Tag Archives: metal

Meet the rest of my sewing machines

A sequel to my first post about some of my mechanical herd…

I’m finally reunited with the two “lost” sewing machines trapped for too long in storage.

sewingmachines-atlas

I’m a sucker for a pink Atlas – my other  one has been a favorite over the years, and this one still hasn’t gone for a test drive since the cord is cut.  I found it on garbage day (or maybe the night before) on my old street.  I can’t remember if I was late for work and trotting down the long hill to the bus, but found this and had to lug it back up and start all over again and ended up being really late, or I found it at the end of dusk slogging up the hill after a long day at work and it made my day.  Either way, I schlepped this beast up a fairly substantial hill and haven’t gotten around to rewiring it for more than a decade.

And my fuzzy memory about rescuing it from its dump fate is because I found and lugged home lots of great sh*t on that street – including an old metal headboard from one of those old long narrow beds that prompted the comment by a passerby, “Do you always carry your bed with you?”  And I believed I said yes, I’m very tired.  But I don’t know what happened to that – I think it was a casualty in the move from that place…

sewingmachines-singer

And this Singer hasn’t had much love – I’m pretty sure it’s a 66, and maybe I already had that 99 and got this thinking it was the same and I could use it for parts?  All I know was it was an early thrift find and I don’t remember if it works now, and maybe I’ll part with it eventually.

So I am done buying old sewing machines… unless I find one that has stitch functions I don’t have, is non-electrically operated (like a treadle in a lovely cabinet), or something that is uniquely and fantastically awesome – and all must be for a great price and reasonably sound condition.  So, I’m really not in the market for them anymore unless I find something truly special.  And that’s a problem.  I wasn’t looking for a zig-zag machine a few weeks ago because I had been looking for the last 15 years or so and gave up – then, presto!

This lovely beast followed me home.

sewingmachine-new home 532

My current localish thrift is pretty decent – not a lot of vintage stuff, but good prices – I got this for $12.99.

Not sure what the inked-on “W” marks or means – hopefully wonderful or wondrous or woo hoo or wildly fantastic or wicked good or woot or wow, and not wonky or wah or wacky or whoops or whoop-de-doo…

sewingmachines-new home 532 detail

I’m also not sure if and how well it works yet, but the needle goes up and down which is the most crucial part.  So as long as I can get this up and running, and if I ever get around putting a hand crank on one of my others, then I’m really not in the market for another, right?  (Really, I’m not trying to jinx myself for the better, I don’t want more heavy old things).

I’ve never owned a new, or less than 40-years-old, sewing machine but I’ve been wanting a serger for some time.  I never felt I had a right (or the money) to buy one since I wanted it for making napkins and small bags and such, and those things can be made with any machine, just with folding and ironing added to the mix.  But I wanted to take out folding and ironing, and in some cases, preserve as many millimeters of the fabric as I could, so I asked for and received this for my last “big” birthday – thank you mom & dad!

janome serger

I took it out for a test run a bit ago, and it’s going to be fun and quite useful, but like the others, it’s waiting patiently and safely until I get its room in shape, and more importantly, I find the damn bolts and wing nuts for the tables to put it on.

(And my brain is on an endless loop saying: “janome-baloney, janome-baloney, janomey-baloney…”)

So it’s even more fitting that my last find was a New Home/Janome to go with my new serger – hopefully it will teach its younger sibling lessons in durability and perseverance.

1 Comment

Filed under collecting, home, sewing, thrifting

Meet (some of) my sewing machines…

I learned to sew (or rather I learned how to use a sewing machine) on my mother’s 1960s era Singer.  I made some shapeless elastic waist skirts, “Jams” style shorts, and a few odds and ends in my youth.  During college, I borrowed the machine to make hats to sell at raves.  You heard me, raves – and the real kind back in the day, illegal and last minute and fun as a bucket of monkeys.  I loved her machine – it was metal and solid and felt like well, a machine in the masculine sense.  A few years later I acquired my first vintage machine at my favorite thrift store for something like $6.99.

machines1I’ve had it for nearly 20 years and it is the machine I use most often, however I just had to put it on a time-out due to a tension issue that springs up after an unpredictable amount of time (sometimes after 3 days of use, sometimes after year or so) and it seems to always fix itself as long as I don’t use it for a month or so.

machines1-det

A partial repair tag still clings to the handle – perhaps this tension issue gave the previous owner troubles as well…  After finding this machine, I was on the lookout for more.  Why?  I think I figured it would be nice to have the same one to use for parts if need be, I wanted one with zigzag and other stitch functions, and I just really fell in love with solid things made of metal that could last lifetimes – yes, the plural form.  I hate everything about the objects of our disposable society these days, but then again, obsolete, near-obsolete, and old timey things weigh a ton and are a pain in the ass to move.  But after a few years, I had amassed a collection of around 15 sewing machines, not to mention several typewriters and boxes of cameras and film equipment.  I didn’t move much then and used much of the equipment as furniture in my cramped apartment, but eventually most of it had to go.  Since I used the sewing machines on a fairly regular basis, I kept a half dozen of them or so.

machines4This is the back-up machine for when the pink Atlas is being temperamental.  It too came from a thrift store and I gasped when I opened the box – I’d never seen one that looked so like an automobile of the same era and I loved the deep green.  It sews strongly and steadily but the needle needs to be coaxed into the fabric in just the right way each time that I tend to get a little impatient with it.  Its best use is for sewing long seams or quilting.

machines2

This is the prettiest and the oldest of my current machines and it works just fine.  The bobbin is a little fiddly to work with so I don’t like to change it as often.  When I had more space (and when I will hopefully have more space again) I’d leave it set up with thread in the opposite color of what I was using in the other machine if I needed to hop on it for something else.  I believe this was originally a treadle machine and motorized later, so I have intentions of trying to turn this back into a manual machine, but I’d rather find a treadle machine for a reasonable price (and I could fit in my car or have delivered) instead.  It is also in a re-purposed Morse case that is annoyingly without a lid, so at the very least, I need a new lid/container for it.

machines3

machines3-det

My brother found this lovely Singer for me, but it’s probably been a decade ago…  I have it nearby because I intend to try to find a couple of missing parts for it, but haven’t done much searching around for them yet.  Ironically, it also came with the manual and a few extra tools, so someone was meticulous about keeping it all together only up to a certain point.  This one is also a more compact “portable” model, so it would be convenient to get it up and running as soon as possible.  I’m also slightly afraid to plug in anything old, so the first time I like to be prepared in case of an inferno.

And then I have perhaps two more?  I’m a little nervous that I can’t find them at the moment, but I believe that they could be in storage along with the other third of our stuff.  Hopefully I didn’t get rid of them in the frustration of the move.  One of them is another Atlas similar to my old stand-by that I found left in the trash on the curb in my old neighborhood.  Its cord was cut, perhaps indicating that the motor was blown or that it needs to be re-wired so I can use it for parts, or get it up and running again.  I believe the other machine is another Singer with a bad motor?

The machines I had but sold years ago included a couple of really old ones that had been motorized but weren’t very functional, I believe yet another Atlas, a less attractive 70s machine, and a blue White that I still can’t understand to this day why I got rid of it – it had a zigzag stitch, WTF?  But I think I thought I’d find another…

Some days I’m a little envious of others with the fancy-schmancy machines that will practically stitch up a cup of coffee or an offspring  but mostly I love my hunky metal beasts and will continue to do so…

Leave a comment

Filed under sewing, thrifting