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Mar 22, 2012

Help me fix my sewing machine!



Friends, it will come as no surprise to you that I receive a lot of sewing machine-related questions from MPB readers.  Sometimes I can help and sometimes I can't.  And speaking of emails, I just received this from Virginia, the woman I bought my Pfaff 30 from a little over a year ago:

Hi Peter,

Might you be interested in a small vintage sewing machine?  A friend is clearing out his mom's apt on Riverside Drive.  When I go today I'll see what make it is.  "Price will be right" I think....Hope all's well with you.

Readers, these are the moments a person like me lives for (and why it's good to give people your card).  I'm not getting my hopes up -- I doubt it will be the hand crank of my dreams and "price will be right" is very subjective -- but at the very least, it will provide good blog fodder.  I'll keep you posted.

Now on to today's topic.  I think what would be helpful to many vintage sewing machine enthusiasts and the people who love them is a good, up-to-date sewing machine repair/parts resource list.  My list is short so I'm hoping you can help me expand it and I will keep it updated.  I've also added a link to it near my blog roll (on the right side) so it can be found easily.



Here goes!
  • Jenny at Sew-Classic sells a large number of sewing machine parts and supplies to repair vintage sewing machines. (I've bought a few things from her myself). She also has a blog that includes reviews of classic vintage Singer models, along with information about repairs, accessories, and much, much more. 
  • In a short time my friend Rain has become an excellent vintage Singer sewing machine resource.  His site, the Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog, is expertly written and already quite comprehensive.  He also takes reader questions!
  • Treadle fans should know about the Treadle On website written by Dick Wightman.  It's an amazing resource that covers treadles and hand crank sewing machines.  So much information there!
  • I just found out about Steve Pauling, who maintains the Bobbin Doctor website.  Steve's in the Twin Cities area, where he holds classes, services machines, and sells machines he has restored.  He also sells machine parts and accessories online at very good prices.
  • Ray White is a sewing machine repair legend.  He offers classes in sewing machine repair all over the United States, mainly in small cities and towns (I plan on attending one this coming fall).  He also sells parts as well as restored vintage machines.
  • There are Yahoo users groups for most brands of sewing machines, but I'm not including them here individually.  I've joined a few in the past (Elna and Necchi) and found them nearly impossible to navigate due to Yahoo's antiquated architecure (unless something has changed).  Know they exist and can be found by doing an online search under Yahoo Groups.
  • The Pattern Review Message Board can be helpful for vintage sewing machine info, but know that there's a lot more opinion there as well as fact.  
Readers, this is a short list right now, but it should be enough to keep you off occupied for the rest of the week.  These are all US-based I recognize, but I am happy to other resources in your neck of the planet.

I'll close with a few current Craigslist sewing machine postings (click on pic to supersize) that brought a smile to my face. 

Could the photos below be any blurrier?  And is that not a Singer Touch & Sew?  I mean, come on!



This photo reminds me of a shot of the Titanic at the bottom of the ocean.   I blame cell phone photography.



The seller below is really excited about the table -- which obviously has a sewing machine in it but the seller fails to identify it.   Aren't you curious to know what's in there for $200?



Who's ever heard of an Ideal sewing machine? Nevertheless, for $15, can you go wrong?  If I lived on Long Island, I'd be tempted.



Friends, that's all for today. 

How's my vintage sewing machine resource page so far?  What have I missed?

PS - That very sad Featherweight up top is actually for sale here.  (How do sewing machines get like that?)

42 comments:

  1. I have lots of Singer parts too, give me a holler and I might have it laying around.
    Gwen

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  2. thanks Peter :) I recently saw a craigslist add too, where the seller wanted like $15 for the table and said there was an old machine inside but it could be replaced with a new one. LOL

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  3. I also refer to April Henry from April's 1930s for Featherweight info/resources/parts/attachments. http://www.april1930s.com/

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  4. Peter - perhaps you'd like some input on a Ray White class before you sign up? My husband took one last fall and might be able to give you some insights.

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  5. Rain told me about his experience, but yes, absolutely, I'd love to hear what your husband has to say.

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  6. For the UK - this lady is great (and from personal experience she is very friendly and helpful too!) http://www.helenhowes-sewingmachines.co.uk/

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    1. P.S. As her site says too :"I keep a Wants list - if you can't find what you want please ask... "

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  7. Another one for the UK is http://oldsingersewingmachineblog.com/ I've just bought a buttoholer and zigzagger from Sid at that site and he couldn't have been more helpful. The blog itself has some great posts, with very good photos, for repair and maintenance of vintage Singers.

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    1. Yes, I was going to recommend Sid & Elsie's Old Singer Sewing Machine Blog too. They are very helpful indeed if you message them with a particular query or part required. And the blog covers a lot of chewy technical details (such as how to lower your feed dogs - something we all need to do sooner or later).

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  8. have you seen this?
    http://www.keelersales.com/servlet/Detail?no=659
    He takes apart the whole thing paints them pretty colors and then you have the featherweight to make your heart pitter pat. I SOOO badly want the lipstick red one.

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  9. Not for parts & supplies, but some excellent info on refurbishing/fixing: http://www.tfsr.org/publications/technical_information/sewing_machine_manual/

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  10. I think the Ideal is a German sewing machine, but I never saw this model here.

    Great site in U.K.:
    http://www.helenhowes-sewingmachines.co.uk/

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  11. I think that Featherweight has sea air corrosion. Lived many years on the water and that's what happens to metal. What a shame.

    Does anyone have any North American information on a Jones Medium CS Treadle machine. Picked it up on the side of the road!

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  12. Oh the wonderful world of Craigslist sewing machines! I was perusing Craigslist the other day, I have no idea what I wanted to buy, but I came across a hilarious listing. Vintage end table for sale. Opens on top for more room, plus storage inside. Of course, that "end table" was a sewing machine cabinet with no machine, lol.

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  13. Thanks for all the links Peter. As the proud caretaker of a Singer 221-? and 337 I'm always looking for places to find info,parts & attachments. I love the link on the Singer site-I found out the years of manufacture for both my "girls"!

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  14. Peter, thanks for the resources. Restoration of my 15-91 is going nicely. I pulled a pile of gunk out of between the feed dogs, cleaned, and cleaned, and cleaned (and oiled). Purchased a bobbin case (and bobbins), replaced the bobbin tire, and repaired some wiring. I’ve sanded down the entire #40 cabinet, and repaired the damaged walnut laminate and water stains. Hopefully, by early next week I can put it all together and use it. Thanks again for providing advice and resources to get this done!

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  15. Peter, I recommend Ian McInnis if anyone in the SF Bay Area is looking to buy a perfectly restored vintage machine:
    http://imcinnis.blogspot.com

    His machines are to die for. He finds the most cosmetically beautiful machines and restores them to near new condition.

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  16. There is also Ismacs International (http://www.ismacs.net/home.html). Check out the pages on FW tables and cabinets (http://www.ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/featherweight_fever_those_elusive_featherweight_cabinets_and_tables.html), since you were so lucky to find one cast off!

    Love your blog,

    Regards KM, a non-blogging reader

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  17. Check Yahoo for sewing machine groups. There's one for old Singers, another for old Pfaffs, and one for sergers in general. There are more. The Singer one is amazing.

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  18. Thanks for the resources, Peter. And the commenters too.

    I've heard of Ideal, but never saw one in that good of condition. That poor Featherweight, can it be restored? Or will it become a parts donor for others? Craigslist - gotta love some of those ads. How often they don't even put the brand in, and it's right there on the machine!

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  19. As a Touch and Sew afficianado, I'm nearly positive that is not a T&S. I'd wager that it's a Stylist.

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  20. I have been just a reader for a long time but after recently acquiring several vintage industrial machines 2 singers and a white as well as a treadle and was at a loss as to how to clean/fix them up for resale. These sources are going to be soooo helpful.

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  21. I discovered another resource today http://www.tfsr.org/publications/technical_information/sewing_machine_manual/ I had a problem with the tension assembly of my newly acquired Singer 99K and the instructions on that site were perfect to get it sorted out. The main website for that link is http://www.tfsr.org/ which is a charity that provides Tools For Self Reliance (i.e. the tfsr in their web address) to Africa. I'd never heard of it before, even though the headquarters is only a few miles from where I live, but the instructions on their website for the 99K (they also have them for the 15, 66 and 201) were so brilliant that they got a donation from me.

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    1. Thanks for such a great link. I think a donation will be required from me too. I doubt I can help any more than that from Australia. It's a great cause.

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  22. Thank you for these resources! I recently acquired an old machine myself, and found Google to be horribly unhelpful in terms of finding information on it.

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  23. I love this blog. Sewing is a skill which when cultivated can become high art imho. I also own a to die for treadle which sews through anything imaginable. I thank my grandmother who I watched with great curiousity as a child as she treadled along for acquiring this incredible skill.

    Keep up the great blog!

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  24. I don't know if Stepping Stones Quilt Shop on St. Simon's Island, Ga. is still in business, but I have gotten parts and manuals from them several years back. BTW, I'm using a 1904 treadle machine to sew a shirt for my hubby this week. I usually use one of my FW's, if I'm not using one of the electronic Pfaffs. I love using the attachments for these old machines, too.

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  25. Just a thought - Ideal sewing machines are German and post war many German companies manufactured goods with no real branding and non-tautological sounding names - so they weren't readily identifiable as German - so the Ideal sewing machines are genuinely obscure little things but works of art and excellent German engineering none the less. The one currently sat in my room was originally my great grand-mother's. No idea what it's worth but judging by your comments up top not a fat lot (sigh) - s'pose I'll have to use it to sew stuff with then :)

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  26. I want to also give a shout out to Jenny from Sew Classic. I buy all my parts from her. She really does have the best prices (yes, I have compared!), very fast delivery, AND she will answer questions...be prepared for a non nonsense approach, she knows her stuff!

    I buy, play with, repair (to a certain extent), sell and just started blogging about vintage Singers myself. Love'em!

    http://runningstitches-mkb.blogspot.com/

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  27. I'm joining the conversation a little late but I desperately need help. I was recently given my Nana's old sewing machine (which as a child i never realised was an actaul working sewing machine, it was just the heavy table who's legs fell off if you tried to move it lol) anyway, I pulled it up out of it's table the other day to see if it works, and it almost does. the motor runs and the needle moves but it won't sew because it's missing (that i know of) a thread guide and the bobbin plate. it's not a singer, it's a sears roebuck kenmore made in japan and I can not find anything else about it or how to get parts,
    I'm not even sure how old it is but the model number on the cabinet is 566 9202, the model number on the motor is 5185, if it helps any it's all metal and the prettiest shade of pale blue. I live in south eastern North Carolina, does anyone know where I can find more information or someone in my region who can repair a nameless kenmore?

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    1. Sarah, check out eBay or post a question in the Vintage Sewing Machine message boards over at Pattern Review.

      http://sewing.patternreview.com/SewingDiscussions/forum/21

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  28. We love you over at Gaileee's Singer Featherweight Site on Facebook!

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/157457531160/

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  29. Hello Peter,

    Just thought I'd let you know that I eat, sleep and breathe vintage sewing machines, have never owned or used an electric machine, so you might like to add my blog to your list of resources. The blog has a link through to the Youtube channel.
    http://www.lizzielenard-vintagesewing.blogspot.co.uk/

    Well done with the vintage clothes making. I have a great box full of vintage patterns but have gone and got myself sidetracked into quilting. It's easier to get the fit right.

    Love from England,
    Muv aka Lizzie Lenard

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  30. I'm devastated that no one has mentioned my blog http://sewing-machines.blogspot.com/ Are Spammers the only ones who have found it?

    Ed

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  31. A few months back, Yahoo changed the interface for their groups. It's different. Whether it is better is a question of taste.

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  32. I'm so happy I bumped into your blog! How fun! I'm not trying to be a machine collector (although I'm up to three, heehee). I recently acquired a Sears' Best Kenmore 158-19800 for free (yeah!). It seems to have all of it's parts (buttoneholer, cams, and monogrammer) except the manual (hence my frustrations). Do you know anything about this kind of machine? Where else can I look? It doesn't even have an obvious way to thread it. Thanks for any help. b

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    1. Brookie, it looks like you can download for free from this site:

      http://www.searspartsdirect.com/partsdirect/part-model/Kenmore-Parts/Sewing-Parts/user-manuals/manual-downloads/Model-15819800/0582/1220000?modelNumber=15819800&diagramPageId=00002&documentId=00002402

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    2. Download a PDF of the manual, I mean...

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