a tank! Not like the plastic stuff today.
    2.All heavy duty parts, my dh can repair anything on them for me unlike the new ones.
    3.I like to think of all the women who had sewn on them and what they would of made. Kinda brings you closer to the machines and the history.
    4.Not pricey like the new ones
    5. Just plain fun!
    I guess I don't even need any reasons, I just love them!

  16. #16
    Super Member frauhahn's Avatar
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    My treadle is lots of fun, good exercise and sews very nicely, and as stated above-it's my "insurance" if the electric goes out! Haven't had my 15-91 very long, but it will be my machine to learn fmq on. My featherweight is going to go on vacation with me-takes lots less room in the jeep than my Brother portable. And-they are pretty machines!

  17. #17
    Power Poster sueisallaboutquilts's Avatar
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    Gaigai said pretty much what I am thinking. I never used a treadle but I would like to "treadilize" my 15 if I can find a cabinet.
    The craftsmanship of the old machines is amazing.Not only do they work great but they are so beautiful! The detailing is wonderful! I have a Bernina and love it but I'm using my old Singers more and more.
    The sound of the old machines is very pleasing to me and they are so reliable. I also love antiques so I guess it's natural for me to be drawn to them. You can't get me in a furniture store except to buy a sofa :D

  18. #18
    Senior Member Hinterland's Avatar
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    Why? Because my mom's old Singer Red Eye is easy. No fussing with the settings - I just sit and sew.

    Janet

  19. #19
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    I love the featherweights from the 50's because I saw my mother and aunts sewing on them. They stitch a great straight stitch, the are EASY to take to classes and sewing trips. great for piecing work. Nostalgia.

  20. #20
    Senior Member Hen3rietta's Avatar
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    They are the best of form meeting function. Beauty and utility rolled into one. There is also the fact that they can be maintained and repaired by almost anyone, never have to have their computerized components updated, and they don't have to be treated with kid gloves in case they should break.

  21. #21
    Senior Member flowerjoy's Avatar
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    As I am getting older I like to see things old that are still working... LOL ... and many of the older machines follow the keep-it-simple rule ... also good for some of us.

  22. #22
    Super Member KatFish's Avatar
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    I have a really nice collection of old Singers. I love the perfect straight stitch, and all the great decorative stitches (77 different ones) I can make with a box of cams. I love the way they look, the way they sound and how easy it is set the tension myself. I even like seeing the "Made in America" stamp. I like that someday I can pass any of these machines down to my DD's or grandchildren, and the machine will still run perfectly. I even like the price of the old machines. Most of them I have picked up for under $25.

  23. #23
    Super Member LindaR's Avatar
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    I just love old machines...the FW is a marvel, I have a girl friend who use to have one on her sailboard in FL and I almost cringed thinking of the humidity...her Mother always took one on mission trips overseas...they are so reliable...

  24. #24
    Junior Member Janet Leigh's Avatar
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    I sew daily on a 1934 Featherweight that I wouldn't part with. I have another machine that I use for fancy stitches when I need it. I love the simplicity of my Featherweight, just a plain straight stitch that is perfect everytime. When I teach classes, I put my Featherweight in its little carrying case and go. Some of us have the fascination and some don't, I guess that's why there are so many different types of sewing machines on the market. If we all liked the same thing life would be boring!! :-)

  25. #25
    Power Poster CarrieAnne's Avatar
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    They are so pretty! I have always loved anything antique or vintage, lol!

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