Stitching Times serves up stories, examples and tutorials about needlework related crafts, especially quilting and crochet. Almost all of the projects shown have been designed by Kay Stephenson

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I'm Not a Collector, but...

I have a new treasure. One day on my walk with Lady I noticed a friend had a very old treadle sewing machine sitting on her screen porch. When I asked her about it she told me that she was getting rid of things before they moved to their new house and offered to let me have it. What a find. The cabinet has been painted white and the machine needs lots of TLC (tender loving cleaning), but all of the parts are there and moving.

When I got it home and started researching, I found it is a Singer Model 27 with sphinx decals. This model began production in Singer’s Elizabetheport factory in Elizabeth, New Jersey on April 24, 1906!
In total they made 60,000 of them. This means they were popular and if parts are needed, its possible there may still be some around to scavenge. Better still, I was able to find a manual online, which has been duly ordered. These old singers used a shuttle type of bobbin – very different in appearance from modern sewing machines.
The best news is that no one has tried to do any restoration yet. Often these old machines have had the beautiful decals removed with harsh cleaners, or they have been modified to use modern parts and wired for electricity. This one appears to be pristine except for the normal wear you would see from actual use.  One collector told me to always beware of an old Singer will all decals perfectly intact. It might mean the machine didn’t sew well and wasn’t used as a result.
Based on the bits and pieces (buttons, thread, a few newspaper clippings, etc.) found in the drawers, I would guess that someone used this machine until the 80s and then it just sat. I will have to ask my friend if she has any more information on the history.
Of course, it’s a treadle. Using these treadle machines is an exercise not unlike chewing gum, rubbing your belly, and patting your head all at the same time. I’ve only tried it once, without much success, but I expect with enough practice I can master it. On the other hand, once cleaned up, this machine may be so pretty that I just have to keep it for show. I can’t wait to find out what it looks like once it’s all polished and restored. 

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