A few years ago I gifted or sold most of my vintage machines. They were pretty t look at but none really worked properly and I didn’t know how to repair them. Recently I have really gone back to enjoying these old beauties and learning about their history. I still have my 1800 Household treadle that I will gift to my sister once she moves, but I have now added a few.
A few months ago one of the members of our monthly craft group approached me about helping her sell a Singer 221. Well, since I’d given one of mine to my son in law and one to my sister, I thought I will grab this one for myself. Taking it home, oiling it up, polishing it etc, it just reminds me how much there is to appreciate about this machines. 69 years later they sew like butter. Can you imagine what it felt like 69 years ago to sit in front of that brand new, shiny machine and start stitching? The Singer 221’s have and will always, as long as taken care of, purr like new born kittens.
Ever read the history or Issac Merritt Singer? The man was amazing. His net worth when he died was 18 million dollars or what now equals over $200 million dollars. Installment payments or financing was virtually invented by him. He realized women could afford sewing machines easier if they could make payments. You could buy a machine and the sales rep would come around monthly and collect your payments. Genius.
I read an article that claimed they started the 221 (commonly known as a featherweight) because women would sew more (or buy more) if they could meet with friends. So along came the 221 portable weighing in at 11 pounds. Crazy thing is they then put it in a 14 pound wood box. I envy the women that got these from family members. Imagine being able to ask, how did it feel getting that brand new, tiny little black machine.
My collection now includes a 1947 I got from a church member fondly named Ms. Dixie (the lady I bought her from) and a 1950 I picked up for about half the usual price just this week. The latest one came with not only all the additional feet but the original bobbin case, needles, motor lubricant and a tiny little Singer oil can. I am not sure what she will be called yet. The seller said she was non-working but looks like it’s just a few minor repairs. We shall see. Ms. Dixie is the one with red thread. I never even had to polish her.
I’ve even started a shelf to display them. The one on the second shelf is the 1923 Singer I posted about prior, that Sue gave me on my visit to Michigan. I’ll let you know how the new 221 works in a later post once I get her running and polished.
So after years of nagging my daughter and worrying about the cyst on her jaw line, I put my foot down and told her it had to go. Can you imagine asking your child how it looked to her and hearing “I don’t look in mirrors anymore”? It broke my heart.
She has seen 2 doctors that have told her it could paralyze her face so I understand it was scaring her, but I set a goal I would find someone that would tell us what it was or tell us where we needed to go. So after a few trips of can’t help you and being referred to USF even I was getting disheartened. The USF doctors would only see her if she got a CAT scan first. Who ever heard of having one before a doctor ever saw you? When I called to schedule it, even the lab thought it odd as they would have no idea what kind of scan he would want.
I decided one more call to the new place in Zhills and then we’d just do the CAT scan and see USF hoping we didn’t have to pay for a second one after he saw her. I looked into Riverchase Dermatology as they had several offices in Florida, including the new one near us. I am so glad we made the call. Not only did they agree to see her but said if they couldn’t help they would find us someone that could.
Wow after less than a 5 minute consultation, Dr. Blake said the whole situation was crazy. If was a hard cyst with nothing to drain and he saw no reason any dermatologist couldn’t have removed it. He even told her come back that afternoon and he would do the removal. What a blessing.
Although it required a quick ER visit for bleeding that night, it was just a matter of her head getting too low so they just cleaned and redid the bandage. Tomorrow after 2 weeks, her stitches come out. Finally when she looks in a mirror she will see how beautiful we have always seen when we look at her. But if you don’t leave the sutures alone – you get the cone.
What do you do when your cousin calls to say a friend has a treadle for sale and but if you want it, it’s free? Well don’t be crazy, you get it your car and go get it. Which is exactly what I did.
When I went to research the serial number on this machine I didn’t get a lot of info which was strange as Singer has a national database of serial numbers dating back to some of the first sewing machines. It turns out this sewing machine was not in the database as it was never meant to be sold outside Germany. Apparently the info on the machines was kept at the German factory but Russia bombed the factory in 1945 and the records were all destroyed. It was likely made somewhere between 1902 and 1922 but that’s as close as I can get. So far I’ve found, it was likely owned by a dressmaker or tailor and was likely used to make German uniforms unless it was taken out of Germany prior to the war as I’m told most tailors and seamstresses were forced into making uniforms. I can’t wait to talk more to the prior owner and see if she has the actual years it left Germany and more on it’s travels to the US. It looks like it was likely moved to Austria when many Jewish people left Germany, and then brought to the US. Imagine the things this has seen if it could talk. I have found one woman in Australia that has a C serial number also so hope to talk more with her as well.
While there she also gifted me a beautiful old leather seat rocker. These used to be called sewing or nursery rockers because they had no arms on them. Looking into how long ago most of these were made, I would be curious to know if it made the same travels as that treadle.
The last thing brought home was a Victorian tapestry chair which is in amazing shape and stunning. I have no idea where it will fit in the house but like I said, you can’t say no and see it shipped off to a thrift store. I was thinking, if I get rid of my furniture, I would have more room for sewing machines. I need to give that some thought.
I am so thrilled that I am getting some of these tops done and they are going out the door so people can enjoy them. Lately I have been gifting them to friends and co-workers of my daughter. I love knowing they will get used.
This pink and black quilt was an absolute nightmare for me. I simply cannot make tops without patterns. I shredded 2 different fabrics sewing it wrong. In the beginning, I even had all my teacups going sideways. After taking it apart and remaking it 3 times, I thought wow I’m done, only to realize I had left black strips off the end of some rows. I was not taking that thing apart again and laid it aside to quilt for the pups. I am so happy it found a home. My daughters friend Tonia fell in love. Even when I showed her the mistake she said she didn’t quite see what I meant. I think it was destined to belong to her. So it is now finished and residing in it’s new home.
The second quilt is one of my favorite patterns called Puzzle Box. I just love it even though I’ve only made it once before. This was going to a young man so I wanted something masculine. That isn’t as easy as it sounds in the quilt world, so viola, turtles. I think the photo taken outside represents the colors more accurately on the turtle quilt.
This is my second one of the stockpiled tops being finished and gifted. I wanted to make ones for some of my daughter’s co-workers that have worked with her for some time. This one went to the owner’s daughter, Amber. She works at the clinic running the office.
The pattern is called Magic Tile and was made using 12 Kaffe Fasset fat quarters and one of Philip Jacobs fabrics for the border. Still not sure I like much of the KF fabric line but it was colorful and pretty
So, as I mentioned, I was able to get 10 or 11 tops basted using my new clamps. Really love those things.
This one went to Diane Cope at our monthly craft group. She is starting her new voyage into quilting so now she has one to motivate her. I know she loved it and was really surprised. Here she is with her gift.
The pattern is called BQ2 but I can’t recall the fabric line.
Only my sexy sister Jill would think to send me these amazing clamps. I struggle having to baste a quilt top alone because it really takes an extra set of hands to make sure all the layers are smooth underneath before you start pinning.
My amazing sister helped me baste a really large one while she was here then sent me these table clamps. Wow they really are sexy. I was able to get the other 10 tops basted the following weekend. Now to quilt them all.
I was beginning to think I would never finish this one. It came out a nice queen size but I think it will go on the large blank wall in my guest room. For a panel and some 4 patch squares it came out much prettier than I was expecting. The pattern is called Garden Stroll and I think it’s one of only a few times I’ve bought bought the exact fabrics called for in a pattern.
So glad they decided to make the trip to Florida. Talk about a completely relaxing vacation. We planned nothing and did little to nothing. Well, except Jill. She organized my kitchen pantry and spent 2 days pulling all my fabrics out and reorganizing them by color, project, etc. My cabinet looks amazing and I’m beyond thrilled. It was like I could shop in my own fabrics since I had forgotten a lot I had bought prior.
We did make a trip to show her a Beall’s store, Hole in one Donuts and the local quilt shop. She even took to my long arm like an otter to the water and was able to free motion 2 tops while she was here. One she gifted to Nancy.
After that we just chilled and visited till Friday. Mark, Jill and I met Nancy for lunch Friday and got to visit with her for a while then it was off to the gun range. So exciting to see Jill go from I don’t like gun to I love guns. I hope they had as good a time as I did. I’m already counting towards our next visit.
I finally got this one quilted and bound and I just love how it turned out. The color is so much more vibrant and deep, rich coloring than it shows in the photo. It’s made using a Robert Hoffman digital print called Proud as a Peacock Dahlia. I finished it with a teal and purple batik for the trim and binding. So far I plan to keep this one for myself.
Updated this to show it was ultimately gifted to my cousin Bonnie Catron