Vintage Sewing Machines that Live at My House

For a recent birthday, my husband gave me a Singer Featherweight sewing machine. Well, to be strictly accurate, I found her on Etsy and since it was within a day or two of my birthday, I just called her my birthday present (sort of reminds me of the Lord of the Rings “my precious” but I digress). What a fantastic little machine she is! She needed a bit of work, but between YouTube videos, and ordering parts online from The Singer Featherweight Shop, we got her cleaned up and sewing again. I also took her to my local quilt shop, The Stitchery, where their wonderful sewing machine repairman give her some TLC and now she sews like a dream. The scrollwork on the head, and the paint and decals are even in decent shape too. I looked up her serial number, and from that I think she was manufactured in 1948. Into the bargain, she came with the carrying case and manual, as well as quite a few attachments. We’ve sewn several projects together, and the old girl just purrs away and sews the best little quarter inch seam you’ve ever seen. Heavenly!

The sawtooth star quilt behind the Featherweight is one my grandmother’s. There’s a better view of the quilt in another photo you’ll see as you read on.

I’ve had this little toy Singer Model 20 since I was very young – it does work, but it’s had some modifications over the years that would make a connoisseur of fine machines cringe. Note the nail for a thread spindle, and what you can’t see in the photos, is the little wooden spool for the handle used to turn the fly wheel when you hand crank it to sew. But no matter, these DIY fixes where done by yours truly, and at the time all I cared about was making it sew potholders! It does have the cute little carrying case still intact. According to the serial number, she was manufactured between 1914 – 1922. Now days she decorates one of the shelves in my quilting studio – and she’s ok with retirement as she gets a smile and a pat on the head nearly every day.

Next up is another Singer machine, a treadle model this time. The cabinet is original, and belonged to my husband’s grandmother. As a child, he remembers spending hours under there, pumping the treadle and pretending it was a space ship. We aren’t sure what happened to her original machine. He thinks it was long ago given or thrown away, to make room for a new electric model. The machine in the cabinet now, he found for me at an antique store, but we don’t know anything about its previous life. From the serial number we think it was made in 1908. At the moment, the machine doesn’t work, and the leather strap that would’ve connected it to the treadle is long gone. We had the cabinet refinished many years ago, and now I just tung oil it periodically and it continues to be in good condition – the wood grain really is quite beautiful!

And finally, another treadle machine, called the Royal Ruby. This one was given to me by an elderly lady who has a farm near ours – she was cleaning out and giving away and this machine needed a new home. She asked around the valley and my name came up, because many people in the area know I quilt, and now Ruby lives at my house! She needed quite a bit of cleaning, and looks decent as she is now. But she really needs more intensive work so time for more YouTube videos! All I have found out about this one is she was made in Westfalia by a company called Anker (which was previously known as Hengstenberg). I can read the serial number, but so far have not been able to find any data base to tell me what year Ruby was manufactured. Like my other treadle machine, this one doesn’t sew anymore.

The quilt behind Ruby is one my aunt made.

I love these old machines! I’m glad they are still around and even now can be found in antique stores and online, and in people’s houses!

Thank you for reading about my lovelies. Happy quilting!

3 thoughts on “Vintage Sewing Machines that Live at My House

  1. I took a sewing course at the Singer store when I was young! It has been invaluable as I have made so many curtains, Halloween costumes and my favorite “shift dresses” in the 60s!
    My mom save all the scraps and had a quilt made from them when I was in college. I fear sewing skills are like cursive writing. Do we teach time anymore? Thanks for the memory!

  2. I love my Featherweight. So far it has been the best machine I’ve ever bought. It just purs away in classes. An excellent investment!

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