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Antique Sewing Machines are Not a Thing of the Past

ranking the handle, the needle penetrates the fabric only as quickly as you can spin. Sometimes you need a blast from the past, and with an antique Singer sewing machine, you can get a blast all the way back to the 1850s. Singer was extremely prevalent in the late 1800s, and collectors can appreciate the abundance of many different models that prevailed during that era. Before electric models, either a hand crank or a treadle operated sewing machines. An antique Singer pedal sewing machine looks like a sewing machine table with the treadle, or foot pedal, that operates the needle. After the advent of electricity, the sewing world underwent a revolution and Singer was the first to introduce an electric sewing machine in 1889. An antique electric Singer sewing machine may have the motor strapped to the side, as motors did not become standard to the design until more homes had electricity. An antique Singer sewing machine is a great addition to any collection and the sellers on eBay are constantly adding inventory so you can find the sewing machine models that your collection lacks.

The Mechanics of it All

There are a few different types of antique machines that are differentiated from back when they were widely used. Singer was the most popular brand of sewing machine. They originated in 1851, with a domestic sewing machine. These are also considered mechanical in nature due to the moving parts and age of everything. They also go by the name of a treadle machine. Table-based Sing sewing machines are typically treadle in design which means they are operated with a foot pedal. While these were easy to control your speed and manueverability with your garments, due to the age of these machines, many of the foot pedals were often lost and are hard to find. Popularized by Singer and although widely distributed, the treadle sewing machine is large and takes up more space. It typically stays in one location and is hard to move.

To Stand or Not to Stand

There are two subset categories for mechanical sewing machines: stand based or table based. Stand based machines are simply the sewing machine itself and can easily be transported to wherever you need to do your sewing. Table based machines are built into a table stand that creates a sewing center with more tabletop space for your work and gear.

Features of an Old Machine

The antique versions of either of these machines are simple in design and features and can be easily repaired. Common features include a presser foot, bottom loading bobbin, adjustable tension, adjustable stitch length and single stitch. Treadle and hand operated machines usually only have one straight and forward built-in stitch capability. It typically stays in one location and is hard to move. Antique machines are certainly a thing of the past but their function and design still are just as good in a crafting world in which technology has taken over.

Make the Most of Your Model

By answering some simple questions, you can determine what model of sewing machine you are looking for and may already have. 

  • What model do you need?
  • What technology is used?
  • Is it easy to repair?

Per the model that you are interested in, there are specific parts and accessories that are used strictly with those machines. While some models certainly shared parts, there were newer sewing machines that had differently adapted technology that would not be compatible with older models. If you have a Brother or Singer from a specific time period, there may be some relatively common pieces that transcend most makes of machinery. However, you generally cannot use a differently manufactured part for another brand of sewing machine. 

Find and Seek

The parts of your antique sewing machine may prove to be a challenge in obtaining. However, antiquities dealers that specialize in sewing machines, would be able to fully help in finding what items you need. It is important to note that while you may have found the parts and accessories you need for your sewing machine, that due to the age, some pieces may need professional cleaning and detailing, or could even be rusted. If refurbishing an antique sewing machine, having clean parts on-hand for any impromptu fixes is key.

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