Monday, September 13, 2010

A New Herd

Summertime is my favorite because I get lots of time off to sew. Except this summer it was all about taking care of my mother-in-law. With very little sewing going on (I forgot to mention the 7 costume dresses I made for Steven's play but they don't count because it wasn't fun sewing), I started to go into withdrawl. I'm sure we've all experienced this some time or another. What I usually do is buy fabric when this happens. Well, I really don't need any fabric. I mean I REALLY don't need any more fabric! Besides, I didn't have time to go shopping and Bob was around much too much for package deliveries. So what's a girl to do?

I don't know if you noticed (how could you not?) but on, there has been all sorts of noise about vintage machines. Of course I had to see what all the fuss was about. Now I'm hooked. You see it all started when I first saw someone, I think it was Donna Hodgson, post a picture of a Singer 500a Rocketeer on PR. It was love at first sight. Then I learned that they were from 1961! I had to have one for my birthday because you see, I'm from 1961 too, July 6, 1961 to be exact. (I missed blogging on my birthday because we were with my MIL.) When discussing this with a sewing friend, she decided to gift me a Singer 500a Rocketeer that needed some TLC. Yea! She sent it to me in time for the machine and my 49th birthday. She also included lots of accessories and goodies to go along with it. I immediately became discouraged because I couldn't get the brown stitch lever to budge, not one micro-meter. But while waiting to figure out how to fix it, I found another lovely Rocketeer 500a on Craigslist in the art deco cabinet for $125. All I had to do is drive a 4-hour round trip to pick it up. I don't think I would have gotten it except it had the cool cabinet and I had a morning to myself for the drive. I'm so glad I did go get it because it was working almost perfectly and clean as a whistle inside and out. It'll be my go-to machine when I want to use a Rocketeer.

During one of my stays with my MIL, I spent lots of time on the computer looking up information on vintage machines. This included browsing on Craigslist. I just about fell out of my chair when I found another Rocketeer 500a for $35 in a very nice vintage Copenhagen cabinet and they lived only two miles from my MIL. I drove down right away and paid the money and picked it up the next day. It's the machine I used to sew my niece's little outfit from my last post. It also came with lots of accessories and attachments. Now I own three Singer Rocketeer 500a machines. Aren't you jealous? I've got them all working perfectly now and plan to use them for my students when I either open a studio or start teaching again at the Parks and Recreation in a city closer to home. I really would like to find one more.

These next two machines are Japan made Super Delux Zigzag machines. The beautiful green one has a badge from Revere (the copper bottom pan company) and is dated from the late 1950's. The real surprise was that I found it in my own garage! I didn't even know it was there. Well, that's not true. It belonged to my husband's grandmother. For the last 14 years it has been sitting on the floor of my garage near the door where water came in. It sat in a puddle for the rainy season each year. I knew it was a bucket of rust and wasn't interested in it. Well, I went to throw it away to make room for my MILs things but decided to look at it first. It was a beautiful immaculate machine in a lovely shade of two-tone greens, and it didn't really need anything more than cleaning and a good oiling. Even the belt was in good working condition. I only replaced the bobbin tire and it needs some work on the pressure foot lever because it doesn't want to stay up. That's it, a machine I had all along, and it was free! It has a carrying box that needs to be recovered and it didn't come with any attachments, but it was free!

The pretty pink Japan made Kenmore machine from the late 1950's was another wonderful Craigslist find. I had been cleaning out my house anticipating having to bring some of my MILs things home. I had a lot of things to go to Goodwill so I decided to have a yard sale and I made $80. The pink machine was only a 25 minute drive and cost $50, less than I earned at my yard sale, and it came in the really cool Martha Washington cabinet. It came with lots of attachments too. It was sad when I brought it home because during the drive home the cabinet wire rubbed against the top and gave it a pretty bad scar but I think I can cover it up with some model paint. I just have to look for the light pink color at the hobby shop.

As if this wasn't enough machines, after my MIL has passed, I was given her Singer 221-1 featherweight machine. I've never really been a fan of these tiny machines, but this one means a lot to me because it was hers. It's the only machine she's ever sewn on and for that, I'll treasure it forever. It has the box with attachments and the card table. The table is in bad shape but the box looks pretty nice for its age and I know it was well used.

Last, but not least, is the Singer 66 Redeye treadle machine. I posted about this machine before, so I won't bore you with all the details. It's mine from my MIL's estate as well. So there you have it, how I went from owning one very loved Bernina 170 sewing machine to a herd of eight. I can't wait to start teaching classes so that my students can feel the power of a real sewing machine, not those plastic throw-away machines they are making nowadays and beginning students always seem to buy. Anyone want to come over and sew with me?


  1. Wow! You've got quite a collection! I love the way vintage machines look - especially the Rocketeer! Such character!

  2. I am green with envy over those Rocketeers. It was my growing up machine and I can clearly remember when my mother bought it. Correct me if I am wrong but I think it was the top of the line of its day. Mine made prom dresses, a wedding gown, suits and winter coats and much more. I am always on the lookout for another one but haven't been too aggressive. Having recently acquired my vintage Morse, I know the sickness from which we suffer, machine o mania! Enjoy and I hope you are able to get your school going soon. You have earned all the pleasure these machines bring.

  3. Me me me! I love those vintage machines. I am always bringing them home. Have three in the garage. I taught beginner sewing for several years and there is nothing more aggravating than a cheap plastic machine a student has. The time you spend trying to get them to work right is so aaahhhh... you know what I mean. Congrats on your new herd I have a serious case of machine envy!!

  4. I envy your pink machine. I've been looking for a vintage pink machine. Hope I find one as lovely as you did.

  5. Wow, that is indeed a herd! I think I'd better not start one, because who knows when it would end.

  6. I enjoyed reading about your herd! And yes I'm jealous :P I'd love to come sew with you! Too bad I live about 3,000 miles away!

  7. ...Come over and sew with you?? I DO, I DO, I DO!!
    <3 Rhonda

  8. I learned on one of those too, wish I had kept it....went to a good friend of my Mother's. I would love to come sew!

  9. It's vintage sewing machine heaven at your house! :)

  10. Hi Sherril! I came across your blog and this post (well actually my husband came across your blog and post when he was internet searching about the Singer 500 machines). What a wonderful collection of sewing machines you have! I have been searching for a singer 500, but they are hard to find. I have sewn since in high school (learned from my mom), and that has been ages ago! And I'm a novice quilter. I gave my Singer to our married daughter and have been trying to decide what sewing machine will work best for quilting, etc... The Bernina 440 E is just so expensive! I was looking at getting a used Janome 9000.

    It was my husband that saw the Singer 500 first and then got me interested in one :o)

    I noticed that your last post was in Dec...but I thought I would leave a comment here anyways. I'd love to hear more about your thoughts of the Singer 500.

    Blessings & Aloha!


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