Wednesday, January 16, 2019

~ Deciding Their Fate ~

Day 5 of the Podunk Studio organizing was deciding if a sewing machine is worth keeping.  Let me first say I am in no way a sewing machine collector.  I have 11 sewing machines.  Three of the 11 I've purchased, none of the purchased machines are vintage or antique.  Two of the three I use regularly.  My Brother 450Q is my daily machine and then there's my Bailey Home Quilter for quilting.  And the biggest waste of money in my studio was a Singer Embroidery machine I purchased in 2006 because I thought I could make money embroidering....HAHAHA!  Two of the 11 sewing machines are still at my dads until I find a place for them among the others.  The rest of my machines were handed down from family members and are sentimental and display pieces.  All of them work and are serviced by me once a year on the birth date of the original owner.  

This little gem came home with me a little more than a year ago.  It belonged to Mr. Podunk's dad.  Before agreeing to bring her home with me I made sure the motor was in working order.  Now that I'm in clean up mode I need to decide her fate.  Will she stay or will she need to go to someone who wants a project?

The cabinet is beautiful even though she has a lot of wear and tear.  Obviously it was used as an end table by a drunken smoker.  See the cigarette burns?  The oblong shaped burns tells me a cigarette has fallen out of an ashtray and continued to burn.  My mom was notorious for doing this very thing, smoking not drinking.  This to me this is character and tells her story.  It in no way would play a role in whether she stays or goes.

The inside reveals a beautiful Singer 66-18 with a Godzilla finish.  I had no idea what I had brought home.  This is a somewhat rare find.  The Godzilla finish was made during WWII.  You can read more about the Blackside Singer Sewing Machines here.   To me she is just another sewing machine that may need a little love.  These older sewing machines are so nice to have around as backups.  Two of my new sewing machines are built to only be serviced by a trained professional.  That really chaps my bum!  $85 for a cleaning and inspection, what a rip off.  This old Singer can be fixed by a 10 yr. old with an oil can and a screw driver.  I'm not sure if the professional servicing of machines has come about from lazy sewist or greedy companies.  Whatever the reason I wish we could buy new machines with the option of self servicing.  

And look at the details.  Even this stripped down WWII era machine has some beautiful design elements. Granted it took me about 15 minutes of elbow grease to reveal the fine scroll work but it's a lot prettier than my plastic machine.

The detail work and craftsmanship is amazing.  No slapped on decals from China.

The one issue that most older machines have is the old rubber on the electrical cords.  The light on this machine doesn't work due to the deteriorating rubber.   Mr. Podunk assured me he can replace all the bad wiring.

It was kinda scary cleaning and oiling a machine with so many bare wires.  But my thought was, If I can get her running and she sews a stitch then we'll fix the wiring.

The really scary wiring was on the bottom.  What a trooper this ole gal was, she hung in there while oiling the badly gummed up innards.  The bobbin winder was completely ceased up but now runs smoothly.  The stitching was very labored but now purrs like a kitten.  Stitching just as beautifully as the first day on the job years ago.  Well I'll fix this old girl but she'll not stay with me for long.  I'll be gifting this to someone special within the next year.  I can't reveal who that might be because they might be reading my blog.

The next item on the chopping block was my old treadle machine.   This belonged to my Great Aunt Beulah and was handed down to my mom then to me.  She works but needs some love.  I've never used this machine.  But I do have memories of pushing the pedal for mom as she stitched up a new dress for me. 

Why keep it?  First and most important to me is that it belong to family.  But she takes up SOOO much space.  Second reason, you never know when we'll lose electricity.  If you watch the news and depending on what side you watch it could because our country is being invaded  at the border or our president is a Nazi.  No I don't want to talk politics.  Living in Podunk the threat of losing power is real.  It goes out when it's windy, rainy, snowing, icy or if a squirrel makes a bad decision.  So she too is a keeper.  This one will stay with me for as long as I can find room.

One of her charms is this cute little box.  I'm not even sure if it goes with the machine.

The date stamp on the top of the box is hard to read but I think it says 1908 February 19.

I've never tried to place the things in it where they belong.  It is how it was the day I brought her home.

The contents may not even be for this machine.  For me it's not important if they will work.  It just the fact that it belong to a family member.  The sentimental side of me sure does slow down the cleaning and reorganizing but I think it's important to occasionally ground myself about what brought me to this point in my life where I have a Studio instead of a sewing nook like my mom and grandmothers.  It times like this when I wonder what will happen to my collection of sewing and quilting supplies.  Will they be loved by my children or will they be bought at Goodwill by someone who is like me who wonders about their journey before reaching them.  

 Maybe I need to make a will leaving these precious items to someone who will love them.  My aunt let me know at my grandpa's funeral that I was added to her will.  She said I was the only person she knew that would love her machine and stash as much if not more than she.  Do you have a quilt will? 

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  1. What great machines! I don't have any space in my small home for any more machines. I own 6 machines, but only have room to set up 3 in tables. The others are in the closet and only 2 of them are lightweight enough to take with me to class or sewing at a friends's house. I tried to sell a couple a while back, but I am sure lad I didn't sell one of them as I am using it more now than the newer one I have. I have back ups so that when one is being serviced, I still have others to use. Last place I took my newest machine to cost me $100+ tax to service! Quite the rip off. I did find a quilter friend whose husband does servicing for $25 and that is more like it. I do like those old simple machines that can be serviced yourself, but I don't have any more of those. Still my straight stitch machines I do clean and oil regularly, which is all they really need for the most part. I sure would love to try stitching on that first machine in the gunmetal finish, just to see how it feels.

  2. I have a Singer treadle, but it was not a family heirloom. I have it as my entry table and it is in working order--I live in a rural area too and could lose power and could sew on it too. I have two Singer machines in gorgeous cabinets that are end tables in my living room--I believe the machines work, but I never have used them. They are dual purpose! Furniture and sewing machines equal keep in my book!

  3. Love the Godzilla Singer. I have been dabbling in vintage machines, my latest purchase a White 3355.
    I don't have a quilt will as I don't have much of a quilt portfolio yet. I give away more quilts than I keep.

  4. Enjoyed reading your post this morning--it was easy to identify with your struggle between sentiment and function/space. I have moved so many times over the years that I have jettisoned machines that I now wish I still owned. Love the family quilting and sewing tradition that is evident in your having family machines and in your aunt's promise of your inheriting her quilting stash and equipment.

  5. What a nice machine and story to go with with :) I'm the first quilter in the family and I do own an embroidery machine too! No intentions of making money from it but it sure makes some nice home made gifts! My first machine was a Babylock from 33 years ago that sounds like a plane taking off...i also have 2 Janomes, a Brother embroidery/sewing machine and a Babylock self threader serger. I like to think I'm diverse :)I don't have a quilt will and my daughter is still in school and I don't see her sewing anytime soon...but have started her a "hope" (sewing) chest so she can take up sewing when she is done :)

  6. I really love those machines. You are very lucky to have them passed down to you. The Singer looks like the one my mom had. She gave it to me, but when she passed away, my sister went to her house and took it. My sister doesn't sew. She just took it to sell. It really made me mad, but I told my husband it wasn't worth getting into an argument over. I don't have a quilt will, but it is definitely something to think about.

  7. Such beautiful machines! I have a few - one was my mother's. I'm not sure if it works.
    My husband is very handy and works on collecting, taking apart, putting back together and making things work in the garage like lawnmowers, leave blowers, snow blowers etc--we call it tinkering!
    I would love to get him working on sewing machines. Do you recommend any youtube or DIY tutorials so he can learn?

    1. I taught myself to fix sewing machines by watching them operate. I'm sure there is plenty of videos for learning. Many of the older models have repair manuals that can be downloaded for free. A google search of your machine make and model with the word "manual" added should take you right where you need to go. The older machines are simple mechanics and they all basically work the same. Some may have different bobbin assemblies or thread paths but you take away the outer shell and they are pretty much the same. As long as nothing is broken inside, which is rare, a good oiling is most likely all that's needed. If the motor is bad...well that's a job for youtube! Another handy tool is facebook. I belong to a vintage machine group that is very helpful. They can tell you exactly how to fix things and where to get the parts. Since I've never replaced the wiring on a sewing machine, it was the first place I went to find the answer. With in 20 minutes I had several different options to fix my Godzilla machine. Mr. Podunk tinkers also. He likes being able to fix things that are above my skill level. If he weren't here I would learn to do it myself. If you can read you can learn is my moto. Good luck with your machines! Hope I gave you some advice you can use.

  8. I wish I would have kept the Pfaff my Dad bought me in the 70's. You could open the side door and clean it out. They could at least let you do that to the modern machines since they said don't use canned air-it's bad for the computerized electronics inside. Plus the old one was all metal. I like some of the bells and whistles of my newer machine but miss my old gal so much. I bought myself a 1948 Singer Featherweight and love her too. I bought a how to manual and watched You Tube videos and finally cleaned the old oil/grease with kerosene and put new in. She had that distinctive horrible smell most of them developed so I bought her a new felt, a new LED light bulb and a button hole attachment which is much better than my newer machine! Then I read that the old Bakelite pedals could overheat or decrease the speed of your machine so I bought her a new one and put the old one in the stinky case. The old motor had good carbon brushes and I also got a bobbin tension meter so I don't have to guess about that. I love cleaning and working on her. My go to place for videos and supplies had a write up about the flat matte black machines. I would love love love a treadle but have no place to put one and I think putting your machines in a will is a great thing. Otherwise some get tossed in the landfill when they could be tuned up and used.

  9. Beautiful machines. I agree that we should have at least one that doesn't need electricity to run. Never know when you might need it. I have one that belonged to my husbands grandmother. Made in 1912.
    You are fortunate that it only cost $85 to service your machine. I just recently had mine done and it was a whopping $153. I need to shop around to find somewhere more affordable even if I have to drive a distance.

    1. The last time I took in my newer machine it cost me $125. The $85 is for a basic service and that was about 4 yrs ago maybe more. If it ain't broke don't fix it!


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