So. Here I am. Online. And not in the safe confines of the 140 character world of Twitter. Or Google+. Or even the dreaded FB (which I state I hate, but apparently not enough to stop using it…).
I want to create a record of sorts. You see I’ve just acquired a sewing machine. It was a gift from a very generous and dear friend. It needs some work, as do I. I hadn’t used a sewing machine in years, until yesterday.
The sewing machine came from a charity shop. I saw it in the window when I was walking past one day. I was on my way somewhere and didn’t really have time to stop and look. I couldn’t resist stepping in for a moment and taking a look: an old treadle Singer, on what looked like the original table. There was a couple standing there looking at it as they discussed the layout of their house. I assumed it was already sold and continued on with my day. The next day I was walking by with my friend and to my astonishment the sewing machine was still there. I could hardly believe it. We took a look at it and before I knew it it had been bought and paid for. How lucky am I? Very.
I had to ask the taxi driver to help me to get it in the back of his car. He was so kind that he offered to help me carry it up the path. He even helped me to carry it up the stairs. More generosity than I could of hoped for but I was very grateful – I hadn’t quite worked out how I’d get it upstairs when I was looking at it through a misty rose tinted haze in the shop.
As I looked at it more closely I realised that it wasn’t in too bad a condition. The finish on the wood is worn, could probably benefit from some kind of restoration. The machine itself folds down inside the table. The table top hinges are sound. The drawers are in tact. The treadle and mechanism look to be original. There’s even a belt on it, although it’s old and worn. The mechanism on the machine works ok – the wheel turns and drives the needle and bobbin. As far as I can tell it looks like a good buy, at least for someone who actually wants to use it rather than look at it. The paint on the sewing machine is a bit dull and damaged, but the original decoration is still visible. It’s beautiful.
I looked online to find out the age and model. The age wasn’t hard. From the serial number stamped on a plate on the machine I dated it from the information on the Singer website. It seems to have been made in 1938. The model I’m still not exactly sure about. I’ve looked at pictures and videos of other people’s machines, but as yet haven’t found one that looks exactly like mine which is accurately identified. The closest I got was one ebayer selling ‘what I think is a model 66’. I also looked at old copies of manuals (for free online). I suspect that I have a 66, but am not entirely sure it’s not a 99. I wanted to be sure before ordering the parts that I would need (bobbin case, needles etc). I emailed Singer UK to ask for their help. Unfortunately they weren’t very helpful, suggesting I look at the model plate near the electricity cable. When I pointed out that my treadle machine has no need of an electricity cable and is also lacking a model plate I received the answer that they couldn’t help me further and that they only part they stocked anyway was a treadle belt, which is universal. I was a bit disappointed.
It doesn’t really matter so much, I’ve found an online store from which I can order bobbins, needles, oil and the other sundries required to maintain the machine.
Until I receive the oil and bobbins and belt there’s not so much I can do apart from clean the machine and the wood. I don’t know where it has been stored but I suspect it was either not very clean (garage/shed) or in a house with a smoker as the dirt that lifted off was quite surprising in quantity and colour. I gently cleaned it with a damp cotton cloth to remove as much dirt as I could and took some beeswax to the table. I cleaned the treadle mechanism with a dry cloth and removed the cobwebs from underneath the table top. It looks a lot more loved, although there’s still a long way to go.
I’ll put some pictures up soon.
So begins my adventure into treadle powered patchwork quilting and dressmaking.