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Dec 15, 2010

MPB SHOCKER: Peter buys another -- !

Friends, it's barely past dawn here and I have already eaten breakfast, voided my colon, and bought another --

A word of advice: Avoid making promises you can't -- or won't -- keep.  It looks bad.  I said I wouldn't buy anything on eBay for the rest of 2010.  Well guess what.

You may be thinking this looks an awful lot like a sewing machine I already own -- my beloved 15-91 (the gear-driven potted motor model I use for everything).  Well, you're right.  I recently learned that Singer made four 15 models: the 15-88, exclusively for treadling; a 15-89 with a handcrank; the 15-90 with an external motor; and the 15-91.

This morning I won (won!) a 15-90 on eBay, in what looks like great condition and shipping from Georgia.  My plan is to remove its motor and set it up in my treadle table.  I have found that while I love to treadle, I miss the backstitch feature my Twenties-era 66 lacks (this does show up on later 66's of course; I could have bought one of those, probably for a little less than I paid for the 15-90.)

More pics:

I should also tell you that I plan to sell my Singer Spartan.

I know, I know: How can I even think of selling my beloved 192K?  It stitches so beautifully and is SO cute and (relatively) lightweight.  This is all true, readers.  But as I've been putting the finishing touches on my toggle coat -- more about that later -- I've become aware of some of its weaknesses.  It lacks the clearance that the 15-91 has, so I couldn't squeeze some of the thicker areas of the coat under the presser foot.  I broke a needle trying to stitch through a particularly thick spot I was topstitching -- it was simply too much for it.  It lacks a light -- this is one of the features (or lack of features) that distinguishes the Spartan from the 99K.  This didn't use to bother me much since I have a table lamp nearby, but after stitching black thread on charcoal gray wool, it started to.  Finally, as a 3/4-size model, it doesn't have the harp space for big projects like my toggle coat. 

So there you have it.  Indulgence?  Perhaps.  But 'tis the season, after all, and I did recently sell six sewing machines.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I also bought a pattern last night.  This one is for Cathy.  I'd been admiring this vintage Vogue jumpsuit for a few weeks now on eBay, but it was too expensive (for what it was worth to me).  Then yesterday I saw it posted on Etsy for roughly half the price. 

It's so Logan's Run, I had to have it. 

It was that jumpsuit or this one:

I chose the former, though the latter includes a faux fur vest and matching hood.

Meanwhile, the toggle coat....  It's still not done, friends, but here's a teaser, albeit one covered in chihuahua hair:

The plan is to finish it today.  I know I've said that before and you're probably thinking, well, I also said I wouldn't buy any more sewing machines or anything on eBay for the rest of 2010.  Take what I say with a grain of salt, or for those of you on low sodium diets, sugar.

Seriously, the toggles go on today, come hell or high water and hopefully neither.

So -- anybody out there have a 15-90?  Any Yuletide sewing impulse purchases you wish to confess?

At Male Pattern Boldness we don't judge!


  1. Fabric...and there was more than one. I didn't need it, but they were hard to pass up. I know how you feel Peter! Good luck on the toggles, the preview looks great.

  2. I saw the pic of Willy and thought you'd bought another puppy!

    I've been boring and haven't spoilt myself at all this yuletide, but I got paid a Xmas bonus today, so time to go shopping! Woohoo

  3. My first thought when I opened your post was you got! But, no, it's *just* a sewing machine. ;-)

    And that coat...wowza! We have snow flurries outside at the moment, which are making me even more envious of it.

  4. I wanted to shout "Re-new! Re-new!" in reference to the Logan's Run movie when I saw your plans to replace your current Singer with a new-to-you one LOL! At least the sewing-machine head count isn't increasing (it's staying flat overall which = good ;)!).

  5. Singer also made a 15-125 that was introduced in 1957. It's green with a potted motor. I have one and it's my favorite machine (sadly it is currently not working).

  6. Oh! I never even thought about turning a 15-90 into a treadle, and I passed two of them by a few months ago. Brilliant idea! I've always liked seeing the little Spartan, but I understand your feelings about the harp space. I've used my Featherweight a bit, but always prefer my roomier 15-91.

    I love the fancy face plate on your new machine. And overall it looks in great shape! Can't wait to hear more about it!

  7. Oooh, your coat looks fantastic! Can't wait to see it in all it's glory.

    Enjoy the new machine - you deserve it! You spread around all that sewing love with selling your machines, get some back with this one!

  8. Peter, your new sewing machine is a thing of beauty!! Love it! Sad to hear that your Spartan will be moving on, but I do understand. Next time you see a Featherweight on eBay, snap it up!! You won't be disappointed!

  9. Thanks, guys!

    Sarah, I looked at a lot of Featherweights on eBay but they seemed expensive to me (usually around $200 or more). They're a bit of craze these days, especially with the holidays approaching.

  10. I love the drape on the jumpsuit pattern you did choose, it's super sci-fi elegant! And your new sewing machine plans are sound. I think you're thinking of what you need for your sewing world and it's not contrary to the reducing you've done.

    Now me caving into lust and buying a Singer Futura (it has gold glitter!) off Craigslist thinking the slightly newer model would have more attachment options was crazy, if buying a perfectly running sewing machine can be considered crazy. I did sell two others, and my console stereo will be leaving me Saturday morning FINALLY allowing me to put Mommylap Sewing World into full effect.

    I've also invested in way too much fabric recently without any discernible output production-wise. In my defense, once I start sewing I just want to sew, not plan-not shop, but I need to get sewing all ready. That console stereo cannot be gone fast enough.

  11. I've no sewing indulgences to confess, but you can BET that a completely superfluous pair of boots arrived at my doorstep last weekend.

  12. Just yesterday I bought The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook by Charlene Phillips. Off Amazon, so I don't actually have it yet; but it looks so useful! And I found two and a half yards of pale tan fine wale corderoy at a thrift shop for three dollars....

  13. I like the pattern you chose better (of the two). That hood is too crazy. If you need a fur vest, I'm sure you could adapt the pattern you used for the Endless Combinations contest.

    I splurged on fabric on the weekend, but I really will use it all, I promise!

    like Sal, I have boots to confess, too... and those are in no way practical or justifiable. /sigh

  14. "Lastday, Capricorn 29's. Year of the City: 2274. Carousel begins."

    Every time I visit an dated futuristic hotel lobby (look up the Hyatt in downtown Milwaukee for a good example), I think of Logan's Run. Now, I will envision Cathy in her jumpsuit doing a photo shoot.

  15. I just started following your blog. It's great!

    As long as you know when and how much you need to purge, taking on new equipment that will help you be a better sewist is totally acceptable.

    I confess, just yesterday won an auction for a White Superlock 534, my first serger. Then I realized I didn't have any patterns for knits (that I liked, anyway), so I took advantage of the Vogue 4.99 sale. Now I just need to pick out some fabric. Money grows on trees, right?

  16. I fully approve of your Logan's Run purchase. I may or may not have had a similar sewing impulse lately.

  17. You don't have to say a word. I just bought a new Singer 301, black, long bed. Couldn't resist it. I also saw the machine you bought on ebay. Glad I didn't bid against. I love the harp on the Singer 15's, but have my Grandmother's 15-91. Lane

  18. Hi Peter !!

    The new machine look so nice and the toggle coat OMG !! By the way, am very much interested in your Spartan (I really miss the reverse that my industrial singer does not have), there is one right now on craigslist but it's in the Upper East Side so I guess it's not yours ?

  19. I bought 3 bolts of flannel material. (it was on sale) and have put some presser feet on my christmas list. I am also lusting after a lovely machine on ebay, but knowing that it weighs a ton means I will not be indulging but it breaks my heart to pass it up. And all of this is your fault. I have found too many good ideas from this blog.

  20. Nancy, you're scaring me! LOL

    Lane, you must have been up pretty early!

    Welcome, Leadee. You can use a serger for a lot more than just knits of course.

  21. ?!? I learned to sew on my grandmother's treadle, vintage 1910, and it could backstitch just fine. You just had to treadle backwards.

  22. You're welcome to come over and give it try on mine. I found I could not switch direction without creating a thready mess.

  23. So, wait Peter — if you have forgiven us (you did say ALL) and maybe some people got a bonus today, does that mean we can go and buy more stuff???? ;)

  24. I found myself an estate-sale 15-91 on Craigslist--$25 including the cabinet and chair but no attachments. The seller could even describe the green box with "Singer" in red letters that she had seen around the house, but said it had probably been thrown away! So now I get to cruise eBay for attachments! Merry Christmas to me! And to you, too, of course.

  25. KC, those attachments are always on eBay. Great find!

    Maggie, I say go for it!

  26. Sounds like a great idea Peter! I have a Singer 66K treadle that doesn't backstitch either (it makes a thready mess just like yours!) It gets a bit tiresome pivoting just to secure a seam...

  27. Inspired by your decluttering I got in and have HALF sorted my fabric stash. Freedom to move is just in the horizon.
    But gosh oh golly, vintage fabrics have been finding me and so I have HAD to buy.
    So I have rebranded this project from "declutter" to "upgrading", and I feel much better about it!

  28. Can you make that hooded number in gold? That would look smashing.

  29. Hmmm... I guess this qualifies as a Yuletide impulse buy, since there was only an hour or so between discovering this fabric sale and sending in an order. I bought maybe 30 metres or so of beautiful batik quilting fabrics, at a crazily low price (for Canada). And this after telling my husband, that when I start talking about buying more fabric, to please, please remind me that my shelves are full!! He is SUCH an enabler. But then, who could resist this? (NAYY)

  30. I too have a serious weakness for fabric purchases... eBay and a few favourite online fabric stores. I can't resist the sale and remnant sections. Have been doing a fair bit of Christmas present sewing, and so together with your all-embracing forgiveness Peter, I think that means I can pop online again :-)
    Your new machine looks beautiful, and entirely justified in the interests of better/easier sewing. Merry Christmas, you.
    Oh and that hooded jumpsuit pattern... I completely cannot wait to see Cathy sporting that little number! I second Melody, yeah, gold. Might need some futuristic little Star Trek-type emblem on it somewhere too.

  31. What can you say, Peter, You're a man turned by a pretty face :)
    Lovely machine.
    I just bought 3 new sewing feet for my machine for my birthday. I treated myself, and I never buy sewing gizmos, but I want to make a man's 30s shirt, and I thought a rolled hem foot would come in handy.

  32. Such a naughty boy! You know, Santa knows if you've been good or bad... since you blog about it! It made me a coal kinda year for you.

  33. I meant, it "may be". I forget/hate that you don't allow comment editing!

  34. how i wish i lived in your city -- i probably would have bought half of your machines from you. i must admit, they are starting to take up space...

  35. I don't think there's anything to forgive, so only congrats from me.

    I know nothing about this so just wondering aloud, so to speak ...

    Why do you have to remove the motor? Can't you just plop it into the treadle table, loop the treadle belt around the handwheel and be off? Or does the motor get in the way somehow? I'm thinking it would be nice to have a backup full electric, in case you need it (or want to Craigslist it) one day.

  36. Lovely machine! Here in Germany the most common Singer Class 15 is the 15-88. The 15-90 are rare and the 15-91 was not available here, I guess, because I have never saw one all these years in E-bay. Once I saw one on a regional add site from Switzerland and the salesperson said it was owned by an American family. I am also looking for a Class 15 treadle!


  37. I am having Machine Envy Nervosa! ["MEN" for short]

    Your style sensibility, and vintage machine prediliction is awe inspiring.

    Sign me,


  38. Now that is one stylish sewing machine.

  39. Hi Peter,
    I love your blog. Congrats on learning to sew. I have a 1949 Singer 15-90 that I treadle. It sews quite nicely, I use it for piecing quilts and occassionally quilt charity baby quilt using it. I have 3 Singer treadle machines that I use frequently, its funny they get more use than the newer Viking Sapphire with all the bells and whistles.

  40. Welcome, Sharon. Thanks for the kind words!

  41. Halelujah! I have a 15-91 that was my mother's from her early marriage days - 1951. I have a 1931 66 treadle from my grandmother and then I have had this unidentified machine (1948) from my other grandmother that I have always referred to as my "15-". Thanks to your excellent photos, I now know that it is a 15-90!!!! Both the 15-90 and the 15-91 are in Singer model 42 Art Deco Desk cabinets. Of the seven machines I own, my 15s are my workhorses and I could not do without them ... and all their amazing attachments! My husband has become quite the sewing machine technician over the years - something I'm sure he did not foresee when he proposed 38 years ago.
    One of these days, I will have an 8th machine - my mom's current 401 ... but not any time soon, I hope.
    Thank you for your blog and your enthusiasm for vintage machines!


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