Something Old, Something New

Singer 31-20, made in 1911

I have been getting the shop re-organized of late, with the PCS (post concussion syndrome) I suffer from some terrible short term memory issues, and organizing things helps me map out where things are.

Anyways…

Marie Louise is my 1911 Singer 31-20 tailor’s machine, named after the French lady who owned her and used her as she spent a lifetime working as a seamstress for a major tailoring company here. Now she resides in my shop and is one of my all time favourite machines to use as she never fails in any task i set her to.

She was born in an age when the automobile was still a new thing, when a great number of people did not have electricity, phones, or modern appliances.

Now she is surrounded by modern technology like my tablet and wireless printer, and lit by an led instead of a kerosene lamp… I figure she will outlast all this modern technology too.

Case Straps

Those beautiful old bentwood cases are wonderful to look at, but I am always reminding people to lift them from the bottom rather than trust a handle that might we well over 100 years old.

To that end I make up carrying straps from nylon webbing, you could do this on a heavier duty domestic machine but I like to use the industrials… the 29k and 108w make short work of this.

The case strap slips on and is made to size, this eliminates the use of a clip that might eventually fail, or scratch the case.

It sure makes carrying these heavier machines a lot easier.

Singer 29k58 – made in 1938
Singer 29k, sews in any direction.
Singer 108w20
Case straps for a 1912 Singer 99, this case has a dodgy latch.
Case straps for a Singer 15-91, she’s a heavy beast.
Case straps for my 431G, these are the worst cases and should not be trusted.

On The Bench, Singer 128 La Vencadora

The Singer 128 had an extremely long production run that started in the 1880’s and continued into the 1950’s, the La Vencadora are unique to this model and I think they are one of the prettiest decal sets Singer ever offered.

This machine got a general service and some ouch ups to the bed where she had lost some paint, they are such a solidly made machine I can’t recall ever seeing one that didn’t work beautifully with a little love.

We have several earlier models in the queue that we are preparing for sale as well as several more 128 models with La Vencadora decals.

Sewing Manuals

We have an ever changing selection of vintage manuals for a wide range of machines, please contact us with your machine model and we’ll let you know if we have one for you.

We also maintain a fairly large digital database of manuals, we’ll be happy to send you one for free or point you toward sites that also offer free manuals.

For the Singer 301, 221, and 222, we have beautifully done, reprinted manuals… prices shown are in U.S. dollars.

The Tales They Could Tell…

Singer 28, 1906

We picked this machine up yesterday because the coffin top case was in such exceptional shape, while the machine is one that a lot of people would not be attracted to because of it’s heavily worn condition. Some of us like to call this “patina”.

At 114 years old this machine needed nothing more than a little oil and a few turns of the hand crank to run smoothly and the stitch quality was perfect right off the get go.

I think she is charming.

Singer 108w20 – Industrial

Singer 108w20 – 1952

My brother has been tasking me with some repairs of late and when we saw this machine for sale we snapped it up, even though it had been removed from it’s industrial base and motor, because the price was right.

The 108w20 was designed for doing binding work and is a medium duty industrial designed for sewing canvas weights, and was used for sandal making, bras, corsets, and other items with smaller diameters and smaller curves.

Because I want to be able to travel with this machine I fitted it with a 1.3 amp Pfaff domestic motor, which gives it decent power and a fairly high running speed.

Wheeler and Wilson #3

Wheeler and Wilson #3 – 1872

This machine was brought to Alberta from Kawartha, Ontario in 1875, according to the family history, and is 148 years old at the time of this writing.

The W&W #3 is notable as it debuted in 1860 and was one of the first sewing machines to utilize a rotary hook and a four motion feed, which Wheeler and Wilson patented in 1851 and 1854. This hook and feed system is used to this day on many machines although the workings on modern machines are all hidden away.

This machine is a lockstitch machine, with a glass presser foot, made so that the sewist could see the stitches forming, and unlike a modern machine, it sews left to right instead of front to back. This was favoured by shirt makers and an industrial version was offered as well as the domestic model shown here. It also used a curved needle and replacements are available, but they are rare and very costly so this machine would not be one you would want to use daily.

It is interesting to compare this machine, which might be mistaken for a scroll saw, with our Singer 12k which is an 1874 model, (the model debuted in 1864)… and would be instantly recognized as being a sewing machine. It is also the machine that made Singer the dominant global manufacturer they came to be, and was widely copied.

Singer bought up Wheeler and Wilson in 1905 and their Bridgeport facility became the location where Singer produced many of their industrial machines.

Singer 421G – Slant Needle – Freearm

Singer 421G – 1963

Singer was a global company and did some odd things, like offering the 421G free arm model in Europe and restricting it’s sale in North America. Like the later 431G (1964-65) this machine was very similar to the domestic 401A but added that wonderful detachable bed.

As such, examples of these German made Singers in North America are rare and were only brought back to this side of the pond by individuals, often those who served in the military in Germany, where Singer made the 110V model available for purchase.

The original production numbers of these machines is also very low as it was the top of the line model offered, and was an extremely expensive purchase, costing the equivalent of $4000.00 if we adjust for inflation.

Many people have said that the German made Singers are even better than their domestic counterparts, the tolerances and build quality of all the 4xx series machines is really exceptional and most of them we come across still look and run like new, even though some might be over 60 years old now.

Slippin’ and Slidin’

Super Lube Synthetic Oil

For many years we have been using sewing machine oil (light mineral oil) as well as Tri Flow synthetic oil for it’s excellent penetrating qualities and lubrication, with the only issue being the banana smell of Tri-Flow.

In order to reduce the VOC’s, I opted to switch to Superlube synthetic oil much like we switched to using Superlube grease instead of Tri-Flow grease. The new oil is approved for food service use, is clear, a little thicker than Tri-Flow, and like the grease is safe on just about all plastics.

If you are going to be sewing long and hard and want the best protection for your machine’s moving parts; a synthetic oil is superior to petroleum based oils, lasts longer, and in tests, we have found that the Superlube performs even better than Tri-Flow.

Superlube oil and grease is widely available at many hardware stores, Walmart, and auto supply stores so you don’t have to order it online or hunt too hard to find it.