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Thread: Antique Minnesota Sewing Machine

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    Antique Minnesota Sewing Machine

    Recently received my grandmotherís old sewing machine from her attic. My mother thinks it belonged to my great grandmother at one time. I always loved it as a kid. Was looking to see if anyone has any information on it? I love antiques but Iím absolutely clueless about sewing machines. Thanks ahead of time. -Kristin
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    this was sold by Sears, rebadged. Made by someone else. It is called a vibrating shuyyle or a long shuttle machine. Should be very servicable.

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    shuttle.. no ys

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    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by KristinJ View Post
    Recently received my grandmotherís old sewing machine from her attic. My mother thinks it belonged to my great grandmother at one time. I always loved it as a kid. Was looking to see if anyone has any information on it? I love antiques but Iím absolutely clueless about sewing machines. Thanks ahead of time. -Kristin
    Welcome, I always like it when people get a machine from a family member. Thank you for the pictures. We like pictures.

    As IrisIrene said, Minnesota machines were made for Sears by a variety of manufacturers. I usually do a lot of research to make sure I'm giving correct information, but I'm answering mainly off the top of my head right now. Most of the Minnesota machines I have seen have a large letter to tell you which model you have. (It may be under the piece of fabric around the arm of the machine.) From what I remember there were actually a couple of different "Model A" machines. One of the ways to tell which manufacturer made is the shape of the needle plate. I believe the rectangle needle plate like yours indicate it was made by Davis??

    I'm pretty sure that some of the Minnesota machines take a different needle system than what most modern domestic machines take.

    There is a search box in the upper right as there are several threads here about Minnesota machines. However, the search function here has had a glitch for a while. After the search result show up and you click on a link the content text doesn't show up. It will if you refresh the page. I found the easiest way is with the circle arrow next to the address bar of the page. It depends on the device you are using as to the location of the said arrow. I found out on the Android devices one has to click on the " . . . " and then there will be a refresh icon (circle arrow).

    Many times this type of machine is missing the front slide plate. I see yours is there and it has the serial number on it. Many times the serial doesn't help much as to dating it.

    There are some here that know more than what I'm telling you, like which manufacturer made your machine and which needle system it uses (Jon or Macybaby are more knowledgeable about these machines). It might be a bit before they see your thread.


    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
    Janey & John

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    Thanks for your respond and information Janey! I looked under the fabric there is no marking on what model it is. From the little research I did I think itís a model A, but it may be an earlier model as it isnít marked with the model number. At least what little info I could find it said that. My grandmother and I were very close but she passed 13 years ago and I was young then. Wish I had more backstory to the sewing machine. My grandfather recently had to move out and he knew I loved this machine from when I was a kid so thatís how this fell into my possession. I will dig into the threads and see what I can find as far as more information. There is still a needle attached and there is a bullet shuttle present. 3 of the drawers were filled with old buttons and thread. There was also a vintage looking black tin box marked attachments with all sorts of gadgets in it. Not sure if thatís original with it or not and what those ďattachmentsĒ are all for. 😂 Thanks for the info I have never used a sewing machine in my life but this has peaked my interest as it means a lot to me knowing it was well loved by my grandma. Would like to get it running but not sure how difficult that would be.

    Kristin

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    Super Member jlhmnj's Avatar
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    This Minnesota was made by Davis for Sears mail order catalog in 1903. Perhaps Great Grandmom was married then? A couple years later the models were renamed and this became Minnesota A which was the top of the line. The Davis neeedles are not made anymore but old stock and modern substitutes are available if any sewing is planned. I'm certain everyone here would encourage you to take the old sewing machine for a spin.

    Jon

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    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    Thanks, Jon, I knew you would know.

    Kristin, it is neat that you have the attachments. The usual ones are ones so that you can do tucks, ruffle, narrow hem all with straight stitch. Most manuals have instructions on how to use the attachments. Maybe you have a manual, too???

    I learned to sew with an electric machine and the one time I tried to treadle, I decided at the time it wasn't for me. Then my brother and I refurbished the treadle machine my sister learned to sew on for her. She doesn't use it as much as she would like, but sure enjoys it when she does. I finally got a treadle and just played a bit with it and it really is fun, so now I know why so many enjoy using the treadles.


    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
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    If you read through the stickies at the top of the forum you will find a lot of great information on cleaning and oiling your new machine. It looks to be in great shape! You might also enter “Minnesota site:quiltingboard.com” into google. Don’t put in the quotation marks. I find this works better sometimes than the search function here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sewjourner View Post
    If you read through the stickies at the top of the forum you will find a lot of great information on cleaning and oiling your new machine. It looks to be in great shape! You might also enter “Minnesota site:quiltingboard.com” into google. Don’t put in the quotation marks. I find this works better sometimes than the search function here.
    Good points. I agree totally.


    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
    Janey & John

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    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sewjourner View Post
    If you read through the stickies at the top of the forum you will find a lot of great information on cleaning and oiling your new machine. It looks to be in great shape! You might also enter ďMinnesota site:quiltingboard.comĒ into google. Donít put in the quotation marks. I find this works better sometimes than the search function here.
    Good points. I agree totally.


    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
    Janey & John

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    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    You will find "Sewing Machine Oil" many places. Tri-flow oil is good too.

    Many in the know suggest n o t using 3-in-1 or WD40 to oil your machine.
    Janey & John

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    Quote Originally Posted by jlhmnj View Post
    This Minnesota was made by Davis for Sears mail order catalog in 1903. Perhaps Great Grandmom was married then? A couple years later the models were renamed and this became Minnesota A which was the top of the line. The Davis neeedles are not made anymore but old stock and modern substitutes are available if any sewing is planned. I'm certain everyone here would encourage you to take the old sewing machine for a spin.

    Jon
    Talked with my mom last night. Itís actually my great-great grandmothers so 1903 does make sense. I didnít know by great grandmother had died at 28 years old shortly after giving birth to my grandmother. So my grandmother inherited the machine when her grandmother died. So my grandmother got the sewing machine when she was only 12. Things you learn when you try to learn more information! Thanks everyone for all the information!!!!!! It was so helpful.

    Kristin

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    Super Member OurWorkbench's Avatar
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    I hope you put that information with the machine. That is neat.

    So many times we have wondered about the machines we have come across.

    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
    Janey & John

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    Super Member Rose_P's Avatar
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    Just want to say welcome! You've come to the right place for information about your machine. I don't know much about them at all, but enjoy reading what the knowledgeable people post. Among the few things I've picked up as a newbie when it comes to antique machines is don't force anything. If you get that needle plate off and can't get it back on, be sure to ask somebody. The reason so many of them are lacking the plate is that people living out in remote farms on the prairie or wherever got stuck and didn't have internet pals to help them figure things like that out. There's probably a simple trick to it. Also, don't use anything to clean the black surface, or especially the decals without first checking here. There is a lot of information available about how to do things and where to get parts, and there always seems to be some generous and patient soul who will share knowledge.

    It's wonderful that you know exactly who the original owner of the machine is. Be sure to type out that information and leave it in a drawer of the machine for posterity. In fact, maybe decoupage it inside the drawer (though some might cringe at that idea). Include her full name, dates and location. Someday your heirs will be grateful that you did. This machine might have been common in its day, and it may not even be very unusual now, but what makes it special as a keepsake is the connection to the history of your family, and that is worth preserving. Also, if parts are available and rust is prevented, it will still sew a hundred years from now. My computerized machine is a marvel, but I'm not placing any bets that it will sew a stitch 20 years from now.

    Thanks, Janey, for the workaround for the search box glitch.
    ďYou canít use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.Ē ~Maya Angelou.
    One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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    You may want to throw out all that old thread. It doesn't hold up over time, and thread breakage can make you crazy thinking the sewing machine isn't "sewing right."

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    Quote Originally Posted by WIChix View Post
    You may want to throw out all that old thread. It doesn't hold up over time, and thread breakage can make you crazy thinking the sewing machine isn't "sewing right."
    I, personally, would not throw it out. Probably a lot of it is not very good for sewing. I'm guessing that a lot of it is on wooden spools. I would imagine that some of those that have "2-spool machines" would want them to use on there machines. Since those machines can wind wooden spools, it would come in handy to have the right size spools to wind with modern thread. There are some that don't have those machines that have figured out how to wind wooden spools to use on their antique and vintage machines. Or they could be displayed in a large glass container.

    I understand some thread is not very good to begin with, but sometimes I think that if that was the thread that used to make clothes and quilts that are still around today without popping seams, why wouldn't it be okay to use??

    Janey - Neat people never make the exciting discoveries I do.
    Janey & John

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    Super Member Rose_P's Avatar
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    I agree with Janey. I have a glass candy jar full of old wooden thread spools. Once in a great while if I don't have the right color except in that jar I have used those old threads for things like making a buttonhole in a kitchen towel (great for hanging) or to sew decorative stitches. I would be a little nervous about using it in seams, just because of all the words of caution that come up. A lot depends on how arid your climate might be. You can give thread a good yank and see whether it breaks easily. I haven't had problems with the machine while using it. If anything, it's less fuzzy than some modern cotton thread. I also have a little group of short spools of silk thread that my mother had for handmade buttonholes. I haven't found a use, but like the look of them. She would have been 100 years old this month, and learned every intricate detail of hand sewing in school as a child.
    ďYou canít use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.Ē ~Maya Angelou.
    One's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

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