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Jan 24, 2010

Where do I put it all?

One of the challenges of living in a New York City apartment is the lack of storage space. Since I started sewing I have accumulated a tremendous amount of sewing-related stuff, some of it essential and some of it not.

Early on, I was bitten by the vintage sewing machine bug. As a result, instead of having just one sewing machine, I own eight. This does not include sergers, of which I have two (one not working, hence the need for a second).

I own two vintage Necchis (a damaged Lydia that only sews straight stitch, and an obscure model, the 555). I have a vintage 70s Kenmore, a 50s-era Pfaff, an Elna Grasshopper from 1950 (pictured above), an early 80s Viking, a Singer Genie with the groovy flower-power decoration (pictured below), and my wonderful straight stitcher, the Singer Spartan. That doesn't sound like much, really, does it?

I mean, I don't own a Bernina!

They're (mainly) all wonderful, and have very different strengths. For example, for topstitching, no machine gives me as much control over my work as my 3/4-size Singer Spartan. (The fact that I picked it up for a song on eBay only makes me love it more.) My Viking is utterly without temperament, making her my go-to machine for most projects these days.

The challenge is finding space for these machines. I'd like to have them out and ready to sew but I simply don't have room on my sewing table for all of them. So they end up squeezed onto bookshelves, or sitting on my bedroom floor in their cases. I hate that.

I've thought about selling a few of the ones I used least frequently, but I'm just not ready yet. It's a lot of work to post a machine on eBay, pack it up and ship it. And what if I missed it when it was gone?

So maybe I'll tackle all this next month. Or the month after that. Or maybe this summer....


  1. Machines without a temperament are great. Sergers that work are great too. All else is just...accumulation. In New York, that sounds particularly self-defeating. Wouldn't you rather own a closet full of gorgeous clothes, if you have to have something just for the sake of having it?

  2. I count myself fortunate that I don't have a car, else I would have taken home every forlorn sewing machine that crosses my path. So I only have three right now; a serger, a (slightly tempermental) refurbished Kenmore and that very same Elna Grasshopper that I almost passed up at $50 (insane). The Elna isn't quite in working order, but she's so very pretty and functional looking. She's like the army nurse of sewing machines.

  3. I'm jealous. I've wanted an Elna and your Singer Genie. I finally got a Kenmore 1040 and own a Singer Featherweight. It'll just need to satisfy me. There is just nowhere left to put machines ;)

  4. Nice machines! Ive been sewing for years, but just got bit by the mechanical sewing machine bug. The only other mechanical thing I know of that combines precision engineering, design and utility in such a cute package is the scooter-- and sewing machines are so much smaller and easier to maintain, right? I've got a 1964 Elna, 1970s Swedish modern Viking, 1948 Singer, and a funny 70?s Brother and I'm not finished!

  5. Nice. I have my mom's top of the line Kenmore from 1976, and a new bottom of the line Viking. But, Santa brought me a New Home treadle, 1915! It is lovely, and the sewing machine guy says IT is the one to use for heavy fabrics and thread. Doing my third quilt on it. Need to find something to use as a zipper foot so I can use it more.

  6. OMG, I would love to have a treadle! Maybe in my next life. Luckily thanks to blogging I have something better to do than bidding for sewing machines on eBay every evening. Truly, I have enough machines. But I love hearing about other peoples'.

  7. great blog and great cloth! and most importantly, great machines! i live in sub-urb in california, i can store that grass hopper for you, no problem! ;)

    in all seriousness, i am green with envy :(

    -juebejue (from SS)

  8. I have nine sewing machines and one serger. Two sewing machines are the heads only (a White Rotary from 1923 and a Singer from 1919-1920). I have a non-working Singer 99k from 1950 (because of it I donated by Singer Genie). I have a Singer Featherweight 221-K from 1964 and a Singer Touch & Sew 626 from 1966. I have my first sewing machine - a Kenmore 1251 from 1979. I also have a Kenmore 1030 (1970 to 1975). I have a Janome Jem Gold (for classes) and my 90% sewing machine Janome MC4900, as well as a Babylock Imagine Serger. It was hard to part with the Singer Genie, but the tension was bad, and I decided I had plenty of other sewing machines. They are all works of art, most of them work. But, yes, they do take up room. I admire your sewing as well as your machine collection.

  9. It's a shame that the only way to really test a vintage machine is to buy it!

  10. Hi Peter,
    I am enjoying your sight. I also sew exclusively on vintage machines, and currently own about own about 20. I live in Brooklyn, and have somehow managed to squeeze them all into my bedroom. I consider them to be works of art, as well as great examples of fine engineering from a bygone era. I might find other homes for them someday, but for now I am just enjoying their presence. Have fun with your 15-91, I recently acquired one as well!

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