Monday, August 17, 2015

Looking Out For Each Other

Community. That's what makes this sewing machine adventure so much fun! This week I've had four people reach out to me with offers of sewing machines and I haven't even made a good connection with two of them yet. The first one came in a Facebook message about having a treadle sewing machine in a cabinet that needed more work than the owners wanted to do and I was getting first pick. I asked for a photo but there was no response; 24 hours later I get another message saying it was on the curb: come and get it. But I didn't get that message until hours later when I was home and looking at my Facebook account. There was the photo and I could see the cabinet did need work and the machine itself had lead a long and work-worn life. They noted it only lasted ten minutes as neighbors were grateful to find it to replace one they had lost in a flood. This looked like a win-win to me when someone who really wants something meets up with someone who wants to get rid of it. No hard feelings and a good result in the end.

A few days later I get a late afternoon call from a friend asking if I wanted an old sewing machine that was at their neighbors garage sale. By then everything was half price so for a mere pittance I could have this old black Singer in a Queen Anne style cabinet. He read off the serial number and I identified it as a model 15 with a motor off the back but the electrical cords looked like they were shot. But what about the condition of the paint and decals? "Karen, they look really great!" so I drove over immediately, less than 10 minutes away. He was right: decals were near perfect, no chips along the front edge, but the cords were dangerous and no foot control. That was alright as I could change those things easily enough but the cabinet would need refinishing yet had a nice pattern to the wood, really extra special and worth refinishing.
Singer Queen Anne style cabinet
Looking through to the wood pattern

Singer 15-90 all cleaned up and stitching great
Once home and worked on, I was a bit stymied by the replacement of the belt. Using the right v-belt and many many adjustments I just couldn't get the motor to run very fast. It was the belt, not the motor, so I finally put a stretchy belt on it. This is somewhat of a no-no because they are supposed to put a strain on the motor but, clearly, the v-belt was doing that. It worked great with a stretch belt and I had all of the speed I could want. This was one nice sewing machine. But here's the real kicker: it's a blackside. It was manufactured in 1941, an era where metal was at a premium so many of the chrome finished items were now made with a black finish. It's a bit erratic where maybe attachment feet are black, or needleplates, but I think I've hit the jackpot with this one: faceplate, presser foot, needle plate and slide plate, round backplate, presser foot take-up lever, even the spool pin are black. Wow. I already have at least one set of black accessories and several black bobbins so I think I've got a real gem here for a collector. But it sews great, too!
Presser foot and needleplate in black

Faceplate in black (trust me, it's black)
Black accessories with some silver

I put it to the test with a buttonhole project, making five buttonholes on a new blouse with the standard green box, straight stitch and shank buttonhole attachment. The thread cutter on the presser foot bar needed to be removed but that was about all. See how nice they turned out?
Buttonhole attachment made this 5/8 inch buttonhole
Community. My community of sewing friends, some old, some new friends, help me locate gems to remind me that they are gems when they find a vintage sewing machine and think "Karen might like that." Indeed, she might.

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