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Jul 26, 2010

Oh, Brother (LS-2125), not again!

Don't.  Even.  Say.  It.  I can hear your collective groan of disapproval from here.  I know, I know.  But it's not what you think.

I did not purchase another sewing machine.  Nor was this a gift.  I found it yesterday, friends, in the trash -- the trash!  Here's the story:

I'm coming home from the flea market, which happens to be three blocks from my house, empty-handed.  Nothing (cheap) really caught my eye -- don't you hate that?  I'm walking west on 24th Street between Seventh & Eighth Avenues (just in case you want to re-trace my steps) on the south side of the street, and you know me, I'm always interested in what might be lurking in the garbage -- usually just rats.

So I'm walking by this five-story tenement-type building and I see this sewing machine.  Of course, I just assumed it was broken, or a total POS: it was covered with grime and just dumped there amid the black plastic bags and who knows what else.  But I noticed it had its cord plugged into it (I draw the line at no power supply) and then I saw that a second wire led down to its pedal.  So this machine had both plug and pedal -- nice.

I was only one block from home so I picked it up.  It weighed only about ten pounds -- lovely!  I turned the handwheel -- unresponsive.  Then I noticed it was in bobbin-winding mode, so I just switched the doohickey on top, and  from then on the needle went up and down when I turned the handwheel.   Great!

Did I mention it was grimy?

One of the wires looked like it had been chewed by a puppy -- I know what that looks like.  I'd have to wrap that with electrical tape.  Perhaps that's why it had been discarded.

I plugged it in and flipped the on/off switch. 

Hurrah!  The light went on.  I pressed the pedal.  It worked!

So I got a damp soapy sponge and cleaned her up.

Readers, this is a nice little machine. Though it only came with a zigzag foot, it has one of those low shank foot adapters that takes snap-on feet, of which I have many.  And I've already downloaded the manual free from the Brother site.

Stitch length and widths are pre-sets, which limits you a bit, but not much.

And it does buttonholes, albeit pretty crappy ones compared to a vintage Singer or Kenmore buttonholer attachment.

It's kind of a joke that the "25" in the name refers to stitches, as if a narrow zigzag and a wide zigzag were two different stitches.  But it does do an elastic zigzag and a blind hem stitch.  In fact, in terms of features, it reminds me a lot of the Singer Genie.

I think I'm going to sew Michael's shirt with it because...well, just because.

This machine is not vintage and it's really interesting to compare it to my older ones.  I actually like the fact that it's so lightweight.  It sits firmly on my sewing table and doesn't vibrate.  And I find the foot pedal to be very responsive -- it can go slow or fast but doesn't race.  For $50 or so, which is what you can get one of these for these days, it's a great value.   It threads intuitively and fast.  It feels powerful.  Sure plastic is plastic and I doubt anyone's going to be sewing with it fifty years hence, but you know, it is not junk.  Good needles and thread and you're good to go.

More pics of my little Brother here.

I had to laugh a little when I read this.  Nancy just bought her second vintage sewing machine and is laying down the law.  Good luck with that!  I don't buy into "The Secret" but it does seem like I've been manifesting sewing machines lately.  Spooky.

Friends, my normal Monday nagging and goal-setting has taken a back seat to heat-induced frivolity, borderline hedonism and a little girdle fun.  Believe me, I know just who is sewing what out there -- especially if I dig back into last week's comments.  Do NOT take advantage of this little respite I'm providing, loyal readers.  It won't last.

BTW, I've concluded that my mystery black flowered fabric is a rayon, linen, poly mix.  My thanks to everyone who threw in a guess.  Within days it will be a 1942 dress.  Now if only I could manifest one of these for my cousin!

In conclusion, what are you sewing this week and is it on a Brother LS-2125?

Honestly, what would you have done if you'd seen one of these lying in the trash -- just left it there?  How about you Europeans -- does this happen to you, too, or is throwing out a perfectly sound, modern sewing machine more of an American thing?

Be kind.


  1. Hm? No Monday morning goals? Great find in the trash, though. I picked up the same machine at a yard sale for $5 for my sister. :) She wanted one, and since she has just delusions of sewing and not actual sewing, we got her that one. She has now acquired all the feet and accessories for it, plus fabric, thread, and patterns... all of which sit in her house gathering dust!

  2. I wish sewing-machines manifested themselves in my path. I don't buy "the secret" at all either, but there is something to keeping your mind open to possibilities. It's pretty much the mentality you use bargainhunting in thrift stores or surplus places. Or job hunting.

    I'm not sure what I'm going to be sewing this week. Maybe a few more summery tops, and another bang at the Burdastyle Lydia (after my epic fail first try this past weekend). We're going on vacation Friday so I don't have much time. It'd be nice to sew a light, summery skirt, especially since our destination actually has summer, unlike here. Good luck with the black dress, I'm excited to see it!

  3. This is the exact same machine as I have. It's literally 6 feet away from me. And I just love it. It's perfect for what I want and need. So congrats on your find, it's a nice machine.

  4. I have that very same machine as does my sister...and we are on different sides of the globe. That low-cost machine has been touted as being responsible for the resurgence in home sewing here in the UK. I love mine. Perfect for everyday projects!

  5. Of course, I couldn't pass up a sewing machine in the trash! Even if it was just to pick over for parts. I have a different Brother machine that I set up this weekend and was just using before taking a break to read your blog. As much as I love my vintage 15-91 there are some things I don't sew on it.

  6. I would have picked it up in a New York minute (no pun intended!). I have a lovely wooden pedestal table in my powder room. I get compliments on it all the time. It was sitting at the end of my neighbors drive in his trash. I lugged it home, painted it a lovely mustard yellow (Coleman's dry mustard)and topped it with a round glass that I had leftover from a different life. One man's trash . . .

  7. Wow, Melanie, you must do a lot of powdering to have a dedicated room for it! ;)

  8. Of course I would have picked it up! How fun that it actually works. But I would have to clean it right away because … well … who knows how many NYC rats (and not necessarily only the tailed varieity) did whoknowswhat on it while in the trashcan. ;-) And I'm not a germophobe but some things ewwww. - or as the word verfication says: fgwooo

  9. And, yes, I can actually spell "variety." Wishing for comment editing …

  10. Of course I would have picked up a sewing machine with plug and pedal if I found it in the trash! I just don't think that happens here in the Netherlands. However,w hen I was a student I used to have two bent wood cafe chairs which I found in a dumpster.
    I'm making a shelf bust dress this week. Self-drafted pattern, still have to decide on a skirt-style.

  11. Yay for free machines! I totally would have picked it up--I have no compunction when taking otherwise perfectly useful things that other people have trashed. ;) I know lots of people who have found some pretty sweet things that way; though my current neighborhood is pretty lacking in "cool curbside stuff". :p

    This week I'm just hoping to sew! I lost a bit of my sewing mojo working on the dress for the Burda Style book, and need to get it back, STAT! Namely crank out the 40s swimsuit I made a muslin of over the weekend. Although I have a sinking feeling in my gut it's going to need a lot of tweaking... :p Also have a bit less fitting-intensive mid 40s sundress waiting to be cut out. But pretty much this week is going to be devoted to Operation Get My Sewing Mood Back. haha.

    ♥ Casey
    blog |

  12. Brother? Serendipity-
    "I'll be honest with you: nothing charms me more than gendered appliances." How much more gendered than already being called "Brother".
    Maybe this completes the collection? Nah.
    And I would have taken pity on it too. Did you find a manufacture year?

  13. DreinPA, it's still in production as far as I can tell. This Brother is more of sister, I think, name notwithstanding.

  14. Though I`m living in quite a big city (Berlin) that hasn`t happened to me so far, but I can dream, especially as both( yeah, only two unfortunately) of my sewingmachines are currently broken. But as Lauriana said I just don`t think that people would just throw away such a thing. Especially here in Berlin people have the mentality to try to sell everything first before throwing it away, as long as there`s the possibility to squeeze just a few Cents out of something, they will try, I`d try too. Congrats on your find.

  15. Um- I would have taken a good luck at it,smiled,pondered the stories it could tell, but left it. I am not a collector...of machines.....

    On another note, I have a 22 year old serger Elna 34D that they just offered a $50 trade in for a Babylock Enlighten. I was shocked. Aghast. I have taken care of this machine, loved it, serviced it regularly. No way. I wish you lived closer Peter, I would give it to you in a heartbeat and you would love it.

    If you can love an abandoned and orphaned grimy Brother, you would love my Old Lady Elna.


  16. I would have picked it up too. . . a free machine is always good for trying to convert new sewists, plus I like to see how different machines work. I've picked up two machines off the street, (an old Singer and a newer White) both were grimy but worked. I think that often they get put in the bobbin winding mode and then people think they don't work.

    This week, I have two right legs for a pair of pants, that I have to turn into a right and left leg so I can make pants with bilateral symmetry!

  17. LOL. My dd yelled at me when I mentioned my new purchase. She said that I didn't need another expensive hobby. Obviously she doesn't know how little some of these can be had for, and of course she doesn't sew. These two are added to two Vikings, one sort of vintage at 27 years old,a serger and a coverstitch machine. So that brings my total of machines up to 6.

  18. Nancy, I'd say to her, "You mean another expensive hobby like raising YOU, dd?" LOL

  19. In last year alone I found 2 sewing machines in a trash, one a vintage Bagat (ever heard of it?), and the other one was a plastic Elna. Both seemed to be in a pretty decent condition, but I had to leave them there, my place is way too small for too many sewing machines.
    I'm jealous of your growing collection, I only have 1 sewing machine and a serger, but if I could I would happily adopt every machine I could find in a trash. So to answer your question, yes seems like Europeans don't mind throwing sewing machines in trash either.

  20. Pierre, I'm jealous! I still don't have a vintage machine despite my dedication to hunting one down, posting ads on Kijiji and Craig's list. I phoned the local Singer dealer and he wanted $300+ for a 1960's model (300, 400 or 500 series), is he off his rocker?! I almost had one until the owner (her deceased aunt's machine), who know NOTHING about sewing machines, decided she wanted more money for it. I told her good luck and walked away.

    I'm beginning to hate my Viking 850 -- no I don't, I'm just angry and bitter and jealous.

    Ah well, I'm making my Mother-in-Law a tunic, Vogue 8504, we're going to visit her in Bremen, Germany in October. I purchased a light cotton green floral pattern as well as a green and white piece for a scarf. I plan to make the undershirt in a white batiste, I think she'll love it.

    I'll try to get my butt in gear and post the fabric this evening.

    You need to learn how to crochet, it's not hard and you can whip up a little clutch like that sexy black one in no time at all!

  21. Gosh, you have the best luck. Perhaps it's that you live in NYC, so more people equals more discarded items, thus better dumpster-diving, but *still*. Are you going to keep it? Why don't you sell it on Ebay/Craigslist? Hey, even if you get $25 for it, it would be a windfall for something you found in the bin. Free money!

    $25 would buy an awful lot of $2/ yard fabric!

  22. It's New York - of course you can find anything in the trash. But why don't you put this one up on eBay and make someone else happy? Before the wire shorts and burns down your place..

  23. You truly have a sewing guardian angel looking out for you. I wouldn't trust the chewed up cord, but other that - good find!

  24. I will have you know that my sister in law, a professional fashion designer and lifelong seamstress, chose that very machine for my first sewing machine! It has enough variety without being excessively complicated. I've made many, many things on my Brother LS-2125. It's a great find. So glad you picked it up!

  25. I have never heard of anyone here in Denmark who found a working sewing machine in the garbage. Lucky find, I must say. :-)

  26. In the U.S., Ann Arbor, MI, to be exact, I found a Brother machine (can't remember the model) next to a dumpster some years back. Of course, I brought it home -- even though it had no power supply. I kept it for a couple of years (intending to reconstitute it) and then gave it to a friend who wanted to start sewing. She ordered all the necessary parts (cord/pedal, etc.) and last I heard was doing quite a bit of home dec sewing on it. Here in Napoli, Italia, garbage is almost always garbage, and it gets plenty of time to ripen on the side of the road. I did pick up a child-size, wooden beach-chair frame in perfect condition last week and stitched a new seat for it. However, most of my "finds" are flea market ones . . . fabric, buttons, trims, etc. . . I go religiously to mine every Sunday. Since I love my machine, I don't think of acquiring another . . . my money pours from my wallet for more fabric, more ribbon, more more more more of all sewing supplies until it's spilling out of bins and closets -- twenty-five years of collecting plus a few bins of grand pieces from my seamstress grandmother. I almost never buy fabric with a specific project in mind. . . it's just "I like it, how much of it can I afford?" But good free stuff on the side of the road . . . I always grab it. I can tell my story about the couple boxes of books I picked up on a dark night that earned me several thousand dollars on eBay and a story on the BBC -- oh, but this is a sewing blog.

  27. I'm laughing about the sewing machine from the trash because my husband does that with computers. He's taken things left for the garbage men to pick up and either made them work or was able to get working parts from it. I guess it really is a case of one person's trash is another person's treasure.

    I do personally prefer my machines to have not taken a trip through the dumpster, but call me picky. I'm rocking my 3 year old Kenmore with a Rebecca Taylor Vogue dress and Today's Fit top (both just finished and reviewed) and three more tops and a jacket on the pile to sew. Plus, I want to do a Rachel Comey (Vogue) skirt and start my DD's fall clothes.

  28. So, IF I saw a sewing machine just lying there, of course I would pick it up. Not likely to happen where I live in the burbs, not to mention it is too bloody hot to walk anywhere (as if anywhere was close enough to walk to here), but still.

    As to what I'm sewing... awaiting a vintage buckle to arrive from an etsy purchase and then a fun summer knit dress will be finished, and another cotton summer dress is ready to be cut out. I'm having a body image crisis, and apparently I am better at fitting things that hang from my shoulders than sit at the waist, as evidenced from my denim skirt and shorts fiasco.

  29. "it does seem like I've been manifesting sewing machines lately"

    Oh yes! They will come to you, and they will keep coming long after you've stopped looking for them. LOL! I don't know how many I had before I started sending them away. Now they don't seem to be appearing on my doorstep anymore, and it's a little sad...

  30. Soon we are going to see sewing machines piling up in the background of your photos, as you run out of room.....!

  31. I can relate. I rescued a kitten from a busy street today. I need a cat like you need another sewing machine. I have two cats and a dog already. Sometimes you just can't leave them.

  32. Ooh how I envy your dumpster finds! I have never once been able to find anything vaguely useful poking out of a skip or wheelie bin here in London, although in some places we do have local authority rubbish depots where you can pick up all sorts of things for a bargain price...

  33. Dang it, why can't stuff like that happen to me? I just paid $100 for a used Janome 3128 for my 8-year-old son's birthday. It would've been the cheapy $25 Singer chain-stitch machine, but I gave that to my niece and heard later it wouldn't sew at all. (And my son actually wants to make a tent and some pj's.) I did feel like you when I brought this 3rd machine in the house, but the 1st one is broken in the attic, so I don't feel spoiled yet. (Not that you're spoiled by any means! And my first 2 were Brothers - welcome to the club.)

  34. I'm happy for your good luck, but I do hope that this particular manifestation of sewing machines has not been brought about by someone else's bout with a wadder or two! ;)

  35. I'd totally pick up a machine out of the trash. I can't believe your amazing luck!
    Here, people put their giveaway stuff in their apartment garbage room, leaned up against the garbage can. But it's usually boring stuff like lamps and giant big-box TVs. Never sewing machines!
    I probably won't get much sewing done this week, as I'm going on vacation in a few days! (Yay!)

  36. That's quite a find. I think I'd have taken it home as well, but unfortunately you don't see a lot of sewing machines in the trash here. I did however get an old Singer through the local Free Cycle Yahoo Group a couple of weeks ago. Basically Free Cycle is people giving away things their old stuff for free instead of giving it to a thrift store. This sewing machine I got is a lovely Singer 367 which is in ok condition (I still need to get rid of some oil in its guts), but it makes a whole lot of noise. I had to get rid of it's case because there was some rust on it. But it still makes perfect stitches, so I can use it as a spare machine.

  37. My oldest son's girlfriend wants me to teach her to sew, just a little, so I'd have picked it up, and upon finding it worked, I'd gift it to her. My kids laugh because I won't throw anything out. My father in law's Depression era motto says it best: "Eat it up, wear it out, make do or do without." I'm not broke, but that attitude is one reason why.

  38. I am from Aussie and have a collection of machines that just manifested too! I have a beautiful singer featherweight 222k that I found in an abandoned shed A singer treadle I bought at a garage sale for $60 aussie dollars in perfect working order the feather weight is too complete in lovely box with all accessories including an embroidery foot and a ruffler, an antique oil can and several wooden spools of thread. I have a Bernina Sport someone was throwing out and just recently I cam across a modern machine I believe is an Aldi brand Mezzo I googled and think its a cheap version of a phaff I found it in a house people had moved out of and just left it It works so I may give it to my daughters to keep them off my more prized machine :P

  39. I just bought that exact machine! I love it - and you are right - that was definitely not junk you found! :)

  40. Love that you found it on the street! Great little machine. I would have snapped it up as well. Thanks for the photo gallery.

  41. I have this same model but it was in storage for so long that it rusted over so badly that now it wont sew. The light turns on and it wants to sew when i push the peddle but its rusted shut so it cant. Do you recommend getting it fixed or buying a new one. Im thinking for what i'd spend gettig it fixed i can probably just buy a new one.

    1. I do not recommend paying to get this fixed. I'd invest in a new machine.


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