Wednesday, 6 October 2010

O is for Old sewing machines

O is for Old Sewing Machines

The love for old and vintage in the sewing world is not exclusive to fabrics, colours schemes and retro designs; it also has spread out to sewing machines and patterns (by this I mean real patterns printed decades ago). I am sure this is not news for many of you, we all have seen markets (both traditional and internet based) selling these goodies that have been for years hidden away in a loft , but now see the light of day again in a new century and go to a new home.

Old sewing machines are, in my opinion, simply beautiful and also they are “properly made”, with no disrespect to their contemporary modern sisters, the engineer that gives maintenance to my sewing machines says “old is gold”. I am not going to go technical here because I have no clue of how they were/are built or which one is better, I just know that old sewing machines were built to last, you only have to try and pick one up to know that plastic was not the material of choice 30 years ago! metal is pretty heavy. I wonder how many grandchildren will be asking their grandmothers if they can have their old white plastic Toyota, Brother, or Janome in 40 years time.

When it comes to the actual look of the machines very few will admit that the new modern machines are prettier that then old one, some of the machines from the early 1900’s can genuinely be called works of art. I will not go on about it because it only takes a quick search under ‘antique sewing machines’ on any search engine to see the great variety of styles and colours, black and gold was virtually standard for the early manual machines (often then embellished with beautiful patterns and gold stenciling); green, blue, grey, red, white, etc for electrical machines that were built from the 40’s onwards.
What is important to be sure of when buying an old machine is that you understand what you are buying. There is big demand for old sewing machines, and good ones when you find them are not cheap and not all of them have been cared for by their previous owners. Be mindful that whilst you might think that you are buying something built with the precise engineering of a space rocket and the strength of a bulldozer, it might in fact be just the shell. Often when the original motors (the heart of a good machine) are damaged beyond repair they are replaced with a cheap, poor quality motor built yesterday. There are plenty of website sites and blogs which give good advice on what to look for when buying a old sewing machine, my only advice is to try to get a warranty (if buying from a dealer) or ask someone that knows a bit about sewing machines to guide you in your purchase. Do remember though, there is no need to rush in to a purchase, because once you have found the old machine you have been looking for, with a bit of regular TLC it will be with you for a very long time!

This post was written by Lizzet Belcher of The Fabric Loft, the online store for contemporary quilting fabrics.


TracyJane said...

I really wish my mum hadn't binned her 1960s Jones sewing machine. It still had its original duck egg blue pastic cover and just needed rewiring. She took it to the tip without telling me :(

When I told her I'd seen the exact same sewing machine selling for a lot more than I'd paid for my Brother, she was gutted.

Fat Chick Design said...

My mum had a singer when I was growing up, first a hand crank and then an electric.
She may have actually converted the hand crank, I can't really remember.

I always loved the feel and look of the old singer and last year I was lucky enough to be bought a perfect hand crank for Christmas.
It is my favourite machine for free style embroidery and hat making.
I also just bought anew computerized Silver as an upgrade from my other Silver.
The other half thinks I am selling the old one, but I have other plans!
PS - Thanks for my win of sew magazine! :)

Miss Sews-it-all said...

I absolutely love old sewing machines! I regularly sew on a couple oldies but goodies right next to my contemporary machines.

Kathy Smith said...
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