Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Vintage Sewing Machines.........

This is a post to pass along some things I have learned about vintage machines. 
Hope this helps.
Let me just say I love them. They are awesome and come in all kinds of colors and designs. The inside can be as interesting as the outside and they will last a long time if properly cared for.

My first one was the Fiatelli that I have pictured on my blog. It is a straight stitch machine that is pretty to boot. I have a Singer 401, a Morse Fotomatic and a Modern Home zig zag. They all have something awesome about them that I like. The only one I have that was not made in Japan is my 401. It is a dependable machine made with all metal through out. No plastic anywhere. I have been able to find parts and accessories for this machine with no problem. It is a drop in bobbin with a place to put in external cams if desired. The Morse is a very cool machine that has proven to be a dependable workhorse with one exception. I can only use it for straight stitch. It is a zig zag however it only came with a straight stitch plate. This is something I thought would be easy to find. Its not. Very hard to find and almost impossible. However I am determined and if I have to buy another machine for parts I will. It is a Japanese machine that usually mean its a generic machine and has clones every where but so far the plate is the snag. My Fiatelli is a generic Japanese machine that is very pretty with its scroll work, turquoise paint and black scroll work. This machine was made somewhere in the early 60's (from what I know) and it is patterned after the singer design when singer lost its patent. I have had great luck finding accessories for this machine. Last but not least is another generic Japanese machine with a twist. Its plate says Modern Home on the front. I found it at a yard sale for about 15 bucks. It runs fantastically and came with cams to make different patterns. It can do a straight stitch as well as a zig zag. When I brought her home I played with the stitch length and width but I will say this I have never seen a machine that sewed straight only on one side of the foot. I don't know how odd this is to you guys but its odd to me. I have checked the markings on the needle plate and they do match with the needle position on the left as correct measurements.
For those of you wanting to buy a vintage machine. If you want to collect, be very leery. If someone wants to sell a Japanese machine to you then do your home work. First if you can look it up. If not then I say if you can get a Japanese machine for 15 bucks or less and it works (that means you have tested it out, the needle shank goes up and down, the power turns on, the hand wheel is easy to move and there is a bobbin case) take a chance and buy it. If you don't care that it works then its up to you. They come in all kinds of colors, models and useful stitches. External cams are cool.  This gives you more possibilities.
For those of you who have a Japanese machine and intend on selling it. Don't automatically think that since its old you will get a pretty penny for it. You may get what you want and then you may only get a fraction. It depends on supply and demand and most of the time there are more Japanese generics than there are people who want them. My advice is to look it up. See how much it sold on ebay or see if you can even find the machine in the first place. Modern Home is not one that I have found a lot of info on. 
Then there are the American made machines. They can go for anywhere between nothing and 2 or 4 (restored) hundred. But this is one extreme to another. So do your research. Go on ebay and  look at selling prices and if it actually sold for it. Or you can google up some information on your particular machine and come to a conclusion from there. If you are buying I would definitely read all you could before purchasing for more than the regular bargain basement prices. I say this because you don't want to buy it for $100 and it be really worth about 25 because of plastic gears and such. Most of the earlier machines don't have plastic gears but I had a 70's singer that did. Thank goodness I sold it because it would have gone out sooner than later. Then again it was made in Japan. Like a said do your research. Singer in my opinion went down hill after it transferred its manufacturing over seas. After a certain point sewing machines where more of a toss it than keep it after so many years. The vintage machines prior to the 70's should all be metal but you should look before you buy. They are very simple to open because you had to oil them and no one wanted to work on it for hours before they actually got to sew.
 The two screws on either side of the top panel here are the ones you unscrew to open the top.
I actually was looking at a Pfaff till I opened the top. All the internal cams where plastic. They upon my research are not really replaceable. They are not made any more and would have to be harvested from a parted machine. Used plastic cams uh well I wouldn't bother.
Frustraiting to me because straight stitch is all I can do with this machine until I can find the zig zag plate.
I have called so many places, so many. Ugggg Lesson learned but I won't give up.

Examples of identification. Most times you will see the country of origin on the outside of the machine. If it has an external motor than that might be an indication. It can also be around the plug area of the machine.
 Prime example. This is a plate that was added to the machine for a seller. Sellers would buy a type of generic Japanese machine and have there brand put on it. 

An example of how you might find external cams. You may find some external cams with your vintage treasure. Don't be afraid to look at them and put them in the machine. Sometimes they will come in an envelope like this and some will come in a box or you may only find a few.

Either way vintage machines are very cool and if you use one you know they run like champs.

Have a great week, happy sewing and please let me know how you do or if you have one I would love to see it, 


If I find some helpful info I will be sure to pass it along.

One more tidbit would be that there are tons of people out there that would love to impart there knowledge. If you have a person who does house calls, is retired and works on machines part time or has made this their hobby don't be afraid to ask them any questions. In my experience I have met some interesting people and been given some awesome knowledge. 

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