As some of you will have seen from Twitter, I got a new toy on Friday night:

Vintage sewing machine

In case anyone was wondering, yes, we’re still very much in love today.

A kind friend in the US rang the Singer 1-800 line for me, since they were supposed to be able to tell me the model number from the serial number. I need the model number to get the right manual, so I can make sure it’s all working properly. This is more complicated than it sounds, since it has what’s called a vibrating shuttle (no sniggering at the back, I can hear you), which apparently you need an engineering degree to thread properly.

vibrating shuttle bobbin

See? Not exactly your standard bobbin, is it? Thank heavens for the internet, is all I can say. Within 2 minutes of searching I’d found a pictoral guide to threading it, and I think I may have figured out the model number. That high-up bobbin winder is pretty distinctive, so hopefully the manual I’ve downloaded will be useful. I’m waiting to hear back from Singer to be sure.

Right now it needs a really good clean and oil more than anything. The wheel turns freely, but there are spots of rust on the bobbin and dead things underneath in the wooden case (don’t worry, I’ll take pictures). I think the cleaning is going to have to be done outside so that all the nasties blow into the river, and I don’t suffocate on the smell of the cleaning oil. I also need to work out what the engraved plates are made of, so I can get the right metal cleaner for them.

Side plate of sewing machine engraved with leaves and flowersBack plate of sewing machine engraved with leaves and flowers

If anyone has any tips or stories about bringing vintage sewing machines into their full glory, I’d love to hear them. What I really, really want now is the case that should clip onto the machine. If I can’t find one to fit, I’m going to have to make one, I think. Although I do plan to sew with it, this won’t be my regular machine, and the last thing I want is for it to gather yet more dust!

Right now though, mostly what I want to do is stare at it. Go on. You know you want to

Vintage sewing machine


4 thoughts on “Shiny!

  1. Oh, that is lovely! I saw a similar machine in a charity shop in Cornwall while on holiday and I waaaaanted but had no way of getting it home on the train. So I shall be cheerfully jealous of you while I continue stalking my own. 😉


    1. This was originally seen through a charity shop window, and I loved enough to overcome my phone fear to ring and reserve it. When I went to pick it up, the lady said she’d been fending off women who wanted to buy the bobbins – they’re cylindrical and apparently hard to buy if you don’t have the internet. I’m very grateful she did, because apparently the other women went away quite miffed!

      There’s more out there than I’d expected – Singer were definitely into mass-production. Apparently the quilting classes at my local haberdashery are going to use hand-cranked vintage Singers, since they’re more or less indestructable! Good luck finding one of your own. I recommend them 😀


  2. I have a reconditioned one *somewhere* in my mother’s house. This is making me tempted to try and reclaim it at Christmas, though she might well have sold it. It’s not as though I have space in my house for such things, mind…


    1. The agreement was that I could have it if one of the other 2 went elsewhere, so the broken one is going home with Mum in August until I can get the part for it, at which point it will return, and the Brighton one will go back to *its* home [/mechanical confusion]

      They’re really lovely things to have around generally, never mind if they work or not!


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