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Newbie ponders the ins and outs of vintage machine ownership
Is it vintage love at first sight?
reetsi
reetsi  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/8/13 10:41 PM

My amazing boyfriend just surprised me with a vintage sewing machine he picked up from the Salvation Army. Aren't I a lucky gal? I've got a thoughtful sweetie and a beauty of a machine. She comes in a lovely sewing cabinet too. Based on my limited internet research, I believe she is a Singer 101-4. I couldn't get a picture to justify her gorgeousness on my cell phone, so I'm attaching a picture that looks just like her. I shall call her Jenny and she will be my friend...

Since this is the first vintage machine I've ever owned, I naturally have lots of questions. Where does one take a vintage sewing machine for service and repairs? I'm guessing that most dealerships don't handle this type of thing? Are they hard to sew on? It doesn't have a backstitch feature. What do people do instead?

She's so pretty that just looking at her would be a joy, but I'd prefer to sew on her if it isn't too cost prohibitive.

Sewing Joe
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Sewing Joe
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Date: 1/8/13 10:48 PM

Many, if not most, people with vintage machines tend to do the maintenance on their machines themselves. Typically they don't need anything other than a little drink of oil every few months. The biggest concern for an older machine is the wiring. On a 101, your getting 75+ years old wiring.

You probably already found this while doing your research, but the 101 was the first machine that was made to be powered by an electric motor, as opposed to a treadle or a handcrank.

The 101's have an interesting oiling wick system under the bed. I've never seen one myself, but some have compared it to a giant spider.

------
Joe in New Albany, iN

sings2high
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Date: 1/8/13 11:52 PM

I own a bunch of vintage machines and I have taken two of them to my OSMG (Old Sewing Machine Guy) but only because I needed the wiring replaced. Other than that, I've never had to take one to him for repairs. First of all, they rarely ever have anything go wrong with them. Secondly, with the resources and advice from friends on TreadleOn.net and Yahoo's Vintage Singers group, I've always been able to figure out and fix what has gone wrong. But if you do need to take them to a repair shop, look up the shops in the local yellow pages under sewing machine repair. In my experience, sewing machine repair coexists peacefully with vacuum repair, so the shops are often combined. Call first and tell them what kind of machine, that you actually sew on it, and what you want done. If they sound amazed or disdainful, keep looking. My OSMG handles everything from the oldest Singer I've brought in, to ultramodern embroidery machines. He also sold me the best vacuum cleaner I've had since the 70's. It's not as good as the 1950's Electrolux I grew up with (and my mom still uses), but it's better than its competitors. And it's quiet.
I have many machines that do not do a backstitch. First, you can just lift the foot, back up three stitches, put it down again and restitch. Or you can leave threads and tie them (I do this for topstitching or on fine work where a double line of stitching would be unattractive). Or you can turn the work around in the machine and stitch again over the same line. A dot of Fraycheck at the last lock of the stitches will also hold it pretty well. When I'm quilting, I don't bother with any of these techniques, I just leave it be. Any seam line will eventually be crossed with another.

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Measure twice, cut once. While this saying is useful in many ways, I have no qualms about editing my posts.

UFOs completed in 2014: 1 - woohoo! finished my oldest UFO - an apron cut out in the mid-80s with a pattern from the mid-40s! and the bias binding promptly disintegrated in the wash! Ok, it was from my Great-Grandmother's stash, which means it was bought anytime from the 1910's to 1970's.
Projects started recently completed in 2014: 1
New Projects started in 2014: 2
Stash:
sewn in 2014: 0
bought in 2014: 17.25

I know...I'm procrastinating.

wenznz
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wenznz  Friend of PR
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NEW ZEALAND
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In reply to reetsi <<


Date: 1/8/13 11:53 PM

If you are interested in having a play yourself, your best bet is to join one of the yahoo groups dedicated to vintage machines, where you can glean lots of good info and ask questions.
One of the more active ones is theVintage Singers group.

Another place you will finds lots of good stuff including an identification guide, manuals, history etc is the ISMACS website

HTH

------
Wendy
Wellington, New Zealand

reetsi
reetsi  Friend of PR
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Date: 1/9/13 0:31 AM

A TON of useful information in your responses! Thank you so much! Wenznz, I looked at one of the websites you suggested and learned that I have a Singer 201! It does have a backstitch! I just couldnít tell from the first look. The Art Deco cabinet it came in has a knee control, something Iíve never seen before but apparently isnít all that unusual. Sewing Joe, you were certainly right about the electrical. Although the light goes on and there seems to be noise coming from the motor, it doesnít look like anything is moving. My guess is that the wiring needs some TLC. Sings2high, I am so glad you explained what OSMG stands for. It was mentioned several times on one of the websites and I couldnít make heads or tails of it! I am going to read up on this machine and see if I can find an OSMG in San Diego. I completely agree that newer isnít necessarily better. The reviews on this machine make it sound like I hit the jack pot!

goodworks1
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Date: 1/9/13 6:48 PM

201's are wonderful machines. I learned to sew on one (gears, not a belt)

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blog: goodworks1.wordpress.com

ShantiSeamstressing
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ShantiSeamstressing
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Date: 1/9/13 8:24 PM

Jenny's Sew-Classic site is a good one for information or to order parts.

iSewQuiltArt
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iSewQuiltArt
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Date: 1/9/13 9:03 PM

Nice gift! I'm sure you will be able to get it fixed by an OSMG with enough digging around for a good one.
You can also lock stitches at the beginning and end of the seam by shortening the stitch length right down until they are tiny, like 20- 25 or more stitches per inch. Its less bulky than back stitching, and works great on the very fine fabrics like voile, batiste, organdy, silks. You don't need to do it for more than say 3/8 in I find for garments and it won't come undone if the stitches are short enough.

Have fun with your machine once it is updated with new wiring etc.

------
Quilting up a storm
Bernina Girl, in possession of a small herd...

clt3
clt3
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Date: 1/10/13 5:54 AM

I think you were right the first time, it appears to me to be a 101.
Check here:
How to identify a vintage Singer

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Singer 66-16. Singer 600e, Kenmore 158.1913 , Viking 1100, Brother 4000D, Brother Quattro, Bernina 930, White 634DE,
Babylock Evolve, 2 Featherweights ,Pfaff Creative Performance,Janome Coverpro 1000CPX






SandiMacD
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Date: 1/10/13 7:25 AM

I grew up on a 301. Love, love, love te knee control. I had DH mount my foot pedals in the side of my desks so i could use my knee. Dont know why they ever dropped it as an option.

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sewing brings joy and meaning to my life...

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