When I joined a local quilting bee last year, my love of quilting quickly expanded into a love of vintage machines. Members of the church where we meet donate materials to support our group, which makes baptism quilts for babies born into the congregation, touch quilts for Alzheimer patients, and prayer quilts for anyone needing a little extra support through a difficult time. It's only natural, then, that we have accumulated a few machines, all vintage, either through our own thrifty finds, or through donations to the group.
Our bee also does group projects. When I first joined, the group had already chosen fabrics for a full/queen sized raffle quilt, so the first few meetings I attended were spent ironing fabric and cutting pieces. When it came time to sew, I was introduced to our machines, but was quickly disappointed to find that one, a very cool, very sleek looking Singer 99K (in cabinet), had a broken belt.
The other was a shade of green somewhere between pea and avocado, and was an all metal, heavy beast of a machine (called Dressmaker) with wood grain accents. It could power on, but wouldn't run.
I don't know why these machines held such a fascination for me, but I was immediately hooked, and just had to get them running again. I took some pictures, took the broken belt home with me, did some internet research, and was easily able to get the 99k running again with a new belt. With that first small success came mounds of satisfaction at having made a crippled machine useful again.
I was sure I could duplicate this success, and though I was still such a recent addition to the group, the kind ladies I quilt with allowed me to take the Dressmaker E-199 home for the week. One new belt later, the machine still wouldn't run, and not only would it not run, but I noticed the motor smoking. Uh-oh. After many hours of scouring sewing machine manuals sites, since the model number turned up nothing in Google searches, I found a manual, and the section on maintenance and oiling points. (Ah-ha!) And I was pleasantly surprised to be able to easily obtain sewing machine oil at my local sewing and vac shop. (Was I a newbie or what?) Just one drop of oil per point, and I could feel the machine getting looser and looser with every turn of the hand wheel. And imagine my delight when I plugged the machine back in and it actually sewed!
That was more than a year ago, and since then I have accumulated a few vintage machines of my own. The first was a beautiful teal colored Viscount. Looking more 50's era car than sewing machine with it's chrome knobs and detailing, it needed nothing more than a light oiling and new spool pins. Most of the machines I come across, however, need a bit more work to get them back in shape. Digging into the innards of a dried out, or gooped up machine, and trying to find the key to making it work again has become like a treasure hunt. And I'm almost disappointed if I get one that's already in working order, and only needs a drop or two of oil.
Despite the fact that I have restored a few fairly complicated cases to working order, I don't consider myself an expert by any means. However, I do have a lot to share, from vintage machines and their features, to vintage attachments and how to use them. And lets not forget sewing and quilting in general, which I also do a ton of. I hope you will find the information and stories I share here over the coming months to be both useful and enjoyable.