Singer VS / 27 – 1896 – The Natural

Singer VS3 – 1896

When I went to service this 125 year old Singer VS / 27 machine I met a very nice retired couple and discovered that it was the husband who wanted to use his grandfathers machine, and not the wife with the lovely sewing studio upstairs. She said he was not allowed to use her machines…

After things were finished and I had made numerous test runs (of perfect) stitches the husband asked his wife to try it, commenting that she would have to teach him how the machine worked.

She struggled a little with the treadle, until you are familiar with them starting and stopping, and maintaining a smooth action takes a little practice… usually. She said it had been 40 years since she used a treadle machine.

After this the husband sat down at the treadle and he had been watching intently throughout the servicing and testing.

From the get go he ran that machine like someone who has used a treadle for years, starting and stopping smoothly and even doing a running backstitch.

He had never used a sewing machine in his life.

He is a retired airline pilot… I said that his skills and hand, eye, and foot coordination was probably the reason he could sit down and operate this machine so smoothly.

His wife was stunned, and we figured he can practice on fabric instead of paper… and with no doubt he is already making things on his grandfather’s sewing machine.

It also runs so quietly you could watch the tele while you were sewing… my boots make more noise than my regular shoes here.

Happy sewing.

The Greatest Machine… my Kenmore model 1931.

I was a single parent on a really fixed income and was sewing with a 1949 Singer 99 that I picked up at a local garage sale, and I still have that machine.

But I was looking for a more versatile machine and an ad came up for this 1977 Kenmore 158.1931 and knowing how good these machines were, I went over and paid the $80.00 the lady was asking, and she told me she had got it as a wedding gift 25 years earlier.

Now we’ve been running this shop for a good time now and countless machines have come in and out, the collection has grown, and I have been fortunate to test and use some really incredible machines.

My 44 year old Kenmore is still my go to machine, and the standard by which all other machines are judged… when it comes to stitch quality, range, and the ability to sew through everything from silk to 8 layers of denim this machine is very hard to beat.

She isn’t as quiet as my Elna 62C, but she isn’t noisy by any measure, she straight stitches as well as any of our vintage machines, the built in stitches and stretch capability offer a staggering range of stitches, she’s powerful, has a super high lift that rivals some industrial machines, and never, ever fails at any task I have thrown at her.

You could have bought this machine new at Sears for about half of what a Bernina 830 or Pfaff 1222 cost at the time… and many probably still made payments as this was not an inexpensive machine at nearly $500.00 CAD

This model rarely comes up for sale, and my thought is that anyone who has one feels like I do and have no need or desire to part with a machine that was so perfectly designed… it is all mechanical, built to a ridiculously high standard, and virtually unbreakable.

And she still sparkles…

What is your greatest machine ?

The Singer 201-2

Singer 201-2, USA 1950

The Singer 201 is considered to be the best straight stitch sewing machine ever made, they were built to a level of precision like few others before or since, and the top of the line model was the 201-2.

The 201-2 had a potted motor, which drives the handwheel via a beveled gear which eliminates the belt and external motor used on the 201-3, with this the power delivery is instantaneous and then transferred through the beveled gear drive system inside the 201.

They are among the smoothest and most vibration free machined ever made, and are extremely quiet, you could fill an entire work room with these and the noise would not overcome conversations.

This 201-2 arrived this morning and was frozen solid or as I like to call it, “bricked” but after oiling, gentle heating and some mechanical persuasion it is now running as smoothly and quietly as any machine we have in our collection.

And it is also rather fast and the stitching as absolutely perfect.

The 201-2 was not sold in Canada and as such, is a machine that we were very happy to have acquired, it completes our collection of 201 machines as we have a 201k (treadle), a 201-3 (belt drive) and a delightful 201-4 which is a hand crank from the UK.

A Golden Anniversary

In 1971 Bernina was already established as the maker of some of the world’s best sewing machines, having introduced the 5 series machines in 1954 and the 7 series in 1963 but 50 years ago marked the release of one of their most popular, best selling, and most sought after machines of all time.

The Bernina 830 Electronic took their machines to a new level and was their best seller throughout it’s 11 year production run.

To this day the 830 does not look dated and many owners will tell you it is still their favourite machine of all time, the stitch quality is exemplary, they run smoothly and quietly, and are extremely easy to use.

They were packed in an eye catching red case that had a place for everything from the extension bed, accessory case, knee lift control, and a caddy for the pedal and cord.

There were some issues with recalls on the model 213 pedal which Bernina addressed, and then improved upon and they are known to have issues with some of the cam gears cracking but again, if you were the original owner, Bernina would cover the replacement.

They did have a lifetime guarantee against defects, which was reflected in the price as these were some of the most expensive machines on the market.

A One Dollar Threading Tip…

One thing I do to almost every machine is to swap out the straight spool pin for a drilled one, and most often an inexpensive industrial pin does the job. On a few machines with threaded pins I have to either thread the replacement pin, or drill the existing pin.

When you use a thread stand on many machines the thread can jump out of the guide, especially if they are an open guide like the Pfaff 31 shown, it is a pretty close copy of a Singer 15 which also benefits greatly by adding a $1.00 spool pin.

By using the pin with a guide, the angle of the thread going into the guide is the same as if you were using a spool and not coming in from a higher angle as seen on this Singer 66 Lotus. It has since had a spool pin upgrade…

Pfaff 130

I had to thread the pins for my Pfaff 130… with just the right amount of turns to get them to align properly.

Singer 320k23 – 1959

If you live outside of North America you are probably more likely to find a Singer 320 because as to my knowledge, these were never brought to North America through Singer Stores and would have been purchased abroad and brought back by individuals.

They came in two variants, the rarer two tone brown models are a basic machine that zig zags while the two tone green 320 is fully featured with built in stitches and cam capability… the holy grail for many Singer collectors.

The extension bed and base separate and are both removable to expose the free arm, this is some genius design work.

Like the other machines in the series the 320 uses a vertical rotary hook and a cleated internal timing belt like a Pfaff 130 which makes them very smooth and fast, the stitch quality is unsurpassed.

This 320k23 was my white whale, a machine I had only seen in pictures and had never come across until today, after a 300 mile round trip and a lighter wallet I now have one of the few machines I was actively seeking.

It had been handed down through several generations and I am naming it Florence Ruth, for the mother and daughter who used this machine over the past 62 years.

One of the few, if any of these to have been badged by Singer for export with electrical specifications, the machine was made in Kilbowie, Scotland (Great Britain).