Bespoke Cutter And Tailor

Apprentices => Useful Tools For People Learning To Make Quality Garments => Topic started by: TTailor on March 08, 2016, 12:16:06 PM

Title: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: TTailor on March 08, 2016, 12:16:06 PM
I think that the old Singer metal bodied machine of the 1940's through to the 1960's are excellent value. Simple to use and sturdy, they sew through almost anything. Easy to maintain as well.

A step up from that, older industrial straight stitch machines are great value if you have the space for them.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 09, 2016, 11:08:24 AM
I completely second this. Even though I have a Juki industrial, I still use a 1950 Pfaff 130 (not Singer of course, but equivalent) for up to 75% of stitching operations. I also have a Pfaff 30 set up for straight stitching. The stitch quality is very good.


This is it:
(http://i628.photobucket.com/albums/uu5/vanderloo/pfaff130.jpg)

The ease of maintenance you mention is an attractive factor. Regular common sense stuff like cleaning out lint from the bobbin and shuttle race and under the feed dogs; a drop of oil in the shuttle race after extended use, and the like.

I'd hope that anyone finding this forum who hasn't yet bought a sewing machine would be guided to a vintage model rather than a new computerised model. The principle of fewer moving parts and less to go wrong is worth following...and they were built like tanks.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on March 09, 2016, 04:36:41 PM
I think that the old Singer metal bodied machine of the 1940's through to the 1960's are excellent value. Simple to use and sturdy, they sew through almost anything. Easy to maintain as well.


I certainly wouldn't turn one down.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 10, 2016, 12:26:06 PM
I certainly wouldn't turn one down.


Tailleuse, if I may ask... if you don't have an industrial (or maybe you do and I'm not paying attention :) ) and you don't have an old cast iron job, what are using for machine work?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 10, 2016, 12:47:57 PM
i have a taste for Swiss engineering, my first domestic machine was a Bernina 707 and it was a delightful fine little machine. I still own it and its in very good condition. I went for the Elnas that I use because of their excellent engineering, high stitch quality and an unusual capacity, a massive range of stitch types using cams. I did a dirty deal with an old vendor where I swapped him an old black Singer and another Iron monster for every Elna cam he had which made both of us happy.

The model Elna machines I use are 62c which were made about 1970 and back then cost a fortune. I bought mine from eBay from ladies in the country who had carefully looked after them and they are like new. They like to be oiled regularly and the innards are like a Swiss watch but very well made.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on March 10, 2016, 12:56:54 PM
I sew at FIT.  They have Juki and Singer industrials that can be used during off-hours.  At this point,I have a number of presser feet that can only be used on an industrial, which is why I'm strongly considering buying one at some point, in addition to the value of having a machine that only I use and whose speed can be set.  I know one of the technicians who services the machines and probably will be able to get a good deal on one, especially if I buy a used model.

I also have an inexpensive Brother at home, which isn't bad at all, but it has the flimsy feel of a cheap plastic machine and the feet for it are rather limited.  A few years ago, I took it in to be cleaned and tuned up and the work cost more than the machine. 

When I took a shirt making class at FIT, some students asked the teacher to recommend a machine.  He recommended an older model metal Singer (many students were home sewers) or an industrial.  In some ways, I'd be more intimidated by a Singer than a Juki because I know nothing about them and am not interested in researching them.

But in truth, I haven't been sewing at all.  ;D :-[ :-\ I have been looking into getting some private hand sewing instruction. It also would help if I spent less time on the web.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 10, 2016, 01:00:37 PM
The name touches a nerve for me. I saw shiny one in a second-hand shop for 25, with accessories, didn't buy it and the next day it was gone. I don't know much about them, but the day I didn't buy it I saw a nice review of one online and watched a video on you tube and decided to go back.


It was green (of course) and part of the case doubled as the cover over the free arm to make a flat-bed. Maybe they all have this?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on March 10, 2016, 01:02:02 PM
i have a taste for Swiss engineering, my first domestic machine was a Bernina 707 and it was a delightful fine little machine.

For the longest time, I was obsessed with buying a Bernina mechanical. But then someone I respect convinced me that they're overpriced in comparison to industrials. I can't believe how expensive the feet are.  Still, I would never turn one down.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 10, 2016, 01:07:35 PM
In some ways, I'd be more intimidated by a Singer than a Juki because I know nothing about them and am not interested in researching them.

There's nothing to be intimidated by. If you use a normal machine now, using an old Singer or Pfaff (or whatever) is no different...apart from the performance. They have few moving parts and many access areas to get into the machine (which looks empty inside!).

In some ways it's like comparing a manual tin opener to one of those electric contraptions that does the same thing with 3 times the effort.

Old Singers have several dozen types of feet for them and are interchangeable with most like models from other manufacturers. They cost peanuts.

I only use one single type of foot for my Juki industrial - a straight stitch foot. What else is necessary? If I think about multiple feet it;s always in connection to those cast iron vintage machines, not the industrial.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on March 10, 2016, 01:58:44 PM
In some ways, I'd be more intimidated by a Singer than a Juki because I know nothing about them and am not interested in researching them.

There's nothing to be intimidated by. If you use a normal machine now, using an old Singer or Pfaff (or whatever) is no different...apart from the performance. They have few moving parts and many access areas to get into the machine (which looks empty inside!).

In some ways it's like comparing a manual tin opener to one of those electric contraptions that does the same thing with 3 times the effort.

Old Singers have several dozen types of feet for them and are interchangeable with most like models from other manufacturers. They cost peanuts.

I only use one single type of foot for my Juki industrial - a straight stitch foot. What else is necessary? If I think about multiple feet it;s always in connection to those cast iron vintage machines, not the industrial.

I'd be concerned about tracking down old Singer, etc. parts, manuals, and maintaining it.  I don't have any mechanical savvy.  Yes, many things can be learned, but I only have so much time.  Again, if someone gave me one, I would take it.  I'll keep it in mind.  But I see cries for assistance on the  Internet fairly frequently.

For the industrial, off the top of my head, I have compensating feet in several sizes, a Teflon foot (good for corduroy and other crushable fabrics), an invisible zipper foot (important for women's clothes), regular zipper/cording feet, and a narrow "universal" zipper foot. I also have a foot on a slide and a hemming foot that I've never been able to use. Yes, you can sew an invisible zipper with a regular presser foot, but it's much easier with the special foot.  When sewing across the prongs of welt/piped pockets, you can get in closer with the regular zipper foot or the narrow zipper foot than with a regular foot.  I think it would be hard to sew corded piping without the corded foot. If you have great control, you can topstitch beautifully without compensating feet, but they make it a no-brainer, and the machines I sew on are often unpredictable and a little too fast.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 10, 2016, 10:13:39 PM
The point is that you shouldn't need to track down any parts at all. A Singer 128 of mine has all the same pieces on it from when it was built in New Jersey in 1911 and it still works perfectly. You are in NYC right?, so you should be walking into these machines everywhere and they are cheap as chips.

All the manuals exist online for free; you can get dozens of feet to do everything (and they are well made feet, not like the bulky rubbish on modern consumer machines). The narrow zipper foot is a delicate little thing you can get into the tightest spots with.
Maintenance is easy (as Terri mentioned) and essentially cost-free, save the cost of a bottle of oil. There's no learning curve if a person already knows how to use a machine.

Controlling the speed is a matter of touch (industrial or otherwise). It should be possible to make any machine go like the clappers or go slow enough to count the stitches as you do them.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: tombennett on March 10, 2016, 10:28:55 PM
I can't recommend them enough ( ::) ) servo motors for industrials, put one on my brother755 and it is beautifully slow, while obtaining rugged speed, without the noise of the clutch model.  Makes a massive difference on the electricity too.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 10, 2016, 10:34:11 PM
You can't recommend them? Or can't recommend then enough? :o
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 11, 2016, 01:04:50 AM
I have a singer, 1949, and a treadle singer 1936, not used.  I snatched a 1970's Bernina in a callous transaction, when a little voice told me to keep my mouth shut til I was out the door. I have a creditable singer copy made in Australia in th 50s.  All are beautiful.  The Bernina is not really up to heavy cloth, Mehh.  Still looking :)
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 11, 2016, 01:53:34 AM
Graham, what model Bernina is it and is it a mechanical or an early electronic.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Anna on March 11, 2016, 03:29:06 AM
I have a singer featherweight (221k) and it is a very capable machine, it is incredibly easy to service/maintain yourself. there's a hole in the body everywhere it expects to be oiled, the base of the machine has a plate that's easily removed in order to access all of the inner workings of the machine. It's a straight stitch only and came with most of its attachments, all I need is a buttonholer and a zigzag foot and it will be complete.

The featherweights are in higher demand so they tend to fetch a higher price tag, but nearly every other model 1960's and earlier is worth having, although they aren't manufacturing replacement parts anymore, there are enough machines around that finding a donor machine for parts wouldn't be terribly difficult or expensive. Also, you're unlikely to ever need any parts, if you find a machine in working order as long as you give it a thorough cleaning/oiling every once in a while it's not likely that anything will break. Most machines in need of repair have been severely neglected and left in garages, damp basements or even outdoors and have been damaged by the elements.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 11, 2016, 10:53:44 AM
^ Agree with this :)


It's surprising though that what at first seems to be a 'machine in need of repair' can turn out to be only in need of a clean and a few drops of oil. Many that are lightly seized through sitting idle easily turn freely again with 15 minutes attention.


Not sure about the buttonhole attachment though... :o  This forum advocates beautiful handmade buttonholes!
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: xavierrai on March 11, 2016, 11:01:52 AM
I have several old industrial Singers from the 40's... picked them up at an auction a few years ago, when I still had a sewing studio.  Unfortunately, since moving back to the NYC area, I haven't been able to find an affordable space, and they sit in storage upstate along with most of the rest of my equipment. 

I have a domestic Viking machine that  I purchased almost 15 years ago, it's been my workhorse for many projects, and will sew through almost anything I throw at it.  I loved it enough to pick up a 2nd one a few years ago.

Fortunately, the sewing lab where I work has industrial Juki's and Singers, and I can bring in projects if I want, can't beat the speed of an industrial.  I haven't been impressed with the industrial Pfaff's I've used in various shops- they use different parts (bobbins etc) and just don't sew as nicely, other's have agreed.

Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 11, 2016, 11:20:24 AM
xavierrai, is it the new Pfaff industrials that you find below par? A milliner I know uses a Pfaff with a cylinder-shaped free arm (a bit like a shoemaker's machine) and it stitches beautifully. It's not a new model.


Just a word about speeds. A machine like a Juki DDL 8700 does 5000+ stitches per minute, which is great, but only if and when you need it. When you put a servo motor on a machine (as many do) it can be adjusted to run the machine at a speed that stays constant no matter how hard you treadle, eliminating the touch element of a clutch motor.


Lots of sewing simply doesn't require machine gun stitch speeds - unless it's some factory division of labour where someone is sewing e.g. shirt hems all day. So I don't think speed is all that important in many cases. Singer made machines that did 1800-2000 stitches per minute in the late 1920s. In nearly 100 years the stitch number hasn't risen so dramatically all things considered.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: xavierrai on March 11, 2016, 11:49:13 AM
None of the pfaff's I've used were new... no clue how old, one had spent some years in a large department store alterations department, and the other that comes to mind has been in with students for a little while.  The alterations dept. one just felt off.  It was a topic of much discussion around the shop, no one liked it.  It was always a little loose, and I felt like you had to fight to get it to feed fabric and sew a straight line.  It also looked like it could do something other than a straight stitch (there was a whole other tension wheel device on the side) but we were to busy discussing it's other issues to address that :-p.

I have a pfaff dometic serger which I've never really been enamored of, either.  I think it's trying to do too many things, and isn't really good at any of them (it can convert to be 2-5 threads, some other fancy things, and a coverstitch).

I've gotten pretty picky about machines over the years, and can usually adjust them to my liking. Some machines and I just aren't meant to work together.   I think if I ever were to purchase a new industrial, I'd go for a Juki.  Not that I think I'll need to, I already have too many machines.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 11, 2016, 11:53:23 AM
In reply to Hutch above, My Bernina is a 730,early 1970's mechanical.  Its been maintained by the TAFE education system.  Its not too bad.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 11, 2016, 02:38:40 PM
Yes I know the model, almost identical to the 707 version I used years ago. A very good free arm and while not as fast as some of the more powerful machines, they were good for doing very fine work. They use a reciprocating front mounted bobbin and the feet are a taper lock using a hook arm from the back. Even if you have an industrial, this is a good machine to keep around for doing fine and delicate stuff so you did well to get one.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: theresa in tucson on March 12, 2016, 11:39:39 AM
My everyday machine is a Bernina 930 that was built in the mid-80s.  It was the first generation of Berninas with electronics.  It blew the motherboard five months ago and cost $300 to repair.  The repair part came out of a junked Bernina.  My mechanic said if it blew the board again, he probably could not find another as the parts are no longer manufactured.  I also have three old black Singers, a 221 Featherweight, a 201 and a 15-91, two of which I picked up for $75 or less.  The Featherweights are sought after by quilters as they have a beautiful straight stitch and are very portable for taking to quilt class.  That one cost me the most, almost $500.  The other two I keep for topstitching, mending, curtainmaking and for sewing on heavier fabric.  I learned to sew on my mother's 15-91 and later had one of my own.  They are famously easy to maintain.  My mother got to talking to the mechanic at the Sew and Vac store and he had a machine from a deceased customer that had never needed service.  The lady who owned it kept it cleaned and oiled and didn't abuse it.  They are wonderful machines for home sewers.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 12, 2016, 02:58:58 PM
Hi Theresa,

You sound like you are as bad as I am with so many machines. I discovered Swiss made ELNA machines from buying one in a garage sale for about $20.00 AU. It hadn't been used or oiled for over 20 years and was a stiff as a board but was still in good condition so after a good clean, oil and grease some of the internal gears it was a nice smooth fast machine and I was hooked. Did some research and found the similar version that took cams, the 62c version which is the later SuperMatic so I hunted up a couple on eBay that were like new as they had been looked after meticulously by ladies in the country.

I did a dirty deal with a mechanic and swapped him a Singer and another cast iron machine for every ELNA cam he had so while some of the cams are not all that useful (ducks, flowers etc ....) there are a number of very useful technical stitches that I regularly use.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Manuela in Hong Kong on March 13, 2016, 10:47:37 AM
I have recently acquired a Singer 201K made in 1948, operated via knee lever with the option to use a foot controller. After cleaning and oiling it, it runs beautifully and basically sews everything without complaining.
I've got 221K and 222K Featherweights too, they come with me when I travel (for example an upcoming trip to Germany later this year to attend a wedding and need to make the wedding dress). I love those little machines.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 13, 2016, 11:09:53 AM
I have one of those knee-controllers on a Singer 15. I find it a bit harder to control than a foot controller. It may be the motor itself, but I find it harder to stop dead on a stitch, which is not usually a problem with a foot-controlled motor. That sort of thing is more likely to happen for me on a treadle machine!
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Manuela in Hong Kong on March 13, 2016, 11:17:42 AM
I wasn't quite sure about the knee lever either, hence I got a terminal build in that allows me to plug in a foot pedal. It took some time to get used to, but now I'm happy with it.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 13, 2016, 12:38:09 PM
My best Singer has a knee control,  I love it.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: peterle on March 14, 2016, 01:21:57 AM
Im also using Elna machines, a  70s 62c automatic and a 60s supermatic. Both are very sturdy and doing a lot of different stitches by using different cams. They run very smoothly, even in high speeds because they use a double turn hook instead of a repetativ hook. So hardly any vibrating compared to a Bernina 730.
Both are free arm machines, but the case is desigend to be installed as sewing table of a very generous size.
The older Supermatic comes with a knee lever to control the speed. I like this feature, because you dont need to look for the pedal with your toes all the time. The disadvantage is, the lever mechanism is not an electronical speed control, so the motor delivers less power at lower speeds. The 62c usually has an electronic pedal, so the power of the motor is always the same.
Both machines are purely mechanical, so they can be maintained by one self. There is an Elna mechanic nearby, where I always got the spare parts (three in the last 25 years) when in need, even for the older model.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: sewbriquet on July 02, 2016, 02:23:57 PM
I inherited my mother's industrial Singer when she died. It's from the 1940s, I think, but it could be older or a bit younger. It's been sitting in the spare room, neglected, in need of a service. I'm not sure if it's worth servicing it or not. my mum certainly loved that machine and could never sew on my domestics. Any advice?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on July 02, 2016, 04:40:42 PM
There is not much to go wrong with an early singer industrial so I would be inclined to give it a scrub and oil all of the moving parts then try it out. If the motor and clutch run OK it may be worth tracking down needles and bobbins on the internet. They were rarely ever fancy but usually produced good quality stitching.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on July 02, 2016, 06:32:17 PM
What model is it?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: sewbriquet on July 02, 2016, 08:43:31 PM
The paint has all but come off and there's a plaque on it with 96k41. I can't see any other identifying marks except for Singer - Manufactured in ? It could say Germany but the letters have come off. It really is a  beaten up thing but I do know my mother used it for 50 years for up to 10 hours a day and she said it never missed a beat.  I have other machines which is why I've hesitated to have it serviced.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on July 03, 2016, 01:12:28 AM
You can find a lot of Singer information online.  try googling that number with the word singer.  There is a data base somewhere that will tell you where it was made and when, you will also be able to find a manual.  Don't pay for one, there should be a free access somewhere.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on July 03, 2016, 03:41:31 AM
The ISMACS datebase is here (http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/model-list/classes-1-99.html). Yours is in that list part way down. It's the only K model among the 96 range (K means it was made in the Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland).

In my opinion the Kilbowie factory outstripped the Elizabethport factory for quality by the late 1940s. The Singer 15s they produced there in the 50s are second to none.



Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Greger on July 03, 2016, 05:51:03 AM
You can always ask around who to ask to come take a look at it. A tune up can do wonders for it.  And ask them how to use it. As your skill catches up to its speed you will find the domestics slow and boring, and a waste of time. The domestics you keep will be for the other stitches. Even some of them you might replace over time. Some domestics are rather expensive; so, what is best to buy? If your mind works faster than the domestics sewing machines why be held back?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: sewbriquet on July 04, 2016, 08:55:30 AM
thanks everyone for your advice. I will definitely get it looked at. I know my mother loved it and she hated using my domestics. She referred to them as toys. I guess I'm a bit intimidated, and there's only one way to overcome that. Now I need to find someone who will travel to the Blue Mountains (Australia) to take a look at it.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Futura on July 21, 2016, 07:05:03 PM
This may be common knowledge, but in case anyone is using a modern domestic machine with plastic innards, do not use petroleum based products for lubrication! The majority of shattered plastic gears I've seen were due to liberal misuse of regular sewing machine oil. Use silicone grease instead. Or, get an all-metal machine. ;)
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 06, 2017, 03:57:08 AM
This may be common knowledge, but in case anyone is using a modern domestic machine with plastic innards, do not use petroleum based products for lubrication! The majority of shattered plastic gears I've seen were due to liberal misuse of regular sewing machine oil. Use silicone grease instead. Or, get an all-metal machine. ;)

I didn't see this before, but yes it does complete misery to non-metal gears. I used to use a Singer 900 series domestic for light sewing and the gears under the feed dogs are either all plastic (resin) or resin around a metal hub. One day the horizontal gear just crumbled away in use.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 06, 2017, 01:00:59 PM
This basically makes sense yet it seems to vary with the type of plastic. My old Elnas have one plastic gear under the bobbin housing which is a 90 degree bevel gear, the gear that runs on it is a precision steel gear which is a common approach but it definitely needs to be oiled regularly. What I use is Singer sewing machine oil mixed with a teflon additive designed for car gear boxes and it works well on a machine that needs to be oiled regularly. On any of the metal to metal gears I use the teflon additive directly as it is somewhere between oil and light grease in viscosity and sticks really well to double metal bevel gears.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 06, 2017, 04:52:29 PM
Does anybody know whether Wahl shaver oil is any good?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Futura on March 06, 2017, 08:06:47 PM
I didn't see this before, but yes it does complete misery to non-metal gears. I used to use a Singer 900 series domestic for light sewing and the gears under the feed dogs are either all plastic (resin) or resin around a metal hub. One day the horizontal gear just crumbled away in use.

I have to ask, was that 900 series machine a "Futura" with a wind in place bobbin? I only ask because I collect its electronic cousin, the 1000. I've got a couple parts machines where the hook drive gear had crumbled.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Futura on March 06, 2017, 08:08:17 PM
This basically makes sense yet it seems to vary with the type of plastic. My old Elnas have one plastic gear under the bobbin housing which is a 90 degree bevel gear, the gear that runs on it is a precision steel gear which is a common approach but it definitely needs to be oiled regularly. What I use is Singer sewing machine oil mixed with a teflon additive designed for car gear boxes and it works well on a machine that needs to be oiled regularly. On any of the metal to metal gears I use the teflon additive directly as it is somewhere between oil and light grease in viscosity and sticks really well to double metal bevel gears.

Interesting! Do you notice any problems on your Elnas' plastic gears?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: peterle on March 06, 2017, 09:45:15 PM
One of my Elnas is an older Supermatic, tan colour and with knee lever instead of a pedal. I had no troubles with the gears yet.
The other one is a younger one from the seventies, an Elna SU automatic. Most probably the same model as Hutch shows in his test video. Once the nylon gear under the bobbin drive was broken. It was easy to replace, only took me about 30 min ( and 35 euros for this single gear...). Ive read somewhere this gear was designed as a weak spot to prevent further damage when the machine is slamming.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 07, 2017, 02:38:28 AM
> Interesting! Do you notice any problems on your Elnas' plastic gears?

What I usually do if I have not used one of the Elnas for a long time is to spray WD40 through the entire bobbin assembly to make sure its free, clean up any excess then oil all of the normal oiling points in the free arm. I use a mix of Singer sewing machine oil with an automotive teflon additive and it has worked really well, the machine smooths up and runs faster when it is fully oiled. I probably over service it but it only take about 5 minutes to take off the top and bottom plates and oil everything that moves so its no big deal and if I want to do a run of things I need it keeps the machine running at full speed with no other problems.

Most breakages come from things jamming AND trying to run the machine while it is jammed. Mine are a bit fussy about getting any threads caught in the bobbin casing and if it happens, immediately stop and untangle it. I have 2 as new Elnas with the cams and a couple of spares if I ever need parts but you try hard never to break anything on a machine that is near 50 years old.

peterle,

Mine are the slightly earlier models called a SuperMatic, the SU is only very slightly different in the knobs and the internals are the same. I picked up the 2 very good ones from ladies in the country that has them from new and took great care of them.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 07, 2017, 07:40:22 AM
I have to ask, was that 900 series machine a "Futura" with a wind in place bobbin? I only ask because I collect its electronic cousin, the 1000. I've got a couple parts machines where the hook drive gear had crumbled.

I can't remember, but I don't recall the name 'Futura' on it. It was actually a very decent sewing machine, with a drop-in bobbin (the only one I've ever had). I don't think any (domestic) models after the late 1970s or early 80s are worth bothering with. I wouldn't touch an electronic machine.

I only want to do a straight stitch 95% of the time anyway. The bits of manual adjustment required are routine and don't slow down workflow. On my Juki industrial it has all sorts of things like a thread sweeper and trimmer, programmed stitch etc. I almost never use them.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Futura on March 10, 2017, 09:35:40 PM
Ive read somewhere this gear was designed as a weak spot to prevent further damage when the machine is slamming.

Yes, my husband and I deduced the same from repairing several machines. I'd be most interested if you find where you read that.

I can't remember, but I don't recall the name 'Futura' on it. It was actually a very decent sewing machine, with a drop-in bobbin (the only one I've ever had). I don't think any (domestic) models after the late 1970s or early 80s are worth bothering with. I wouldn't touch an electronic machine.
No worries, just curious! I'm a bit eccentric when it comes to my machine collection... I have not had any problems with my electronic 1000G... ironic considering I come from a family of electrical engineers should anything go wrong! ;)

In my mind, the 1980s was the beginning of the end for serious home fashion sewing. The quality of domestic machines went down with it. The same goes for books and other tools for the home dressmaker.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 10, 2017, 09:49:58 PM
If you look around and are prepared to pay for them you can still buy full mechanical domestic machines, I know the Bernina still make one and there is a Singer that is a full mechanical as well. There are probably others but you would look at things like spares over time and available accessories, both Bernina and Singer tend to keep spares for a long time where some of the cheapies don't keep them for long.

I own a Bernina Bernette which is a Chinese made cheapie and while it does reasonable button holes fully automatically, its is a horrible machine to do general purpose sewing with with silly features that I don't use or need. It may do the job for quilting but its a lousy machine for making clothing.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 11, 2017, 12:12:58 PM
My Bernette was Czech made.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Futura on March 11, 2017, 07:33:14 PM
If you look around and are prepared to pay for them you can still buy full mechanical domestic machines, I know the Bernina still make one and there is a Singer that is a full mechanical as well.

Good point and one that completely escaped my mind (despite having seen such machines!).

It may do the job for quilting but its a lousy machine for making clothing.

Unfortunately those seem to be far more prevalent!
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Henry Hall on March 12, 2017, 06:03:26 AM
There's not much looking around needed. I can't speak for everywhere, but in Europe they're all over the place. The black, overbuilt Singers and Pfaffs can be had for less than 30, very often 20. The later ones are plentiful.

I refuse to believe that these can be bested. The only obstacle I've ever seen in operating these is user-laziness. People have been made incompetent by having machines that do too much for them and are then completely kneecapped when a problem arises, often a simple one.

One or more non-metal gears turn up in machines as early as the 1950s. Loads of the early zig-zag machines have a nylon gear in the zig-zag mechanism, with the rest of the machine being metal.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 12, 2017, 11:40:51 AM
The old black Singers are now collectors items here in OZ. A few years ago I did a dirty deal with a vendor to swap him 2 old sewing machines, a Singer and a bigger one of an unknown brand for every Elna cam he had so I ended up with a couple of hundred cams and got rid of 2 boat anchors at the same time. He got 2 antiques that he could probably make money out of so everyone was happy.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: spookietoo on March 13, 2017, 04:49:30 AM
House sitting for Sis this week and brought my 1989 Kenmore/Janome along. It has been abandoned by me since finding a Pfaff 262 a couple of years ago.

Oiled it to get started and was dismayed to find all of the stitch control knobs almost non-functioning with the main knob completely frozen. I'd never opened that end of the machine as the manual did not indicate to do so for oiling purposes - but hey - its been almost 30 years - no doubt something needed attention. I quietly prayed for no cracked or worn plastic/nylon gears as I determined how to remove the housing.

To my great surprise, I found 100% metal gearing! My mechanical engineer BIL had me covered with all possible forms of lithium grease and 15 minutes later - machine feels and sounds like it did when it was new.

This machine has never required servicing and has seen its share of upholstery projects on top of garment sewing. The built in handle makes it a great portable. Came with an excellent buttonhole attachment for shirts and for those that haven't mastered the hand stitching just yet. Straight stitch leaves much to be desired as with many domestic zz machines, but the stretch stitches are great for T's and things.

These are usually listed on craigslist for under $50 US. This model number is 385.17641 (Kenmore #'s are a PITA!)

Again, just thought it was interesting to find so much metal housed in a mostly plastic shell.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 18, 2017, 03:42:16 PM
I got a bit paranoid about my Bernina with a couple of old nylon gears.

So I have found this reference:

http://machinedesign.com/mechanical-drives/engineering-essentials-lubrication-tips-plastic-gears-and-more-part-2

It seems quite authoritative.

Graham
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 18, 2017, 07:55:55 PM
From experience the "bees knees" of lubricants for plastic gears is a teflon based additive made to add to car gear boxes and differentials.  It does not appear to attack teflon or nylon gears but substantially reduces friction and it sticks really well. In my old Elna's there are a pair of hardened steel bevel gears inside the free arm and I grease them with this stuff years ago and it still does not need to be renewed.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on March 19, 2017, 12:52:44 AM
I'm sure you are correct Hutch,

I was trying to reassure myself having previously used a mineral oil on my bernina. 

It has 2 nylon gears and I don't know if I want to muck about dragging them out to clean it off.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on March 19, 2017, 12:34:28 PM
You don't have to pull it apart, drowned it with WD40 which will clean out most other stuff then use a teflon based grease.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 15, 2017, 02:02:45 PM



Lots of sewing simply doesn't require machine gun stitch speeds - unless it's some factory division of labour where someone is sewing e.g. shirt hems all day. So I don't think speed is all that important in many cases. Singer made machines that did 1800-2000 stitches per minute in the late 1920s. In nearly 100 years the stitch number hasn't risen so dramatically all things considered.

I agree. I've never understood the obsession with speed. If you're sewing curtains and tablecloths all day that would be different.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on April 15, 2017, 05:34:20 PM
I also agree Taileuse,

Good to hear from you too.

G
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on April 15, 2017, 11:06:11 PM
 :)

Really fast machines are hard to use but it is handy to have the speed if you need it. On a decent domestic where you have something like speed control rather than an on/off clutch you can run slower speeds where you need very fine control but put the boot into it when you are doing long seams so your arms don't get tired feeding it for so long.

On the maintainance side, its not the speed you are directly after, if you keep a machine clean and oiled properly, it runs smoother and lasts longer with less chance of breaking things or plain wearing them out. If the machine is in good nick and well maintained, you get the speed as well.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 16, 2017, 11:09:35 AM

I agree. I've never understood the obsession with speed. If you're sewing curtains and tablecloths all day that would be different.

For the ultimate in precision, I find it hard to beat a hand crank machine.  Seriously.  You can put each stitch exactly where you want it, and you can feel any resistance on the needle.

Of course, once you start sewing long seams the crank gives you a workout.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Schneiderfrei on April 16, 2017, 11:18:58 AM
I agree, although rather than bother to get it out I prefer a good needle.

G
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: lepus on April 17, 2017, 02:39:50 AM
For the ultimate in precision, I find it hard to beat a hand crank machine.  Seriously.  You can put each stitch exactly where you want it, and you can feel any resistance on the needle.

Each to their own, I suppose. A hand crank machine, perish the thought! I definitely need both hands most of the time to guide the fabric layers properly. If I had to operate the crank that would severely hinder me. Nearly all modern industrials have control units that permit slow sewing, stop with needle up or down, etc., so there is no loss of precision or control at all. Admittedly, you cannot feel the resistance on the needle, but what would that tell you anyway? Change the needle for a new one only when absolutely necessary? Compared with a simple clutch motor necessitating a lot of practice and the occasional grip of the handwheel, a good control unit makes a world of difference. Even many domestic machines have such controls nowadays. And there remains always the treadle machine.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 18, 2017, 01:18:06 AM

And there remains always the treadle machine.


Treadle is a very different animal from the crank.  The only advantage over an electric machine is being able to work without power.

The crank is superior IMO for things like very tight arcs, such as the ends of epaulets or belt tabs.  Needle up/down is less accurate.  Crank machines often have large handwheels, and using these you can place stitches very precisely.

Steering the fabric isn't difficult after some practice, if the machine has a good feed mechanism.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Greger on April 18, 2017, 06:10:33 AM
Might as well use a thimbled finger and hand needle. Develop this skill seems best to me.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 18, 2017, 07:35:09 AM
Might as well use a thimbled finger and hand needle. Develop this skill seems best to me.

Say you are sewing an epaulet.  You have a short straight seam, a radius, and another straight seam.  Why take the work out of the machine to hand sew if you can just sew one stitch at a time around the radius?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Greger on April 18, 2017, 03:04:07 PM
Either way works.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on April 18, 2017, 04:16:23 PM
I confess I would like to own one as long as it did proper lock stitches as I have seen the use of a gadget like that occasionally. I already own a Singer pinking machine which is useful from time to time so another toy like that would be worth having.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 22, 2017, 04:28:01 AM

I agree. I've never understood the obsession with speed. If you're sewing curtains and tablecloths all day that would be different.

For the ultimate in precision, I find it hard to beat a hand crank machine.  Seriously.  You can put each stitch exactly where you want it, and you can feel any resistance on the needle.

Of course, once you start sewing long seams the crank gives you a workout.


I think it would be a hoot to try a hand crank machine, and just my speed. 

Have you ever sewn with a treadle machine?  I've read that such a machine requires getting into the right rhythm. [Never mind; hadn't read your previous response.]
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 23, 2017, 03:10:10 AM
A treadle has a rocking pedal attached to the idler wheel by means of a rigid arm.  When the wheel turns, rotary motion is converted to oscillatory motion.  To drive the machine with the pedal, you have to time the inputs correctly, much like pumping a swing.  This is why slack is left in the friction belt that turns the handwheel of the machine off the idler wheel; a sudden reverse would not be good for the mechanism.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 27, 2017, 11:22:10 AM
The point is that you shouldn't need to track down any parts at all. A Singer 128 of mine has all the same pieces on it from when it was built in New Jersey in 1911 and it still works perfectly. You are in NYC right?, so you should be walking into these machines everywhere and they are cheap as chips.


If I were to look for some, which three models would you recommend?
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 27, 2017, 01:19:25 PM

If I were to look for some, which three models would you recommend?

I'm not Henry, but I think you would do well with any one of these:

http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/singer-class-201-sewing-machines.html

http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/singer-class-66-sewing-machine.html

http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/p15.html

The 201 is supposed to be one of the best machines Singer ever made.  I can vouch for the 66 since I have a hand crank version.  The weakness of the 15 (IMO) is that the bobbin goes in a separate shuttle (case) which makes thread changes awkward.

The 128 Henry mentioned is a "vibrating shuttle" machine which uses a long, skinny bobbin.  It works fine (I have a similar machine made by Jones in the UK) but if you already have thread wound on modern bobbins you now have two styles to maintain.

Of course any old machine needs to be in good working order.  Don't buy a dirty or rusty one unless you have the skills to fix it up.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: hutch-- on April 27, 2017, 02:29:40 PM
Some of these old hand cranked machine are very handy, I scored a hand cranked Singer pinking machine off eBay a few years ago and it works really well. I usually don't rely on a pinked edge but if you are working on a fabric that frays badly, trimming edges with a pinking machine holds it together long enough to properly secure the edge with an overlocker.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: lepus on April 28, 2017, 09:22:57 AM
The crank is superior IMO for things like very tight arcs, such as the ends of epaulets or belt tabs.  Needle up/down is less accurate.  Crank machines often have large handwheels, and using these you can place stitches very precisely.

Steering the fabric isn't difficult after some practice, if the machine has a good feed mechanism.

I can assure you that an industrial machine can be used at least as accurately as a hand powered machine, with the added advantage that you have two hands available to manipulate and guide the fabrics or whatever you're sewing. That the machine stops immediately with the needle down in the fabric is a big advantage. Even domestic sewing machine users reporting on hobby forums wouldn't want to be without it. All operations are controlled with the foot pedal (and possibly the knee lifter). Lift the presser foot a bit, reposition the fabrics and make the next stitch. Very sharp and intricate curves can be made that way.

BTW, I may remember incorrectly, it's a very long time since I sat at one, but doesn't a hand operated machine also lack a reverse stitching facility, and you have to pull the layers toward you sharply to stitch over the seam again to lock it?
Anyway, your assertion that a hand cranked machine is the best where accuracy and control are concerned I cannot support.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 28, 2017, 01:10:47 PM

If I were to look for some, which three models would you recommend?

I'm not Henry, but I think you would do well with any one of these:

http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/singer-class-201-sewing-machines.html

http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/singer-class-66-sewing-machine.html

http://ismacs.net/singer_sewing_machine_company/p15.html

The 201 is supposed to be one of the best machines Singer ever made.  I can vouch for the 66 since I have a hand crank version.  The weakness of the 15 (IMO) is that the bobbin goes in a separate shuttle (case) which makes thread changes awkward.

The 128 Henry mentioned is a "vibrating shuttle" machine which uses a long, skinny bobbin.  It works fine (I have a similar machine made by Jones in the UK) but if you already have thread wound on modern bobbins you now have two styles to maintain.

Of course any old machine needs to be in good working order.  Don't buy a dirty or rusty one unless you have the skills to fix it up.


Thanks a lot. I will look into these. The 201 I've read a lot about.

A person who is confident about machines and/or has people IRL to consult doesn't understand the apprehension of someone who doesn't have that background.  My family had to hire a handyman to help us assemble our IKEA furniture.  He said we weren't the first. :-) Now, IKEA offers an assembly service.

I mean, the machine could explode.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 28, 2017, 02:03:02 PM
BTW, I may remember incorrectly, it's a very long time since I sat at one, but doesn't a hand operated machine also lack a reverse stitching facility, and you have to pull the layers toward you sharply to stitch over the seam again to lock it?

There is nothing about a hand crank that prevents such machines from sewing in reverse.  It is true that many older ones do not have the necessary cam.
I know of two ways to lock the ends of the seam down without reversing:

- Take a couple of stitches and stop.  Raise the presser foot and pull the work back to the beginning.  Stitch over the first stitches, and continue sewing.  This is usually done at the beginning of the seam.

- Stitch to the end of the seam, then raise the presser foot with the needle down.  Turn the work 180 degrees and lower the foot.  Take a few stitches over the seam.  This is usually done at the end of the seam, but can also be used at the beginning if you start a short distance from the edge.

Call me a Luddite if you wish, but I find either of these methods superior to using the reverse function to secure the ends of the seam, and less likely to ball up the bobbin thread.  I only use reverse on my electric machine to save time.  Not that that isn't a good reason for many people.


Anyway, your assertion that a hand cranked machine is the best where accuracy and control are concerned I cannot support.

I merely asserted that:
Quote
I find it hard to beat a hand crank machine

To be fair, I've never sewn on an industrial model.  As a home based hobbyist I have no place for one, nor the skills to maintain it.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: theresa in tucson on April 28, 2017, 10:16:32 PM
As a hobby stitcher, I have three of the old black Singer machines; a 201, a 15-91 and a 221 Featherweight, as well as a Bernina 930.  Like Jruley says, there is no room for an industrial, although I would love to have one.  And I sincerely covet the old Singer harness machine the cobbler around the corner has in his repair shop.  There is a reason those old machines are still around - they get the job done, are almost unbreakable, and can usually be maintained by the operator.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 29, 2017, 12:05:22 AM

A person who is confident about machines and/or has people IRL to consult doesn't understand the apprehension of someone who doesn't have that background.  My family had to hire a handyman to help us assemble our IKEA furniture.  He said we weren't the first. :-) Now, IKEA offers an assembly service.

I mean, the machine could explode.

You might want to have the seller run the machine in your presence, and show you how to oil it.  This will decrease the number of available machines and drive up the price, but reduce your chance of buying a "dud".  If you must buy sight unseen, make sure the seller knows the machine is for use and not display, and will accept returns.

Aside from a fracture caused by dropping the thing on your foot, the only real safety issue with these old machines is electrical shock.  That will not be a problem if the cord is in good condition, and if you unplug the machine before working on the motor.  Unless someone has been storing gunpowder in the base compartment, there is nothing in the machine that can explode.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 30, 2017, 12:32:35 PM

A person who is confident about machines and/or has people IRL to consult doesn't understand the apprehension of someone who doesn't have that background.  My family had to hire a handyman to help us assemble our IKEA furniture.  He said we weren't the first. :-) Now, IKEA offers an assembly service.

I mean, the machine could explode.

You might want to have the seller run the machine in your presence, and show you how to oil it.  This will decrease the number of available machines and drive up the price, but reduce your chance of buying a "dud".  If you must buy sight unseen, make sure the seller knows the machine is for use and not display, and will accept returns.

Aside from a fracture caused by dropping the thing on your foot, the only real safety issue with these old machines is electrical shock.  That will not be a problem if the cord is in good condition, and if you unplug the machine before working on the motor.  Unless someone has been storing gunpowder in the base compartment, there is nothing in the machine that can explode.

Thanks!
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 30, 2017, 12:34:36 PM
As a hobby stitcher, I have three of the old black Singer machines; a 201, a 15-91 and a 221 Featherweight, as well as a Bernina 930.  Like Jruley says, there is no room for an industrial, although I would love to have one.  And I sincerely covet the old Singer harness machine the cobbler around the corner has in his repair shop.  There is a reason those old machines are still around - they get the job done, are almost unbreakable, and can usually be maintained by the operator.

Thank you, Theresa.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on April 30, 2017, 12:45:32 PM
BTW, I may remember incorrectly, it's a very long time since I sat at one, but doesn't a hand operated machine also lack a reverse stitching facility, and you have to pull the layers toward you sharply to stitch over the seam again to lock it?

There is nothing about a hand crank that prevents such machines from sewing in reverse.  It is true that many older ones do not have the necessary cam.
I know of two ways to lock the ends of the seam down without reversing:

- Take a couple of stitches and stop.  Raise the presser foot and pull the work back to the beginning.  Stitch over the first stitches, and continue sewing.  This is usually done at the beginning of the seam.




This method is how I learned to tack on older industrial Singers that had no reverse stitch. The only difference is I sewed the whole seam, cut the threads, and then went over the beginning and the end. (I wasn't told to cut the threads and remove the piece from the machine, I did that on my own.)

I like the reverse stitch feature and use it when available, but there are times when the reverse stitch throws off the line a little bit. One method I learned for sewing a welt pocket seam involved leaving long threads, checking that the two lines were the same length, and if necessary adding one stitch manually pulling out one.Then the two threads were threaded into a needle and the seam was hand-tacked.

I was taught another method for sewing a welt pocket in which we sewed a box.  To finish it, the starting stitch was overlapped because that was more accurate. I'm sure there were other occasions when the instructions were to overlap, not use the reverse stitch.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: jruley on April 30, 2017, 01:08:22 PM

One method I learned for sewing a welt pocket seam involved leaving long threads, checking that the two lines were the same length, and if necessary adding one stitch manually pulling out one.Then the two threads were threaded into a needle and the seam was hand-tacked.


No question, this is the neatest way to finish the ends of a line of stitching.  Of course it's also the most time-consuming...
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Greger on April 30, 2017, 03:10:32 PM
Just tie a square knot and then add a tailors knot and snip the thread. Leaves the least amount of bulk. Knew that since I was a tiny boy. You can read the finer details  in Jane Rhineharts book.

Poulin tells of another machine method for machines that have no reverse.
Title: Re: Vintage Singer Machines
Post by: Tailleuse on May 01, 2017, 10:04:42 AM

One method I learned for sewing a welt pocket seam involved leaving long threads, checking that the two lines were the same length, and if necessary adding one stitch manually pulling out one.Then the two threads were threaded into a needle and the seam was hand-tacked.


No question, this is the neatest way to finish the ends of a line of stitching.  Of course it's also the most time-consuming...


It is. :-) But it affords more control, which is especially helpful for inexperienced people.