Monday, July 7, 2014

Those 3/4 Sized Machines

What is it about pint-sized things that we think are so cute? Is it just size? Is it a bit of the toy-kid-fun factor? I have several 3/4 sized sewing machines and I love then all. For starters, there is the classic  Featherweight:
Singer 221 Featherweight with Sewing Kits
So much has been already said about this little wonder that is aluminum so is very lightweight at 16 pounds and comes with a compact black carrying case. Thousands of these sewing machines were made so they are not scarce but demand is high (and so are the prices!).

A Singer 99 is another classic 3/4 sized sewing machine and my favorite of this type: drop in bobbin, straight stitch only, belt driven. I have several Singer 66's which are the full sized model with one as a treadle and another with a hand crank. The smaller sized 99's fit nicely with the bentwood cases to make them portable but they are not light: 31 pounds in the bentwood case. Here are two of my stars:

Singer 99 Hand Crank
Singer 99 with bentwood case behind
Another one that deserves the cute award is the Singer 185, this one in green:
Singer 185J in cabinet
It is also not very light and works best in a cabinet due to it's weight and inherent vibration. Not to be outdone, Kenmore wanted a piece of the action so in the 1970's they produced a whole line of 3/4 sized sewing machines with the model numbers 1030, 1040, 1050, with 1060 becoming a full sized model. I have a 1030 on permanent loan from a friend (thanks, Fran) and a 1050:
Fran's Kenmore 1030

Kenmore 1050 with case behind

As each model number progresses, more stitches were added so the 1030 has basic straight stitch, zig zag, blind hemmer, and 4-step buttonhole and the 1050 has all of the previous stitches with a rick rack stitch, and several stitches for stretch fabrics. They come with the clam-shell carrying case that has a rose embossed design and, oh, it's really is a lighter model at only 21 pounds.

Now we go back to Singer who made a very groovy Genie 354 with a compact carrying case:
Singer Genie 354 in case

Singer Genie 354 opening..
Singer Genie 354 ready to sew!

Singer Genie 354  features
There are not many features but all the basic ones you would want: zig zag in 4 widths, needle position, blind hemmer, rick rack, and another type of zig zag that goes from narrow to wide. Mine works quite well with the feel and sound of a Singer 401. The foot control should fit into a compartment in the shell that slides over the whole machine but it is too tight a fit and I fear I will break the aging plastic so I have it on the side as I do for many other sewing machines. The original had a pouch with accessories that is long gone but mine has a zipper foot and needles in a plastic box and I can add a screw driver, needles, and bobbins. The manual is available free on the Singer website, another plus. It weighs in at only 18 pounds but the handle is angled for right hand carry only and I'm a lefty so this was an oversight at Singer don't you think? All in all, they each have their plus and minus factors so should be bought like any sewing machine: what do you want to do with it? With so many choices I just had to try them all!

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