Thursday, September 1, 2016


What is it about those 3/4 sized sewing machines that has many of us so mesmerized? We love the Kenmore 158-1030 to the 1050, Elna Lotus and Stella, Bernina Sport, the Singer 127, 128, 99, and of course, the Singer 221 a.k.a. The Featherweight. Tthere were a few duds made, such as the Singer Genie and the remake of the Featherweight, but Singer certainly found it's market early with the 99 and 221. Today I'll tell you about a 3/4 sized machine that surprised me.

Heading home after our church food distribution program, I usually stop at a local thrift store because on Tuesday it's Senior Day and I want that extra 40% off. I wasn't disappointed when I couldn't find the Riccar someone told me they spied earlier in the day because I did find a Simplicity Lite:
Simplicity Lite
It did not have the power cord/foot control with it so I couldn't test it but it was priced accordingly and I figured I could take a chance. It came with the nice storage compartment in the front that held a few bobbins, extra feet, empty bottle for oil, feed dog cover plate, and a tiny felt circle for the spool pin.
Simplicity Lite accessories
 Once home I found a cord setup that fit, got a little oil into her, and she ran! I couldn't resist taking it all apart to see what the gears looked like and was amazed to find metal gears for the feed dogs and only nylon or plastic parts for the cam assembly. A bit of cleaning, grease on those gears, and more oil and she was ... sounding worse. What had I done? Take a look at the stitch selection: there is no length or width adjustments, just 4 lengths of straight stitch and three widths for zigzag, two utility stitches (elastic and hemmer), plus a four step buttonhole. No dials, just those 9 selections but what more could you want if you are just starting out or only using a sewing machine for occasional mending? When I switched to zigzag it sounded fine, only straight stitch was noisy. Tension started to get worse and since it was getting late I put it all away and called it a day.

The next morning I find the Simplicity Lite staring at me from the table where I left it the night before and now I remembered an old "trick": I go get a new needle and good thread. This makes all the difference as now it stitches much better. There are still some skipped stitches so I might have to get back in and see what else I can do but look how good those stitches look right now:
Simplicity Lite stitch sample (good buttonhole!)
The yellowing on the plastic body parts doesn't faze me either since I know how to use a bleaching agent to get them clean. What? I didn't tell you about this yet? Well, here it is: you can use a solution from the beauty supply store to bleach out those yellowed parts. Having read about this on Facebook, there was a whole recipe that I carefully wrote down but then I read the comments. A hairdresser said when she had leftover developer she used it to clean up a whole list of items. One day she figured out she could try it on plastic parts that yellowed, usually due to exposure to the sun. Sewing in a sunny room? It might brighten your mood but it will also yellow certain plastics on a vintage sewing machine. The hairdresser said all she used was cream developer in 40 volume so that's what I bought. I carefully "painted" it with a foam brush onto some very yellowed parts,

Yellowed parts with blue tape to hide name plates

slipped them into a zippered plastic bag and placed it in the sun for several hours.
Sunning themselves: a little vacation for your sewing machine parts!
 They brightened considerably but those parts that were the most effected needed to have a second dose. Some of the plastic had marks left on it so I buffed them out with a compound used on automobile clear coat finishes. All in all, they looked much better so it was worth the time and effort.
Looks pretty good and already sold!
 For under $5 I have enough of this bleaching agent to whiten anything that comes my way. And that's your fun tip-of-the-day!


Jonathan said...

That Simplicity Lite is a cute machine! It would be perfect for sewing classes.

Beth said...

Thanks for the tip on bleaching yellowing plastic parts!