Wednesday, January 16, 2008

another oldie but goody

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.


Adrienne said...

Ohh nice!! And I went to sleep last night...which means I MUST be up today because I have done NOTHING LOL

Annika said...

This kind of sewing machine porn should have a warning on it! May cause faintness and coveting!

Ellen Bloom said...

Ahhhhh! Divine and clever design for functional items. I'm alllll over it, Girlfriend.

I used to have my Mom's old Kenmore (Sears) machine in it's own table. I miss it so. Lately, I've been using a re-conditioned Elna. My Mom has my sturdy table top mini- Kenmore. We're a Sears family. I'll never forget the old Singer my Grandma used to make Barbie clothes for me and my cousins. It was an old fashioned pump pedal that my Dad later converted to electric for her. What a classic!

Nik said...

Snookums' mom gave me her old machine. it is a Necchi and weighs like 2 tons. It still works, but I want to get it cleaned before I put it to good use. I posted about it one day. There's a yahoo group for Necchis and folks swear by it. Some will not sew with anything else.

Anonymous said...

Ohh Oh, You are opening a can of worms here, be veeerrrry careful what you start!! I totally agree with you about buying locally, I have a Rilla too, it is a fine machine. I don't know or have the 301 but the 404 is very nice. I also have 401 treadles, yes multiple. What was I thinking??? Now I long to own a motorised 401. Then there is the 201 and a Featherweight and this is just one brand, Singer. I will stop here and wait to hear what you have to say, as I said, big can of worms and addiction.

sappmama said...

LOL. Annika, I'll post a warning next time.

Ellen, don't make me start looking for old Kenmores, too.

Heather! How does this affliction happen to nice, unsuspecting people like us?

Scabby Robot said...

omg, i'm 7 months late to post on this, but i've found my sister in sewing machine addiction.. here's my slant-o-matic that i love to pieces:

bought that guy and 2 more similar machines at the goodwill. all i need now is some nice ladies to run my apartment factory while i go to the office.