Friends, today's entry is not about hats. But it could be.
I wouldn't call myself a pack rat -- you've seen my apartment, well, at least most of my living room. I'm no Edie Beale but I definitely have the collectors gene.
Over the years I've collected coins (as a boy; now I don't know what to do with them), LPs (that's music for you young'uns), vintage telephones, and now, it seems, sewing machines. Thankfully, I have never collected Beanie Babies, ceramic owls, or plastic cocktail stirrers. I go to flea markets so take it from me: many people do!
I realized it was time to take inventory of my sewing machine collection and thought you'd like to come along for the ride. What do you say? Maybe it will make you feel better about your own strange but lovable obsessions.
OK, let's start at the beginning: sewing machine número uno.
My first sewing machine, purchased May 2009 on eBay, was a Kenmore 158.1212 and while it of course has sentimental value -- you never forget your first -- I don't use it anymore. Why, you ask? Well, look, let's be honest: all vintage mechanical sewing machines are nice, but some are nicer than others. As I learned to sew and developed preferences, I realized that this powerful, clean, absolutely competent machine just doesn't float my boat. More photos here.
Let's give credit where credit is due: Brian of Briansews encouraged me to own more than one sewing machine. I blame him and where is that boy anyway?
My Necchi 555 is basically a Supernova Julia with a few inconsequential differences. Powerful, sophisticated, pristine, with a full box of accessories and cams for embroidery stitches. I used my Necchi a lot at first and she's great with heavy topstitching thread. Two speeds too! Today, I use her much, much less. Her photo album is here.
And speaking of Necchis, meet Lydia.
Lydia is my only true heartbreaker. She came with a cracked camstack (very common for this machine) and will only straight stitch; try to zigzag and you'll break a needle instantly. I love her looks and I can't part with her, but I have never made a garment with her. She also has a tendency to race. Today she is a doorstop. More photos here.
I don't have a good photo of this Eighties-era Huskylock serger I bought last summer. It took me ages to thread her and I knocked her out of whack trying to serge through six layers of denim; live and learn. IMO, vintage sergers are to be avoided. Caveat emptor!
This Pfaff was a total impulse purchase (i.e., I didn't shop for her online as I did the others, I stumbled upon her at the flea market).
She's a beautiful, smooth-running, heavy zigzagger that can tackle anything and I loved her many a month. But like many relationships, over time I began to love her less. She's a little fussy in the bobbin area and could probably use a thorough cleaning. Maybe I'll rekindle our love, who knows. For now, this Buick sits in her beige plastic garage. Whatever!
To the extent that one's life can change upon purchasing a sewing machine, mine did when I bought my Singer Spartan. She was my first straight stitch machine and it was instant love. She's simple, utterly reliable, no temperament whatsoever. Precise and easy to control. I love this little 3/4-size machine that doesn't even come with a light! She does all my buttonholes (with a vintage Singer buttonholer). See more here.
After my Singer Spartan, I went through a rather promiscuous stage of impulsive pick ups but who hasn't?
After a cold November's night of boozy revelry I woke up next to this:
Thank God I didn't get an STD is all I can say. My Elna Grasshopper is a highly-coveted straight stitcher with a fantastic futuristic design. But we were never well-matched. That heavy gunmetal case, for one thing. Many people LOVE this whisper quiet machine; I say, meh -- though I do like her fold-out knee pedal. Another box on the floor. More pics here.
Having always loved Seventies-era Vikings, I picked up this little lady on the cheap. Know what? I use her constantly: she's my go-to machine for invisible zippers, overcasting, and attaching buttons. She's a little beat up and missing her bobbin door but a great addition to the family. A surprise success story. More pics here.
Everyone loves Genie, including me: a reliable, strong-if-somewhat-noisy zigzagger. Do you think I ever use her? Nuh uh. Check her out here.
Folks, I must say by this point I'm getting a little indigestion. How about you? So many machines. But rest assured, the best is yet to come!
I finally found the perfect (for me) serger last January. The Brother 1034D is wildly popular and not expensive as sergers go (less than $200). I'm still learning what she can do and I'm growing increasingly comfortable with serging in general. No headaches. My old serger is now a glorified thread stand. Pics here.
Months went by before my next sewing machine purchase...well, two months to be exact. But what a purchase!
This (still) grimy old machine is the love of my life -- the one I settled down with, my Singer 15-91. It's hard to describe her virtues: she's fantastic slow or fast. She doesn't get temperamental. She uses regular Class 15 bobbins (as opposed to smaller Class 66 drop-ins) -- plastic, aluminum, she doesn't care. She's quiet. She's precise. So solid. Fantastic piercing power. I've sewn nearly everything with this machine since March and I sew a lot. Highly recommended though I do find the stitch length lever hard to read and less precise than on newer machines. More pics here.
I found this beat up old Singer 66 in the street. She doesn't sew, lacking among other things a motor. Sadly, I think she's headed back to the street. I don't include her when I count my machines and neither should you. She's dead weight and making a permanent mark on our cheap wood floor tiles.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!