Husqvarna… the 21 Automatic.

Husqvarna 21 – Permanent Collection

Most people associate Husqvarna with chain saws and perhaps motorcycles but their history of being a sewing machine manufacturer goes back to the late 1800’s, after the need for arms waned the artisans in the industrial areas of Sweden turned their talents to making other things, among them were sewing machines.

And they made a fine sewing machine… during the early 1900’s they did as many European companies did and copied or imitated the Singer 15 and VS machines but after World War 2 they became extremely innovative and introduced a new series of machines with the 21 being the crown jewel.

Said by some to be the finest machine ever made and it really has few flaws or weaknesses… the controls are ergonomic and easy to use, the machine stitches perfectly and is capable of 20 different stitch patterns (via cams), the free arm is beautifully designed, and one feature that few other manufacturers offered was an actual low gear reduction.

These machines will sew a bumper on a Volvo and look beautiful doing it too.

The Weather Outside Is Frightful…

Pearl… supervising.

We have been experiencing some rather extreme cold this week, but as we are on our Christmas break we’ve been staying inside and staying cozy and working on little personal projects like my Wheeler and Wilson D9 treadle I picked up in October.

As always, Pearl needs to supervise and provide moral support as at 2 ounces she is just not big enough to help remove frozen clutch knobs on 120 year old machines and will say I was successful in doing that, and also managed to find a set screw for it.

Very few machines made can sew as smoothly and beautifully as a Wheeler and Wilson D9.

Besides puttering around in the shop I have been busy in the kitchen… have been churning butter and making soup. Mulligatawny is a wonderful spicy chicken soup that is perfect for cold winter days.

The butter press came from my aunt who used to have a small dairy and made and sold butter in her community, it is probably as old as me.

Freshly Churned Butter
Mulligatawny Soup

2021 is almost over and in a few days we will be ringing in the new year, the weather is supposed to warm up to normal temperatures (which is still below freezing) and think we will be able to get out and sit around the fire with some tasty hot beverages.

We’ll be back in the shop January 3rd, there will be a good number of beautiful machines coming up for sale and I will be working on designing and making some new products in the workshop.

Wheeler and Wilson D9 treadle

Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas

Christmas will soon be upon us and we are hoping all our friends, family, and customers have a joyous holiday.

We will be away from December 24th until January 3rd on a much needed break as it has been pretty non stop here for months.

Looking forward to the new year, and wishing everyone health and happiness.

Tool Time – Working On The Lathe.

When you have a little shop that makes parts for sewing machines, accuracy is important, and as I have yet to install a DRO (digital read out) on my lathe I have no way to measure carriage travel save for measurements on the parts.

In not too much time I made this carriage stop with a mount for a dial indicator, test fitting it here before I drilled and tapped a few small holes for set screws.

All finished up with set screws to hold the indicator and a proper washer under the nut to keep the bolt from biting into the aluminium. This is for taking accurate depth measurements when I am facing parts, or needing accurate measurements on small parts.

The block also accepts a sliding rod I machined to use as a moveable stop, increments on the rod are marked at 1/10 of an inch to give me a simple reference.

My daughter, who has only taken a passing interest in the lathe saw this and said that it was really cool and asked “you made that ?”.

Will have to spend some time with her showing how it all works as the kid does have some mad skills and likes math, which is rather essential for making parts.

Back to your regularly scheduled sewing content… I did make a new tree skirt from some vintage fabric we thrifted the other day.

In The Shop…

We have been busy in the machine shop this past week…

Turning the brass for the Singer 66 adaptor.

Almost finished with the second Singer 66 back clamping adaptor, this allows the Singer 66-1 to use common side clamping feet.

Back clamp adaptor installed, foot screw was custom made too.

With the introduction of our Ultimate Thread Stand over a year ago we have not had that many requests for our classic thread stands. Made a classic one for my 301 the other night and realized this was the first one I made on the lathe, so much easier than doing all that work by hand.

Classic Thread Stand.

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.