She is 75 years old and still dependable. ‘Vera’ is my Singer 127 treadle sewing machine, manufactured in the early 1940s and originally purchased in Indiana in February 1945. Some of the masks I’m making require several colors of thread. It’s a total drag to rethread the machine multiple times for one mask batch. So, I’ve called upon my older machines. For now, Vera is handling the ecru thread color.
Vera has the rare black ‘crinkle’ finish, and blackside metal plates. The lamp isn’t sitting on the cabinet for decoration; it’s a necessity. There’s no light on the machine since it isn’t electrified.
Here’s a closer view of her crinkle finish and black metal plates. The plainness of the finish and lack of embellishments says ‘wartime’ to me.
In the cabinet there’s a well-stocked drawer of presser feet, an old metal seam gauge, needle threaders, and a good supply of bobbins. (It is a ‘vibrating shuttle’ machine, which uses long, narrow bobbins.)
Another drawer holds the original purchase receipt, and user manual. Her original purchase price was $105.75.
The handwritten note on back of the receipt says:
- 5 year guarantee
- 5 year free service
- Free sewing course
In another drawer is the all-important sharp pointed tool for piercing a new treadle belt. It serves as a bodkin, too.
Sewing with a treadle machine is like patting your head and rubbing your stomach at the same time. Your feet work the pedal, while the right hand is on the hand wheel, to be the starter, speed controller, and ’emergency brake’. That leaves only the left hand to maneuver the fabric. When it all gets going, the sound and feel is mesmerizing.
More about the Singer 127: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singer_Model_27_and_127
A blog post about the crinkle finish and blackside metal. https://www.singersewinginfo.co.uk/blackside/
And I’ll be darned, look who else was channeling Vera this week.