Something overcame me the minute I started sewing on Rosie, my Singer Featherweight. I knew, the second the needle went down and punched that first hole, that my life would never be the same.
A Featherweight is a fine little machine, but what, I began to wonder, would it be like to sew on a bigger, more powerful vintage Singer. I'm forever sewing interfaced denims and corduroys, thick seams on top of thick seams. Brother does an okay job, sometimes stalling, sometimes sailing on over if I give him enough of a head start. I wanted something sturdier.
So, armed with the excuse of needing more sewing power, but really just greedy for more of that smooth, vintage Singer hum, I joined 4 Yahoo groups and trolled eBay until I knew enough about old Singers to know which one(s) I would consider hocking my first and only born in order to add to what was obviously going to become a collection.
And for old machines, let me tell you, Singers can require the hocking of things.
I decided that the next model I would cop would be the 401. How can I possibly resist a machine that goes by the name Slant-O-Matic? I mean, anything O-Matic is a must have. (I love the '50s take on space-aged technology.) It's a good sized machine that can zigzag and do other stitches without the aid of accessories.
Then I figured I'd mosey on over to 301 land and snatch up one of those, for shits and kicks. After that, dammit, I needs me a 503, the mighty Rocketeer. I couldn't care less what it does -- straight-stitch, built-in zigzagging, whatevah! All I'm about is its looks. Totally Jetsonian.
You can see what the problem is. Where am I going to put all these sewing machines? What currency am I going to use to pay for them? Who do I think I am?
It's true I'm crazy enough to ignore the space issue. I'll unplug the fridge and stick them in there if I have to. But money is something I have to think about. (The first and only born wouldn't take kindly to being hocked.) And, yes, these old Singers are workhorses, but the fact that they're 50+ years old is not to be ignored. Bad as I want 'em, after the Featherweight I won't plunk down the hundreds of dollars they go for on eBay. It's too much of a gamble with these old machines. Second hand stores, yard sales, and Craigslist are better places to buy them and save money.
Which brings me to my new old gal. This is Rilla:
Rilla is a 404. The 404 is an underappreciated, often overlooked, straight-stitch machine. Even though it lives in the shadow of the 401, its fancypants, zig-zagging sister, on eBay it still sells for a nice chunk of change (150. - 350. + shipping).
I got Rilla on Craigslist for 45 bucks, along with accessories, original carrying case, and original card table. She's a one-owner machine.
Tomorrow, I'll discuss the pros and cons of vintage machines, getting them on the cheap, and sewing with them. I will do this from my position as a novice and still slightly befuddled collector.