I know a lot of us have really new and modern sewing machines, but there are also a quit of few who has a really old one. I can imagine there are great story behind our sewing machine, old or new. Why did you chose for the one you have, or maybe it was a gift or you found it somewhere…
I’m asking you to share your story, just for fun.

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  • 6e3656aa7036783b3e4bbc29f34d1029385afafe_large

    Sep 3, 2009, 01.31 PMby wzrdreams

    My Sears Kenmore used to belong to my aunt. It’s a twin of the one my mother had since she was atleast my age (probably younger) so it’s probably atleast 30 yrs old. It’s rock solid, I love it. When my grandmother died (who taught me to sew) my aunt got her machine, so I got my aunts machine. I never asked, but I bet the machines were gifts from my grandmother.

    1 Reply
    • 6e3656aa7036783b3e4bbc29f34d1029385afafe_large

      Sep 3, 2009, 01.34 PMby wzrdreams

      Then, when my mother upgraded (to an even better old kenmore!) a few years later, my sister got her machine.

      and THEN, when I was in college, one of the apartments I moved into had an abandonded Sears Kenmore (more basic than mine) stashed in the closet… It’s now in my hall closet as back up (not that I’ve ever needed a back up… these machines are like tanks).

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    Sep 4, 2009, 02.11 AMby judeb

    Out of my several machines (currently 7) I have 2 favourites, not necessarily the ones I use most, but I am sentimentally attached to both. The first is an Essex miniature chain stitch machine from the late 1940’s, it was my mums alternate sewing machine ( she had an old electric singer that one of my sister in-laws now has)and she made various clothes (I still have a couple today)for my brothers and sister on it when there were power failures or the singer was playing up, I learnt to sew on this machine when I was about 6 just things for my dolls etc but I still love it and now my 6 year old is learning to sew on it too, it always brings back happy memories of my mum. My other favourite is an old Singer model 15K manufactured on June 11 1937 in Clydebank Scotland that I picked up in a sale for £10 just outside London just under 30 years ago, it has all the attachments (which I probably use more than the machine itself) and still works like a dream. I have made several wedding dresses for friends on the treadle and they all felt it was extra special because of that.

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    Sep 11, 2009, 05.00 AMby thecuriouskiwi

    I learnt to sew on my Mum’s Globe machine which was wonderful and forgiving, it still chugs along to this day. I started really sewing “properly” with a passion while studying at Uni. I began collecting patterns and making lots clothes for myself so I figured I should buy myself a machine. I was at Uni for 4 years and it was tough work so when I graduated my machine was a reward to myself for sticking with it and not giving up. I did plenty of thorough investigation, test driving a lot of machines before settling on my Elna 2130 and because I was still fairly money challenged I had to lay-buy it. I think it took me about 3 months to pay it off but the day I picked it up so so exciting and it really took my sewing to the next level. Because it was such a special purchase for me and I worked so hard ot pay it on I put a huge personal value on it. My poor machine got left behind when I moved to Australia and I missed my hobby a lot. But my Mum bought it over 4 years later when she visited in her suitcase. I was thoroughly bubble wrapped and nestled in amongst her clothing and arrived safe and sound so I picked up where I left off and I couldn’t be happier to have my hobby back on track. My over locker story is less interesting but it is still as treasured as my Elna. We got given a cash payout from the government as part of the GFC stimulus package and by then I was thoroughly back into sewing and I knew exactly what was missing so I did the same investigation and chose the Bernina 1150MDA. It’s a great machine and I am so glad I used my money for that. I was bought up to value my possessions and while I may upgrade my machines eventually but I intend to hold on to both my original treasures for a long time to come.

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    Sep 11, 2009, 11.46 AMby anajan

    I have just one sewing machine, and that one is my age (30 years old!!!). It is a BAGAT machine (BAGAT used to be a sewing machines factory of the former Yugoslavia), model Visnja (Cherry – in English). Here are few photos of the machine I found on the internet:

    http://www.bagatservis.8m.com/images/bagatt.jpg http://www.market.ba/slike/slika_181495.0.jpg

    My father bought it to my mother the same year I was born, but she used it only for sewing curtains and bed sheets. When I was around 14 my mom sewed me a skirt, but it took her a long time to finish it. Being an impatient teenager, I thought I could do it better and faster than my mother did. So, I started sewing. The only 2 lessons my mom gave me were how to thread the machine and how to trace a pattern from Burda pattern sheets. I remember my huge frustration with the machine when I tried to make 13 button holes. It was my first time sewing button holes, and I had to make 13 of them! It nearly drove me mad. The machine still works perfectly, with occasional servicing and oiling. The only problem I have with it is that it can’t sew knits and stretchy fabrics. The feeding dogs are too rough for such delicate fabrics and they pull the fabric too hard. Recently I read on some local forum that this model of machine was designed before knits were used, and therefore the machine works only with woven fabrics. Hence, I am completely unexperienced when it comes to sewing knits. The machine has some programs for embroidery as well, but I never used them. I might give them a try. The handy thing is that most of the machine’s parts are compatible with Singer’s, so I have no problems finding them. The BAGAT factory still exists, but as far as I know, it was taken by some Chinese factory few years ago.

    I am considering buying a serger, but I am just too lazy to actually look for it :).

    2 Replies
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Nov 6, 2009, 10.07 AMby katexxxxxx

      Knit fabrics have been around since before the sewing machine was invented. They were used for men’s pantaloons in the Regency/Napoleonic period, and sewing machines didn’t come along for another 40 or so years…

      One thing to look for on the machine is a presser foot pressure regulator. You usually only need to lessen the foor pressure a bit for it to feed light fabrics without problems unless the feed dogs have been damaged. Stretch fabrics can be sewn on old machines: I have sewn them on my 1909 Jones Family CS hand crank, my 1923 Singer 99K hand crank, and my 1936 Singer 15-88 treadle, all of which are straight stitch only machines.

      Do try the embroidery patterns you have. They can be a lot of fun.

      And a serger may be something to add to the Christmas wish list. :)

    • C9c58f92ed60d1987d1a711106e37cb70262f08a_large

      Nov 6, 2009, 10.14 AMby anajan

      Thanks Kate! I’ll take a look at my machine. I’ve never really given it a thought – I had problems sewing knits and never tried to think out of the box.

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    Nov 6, 2009, 01.30 AMby gedwoods

    My wife had a Singer machine with lots of programmable features, but I tried several times over the years to use it and failed miserably every time. So when I learned to sew, I decided not to use the Singer machine, but went out and bought a relatively inexpensive Brother machine with the idea of upgrading eventually if I needed to. So far I haven’t felt the need. I think, based on what I know now, that maybe the Singer machine needed servicing – my wife wasn’t a great sewer and the machine was hardly ever used. I invested more in a serger than in my sewing machine. However, while out west visiting my brother at Christmas last year, I needed access to a machine and my sister-in-law dug out a really old Singer machine. There were no instructions even on threading it (and nothing was obvious). So I dug around on the net and found a set of instructions, in Spanish, that I was able to decipher enough to figure out how to thread and use the machine. It was a model from the 1950s. Worked fine! So I guess I feel less “afraid” of the machines than I used to!

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    Nov 6, 2009, 04.37 PMby katensew

    My Jones De-luxe is almost in daily use and was given to me when I studied dress and design at college in 1969 . It has the adjustable pressure gauge on the presser foot and the drop-down dog feed plus a darning feature. It has 21 built in embroidery cams plus buttonholer ( some stitches take a twin needle ). My mother had it for about 4 years after I qualified and I bought a portable Frister and Rossman ( I no longer have this but it did lovely buttonholes ! ) as I could transport this from classes. When I settled and had my son she returned the Jones to me, She had used it extensively as she was a trained tailoress. I have made all sort of things e.g. boat awnings, waterproofs, tents, coats, suits, babywear etc – as well as making skating wear in Lycra. I had a son so did not get much use of the embroidery stitches. They have now found a new lease of life as I dabble in patchwork and I sometimes use them to embellish plain fabrics. I quilt, free – machine Gosh the list goes on ! I have a Bernina Bernette overlocker bought in 1986 that again is in constant use , have designed and made skating wear, disco- dance wear, sports wear, track suits , the list goes on here too. Both machines are permanently set up in the spare room. OH and I have just purchased the second belt ever for the Jones — a neoprene one !!! Sounds different — seems to Purr now !!

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    Nov 7, 2009, 12.31 AMby katexxxxxx

    I have to admit to having too many machines, most of which have a story attached to them… And a name! I won’t drop the lot on you all at once, but here are a few specials…

    SPINNING JENNY: so named by my dear bro, as he said it was as old as the Spinning Jenny! It isn’t quite. This one is my 1923 Singer 66K, built in the Kilbowie factory near Glasgow in 1923. The Lotus pattern decals are in splendid condition, but the case is somewhat disreputable, having spent some time lurking in a cellar. Originally this machine was built with a back screw foot, and when I bought her in 1976, I was a student. There was no internet and no access to the world-wide support net of old sewing machine enthusiasts that I now tap into, and I could not get additional feet for the machine. I had the back screw presser bar swapped for a standard side screw one, pinched my mum’s collection of Singer feet, and got busy!

    As a student that darling machine earned me huge kudos as an adventurous sewist, willing to sew clothing, costumes, stretch fabrics, leather, tarpaulin and vinyl, making anything from fairy costumes for a new tilt for a Land Rover out of a bit of tarp that fell off a lorry somewhere on the A1 up near Durham! It also helped me sew spray decks for kayaks, new windows into tents, and earned me beer and dinner on many occasions! I still have that junk-shop find. My first machine, though not the first I ever used…

    THE FRANKENSINGER: This is the first machine I ever used, aged about seven. Mu dad gave it to my mum after my brother was born, for Christmas in 1958. Mum used it to make curtains and mend things, and to make frocks for my sister and I. I have very clear memories of some of those frocks. In the early 60’s we moved to Malta for a few years (Dad was RAF air crew), and on the way the sewing machine was dropped off the loading crane into the hold of the ship taking our stuff (well, some of it! Some crates lead an adventurous life and didn’t catch us up fpr 18 months!) out to Malta, and it was broken. Cast iron is, after all, brittle… There were no new machines to be had in Malta at that time, so the little old sewing machine fixing guy in Valetta took the box and the hand wheel and guard and some other parts from Mum’s original machine, a body from another, and a motor and light from other spares he had handy, and cobbled together the machine my mother used for the next 20 or so years. That first summer we were in Malta, we went to the malta Weave company, where they wove cotton fabrics, and I fell in love with a sort of rust coloured bit. Mum said I could have it if I helped to make the skirt I wanted. I think I did most of it under her guidance. I certainly put the zip in. She failed miserably to tell me that zips were difficult, so it went in perfectly, and I never developed Zip Fear! :D Zips go in nicely. End of zip phobia. I had to sit on three cushions to reach all the parts of the machine, and I had the foot control on a pile of large book, and had to press the horrid little button with my big toe in order to stop it setting off at top speed every time I breathed, but we learned to work together. That was the first of many things I made with the help of that machine.

    The machine got named the FrankenSinger at a later date. Mum gave it to me a couple or three years back. I cleaned it, oiled it, gave it a new needle, and it sews as sweetly as sugar candy. It doesn’t go backwards, as the original did, and it looks slightly odd with two different decal patterns on it and the rather bashed box, but I still love it. And I STILL sew in bare feet!

    And I may now have 24 machines in the house, but I swear I don’t collect them – THEY collect ME!

  • E4b64bee83c80798a9d4cb7f545e503a4fdce553_large

    Nov 9, 2009, 10.37 PMby lookingpast

    Oh, such wonderful stories! Here’s mine to add to the collection:

    Mom’s Featherweight. Mom bought a Singer 221 (Featherweight) in 1954. I learned to sew on that machine and still have it. The machine is just wonderful, a solid little performer. Mom made boat sails (ok, for a small boat) on it and several sets of sail covers, as well as boat cushions and curtains for the various houses we lived in. In the 1970s we lived in Lima, Peru and had a seamstress who came to the house a couple of times a month. She wanted to buy Mom’s Featherweight, but it wasn’t for sale! When Mom died I inherited the Featherweight and it’s still my favorite machine. That little baby has the sweetest-sounding motor and makes the absolute best buttonholes possible.

    I also have a Kenmore Elite that gets cranky and a Brother that can’t stand to get lint in her innards—plus 3 Singer model 66s, a Singer 128, a Free Westinghouse, a Free treadle, an old White, an old Elnita, and a Read’s Sailmaker. And two other old hand crank machines I need to work on. (My husband is under the delusion they’re valuable so he doesn’t fuss at me about them.)

    One of the Singer 66s was ‘born’ in 1937 in Clydesbank, Scotland. When she arrived at my place, she still had the original English motor and wiring—which I quickly replaced with a hand crank. How a Singer 66 from Clydesbank got to East Texas remains her secret, but it’s no secret that she’s my second favorite machine. When I had foot surgery in September, I used the time to make new slipcovers on my Scottish 66.

    My little Brother that hates lint came to me when a co-worker decided to sell off all her sewing things. The Brother has a cartridge that the thread goes in instead of threading the ‘normal’ way. She’s much more even-tempered than the Kenmore and is my third favorite machine and the one I use most often. You don’t have to oil this machine (I triple-checked the manual!) but do have to brush out the lint on a regular basis. Like, every day.

    I love my sewing machines. I love to think about the women who owned them before me, and it sometimes feels like the women talk to me, telling me stories about their families and the threads that held them all together.

    1 Reply
    • 985f0154fdefdf284531d76b36fbffee7a42548e_large

      Nov 10, 2009, 09.36 AMby katexxxxxx

      The Kilbowie factory on Clydesbank was once the largest factory in the world. Not just the largest sewing machine factory, but the largest of any kind. It turned out more machines than most of the rest of the Singer factories combined! Thousands per week. I’d be more surprised to find a corner of the world one wasn’t lurking in! :D

      My Featherweight is also the sweetest little thing, purrs like a kitten, and kids love it. It was the gift of a friend.

      I’m glad to see another member with an extensive and eclectic collection from all over the place.

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    Nov 10, 2009, 02.02 PMby misssylver

    My Dad bought me my first sewing machine in the second year of Uni but I didn’t really start using it properly till this year under the strict guidance of Alex and the cat. Oh the mistakes one small pair of black paws can cause.

    1 Reply
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      Nov 11, 2009, 04.14 PMby katexxxxxx

      Mine try to act as fabric weights… Strange how they always choose the CUSTOMER’S black velvet…

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    Nov 11, 2009, 04.42 PMby misssylver

    Oh God don’t. BC is awful for it. He stands on the pedal and peeps up at me whilst my poor Singer goes haywire. Or attempts to eat pins. How many do you have and are they of just the right colour to clash horribly with the black velvet?

    1 Reply
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    Nov 16, 2009, 03.26 AMby calicocouture

    I was given a Pfaf that was made in the early 90’s from a women at my dance school. I had taught her daughter for a couple of years, and had helped her regain some coordination after a bad fall off of a balcony. The mother no longer sewed, and knew I made my own dance costumes. It was a wonderful gift. My Kenmore machine died on me while sewing costumes before Saint Patrick’s day, and that Pfaf saved me! Plus it can sew through all sorts of stuff.

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    Nov 18, 2009, 03.24 PMby bellamabella

    i have 4 currently.

    1) singer 99k from 1953 that i adore but need to give it tlc 2) singer fashion mate

    both these machines come in their own cabinets

    and two modern brother machines

    the first brother machine, my mom got for me when i was 12 or so..because i wanted to sew and make doll clothes. my mom taught me how to hen by hand, but that was it. so the machine was new and exciting. i made many fashion do’s and donts on that machine. i still have the first purse i ever made from my moms beaded shirt. i thought it was the best thing ever! lol

    i still have it and it was my workhourse until two years ago when i got a new one with a quilt arm.

    right now im eying on getting a vintage treadle machine. that would make my sewing room complete for now…that and a featherwieght of course!

    i also have a brother serger i got free from the textile department at work. i have yet to try it. but im looking forward to it.

    sometimes i go on ebay or craigslist to look at vintage machines and all i do is drool. am i the only one? lol

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    Jan 13, 2010, 09.13 PMby brandymccoy

    My first sewing machine was a Brother, purchased by my husband as a gift, my second was a Brother given to me by my father-in-laws father whose wife had just gotten it, and had passed away, my third was a Consew industrial given to me by my brother-in-law who happened to find it in an old run down building where prosthetic limbs were made, he asked if I wanted it, I said of corse, my fourth a singer pro finish serger, purchased by my husband as a gift to me. I still have all of these machines, and use them on a daily basis. Each one is used for the specific sewings that they are ment for, sewing, quilting, industrial sewing, and sergeing.

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    Feb 4, 2010, 04.43 PMby meaghanlr92

    We have four sewing machines in our house, but the only one we really use is a Brother machine from the 70’s I think. My mom bought it at a yard sale for just $5 dollars, and it works great, but sometimes it drives me nuts. We also own a serger, another regular machine that we’ve had for a while but don’t use because something doesn’t work with it, and more recently in November we were given a very old Singer from a relative.

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    Feb 7, 2010, 10.39 PMby Theresa Hawkins

    When I was in high school (20+ years ago) I bought a Singer, very basic machine. It sort of just stayed with my mother when I left home. After I had my daughter, I bought a nicer Brother and have used that for several years. My husband’s stepmother was a very talented quilter and had a wonderful Singer antique replica, very heavy duty…I mean tailor quality, and my father-in-law kept it after her passing. My mother had a very nice Singer that she had used for years. My mother and father-in-law both passed away with weeks of one another three years ago. As the only sewer in the family, I inherited both machines, plus my original singer. So now instead of one well worn machine, I have a sewing room full of beautifully maintained machines. None of them are programmable or fancy, just honest workhorses. And I love them all.

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