National Sewing Machine Day is today (June 13)

For us sewing enthusiasts, isn’t every day ‘Sewing Machine Day’? Of course it is! I didn’t know until today that sewing machines have their own day. This article on PBS.org tipped me off. It’s a neat collection of sewing stories they’ve done over the years. (Click on this photo to view the story of this pretty old machine on Antiques Roadshow.)

Sewing Machine Patent Model | Antiques Roadshow

I’ve done a few blog posts profiling my machines, and have more still to profile. Here are the stories I’ve told so far:

Here’s the lovely Vera, and her story such as I know it: The lovely Vera has been called up for active duty.

This was my grandma’s 1958 Singer 401A, that I learned lots of sewing skills on at her house.

This was my first antique sewing machine purchase; a 1917 Singer 66k hand crank, manufactured in Clydebank, Scotland. Still one of my most precious machines. The blog post: This machine is a sewing ambassador.

The two below are my ‘modern’ machines. It’s hard to believe the Bernina 930 is about 35 years old. I’ll never want for anything more modern. This will likely always be my main machine. The serger/overlocker is my newest machine. Five years after its purchase, I still have a love/hate (mostly hate) relationship with it. (Future blog post coming on that.) But it does serve a purpose.

In future posts from time to time, I’ll continue to profile my machines one by one. There are a couple more Berninas, and the rest are vintage Singers. There’s a Featherweight, another beautiful hand crank machine, and more treadle machines. Each one is different and special, at least to me.

Which is better, new machine vs vintage? The debate will continue to rage on about whether modern machines are better than vintage, and whether to go computerized or mechanical. You can see where I come down on those issues. I love sewing with my old machines, and I love that if something malfunctions, I’ll probably be able to fix it myself.

Yes, you can restore an old Singer yourself. If you’ve wanted one of the old black Singer machines, don’t be afraid to buy one you see at a good price. Use the serial number to date the machine. The site http://ismacs.net/ has a great database of sewing machine manufacture dates, and a collection of manuals, photos, etc. The parts for the machines are still made, and the machines are quite simple mechanically. Some cleaning, oil and minor adjustments may be all that’s needed. You can buy the bobbins, needles, belts, etc. at a sewing store, some discount stores, or online. Youtube has many excellent videos on how to do the cleaning, oiling, adjusting and repairs if needed. If you find an old machine at a great price, give it a shot.

15 thoughts on “National Sewing Machine Day is today (June 13)

  1. Now I sound like a broken record. I love older machines like this…whether it be sewing machines or tractors. These machines are art but when put into use again makes them even more special.

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    1. I’m happy with broken record comments. 🙂 Thanks. There is no reason not to put them back into use. They should be more than a decoration, imo. I think I’m seeing a trend of people wanting them again, which is great. For a few decades too many of them became yard art or worse.

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      1. I totally agree with you…they should be used because in my experience on older machines…they always do something a little better…maybe not with all the bells and whistles but more reliable in some cases.

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      2. Yes, definitely reliable. And an example of something they do better: The old black metal Singers are known for making a very pretty straight stitch. It’s not noticeable when on the inside of a garment, but on the outside of a garment as topstitching, it looks very nice.

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      3. I think it would be fair to compare it with things I know more about like amps and things like that. It seems like when they try to improve things…they give you more bells and whistles but they lose things in the process…plus one word…”plastic” doesn’t do new things any favors except make them light.

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      4. The comparison to amps and other sound equipment is probably right on. It’s absolutely true about plastic and electronics in sewing machines. They’ve automated some functions to make sewing easier and faster (I’m not going to complain about that!), but it doesn’t necessarily make the finished item look better. Often it’s not as nice looking, but people accept it because it was easier or quicker to make.

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      5. More convenient…
        Same thing about amps…oh how the old ones are heavier but that sound is not the same at all. Most established acts uses old. That is telling…so I know where you are coming from.

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  2. I have my maternal grandmother’s Singer sewing cabinet, too. It looks just like yours. I also have a New Home machine, a New Home overlock and my paternal grandmother’s Riccar machine. I have an early 70s model Singer in a skinny-legged cabinet in the kitchen (cabinet has water damage) that I keep some appliances on and utensils in the drawers. Then, I have a Pfaff machine in a good-sized cabinet that I have my PC on. Both grandmothers were seamstresses, as was my mother. Half of my wardrobe growing up and on into school, was hand-made. I used to sew a lot. I haven’t in several years.

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    1. Wow, you have an awesome collection of machines! That’s wonderful. I could talk sewing and sewing machines all day! I have my machines stashed around the house doing double-duty as cabinets and work surfaces like you have. 😀

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      1. My maternal grandmother sewed professionally for the public in the 60s & 70s. She could make anything. My paternal grandmother did a lot of sewing before I was born but, growing up, she did sewing crafts. I spent many hours with my mother at remnant shops. Every fall and every spring, she would sew something new for herself and me. As I got older, many of my hand-me-downs were my mom’s clothes that I grew into…jumpers, dresses, skirts… My mom didn’t really sew pants. Jeans always came from the store.

        I’ve made two wedding gowns and a ball gown (Marine Corps Ball). Do you remember the “diaper” shorts patterns?

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      2. That sounds like how much my grandma and mom sewed, but not for the public, just for us. Yep, I grew up going to fabric and remnant shops. Great memories!

        You’ve made some complicated-sounding gowns. I’ve made bridesmaid dresses and formals, but never a wedding dress. Are diaper shorts the same as wrap pants? I’m working on a pair of those right now. 😀

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      3. The first wedding gown, I spend six months sewing on glass beads, sitting on my maternal grandmother’s couch. That was the dress where I learned to modify patterns. What I wanted in a dress, didn’t exist. She and I used pins & strings to build the structure of the dress on the floor…off-the-shoulder straps made with French lace and a hi-low hemline. The lace had a Wedgewood blue ribbon woven into it and I based my bridesmaids dresses on that color. My grandmother made all those gowns (I wasn’t that talented, yet). The second gown had an Empire waist and I created a lace coat, which was harder than sewing on glass beads.

        http://www.inthe80s.com/clothes/diapershorts0.shtml

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      4. The dresses sound beautiful. Are they stored as heirlooms now? I bet your future generations would love to wear them.

        Yes, that’s what I was picturing as diaper shorts! I’m making a sheer pair of wrap pants like that. The idea is to wear them over a pair of same-color leggings. We’ll see if I can pull it off.

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      5. My first gown was dry-cleaned and boxed. I don’t remember what happened to it. My second one and the ball gown…I don’t remember what happened to them, either. I have moved 22 times in my life and lived in four states. I’ve lost many things. And, I never had any kids and have no siblings.

        OH. Yes. Ok. That is a good idea. Hmmm…I have a lot of leggings/yoga pants, too.

        I look forward to a picture.

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