#55 - Collect Vintage Sewing Machines with Cheryl Warren
Hello My Quilting Friends! I have an awesome podcast episode for you today with Cheryl Warren, a vintage sewing machine collector and restorer. Watch this episode and check out the new / old treadle sewing machine I've added to the Crafty Cottage:
You can also listen to this episode or download it using the player below:
Quick links to things we mentioned in the podcast:
What to look for in vintage sewing machines
Cheryl has written a special post just to support this podcast! Click here to check it out!
Cheryl offered great advice on picking a vintage sewing machine to begin with. If you're just starting to look and wanting a machine that will be a good all-rounder for sewing, piecing, and machine quilting, she advised looking for a Singer 15.
This machine began being manufactured around 1879 and has the standard rotary hook and bobbin that you'll easily recognize because it's the same style that's still being used today.
These machines have held their value over time so if it's in great shape, you might pay upwards of $300 - $400 or more for a Singer 15.
If you're looking for a much cheaper option, another type of machine to search for is a 15 Clone. This machine was made in Japan after the end of World War 2. According to Cheryl we gave the Japanese the rights to manufacturer the machines to encourage them to move into manufacturing instead of warfare.
At first they made machines identical to the Singer 15s, right down to the glossy black finish. But soon they began innovating and changing colors and improving the build of the machine as well.
Millions of these machines were sold, but unfortunately the 15 Clones did not retail their value. You can easliy find these on Ebay and in antique stores for $10 - $30 and they are just as good (if not better) than the Singer 15 machines that often much more expensive.
Looking for a Treadle
You can find Singer 15 machines and 15 Clones designed to go in treadle bases, hand cranks, and electrified too. I wanted a treadle because I already have plenty of electric machines and I wanted to learn more about the history of machines and feel more connected with this amazing craft.
When looking for a treadle machine, please understand you can purchase all the pieces separately. If you find a good base with excellent movement, but a terrible looking cabinet, you can unscrew the wood and save the irons.
Most of the openings in treadle cabinets are standard as well so you can switch out the machines that pop inside. So if you find a great treadle base and cabinet with a horrible machine or no machine at all, chances are you'll be able to easily put a different machine inside.
There is so much more to learn about treadles and vintage machines and you can find a wealth of information on Cheryl's Dragon Poodle blog! Click Here to check it out.
Why do I want a Treadle?
Throughout the process of writing Mally the Maker, my grandma has been on my mind. She had a treadle sewing machine, though I never saw her sew on it because she kept it upstairs in her bedroom.
She kept another machine downstairs to work on in the kitchen that was electric, but she'd always go upstairs to wind her bobbins on her treadle. My Aunt Patti still has that treadle and sent me this picture:
Based on the bobbin covers, I can tell it's a Singer 15! The belt just recently broke so I ordered one for my aunt and sent it to her with a few feet to play with. I'm so happy to know Grandma's treadle machine is still sewing!
Tale of Two Treadles
Of course, I didn't end up taking Cheryl's advice and bought the first treadle machine I ran across which ended up being a Singer 12, a very early model that's nicknamed a Fiddle Base machine because of the decorative shape around the edge of the machine.
This little guy is in really bad shape and as I mentioned in this podcast, I broke it over the weekend when I was being a bit too aggressive trying to unfreeze the bobbin plates. But for $65, I can't beat the learning experience this machine is giving me!
Dad found my second treadle after first finding a beautiful puzzle box of sewing machine feet:
The sweet woman selling this case also had a gorgeous treadle in near perfect condition. After a few weeks she decided she was ready to let it go and called Dad to see if he was still interested. Of course!
This turned out to be a Singer 27 and is now in the Crafty Cottage ready to sew! I have the new belt ready to go, but I plan to take the machine out of the treadle cabinet first and give it a good cleaning before I get it running. The shuttle bobbin on this machine is super cool!
All around this has been a wonderful learning experience and yep, I feel completely obsessed with treadle machines. I love the amazing build quality! I love being able to take the machine apart! I love the weird shuttle bobbins and I can't wait to learn how to use them!
Another New Machine in the Crafty Cottage
But my new / old treadles are not the only new machines in the Crafty Cottage! I hinted a few weeks ago that Josh and I were planning on becoming sewing machine dealers. We have just launched our first sewing machine, the Eversewn Sparrow 20. Click Here to check it out.
This is a sweet little machine with an amazing collection of feet and features at a great price! I LOVE the stitch quality on this machine and the functions like needle up / down and the start-stop button.
I can't wait to begin sharing new tutorials on this machine and guide you through using all the cool feet it comes with.
Yes, we do plan on carrying more machines, and longarms too, so this is just one small step for my quilting tutorials, one giant leap for LeahDay.com! LOL!
More news from around the house...
This week we began quilting the Prism Path baby quilt with simple straight lines. Click Here to find this quilting tutorial.
Another new quilting tutorial this week is for Jagged Cosmos. Come learn how to quilt this design with both walking foot quilting and free motion quilting!
Next week we will be finishing up with the Prism Path baby quilt along and I'm already thinking about the next project for us to work on together! Stay tuned for many new videos and fun quilting tutorials coming soon!