Monday, August 9, 2010

How Many is Too Many ?

The herd is growing. When I wanted to make curtains for our bedroom back when (1988/89?), my DH wanted to buy me a sewing machine right away. Instead I borrowed a friend’s machine, made the curtains, and a few other things, a dress, a skirt, etc. A year or two later, DH bought me my first SM - a Kenmore 30 stitch from Sears in a cabinet that opened up quite large but could fold compact in our small apartment.

In ‘95 or so, I started looking around at sergers. A very basic model was my goal - 3 or 4 thread. While at the Creative Needlework Festival in the fall of ‘97, DH bought me the 5 thread Singer serger with coverstitch capability - it was sooo much more machine than I was looking for and so far beyond my sewing capabilities that I was terrified of it. It sat in the box for 7 years, we were in our house for 4 years before I got the nerve to open it up. Now I use it regularly.

For years I was very happy with the two machines - DH mentioned upgrading a few times but, I didn’t feel the need so I continued as I was.

A couple of Christmas’s ago, I opened a Singer HD110 and was very surprised as I had told him I didn’t need another one.,.’it might come in handy’’, he said.

Well, turns out it does a better buttonhole than the Kenmore and has an invisible zipper foot. It also gets put to use often now.

Now…after some time on PatternReview and blogs, I’ve stumbled across the names of SM brands that I’d never heard of (Necchi being one) as well as the sites and threads of people who promote the use of the vintage machines.

In a local thrift store in June, I saw a Necchi BU Mira (1953) in a cabinet - it needed new electrical cords and at the time, the only thing I knew to check was if the handwheel turned or if it was frozen. It was VERY smooth. It also came with a drawer full of stuff - manuals, feet, cams, instructions for everything. A week later it was still in the shop and I had to have it. Had to learn to use a knee control with this one.

This past week 3 - yes, 3! have been added to the SM collection (which wasn’t a collection at all until now LOL - denial, denial, denial !). We are on holiday in Toronto visiting friends. They have 3 machines - 2 were going to be tossed unless I wanted them.

1st one is a Singer 99K - Serial number dates it to 1953, manufactured in Scotland. It’s in a cabinet and uses a foot pedal, has a stitch length lever, manual and attachments. This one will get a bit of a cleaning and oiling but is good to go.

2nd one is also a Singer 99K - Serial number dates it to 1951, manufactured in Scotland. It’s in a bentwood box (for which I found a new key), has a stitch length knob instead of a lever and has the same attachments as the previous one. It needs a good cleaning, an oiling, and new electrical cord).

I’m not sure about this one - it looks so much older than the other that I wonder if it really is a ‘51. The serial number doesn’t look tampered with but there is no ‘99K’ plate on it. I don’t know if there is any other way to definitively date a machine though, so any info would be appreciated.

Almost done ! During our visits to Toronto, we frequent a few antique and consignment shops.

Yep, in the consignment shop the other day there was ANOTHER Singer bentwood box ! I was called to come see - it had only arrived that morning and hadn’t yet even been priced. We used the computer to check the serial number - I think it came up 1935 - maybe it was 1934. Anyway, it was another 99K. This had a much darker wood box, a knee pedal and a box of attachments, including a few I didn’t have).

Owner said ‘make an offer’; I said ‘no’; DH said ‘$45 ?’ - I have another machine !

It needs MUCH more work, We plugged it in and the light came on but the hand wheel is extremely sticky. Lots of cleaning to do - it's filthy. A good oiling as well. New electrical cords. There is a bit of fraying and in any case, I’d rather have DH replace them than take a chance with bad wiring. This is a true before pic, all I've done is lift the cover off.

My sewing room is approximately 10’ x 12’ - Our basement living area has a 14’ x 14’ nook off of it that DH is using for his computer set-up. He has volunteered a few times to switch spaces with my sewing room. I’ve always refused for 2 reasons - I like a door on my sewing room so I can leave it a mess when I’m mid-project and also I’m a tiny bit afraid my fabric/machines will expand/multiply like rabbits to fit whatever size room I have available to me (a pretty legitimate fear, apparently LOL)

I see a room-switch happening sometime in the not-to-distant future.

We go home tomorrow - I can't afford to stay in Toronto any longer !


  1. Hi Claire!! If you could only have ONE of your sewing machine... WHICH one would you keep--and why??
    Soft hug,

  2. Oh, lucky you! I'd love to find a Necchi in nice shape. I also have a Singer 99K (just the one though!), but mine is a non-electrical hand crank version. They lend themselves quite nicely to conversion should you ever want to go 'people powered'.

  3. You can never have too many sewing machines!

  4. What a lovely husband! And what beautiful machines!

  5. Wow! What wonderful machines! I still have my first Brother from 1979. My Singer from 1989 died in 2003, and was replaced by another Singer. I also have a cheaper Singer that I bought when my '03 singer needed a tune up and I was too lazy to get there, and a Janome I got for $62 including shipping. Plus my beloved treadle machine. And a 4 thread serger. I think they do multiply to fill the space they find. You're lucky Bob helps you find and adopt these machines!

  6. What fun! I do love the look of those old Singers. Enjoy the growing herd. g

  7. Hi Claire
    Is your Singer HD110 loud? Would you recommend it as a 1st machine?

  8. Can't say you have enough yet!!

  9. Guess what came home to our house today? A 99K (1958 according to the websites). I didn't buy it either; Don did. Hee hee.

  10. what I love about the older machines is the REAL ESTATE under the arm - SO MUCH MORE of my quilts can fit rolled up under there!
    NICE FINDS! and gifts!

  11. oh my goodness i have a huge favor to ask i own the same singer serger and i'm scared to use it i can't understand the manual and i can't do anything with it because i've never used a serger b4 i was wondering if you were able to do like a tutorial or something like that because i can't find anyone to teach me how to use it please!!

  12. I Love all vintage sewing machines! I just found a Necchi Bu Mira but there is no foot control or knee control. Would you be so kind as to share the part number? I cannnot find a manua with parts listed. Thanks for your consideration. :o)


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