Old Sewing Machines Are Hidden Treasures!

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Introduction: Old Sewing Machines Are Hidden Treasures!

About: Hi, I am a quilting teacher and book author who lives on a budget. I love writing, sewing, quilting, teaching and playing with my pet rabbits. I have a blog at http://www.crazyshortcuts.com/margueritas-blog/…

Old sewing machines are an undiscovered TREASURE! They are very easy to learn on, hard to break, easy to maintain and can be purchased cheaply or are sometimes even FREE!

Old sewing machines are great to learn on for people from 12 years old and up (and younger if supervised carefully!)

Using one of these old sewing machines is the best way to learn to sew inexpensively.

With a little cleaning and learning you can be sewing your own awesome creations in just hours!

This instructable will show you some basics about old sewing machines and tell you places to look for more information. Are you ready to sew? The treasures are all around you!

Step 1: Where Can I Find These Great Machines?

I love http://www.craigslist.org for finding old sewing machines, but you can also find them in second hand shops and garage sales and sometimes even in a family member's closet :)

Look for a machine that doesn't have a lot of damage and always ask for the electric cord, foot pedal, owner's manual and all the accessories. Sometimes you might not get all of these things but the foot pedal and electric cord can be hard to track down so I never buy a machine without them.

Ask to plug the machine in and make sure it works. If you have to test it manually by turning the flywheel, remember to turn it toward you (counter clockwise).

It is nice to get a lot of accessories with your machine but you don't need them to learn with. Just the basics will work fine for most sewing.

You can bring some scraps of fabric and some thread with you to test the machine. If the owner has the machine threaded, keep the thread on so that you can see how it is supposed to be threaded (if there is no manual).

If a friend or family member is giving or selling you the machine, ask them for a few lessons!! Offer to do something for them if they will teach you :)

If you can watch video on the internet, this page has good information about the differences in sewing machines and what the parts are called: http://www.quilt-video.com/sewing-machine-tutorial/

Step 2: Safety!

It is VERY important to understand that the needle moves up and down fast and you MUST keep your fingers and hands away from it!

If you have to learn on your own, please take the needle out of the machine, take the bobbin out and take the thread off and then learn to use the foot pedal.

Just plug in the machine and learn how to control the foot pedal. Practice going very slowly. A good seamstress doesn't sew at top speed very often! It's okay to sew very slowly. The stitches still form and you will keep yourself safe as you learn to feed the fabric under the presser foot and the needle.

If you can, please get someone with some sewing experience to watch you and teach you. You might even trade - offer to do something for them if they will teach you to sew :)

Step 3: First Things First :)

Before you plug in your machine to use it you need to do a few things and learn a few things. Just like driving - you can't just jump into a car and expect to drive off without learning how to drive and making sure that there is fuel in the tank.

Luckily you don't need a sewer's permit!

It helps a lot to know how a machine works and also how to maintain one. If your machine came with an owner's manual please read it and follow the instructions for cleaning and oiling your machine. This will help you learn how it works and will make you confident about using your machine.

If you don't have the machine manual sometimes you can find your machine's manual for sale on the internet for just a few dollars. Try here if you need to do that http://www.sewingmanuals.com/

If you didn't get a manual, there is a set of 5 videos here you can watch to learn how to clean almost any machine: http://www.quilt-video.com/sewing-machine-maintenance/.

If you can't watch video on your computer, and you can afford it, you can take your machine to a sewing machine repair shop for cleaning. If you can't afford that, it is still easy to figure out if you take the major cover plates off of the sewing machine (wherever you see a screw holding one on) especially in the bobbin area, and just start cleaning out dust and lint with Q-Tips and tweezers. Oil any parts that move except any belts or rubber parts. Test to see if they move by turning the flywheel toward you (counter clockwise).

Sometimes your local library will have books on sewing machine maintenance or there will be a chapter in a general sewing book that teaches machine maintenance.

**new** There is a group on Yahoo.com that is dedicated to fixing up old sewing machines! The group is called WeFixIt

Step 4: Setting Up Your Machine

One of the reasons that you can find these old machine in perfect working order is that they were put in really badly designed cabinets.

Take your machine out of the cabinet and set it up somewhere that is comfortable for you. You should not have to lift your arms or shoulders to reach your machine and the needle should be centered in front of you. Here's a video about sewing machine ergonomics: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbmQ2riM7Yo

It can help to put a gripper mat or double stick tape on the bottom of the foot pedal so that it doesn't slide.

It is important to buy and use the right parts for your machine. Different machines use different types of needles and different sized bobbins. You need to find out if your machine uses a flat back needle and also the size of bobbin. Sewing stores like local "sew and vacuum" shops and also JoAnns or Walmart sell some supplies but be sure you are buying the right items for your machine. If possible, take a needle and bobbin that is already from your machine with you if you are shopping for more so that you can see that you are buying the right items.

Step 5: Learning to Sew :)

There are many ways to learn to sew. If you like to learn by yourself you can check out books from the library and learn a lot about fabrics, threads, patterns, sewing terms, and sewing techniques.

You can join a group (Girl Scouts, Camp Fire Girls) and ask them to teach sewing classes. You can see if your local sewing sales and repair shop teaches sewing. Your Community Schools might have sewing classes.

There are videos on YouTube about learning to sew - Threadbangers is a popular channel on YouTube for younger people who want to learn to make easy and useful projects.

Step 6: Fabrics, Needles, Threads and More

Your local library should have books that can teach you about different kinds of fabrics. Knowing about different fabrics can help you make the very best sewing projects! You can bring your sewing book with you as you explore fabric shops, learning the texture of cottons, polyesters, silks, rayons and more. You can take your book to second hand shops to help you identify and buy garments that you can re-purpose into new garments.

Threads are different too and it helps a lot to understand how different threads can help your sewing projects.

There are many sizes of needles that are made for special fabrics and threads.

If you can find a book or a teacher that has used many different materials and can teach you about them then you will find your sewing to be much easier!

Step 7: The Three Most Common Problems

There are three things that cause the most problems in sewing. The first is that the machine is not threaded correctly (top thread or bobbin). It's really important to thread the machine the right way. Use the owner's manual for the machine if you have it, or search the internet for instructions for your machine.

The second is the tension. The tension on the top thread and the bobbin can *and SHOULD* be adjusted when you change threads. Your top thread should pull easily through the needle when the presser foot is UP and the bobbin should drop slightly when shaken to test the bobbin tension (if you have a vertical bobbin). Here are some good links to videos about bobbin tension. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bXrK457ENUhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MaOWct81Fw

The last thing is stray threads. A clean machine is important, free of lint, dust and loose threads in the bobbin area. When sewing you should hold both threads back away from the machine as you begin to sew and bringing up the bobbin thread to the top of your project is a good habit to get into.

Most problems with sewing can be solved by cleaning and oiling the machine, taking all the thread off and the bobbin out and re-threading the entire machine. Sometimes a thread has jumped a guide or there is the tiniest bit of lint holding things up and that gets cleared out when you re-thread the machine.

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    117 Discussions

    0
    melsorganizingsollutions
    melsorganizingsollutions

    Question 6 months ago on Introduction

    ok, so going through my late-mother-in laws (hoards) of things in her basement I came across a sewing machine that she never even got around to using. I found a part with a receipt from 1985 so I am assuming it is at least that old if not older. Have you ever heard of Kenmore Ultra-Stitch 6 ? Do you have any advice for me on it's worth if anything at all? I really wanted to keep it,however in thinking logically I don't see me having any time to sit down and use it. You were the first forum I have come across that knows about sewing machines so I was hoping that you could help me out. Email me @ melsorganizingsolutions@simplyjoyful.live Thank You and looking forward to hearing from you!!!!

    0
    deborahedw226
    deborahedw226

    7 months ago

    my parents bought me a Domestic sewing machine as a highschool graduation present (almost 50 yrs ago). I have sewn so many memories on my machine,baptismal gowns,children/s first day of school clothes, first doll and doll clothes,confirmation dresses,prom dresses,wedding dresses. My old (heavy,all metal)machine will be the hardest thing for me to let go of.

    0
    LydiaM34
    LydiaM34

    Question 8 months ago

    Help!...I have owned a vintage elna for 30 years, it was my mums before that so can drive that baby in my sleep , BUT sadly it finally needs repairs and I have borrowed a machine from a friend ( who got it for her mil..it was never used by my friend she is totally not a sewer so can't help and knows nothing about it at all ) ..soo, it's an oldie.no problem with that I'm a smart cookie ..or so I thought , obviously no manual, googled how to load the bobbin in the case from underneath so far so good..but now I have struck an issue..how to fill the bobbin?..the machine is a Toyota super deluxe Z870 and the thread is loaded at the back of the machine, the bobbin at the front( not a top winder) so google and youtube hasn't been helpful at all can anyone help with getting the bobbin filled..I have used the wheel mechanism to disable the needle, and the machine runs but the bobbin doesn't spin..so I'm guessing either there is another button/lever/mechanism that engages the bobbin to spin...any suggestions?

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    0
    Mir548
    Mir548

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Hi there, I google several times about this issue im having, but as far as when i googled blogs for instructions on sewing machines, this was the first place i went to! anyways, a few months ago, i was given a sewing machine a friend had found from an older woman that gave it to him. well, to tell you the truth i am so VERY new and uneducated when it comes to sewing machines but when this had been given to me, im trying to learn but having so many issues at this moment. I do not know what im doing and cant figure out how to thread the lower bobbin in the bottom. im providing pics, so maybe if anyone has any advice on to help me. i had looked up from ther serial number and what came back on it its supposed to be a dressmaker c7 or something? please help! no idea what anything on here is and cant find anything on it to instruct me!

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    0
    Dukidutch
    Dukidutch

    1 year ago

    LOVE IT LOVE IT MY KENMORE 158.10400 built like a tank, compact & very heavy,
    I
    LOVE MY PETITE. IT IS IN PERFECT CONDITION. A WORK OF ART UNDER HER
    COVER. REALLY UNIQUE PIECE OF MACHINERY. RUNS LIKE A CLOCK. MINE LOOKS
    LIKE NEW UNDER HER HOOD. ALL METAL AND QUITE HEAVY FOR BEING SO SMALL.
    I SHOULD ADD: I have (3)70's Kenmore, (I love the old Kenmore) (1) -70's
    White Super Stretch, (1) 80's Babylock Companion, (1) -Singer 70's
    Fashion Mate 237, DEPENDABLE,

    (1) 1950's Riviera, looks new, (1) 1940's Marshall Fields in near new
    condition,

    (1) Husky Husky Lock 435 Serger, all these mentioned are metal, very heavy, strong
    and purr like a kitten. So well built. So faithful. Just keep them well oiled and lubed. Well stored, wrapped in a plastic bag so not to get dusty or to rust any parts. All Wonderful machines if built before the 80's. I also have (Not meta)l, (1) 90's Viking Husky Scandanavia 100
    and
    (3) plastic embroidery Brother machines. I don't use the Brothers much.
    DOES ANYONE know if the ELNA CLUB includes the alphabet to do embroidery letters?

    0
    Goody Two Shoes
    Goody Two Shoes

    Reply 8 months ago

    I have a sweet little Kenmore 1040 too. I also have a 158-14000 just like the one Mom gave me when I was a teenager back in the 60's. It has great features for a vintage machine so I put an adapter on it to use the same snap-on presser feet as my Brother machines. (Much easier than screw-on's) Plus I have Mom's old White model 77 straight-stitch, a Euro Pro serger, an electro-mechanical Brother from the 80's, a modern lightweight electronical Brother for travel, and a huge 46 lb. Brother VQ3000 Dreamweaver that's designed for quilting yet big & strong enough for just about anything. And I use this stationary "big boy" for everything - clothes, quilts, crafts, etc., it's great! The Kennie 14000 is my secondary machine and I use the 1040 regularly just because it's smooth, quiet and fun! They're both superb for piecing or any other job if I have a quilt under the big boy and don't want to interrupt the FMQ process.
    All of my machines run, but like you I love the vintage Kennies, they're so well made and dependable. Most of the 50's, 60's, and 70's machines built in Japan were well-engineered and made to last. If cared for, mine will serve for generations to come.

    0
    use4321
    use4321

    Question 1 year ago

    hi I have American Home sewing machine made by Feather manufacturing co ltd. it looks like a singer 15 the motor says made in Canada and I was wondering if it is a clone or made in usa. I"ve never heard of Feather mfg co ltd. have you? Serial # F6074577 any ifo would be appreciated

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    0
    YehiaO
    YehiaO

    1 year ago on Introduction

    I need your help. I have an old sewing singer machine
    but this machine doesn't have a back stitching system. how can i adjust it to have back stitching. this machine is produced in 1940. it is 15. please your help.

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    0
    MargueritaM
    MargueritaM

    Reply 1 year ago

    I posted a reply, but it's gone. I'm sorry, I don't know how to re-function a machine. If it won't reverse or back-stitch I don't know how to change that.

    0
    MargueritaM
    MargueritaM

    Reply 1 year ago

    I am sorry, I don't know how to make an older machine backstitch if there is no mechanism or lever for that.

    1
    do72well
    do72well

    Question 1 year ago on Introduction

    Would you be able to guide me to someone who would know how to use a consew 347R industrial sewing machine?

    0
    OlgaW1
    OlgaW1

    4 years ago

    I have a White (brand) sewing maching model 167 which I found at a second hand store for $15!!! It came in a case, really clean underneath, AND with a manual! I have 3 other domestic machines and this one sews and is sturdy just like an industrial sewing machine. It's my favourite to sew with.

    0
    GenevieveL5
    GenevieveL5

    Reply 4 years ago

    I was given a lovely old White De Luxe machine by an acquaintance who had cleaned it up and tested it. The only problem is that it used to be set in a cabinet, and it no longer has the cabinet! I need to find some sort of base or trick something up so that I can use it. My mother's metal Singer has a plastic base it fits into, but I can't seem to find those for sale anywhere. If anyone can offer any suggestions, I would really appreciate it!

    0
    MaryR193
    MaryR193

    Reply 3 years ago

    There's a group on Facebook called Vintage Sewing Machines. There's a guy (I think he's Ray) who makes bases. The group is a great resource. Also keep an eye out at your goodwill. You may find a sewing machine that doesn't work in a case that fits. Repurpose it!

    0
    Kilnrelay
    Kilnrelay

    Reply 4 years ago

    If you haven't already found a solution--it has been four months-- I recommend googling "custom wooden base for sewing machine." Then search by image until you find someone who makes wooden bases by mail order, or an image you can take to someone who can build it for you.

    0
    doug57a
    doug57a

    Reply 3 years ago

    I have just bought my first machine. $30. A White 8931. I am delighted with how mechanically sound this lovely device is. Completely free of any 21st century electronic crap, designed to fail and generate sales. Looking forward to learning the machine as I get into my first project, a simple boat cover. I will be saving 600$ on this one project compared to ordering one. ( not to mention eliminating dragging the boat across town to leave with some outfit.)

    0
    RevathiS5
    RevathiS5

    4 years ago



    Its really good
    information,Thanks for sharing this blog,keep updating more threads, Best sewing machine in chennai

    0
    bieLa86
    bieLa86

    4 years ago

    What do you think of the Sears sewing machine's?

    0
    LarryW41
    LarryW41

    Reply 4 years ago

    Sears no longer sells sewing machines. Bernina might be a good machine but how many can afford one? The lower priced models are now made in Asia. I use primarily machines made in the 60's.