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Aug 27, 2017

Two New Sewing Machines!


Readers, great news: yesterday at the Chelsea Flea Market, I acquired not one, but two new sewing machines.

The Brother model up top, while it piqued my interest and I actually went to the trouble of plugging it in (it seemed to work), was one machine I decided to pass on.  It's not a particularly valuable model (it can be had on Amazon for about $150) and, since it's computerized, there are so many things that might be wrong with it that I couldn't test on site.  For my money, I'd rather invest in something less complicated.

As you probably know already, I often see vintage sewing machines at the flea market, but usually I pass on them because I'm not in the sewing-machine-acquisition mindset.  But yesterday I definitely was (and I'll have more to tell you about why that is in the weeks ahead), so it seemed incredibly fortuitous that at my first stop, I saw this:


This is a Singer 128, an early domestic model that operates with a shuttle bobbin.  The decals, called "La Vencedora" (my friend Johanna identified them via a text while on a family vacation in Montana) are darkened with age but in remarkably good shape.  As any savvy flea market shopper would do, I immediately asked the price and when I heard "twenty-five dollars" I knew this baby was coming home with me.  Isn't she lovely?  She's also is a very smooth stitcher.  You'll be seeing more of her soon.

Using her serial number and the Singer website, I've dated her to 1910.  I believe this makes her my oldest sewing machine!

I also love the case: it's a little beaten up but hey, it's more than a century old.




 Watch the Singer 128 sew here.  Watch me wind the long bobbin here.

The sewing gods were clearly smiling on me because not two minutes after snagging the Singer 128, I saw this:


I'm sure most of you can identify this highly coveted Singer model.  These often go for inflated prices even at the flea market, so when the vendor told me he was asking just $48, I didn't think twice.  Now she's missing her bobbin case, but I've already purchased a replacement (via eBay).  She needed some TLC but nothing out of the ordinary: de-linting, oiling, a new belt (which I already had on hand) and she now purrs.  (You can hear her here.)


Lots of lint around the feed dogs!

Based on her serial number, she's from 1934 and was manufactured in Elizabethport, New Jersey.  The Singer Featherweight debuted in 1933, so she's a pretty early model, though the design stayed virtually the same into the 1960s.

I picked up a few other things at the flea market as well: yards and yards of two beautiful linens from the same vendor who sold me the Singer 128.  Not sure if these are called ikats -- anybody know?  (The designs are woven into the fabrics, not printed.)


A beautiful barkcloth pillow:


All in all, a very successful morning!

In somewhat more sobering news, a block from the Chelsea Flea Market was a wonderful quilting shop called The City Quilter.  It closed earlier this year (though it maintains an online presence) but the awning is still up.  Stripped of its wares, it's currently being used as a pedicab garage.  Sad!

In happier days.




And that's it, readers!

Stay tuned for updates on my two new sewing machines and lots more fun stuff.

Have a great day, everybody!

32 comments:

  1. Both nice old machines. How many working machines do you have now, Peter? And how do you decide which one to use for what?

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    1. The ones I use most often these day are the pink Janome, the Bernina 930, the Elna Grasshopper, and the Singer 201 and 15-91, mainly because they're out (as opposed to stored in a closet) and ready to sew. They all do most everything well.

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    2. That's a collection! I am a Pfaff person and fond of topstitching so I want a Pfaff 30.

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    3. Latin for "no more sewing machines" is "nemo plus sutura machinis" in case Michael needs to have some cards printed up to slip into your hand every time you see another machine. I am considering having it tattooed on the inside of my wrist, my ownself.

      WONDERFUL finds, those new ones you dragged home this weekend.

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    4. UPDATE!

      I'm pretty sure I have 15 machines.

      4 black Featherweights (including one on loan I will reclaim shortly)
      1 white Featherweight
      2 Singer 66's (Red-eye and Lotus, one in treadle table)
      1 Singer 15-30 with knee lever
      1 Singer 15-91 (potted motor)
      1 Singer 201 (potted motor)
      1 Elna Supermatic
      1 Elna Grasshopper
      1 Bernina 930
      1 Janome Hello Kitty
      1 Kenmore 158.141 (in table)
      1 Singer 20 (toy machine, so not included in count)

      My newest machine is a wonderful Singer 401A from around 1958. Love it!

      I used to own many more, including a Pfaff 30, a Kenmore 158.1040, a Necchi Lydia, an Elna Lotus, and many, many more, most sold, some given away.

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  2. What beautiful machines and fabrics. I love my old Singers (I have 3). They have a stitch quality that is really hard to fault. What a lucky find, two in one day. I hope that they serve you well. Xx

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  3. Aaahhh lovely machines! My dream is to someday own a barrage of antique Singers, including a handcrank :)

    I had occasion recently to sew on that same model of Brother. It was a decent machine, if a little noisy. It was brand new out of the box, I was literally the first person to use it, the noise was a little startling.

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  4. Definitely ikats. Wow, quite a score with all you got there!

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    1. The first looks like it is an Indian Pasapali design.

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  5. Love the new machines!

    I miss The City Quilter -- I was just going through my stash of Bernette feet (all bought there a couple of years ago) and remembering how awesome they were.

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  6. The carrying case for the 128 looks very much like the prop that Kate Winslet used in the otherwise forgettable film "The Dressmaker"

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  7. LUCKY! I lust after a featherweight, too. I have a new Brother (so fun) a giant, heavy Dressmaster, a 1910s Frister & Rossman handcrank (my Preciousss) a White Jeans Machine (great doorstop) & a toy Singer hand crank. I think a Featherweight would round the herd out nicely, don't you?

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    1. It would! At least, temporarily, right?

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  8. I am downsizing my home and will no longer have a sewing room in my house :(. How can I store/display my machines without looking like a storage facility. I only have 5 machines which I will be using on an office desk. Please help with some suggestions.

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    1. Will you be storing all of them on the desk? You could make each of them an attractive cover that will coordinate with the decor of the room. When one is in use, you could move the others close together (to your left and away) so as to have some space on either side of you. Hope it a good size desk. That is how I would start. I have 4 machines on a round table so that I can sit in front of the one I am using by moving my chair.

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  9. Let me guess, Johanna only vacations in locations that rhyme with her name.

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  10. I'm weeping. I have ZERO need for a Featherweight, but can only find ones in the $300 range, which I cannot afford or justify. I'm happy for you! If you decide to sell for $100, please consider me? Great fabric finds as well!

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  11. And beautiful fabric, too! A charmed morning, to be sure. Those look like ikats to me.

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  12. I got a f/weight this year and soooooo happy with it, mine was 30euro but a cracked bobbin case - and since getting it, I sew loads on it. Its got a beautiful stitch, super quiet, super light, and super strong. technically the elna lotus has a nicer stitch but the featherweight feels a bit better. adore the other singer. it should dust off well! good haul!

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    1. I had an Elna Lotus for a while but I never warmed up to it. I didn't like the face that there was no easy backstitch (as I recall).

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  13. As the proud owner of a 128 (1909) I must say mine is the most fantastic topstitch/heavyweight fabric machine I have ever owned. The shuttle is, admittedly a little fiddly to tension, and it takes some adjusting to work with finer fabrics, but it can sew through 4 layers of coutil and 3 layers of heavy faux leather without any problems (aside from having to change out needles constantly, but that's a given with thick heavy fabrics). It's stitches are amazingly even. Mine also came with all its original attachments, the best hemming and binding foot system I have ever used. The only weird thing, is that it can't reverse; I wind up placing the foot up and double stitching to start a seam.

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    1. My two early 1920's Singer 66 models don't reverse either. That came later.

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  14. Oh, I want a Featherweight but $$. Great finds! A little jealous but I think I have 8 or may be 10 sewing machines so I really don't need anymore. Can't wait to see what your plans are for your new machines.

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  15. I'm drooling on the featherweights I came across in a nearby quilting store. It's between the purple and the pink with white polka dots. Tempted?https://www.flickr.com/photos/roxannequilts/sets/72157659770682204/

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    1. The store looks like a flower garden. A cheerful place to visit on a cold or rainy day. Let's hope that visitors both look and buy!

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  16. A featherweight for $48?? Amazing! It's lucky you could literally pick it up and run with it before anyone else could catch wind of the amazing bargain.

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  17. I must remember to check out this flea market next time I'm in NYC. My son lives on the LES, but he's never ready to meet until noon, so I need a weekend morning activity, and you make this market seem amazing! If I see you, I'll buy you a coffee.

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  18. Great buy for your collection. I have a Brother, a computerized one probably for about 7 years now. I LOVE it, does amazing work and stitching. I had 3 vintage machines, but they were not getting used so gave them away to relatives, one was a Bernina 930 the same as you have, I prefer modern machines, but vintage machines to me look more like classic cars beautiful to look at. You sure are lucky with your great finds.

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  19. I'm a little late to the FW Celebration here.... a word of caution, the lightbulb and the shield around it get finger-blistering hot. I know - the hard way. Nice find!

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  20. New follower, my mum had a Singer very similar to the 1st one. I remembered it sewed beautifully, and had a blast when it was attached to a threadle. She wouldn't let me near it for a long time. If only I can convince my hubbie to bring it with him when he travels to Nigeria next.

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