Monday, June 8, 2009

sewing machine

What brand and model do you have?

Singer 15-91 in a model 42 "writing desk" cabinet. Serial number issued in 1946.

How long have you had it?

It officially came to live with me in September of 2001, when I moved into my first post-college apartment.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

It cost me nothing but a $75 tune-up. If you want one, it all depends on how much you're willing to pay. A great resource for vintage Singers for anyone interested is

I have some accessories that came with the machine, but have had to purchase others. Attachments like button-holers can run $10 to $20.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?

Mostly clothing. But I have done some craft-show purses, some home-dec and some quilting. I'm working on maybe getting more into quilting. We're seeing how that goes.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

It depends on my mood. Sometimes I go for weeks at a time without sewing, sometimes I make a dress in a weekend. Sewing is something that is therapeutic for me, but also something that I don't do in moods when I might most need it.

These machines are so sturdy though that there's not much wear and tear happening unless you're doing something hardcore.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I love the machine! It's one of my most prized possessions. She doesn't really have a name though I occasionally call her Pearl for my great-grandmother.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?

It pretty much as one feature--straight stitch. Ha. No, but really, it goes forwards and backwards. It runs fast and hard. The bobbin winder is great! I finally experimented with lowering the feed dogs for the first time. That's about the extent of the machine itself.

I have a zig-zag attachment that doesn't produce a very good zig-zag, but the old button-holer attachment is great. I have a number of the old feet--the bias tape foot, the edging foot, etc--and have played around with them though frankly I've never really needed to use any of them. I do not have the scary ruffler foot but wouldn't mind one day.

I love the cabinet. Mine is not in the best shape, but it's got several drawers, it's nice and sturdy and it's purty. Because it was a model meant to double as a writing desk when the machine was not being used, it's got a drawer with a pen/pencil tray and an old inkpot! Apparently it's rare to still have those.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?

I do wish that I had more options for stitches sometimes and that it were portable.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

I did inherit it from my Great-Grandma. She never really sewed that much, but she was a woman back in the 1940s and therefore needed a sewing machine--this was supposedly a 'gift' from my great-grandfather. My great aunt used it a lot though before Grandma died and it got passed to me.

It's not really related because it was another Great-Grandma, but one of them did lose part of a finger in an industrial sewing machine incident.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?

Old Singers are great machines. The 15-91 was one of the most mass-produced because it was so solid, but so easy to use. They're pretty easy to find in good shape still and because they're a standard straight, low-shank machine, you can still buy all the accessories that you need, including brand-new feet and even vintage attachments.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

I've never bought a new machine, so I don't know!

Actually, the criteria for the second old machine I bought was that it be more portable and have a built-in zig-zag and button hole and that it also be a straight, low shank machine that uses the same bobbins so I didn't have to buy anything else.

Do you have a dream machine?

I think I'm happy with what I have.

1 comment:

  1. Check out www.april1930' They specialize in Singer featherweight but good resource for Singer attachments, etc.