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Jul 20, 2010

TOO many -- or just enough?

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.

Número dos:

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.

That's it!  Well, until yesterday.

I didn't ask for my White 763 "Fair Lady," she was a gift so I absolve myself of all responsibility.  More pics here.

In closing, readers, if you're still with me at this point you either have to pee badly or otherwise get on with your lives -- I know I do!

So what do you think?  Do I have a problem or am I just enthusiastic?  Any big gaps you see in my collection?  Tell me!

Don't you pity the people who only have one machine?  And they're usually really snobby about it too!  What is WRONG with them?

I'm particularly interested in the non-native English speakers' viewpoint...

Please discuss.


  1. Hey, I was going to post my sewing machine line-up next week! My 15-91 is number one too. I think you're enthusiastic. Me too--I keep telling myself no more machines, but I keep finding them. Both of us are going to have to get control on this problem or run out of room! It's difficult, but can you part with some of them if you found them good, loving homes?

    As for the grime on the 15-91 that you mentioned, mine has that too. You can see it in my pictures. Orangey-brown stuff that almost seems like part of the finish it's stuck on so much. If I cleaned it off, it would remove the decals, so I cleaned around them. It's not a perfect looking machine, but it beats every other one when it comes to sewing.

  2. After my shame shower I can actually focus on work today I think. Although I may have actually caught an STD with my eyes. That is a lot of machines. I guess I have a lot of books, but somehow it's not quite the same.

  3. I have just ONE machine, and I pity myself all the time! I'm dreaming of a serger, I'd like to work with knits. The machine I have is 30+ years old. It's in perfect shape, works wonderfully, but only with woven fabrics. So, in addition to the serger, I'd need another machine for hemming the knits. That makes two machines.
    Where do you store all the machines? I wouldn't know where to put two more machines if I had them!
    OK, now I've gotta go... to the toilet ;-)

  4. Hmmm Peter - do you have a secret mezzanine to store your History of Sewing Machines Exhibit??

    I have three machines. Janome sewing machine, Janome Coverlock machine and Janome overlocker. (Seeing a pattern there?) They are all super-wonderful - I never have a problem with any of them. I consider that I have only one sewing machine though as the other two are specialty machines.

    I don't know how you have the energy to swap machines around for overcasting, zig zagging, straight stitching or buttonholes. I like one machine to do it all.

    Dare I ask - have you ever used a 'new' machine? I think you should give it a try.

    Cherri in Australia!

  5. I was feeling superior until I did a quick count and realized that I have six machines.
    I think it's a common sewist addiction

  6. Can you say, "Hoarder"? Just kidding- I have a few too many myself."In moderation" has always been an inner struggle.
    I find the new colorful tapes (Happy Tape?) are nice addition to the less ornamental machines... gives 'em a little pizzaz.

  7. I like your variety. I, on the other hand started collecting with an eye towards refurbishing and reselling. From there I got into sewing. My machines of choice-and I'm very strict: Singer 306M (2- one is an italian and cast iron instead of aluminum), 306K/W (4), 319W (3), 401A(5), 403A(3), 500A (4-including the one I sew on), 503A (only one now having sold two), 600 (1-the first Touch & Sew), an Elna Supermatic, and a Bernina 1130. Oops! Forgot the Singer 19-51 and 201-2. I think that's it.

  8. That's quite a harem you've assembled! My first was a Kenmore, too. And when 10 years into our relationship she snapped a part no longer available, I was in despair. Then I heartlessly saw the opportunity to expand my horizons -- I'd looked at the younger models with lust already. Unlike you, I was coldhearted enough to say, "No, no experimental treatment, (an online "clinic" had offered to retool the part) what's done is done, and she was toast. I deposited her to the side of the dumpster (who knows maybe someone else with more tolerance for high maintenance might have taken her on). Now I'm in a long-term (12-year), monogamous relationship with my Singer Quantum CXL. I love her and have no desire to leave her. She's steady, she's versatile and reliable. HOWEVER, a serger she is not. And she's going to have to get used to sharing my attentions with the Brother 1034D that's currently on her journey via USPS to me from an eBay seller. After 25 years of monogamy, I'm headed into new territory.

  9. Please let us know when you'll be featured on an episode of "Hoarders" LOL. I have 5 machines: a Baby Brother that stays in its rolling tote ready for classes; a bigger Brother that is sturdy and solid; a Bernina (very mechanical and noisy; and not my favorite); a BabyLock with automatic thread cutter that I LOVE; and my Singer 99. I don't know how you vintage machine lovers get along without needle up/down, automatic needle threader and cutters that pull both threads to the underside and clip! I also have a Brother 1034D, and the BabyLock air-threaded serger (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!). Oh, and a Brother cover and chain machine. Guess I'm a hoarder, too, but I have a dedicated 18x24' sewing room...

  10. I love reading sewing blogs and comments because there is so much diversity of attitude and taste. Sometimes I think, "I've never thought of thinking that!" I've never even considered owning more than one sewing machine at a time. I've recently bought an overlocker but I don't classify it a sewing machine- it has a different function. Of course, each of Peter's machines has a different function, even if it's not a sewing function. Some people's needs are simple, some are more complex. By the way, I want that hat! And I loved the frolicking chihuahua photos on Fire Island. Can we please have a poll "What do you want to see more of on MPB?", and include chihuahuas in the list so I can vote for them.

  11. I do not believe you can consider yourself to have a problem until you have dedicated large pieces of furniture or an entire usable room to this endeavor. I see no machine cabinet, only a single utilitarian table. How do you even do that?
    My husband has 11 clubs in his golf bag, I don't see the problem with my 5 machines...

  12. Reflecting on my comment (above), I thought I should explain my desire to vote for chihuahuas. We are in the middle of an election campaign in Australia. We have compulsory voting and I would rather vote for chihuahuas.

  13. Why the non-native English speakers' viewpoint? Have I missed something? Back to the subject, I only have one sewing machine, a Viking Prisma 950, which doesn't make decent buttonholes, so I only sew garments with zippers. I long for a good serger but I've not found what I'm looking for (for a price that I can pay, I mean). And there is the problem of the space, with the constant fight to declutter and reduce the mess/stuff I own.

  14. Just trying to reach out to the international community, Irene! ;)

  15. I'm such a slacker . . . I have four machines, spread out over two residences (two vintage Berninas -- a 1260 and an 1130 -- and two Featherweights). When I reduce down to one residence in a couple of years, I feel that I should divest myself of at least one of my quartet (probably one of the Featherweights), but it will be very painful and sorrowful when I do so. As for your collection, all I can say is, Michael is a very loving and tolerant man!!!

  16. I'm really a Viking girl (machines, not Erik the Red or some such!), so it makes me happy that your 3240 is one of your go-to machines. The 60s/70s era Vikings are such solid machines and what I learned to sew on. I now have 2 myself (2000 and 6010), plus my Designer 1, a Singer 221 (Featherweight), a Singer 66 treadle, and my old 80's Kenmore that was my machine before I really sewed. Plus a serger (Viking 936) and coverstitch machine (BLCS).

    The beat-up Singer from the curb - you should either sell it as-is on Ebay or part it out for separate lots on Ebay or a PR classified. If the feet clamp onto the side as what you'd usually expect, the whole needlebar area - which is easy to remove - is desirable. I looked for AGES for one to convert my back-clamping 66 into side-clamping.

    If these machines make you happy and you've got room for them w/o Michael getting cranky about it, then what's the harm? I say you're an enthusiast, not a hoarder. At least not yet. ;-)

  17. I have a Viking Freesia and a White Serger...I feel left out here!!

    Love your collection...I'm envious, especially for the heavy duty sewing machines.

  18. What a collection! I only own one, fairly new, sewing machine, a Kenmore that does the assorted straight-stitch and zigzag and a couple dozen fancy and relatively unnecessary other stitches. However, I've been lusting after a serger for a while (think how much more I would get done if I could easily get pretty finished edges! And easy to work with knits, I hear!)

    I'd say you're an enthusiast as long as you can still navigate through your home without seriously injuring yourself on all the sewing machines lying around in front of doors or in the middle of the floor. So I suppose the length of time to that point will depend on your organizational skills/amount of shelf and closet space... :)

  19. LOL! I would still say you are an "enthusiast" at this point. I have a few miscellaneous machines of my own--a Dressmaker (doesn't run), a Kenmore from the 80's with it's own cabinet (needs some help), a Singer 301A with buttonholer attachment (I think it runs, but never had it serviced so it just sits), a Pfaff 2038 that's my primary machine, and a Babylock Imagine. Someday I'd like to get my 301 set up to be a topstitch only machine, and I should get my Kenmore serviced and donate it to someone--it's an OK machine, that does it's job, but we didn't always see eye-to-eye.

  20. Well---my only issue with you having so many machines (as if it were any of my business) is that you don't seem to love all of them. I would say, keep the ones you LOVE, and start finding good homes (kijiji, ebay, whatever) for the others. I have one sewing machine and one (non functioning) serger, but the more sewing I do the more I wish I had multiples. Especially when I'm doing a project where I have to keep changing the thread (like jeans). And I'd love one with a few more buttonhole options. And an awesome vintage one like my mom's old Pfaff (which has similar styling to yours, though it's a very different model and does a crazy number and variety of stitches. And a coverstitch, and an embroidery machine, and... well, I'm still in the nomadic phase of life where we're moving every couple of years, so I don't see me accumulating all those anytime soon. But once we have a permanent location---watch out!

  21. Where do you keep them?

    And it makes me feel better about the new machine I'm considering buying. :-)


  22. Yikes Peter - you are not kidding about having machines. Where do you store them?

    I have 2 sewing machines (Pfaff 1475 and 7570)and a serger (Pfaff 4872). They are all functioning well. I am tempted to get a Singer 201 but thank goodness nothing else can fit in my studio or I might be in trouble. I already have a stash of fabric so I need to get sewing.

  23. I learned to sew on a Pfaff 1222. And I continued to sew on that machine until we took it into the shop three years ago and were told that it was beyond repair. It turned out later that they were lying, (it needed a new bobbin case and a new camstack, both of which are available and easy to get!) but it forced my mom and me into getting a new o us machine. Naturally, as the 1222 had served so well simply because it's a workhorse, we wanted something similar, so we went to ebay. And ebay was where we found my current machine--a Pfaff 1222E. It's one step newer than the 1222, but it was still state-of-the-art in 1965. We've found a fantastic repairman in our area and in the next few months the 1222 will be going in for final repairs. After the really, really local shop in our town tried to tell us to throw it out, and the Tucker, GA Pfaff dealer tried to con us out of it, it's kinda been sitting in my room gathering dust since then. BUT--we have the camstack, and the bobbin case was replaced years ago. My machine wishes are for a serger eventually and perhaps a modern embroidery machine sometime in the future. We'll see.

    And my advice to you is to keep only the machines you absolutely love and sell the rest. If nothing else, it will make room for more machines and more fabric and patterns!

  24. Great to know I'm not alone!

    Where do I keep the machines? Pretty much everywhere: three on my sewing table, three UNDER my sewing table, three on my OTHER sewing table, a few on a kitchen in the bedroom. One sitting under a plant in the living room. Wherever I find the space.

  25. What timing you have Peter! I've been having that "urge" lately and have visited my nearby thrift store three times hoping to find a new love. What do I get for it? Nothing! What's this world coming to when there's no love for sale? Obviously I need to widen my search.

    ...sing with me... Looking for love in all the wrong places...

  26. I have an old Pfaff 1222 which I've had to store away until I can try again to have it fixed. I don't think it functional stitches will be fixed (broken camstack badly replaced) but I would like to use for something, even if it is old times' sake.

    My new love is a Babylock Espire which I adore. It does everything I have asked it.

    By the way, how much have you spent total on your machines? Could you have bought a nicer one for the total amount you have spent so far? Maybe not, but if you keep bringing them home, perhaps the reason is they aren't all you really want.

    On the other hand if buying old machines makes you happy. . .

  27. As someone with a large and enviable shoe collection, I can hardly point fingers. And yet ... zounds!

  28. Hi Peter! I'm Iranian living in Tehran. I only have one sewing machine, a Janome. I havn't been snobbish about that but after reading your post and seeing all your machines I feel pitty for myself! I don't even have a surger!
    I like you enthusiasm and think it's great to have a collection of diferent machines from different eras as long as you have enough space. I don't have much room but I love to have a surger. Hopefully I will buy one for my birthday this year :)

  29. Please carefully pack up your Elna cricket and send her to Canada, I love her! I still have only one machine and I'm still hunting for another.

    I'm GREEN with envy, Peter!

  30. Speaking in Australian ;0) I have to say I feel like such a fool - I only have one machine and it crapped out yesterday!
    Serves me right for not thinking ahead. At least you'll never have to go through the machine-imposed stop work period that I'm in now... of course I could do the hand sewing I've been putting off forever... but nah... nothing's that drastic... yet.

  31. I'm feeling left out because I only have 3! (soon to be 4!) My hubby just doesn't understand why I need more than one. I have my go-to, work horse 10 year old Kenmore, my 1034D serger, and a cheap-o Brother that I use mainly for topstitching. My cousin is giving me my grandmother's Singer 301 that is at least 50 years old, and I can't wait to see what she can do! (I have dreams about her!)

  32. I have a few machines, but only one is vintage (Featherweight). I love them all and have found it hard to part when the new shiny, pretty one arrives.

    Debbie Cook, as you've probably noticed is re-organizing her sewing room and her machines look smashing on display, not that you asked about storage ;-).

  33. I'm so glad you posted this today Peter!

    I'm on pins and needles waiting for my 2nd sewing machine to be delivered tomorrow, a Husqvarna Viking 325 Daisy. The lovely woman I purchased it from on eBay obviously did not want to sell it, but she's moving to a smaller home and needed to reduce her sewing machine "collection." I've assured her that I will give it a good home, and she's requested a picture once it's all set up so she knows it made it safely! She had so many other machines so this one was barely used, but apparently people still develop strong connections to their machines!

    And I will confess that I used you as a justification to my husband to buy a second machine. He doesn't understand why I need more than just one, and I told him that you needed all 9 of your machines!! Or is it 10 now?

  34. long while reader, first time commenter, BIG fan.

    now that that's out of the way:

    but i feel your pain, oh do i feel it...ha. you are so not alone. it's an addiction!

    i was feeling guilty because i have five machines, including my serger (bernina aurora 440 (my current main squeeze), bernina artista 180 that i no longer use, a crappy cheapo baby lock (maria? something like that, bought it as a backup when one of my bernina's was in the shop for a long while). i also acquired a kenmore from the early 60s back in june at a CT thrift shop, but she's sitting in limbo over in a shop westchester waiting for a backordered part...wondering if i'll ever see her again. serger is a 5 thread workhorse viking i bought about 10 years ago. love that thing.

    and even though i have all of those, i am actually considering another bernina, a 1008, really basic manual machine. just for quilting. so don't need it but have wanted one for years.

    the more electronic a machine is, the less i like them. i get sold on them at first but then find i don't bother with all the crazy functions. bad! should stick with simple!

  35. Due to space and money constraints, I admit, I only have one machine; I love it though. It is a Necci 3101FA and was a gift from my grandmother. It's a total workhorse and can deal with all sorts of abuse.

    Someday, I'd love to get a serger or a fancier machine, but that can wait.

  36. I have a white Husqvarna 2000 from the 1960s, it looks almost the same as your Viking. Then I have a Bernina 1100D serger and that's it. The problem with more sewing machines is the lack of space.

  37. Think of it this way, folks: two extra machines and you have the base for a coffee table.

  38. Ah, yes, I'm in the swamp as well. I'm from Denmark and no sensible people have many sewing machines. It's all to blame on the blogs! Yours and Brianøs are some of them! For a long time, I have had a sewing machine (currently a Brother NV-400) and an old serger. Then a year ago I decided to get a coverlocker and bought it online from Germany as it was not available in Denmark at a reasonable price. Then I started looking for an old no-plastic-machine that wouldn't beep at me when sewing heavy stuff. I found a 30 yo Toyota for free and was happy for a while. then I realised it wasn't as strong as expected and looked for some weeks and found a Pfaff 362 dead cheap. I just bought a new lovely serger and I have absolutely no more room on my sewing table, the Toyota is in the back against the wall, but is that stopping me? Nooo. I know have my eye on vintage buttonholers although I rarely even make buttonholes. I have never seen a buttonholer here in Denmark until I saw it as part of the attachment box that comes with a Singer 201K. I have asked to buy it and they will keep it for me and take it along when they come to my part of the country. I hope I will stop there.

  39. The fact is that some machines are better at some things than others. I only have three plus an overlocker, but I use them all and I wouldn't part with any of them. It's like shoes. I NEED each and every pair of the 100+ in my cupboard ...

  40. ahhhhhhhhhhhh Peter, greetings from friendly Manitoba, Canada. I collect vintage sewing machines so feel we are true kindred spirits!

    Currently, I own 12 sewing machines and one serger. The serger is a White superlock purchased new in 1997. The sewing machines are:

    1910 Bernard Stoewer treadle made in Germany. A gorgeous machine with a reverse!

    1940 Singer 15-91 I bought a straight stitch walking foot for Pearl from Jenny at sew classic.

    1950s Domestic Automatic made in Japan complete with 12 cams for fancy stitches.

    1960s Imperial zig zagger made in Japan I rescued from a trip to the dump.

    1960s Piedmont zig zagger left on my driveway like an orphaned puppy.

    1970s Necchi Lyla 513 made in Italy the Ferrari of my craft emporium.

    1979 Swedish Husqvarna 6570 zig zagger with cams as well as needle up/down feature. This was the last mechanical machine made by Husqvarna. It is red!

    1976 Elna air electronic made in Switzerland.

    1980s Bernina Nova 900 made in Switzerland.

    1995 Pfaff 7510 made in Germany.

    1997 Husqvarna computer 500 made in Sweden

    2009 Pfaff Quilt Expression 4 made in China with German engineering.

    for photos of my mechanical children, please feel free to browse my blog

    I sew with all of them. I am trying to downsize the collection to just eight machines but it is really hard.

  41. OK, so Tammy, YOU are out of control. And I want your collection. Especially that red 6570.

    BTW, guys, the only machines I paid more than $100 for were the Elna Grasshopper (about $125 with shipping) and the 1034D serger, which I purchased refurbished. Granted, it adds up, but we're not talking Bernina money here. The Viking, White, and Singer Spartan were all in the $20 range.

  42. While I love looking at this sewing machine porn, it's too much for me. I say, as long as you have space in your apt. and love in your heart, do what makes you happy. I just don't know how you manage to use even half of them.

  43. I also wanted to mention that I absolutely LOVE the SOUND of older all metal machines. I don't know what it is but I found it soothing and exhilarating at the same time. I've been watching videos on YouTube of old vintage machines and I can't wait to have one of my very own.

  44. After years of having just one, then two, then finally three sewing machines (two of which were kept in storage), and a couple of years later, a serger... I have managed to increase the total to 8 machines in this past year! I blame Brian of Briansews. Thanks to his videos, I purchased two Necchis and two Dressmakers. I want a Japanese Singer clone too, but I can't really justify it until I get all my current machines refurbished and find new homes for at a couple of them.

  45. Oops, typo in my comment. I meant to say "at least a couple of them."

  46. Ha! Brian, aka Rocket Boy, has lead many of into a life of addiction to sewing machines. I have 4 machines. I knew I was careening out of control when I found myself on the verge of buying a Rocketeer the week after Brian posted pictures of his. So, I keep my desires in check and sew almost exclusively on my Singer 201. It too, makes the most beautiful button holes. And the sound and vibrations are so soothing. My partner far prefers I sew on it or my Necchi Mira BU. He says my new Phaff rattles and sounds cheap. Thanks for sharing your machines Peter. I really enjoy your blog.

  47. Peter, how crazy is it that you have two readers that both spell their names C-H-E-R-R-I? There are not many of us, but we are the best of the bunch. Those other kinds of spelled-names are really just posers.

    I have an Elna 1010, heavily researched on consumer's reports by my husband before it was purchased in the 1990s with a wee bit a gift money from his grandparents who would have done the same. It really satisfies my sewing urges. Maybe if I could clear away all these student essays I need to read (by actually reading them) and get to doing some sewing I'd feel more of an urge like all you collectors do, but I don't generally like collecting heavy things. I've had to move and carry my own crap up and down stairs too many times to want all that steel and iron in my life.

  48. Hello Peter - You have an admirable collection. I was told my collection of five machines (with a sixth on the way) was excessive. Of course I know it is not.

    I also have a Lydia, thankfully in uncracked condition, and I love love love her as a piece of sculpture and as a machine. But my first love is my Singer 15-91. Seeing your collection makes me yearn to add a machine that is green or turquoise to my household.

    I say bravo and felicidades on your fine collection and carry on!

  49. I was perfectly satisfied with my one machine (Janome 5050) until I started reading your blog, My you are very influential! I now have 3 machines janome, a delicious frister rossman lynx 840 and an ancient thing I can't remember the name of. Last 2 were freecyle scores and I think no 3 will be going back on there very soon. Too noisy and heavy for my liking.

  50. First, let me say that I have 2 machines: a very good solid sewing machine that I love and most importantly that handles absolutely everything (janome easy jeans), and a serger that likewise can handle everything (also janome, since i was happy).
    And as you know, too many cats is one more than you have, so as far as I'm concerned you have way too many. I also have a nice 2-bedrooms to myself (OK, a cat, but he doesn't take much room), while you share a NY-size apt with poor hapless Michael, not to mention multiple dogs.
    You wouldn't want to end up on the h- tv show, would you? How about getting rid of the ones you've never used, or not used in more than a year?

  51. Greetings from Paris, where I have only one sewing machine, a Pfaff performance 2054, which is way too sophisticated for me. I feel kinda like the guy that bought the Porche before realizing he doesn't know how to drive stick shift. Storage is problematic in Parisian apartments, so I won't become a collector. But I'm on the lookout for a real sewing machine that doesn't require programming skills . . .

    Bonne journée,


  52. You sound a lot like me with your collecting tendencies (old telephones? check. vintage vinyl? check. sewing machines? check! ;)! lol. I'm drooling over all the machines you have; I have a total of 5 right now (4 regular machines, one serger); although only 3 are with me at present (my long suffering parents are keeping the other two; vintage cabinet models which I don't have space for). Seeing your Singer 15-91 reminds me almost exactly of the c.1950 Singer I got from my grandmother (she got it as a wedding gift, I believe). *sigh* How I miss that machine--it is a total workhorse! It may not do a lot of fancy stuff, but it sure does sew well--one day, when I have more room (it's one of the cabinet machines) it'll once again be my go-to machine! :)

    Thanks for sharing your sewing machine collection with us, Peter! :)

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  53. I have 9 sewing machines and no doubt will have many, many more. Husband enjoys bringing them home from auctions. Someday I will post about them because reading about other people's sewing machines is a very good time, especially if there are pictures, so I should return the favor... one of these days. (Thank you for putting out such an entertaining blog! You are a ray of sunshine.)

  54. To get your machine shiny, you can go to a car place (PEP BOYS) and get some wax restorer (turtle wax for example). My favorite is the kind that you have to shake first and it comes out as a paste, you have to rub it gently until dry then use a dry cloth. It is safe on decals BUT go gently or avoid them if you want.
    IF you still want to get rid of your singer 66 send it to me!!


  55. Another comment from overseas - Denmark this time.

    I can totally relate to your need to gather in lost looking sewing puppies.

    Atm I have only 5 machines, two of which get regular and intensive use.

    My first is a Bernina 1005 - school-type sewing machine, has few stitches, but can stand massive beatings and just keeps going and going and going. She is relegated to a bottom-spot in a pile of extra duvets in our bedroom waiting for my daughter to grow legs long enough to reach the floor so she can inherit it.

    The second one was a major mistake - I got totally bedazzled by a massive amount of stitches and embroidery-finery, and overlooked the machine itself being less than amazing. She sews far too slowly for my tastes, kept breaking and constantly needed service for skipping stitches. It was a local danish manufacture, I think - - Eva is it's name.
    She is still sitting in her cardboard box, I havn't even cut the tape since she came back from the latest servicing. But perhaps I should give her another try?

    Then I bought my one true love, Pfaff 3.0. It was like a new world opening itself to me. She is reliable, stitches through everything I have thrown at her so far, and does not ever break down. The one thing that made me was the gadget that transports the upper layer of fabric. Dont know what that is called in english.

    I also have a Brother 1034D serger - the most un-tempramental of sergers - so my sewing-instructor used to call it. I like the fact that the knives are easily replacable - I have two sets, so I just change them and send the dull ones to be sharpened without loosing sergertime. That would be most inconvenient at I do a lot of children's clothes.

    The fifth one in my collection is a Janome Coverstitcher - I still have not gotten totally comfortable with that one - I still prefer using a double-needle for hemming knits...

    In other words: Collectors also live among clutter in Europe.

    Phew - that ended up being quite a long comment :-)

  56. very jealous of your supernova's!! Necchi Nut here in Amsterdam Holland

  57. Sometimes I choose to construct the medieval "garb" I make by handstitching.....or I use my old faithful 1984 Kenmore, which has only had ONE tune-up/servicing....but my "new" machine is a lovely 1910 Singer treadle machine. Once I had to leave behind a great old 'shuttle"-type, knee-pedal, electrified old Singer when I moved in 1987 and only had the room in my car for either the "new" 1984 Kenmore or the old shuttle machine. I know I made the right choice as the Kenmore still churns out the stitching on command. But I have a 1995 Simplicity serger that's been gathering dust for over 5 years because the 'timing' is off and besides, threading it was SUCH a bitch....
    My son just bought his first sewing machine, a heavy-duty Singer.

  58. SAWASDEE KA ...

    I just found your most interesting webpage today. I have great fun reading and seeing all your sewing machines and also great fun finding someone who is the same as myself, loving vintage sewing machines. I like the shapes of your singer spartan and elna the most.

    I now have 35 machines!!! (Most are Japanese made, including one Genie, but mine is called Mon Ami). Not all work though, but I have fun making it work.

    My favorite one for now is a Riccar RZ2500 (Japanese made.) I got my latest one on Dec 26, 2010. It is a Pfaff 30. I am so excited but haven't had a chance to play with it yet.

    All for now... TTYL...

    from Bangkok...

  59. You've all got the bug. I should know. Scattered around the house we have 2 Pfaff 130's - wonderful tough beasts; a couple of Singer 301's; the "green monster" Elna Supermatic; a GE SewHandy, strange little machine that looks a lot like a Featherweight; Singer 306M, cast iron and runs like a dream through anything that will fit under the foot; a dozen or so Featherweights; 2 Pfaff quilters; a couple of Vikings; a Wilcox & Gibb chain-stitcher; and we just received a New Home treadle as a gift. I'm sure there are more hiding here and there, but I can't remember what they are. The Featherweights get most of the use, but we have used all of them except the treadle for one project or another. Believe me, when the sewing machine bug bites you, there is no hope of a cure ;=)

  60. Hi, Peter - If you haven't seen it already, here's a store window in Paris that you might like -- two giant windows from the ground up, filled with vintage sewing machines of all kinds. I wandered past it earlier this year, but didn't have a camera, so I'm glad i could find these photos on-line.

    I'm an avid sewer myself, but I'm not sure I've ever been as excited about it as you are. Rreading your blog inspires and greatly entertains me! Thanks!

  61. Guilty - I have too many to count right now b/c I know how to fix them up - from Singers to Vikings,now. The 66 can be used as a handcrank or a treadle too. So you can take it with you and use it without electricity or use it in a treadle for super quiet sewing. ~Page

  62. Peter I blame you. I stumbled upon your blog a year ago. Since then I have been checking ebay and getting an education on current prices and trends in the sewing machine world. I have happily passed on machines to family and friends. My collection seems to grow and my latest Kenmore is just awesome. Your blog is such a source of inspiration. I love the clothes you make. Thanks.

  63. I have a measly 3 machines: an Elna Air Electronic, an Elna Supermatic 'green monster' that is a year or two older than me, which I have never used but had to have for sentimental reasons, since it was on a Supermatic that I leared to sew, and a Viking Husqvarna 6640 (or something like that; it has a handle sticking out of the top) that I bought at a thrift store for $10 and which was missing its pedal, hence the price! And I hold YOU, Peter, personally responsible for giving me 'the bug" with that damn article of yours in Vogue! I liked this 'blog" version of it better, however; I guess it's not allowed to mention "peeing" in Vogue!

  64. Oh, and that's a GREAT HAT. They have had that style (fedora, right?)featured in the fashion rags lately in jewel tones; that's about the ONLY thing I've seen in the rag rags in the longest time that actually got me salivating!

  65. Peter,
    Great read. Try this link to get the numbers on your stitch length plate readable again:
    I did it and the plate on my 15-91 looks like new!
    Good luck and thanks again,


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