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Conversational Threads

Sewing machines multiply like rabbits!

Ckbklady | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Oh, brother,

I just won another sewing machine on eBay. I wonder how much longer before the floor falls in??

For years (decades) I’ve had a White 1710 (big metal workhorse, named Fred) and a Janome MyLock 534D serger (of course, Mrs. Fred). But in the last month I somehow have bought:

1. A 1908 New Home treadle (named Ralph) and cabinet from the Goodwill

2. A Singer 9110 (1990s-era workhorse to supplement the White), yet to be named, also from said Goodwill 

3. A Singer Slant-o-matic Rocketeer today on eBay (for no other reason than it looks like the Starship Enterprise, but you KNOW I’ll love it like the Dickens and use it all the time too, and to be named Spock). Somehow no one else was watching and I got it for a song.

My hubby is a patient man, but a lot of it is that I also say nothing to him about the 2 tons of cured hardwood in his workshop that we’ve moved across North America TWICE. We’re loons, yes?

So, dear Gatherers, make me feel better – how many machines do YOU have?

🙂 Mary


  1. NY2NZ | | #1

    Dear Mary,

    It is fine, you are not alone.   Before we moved from the US to NZ, I had eight sewing machines......I know have four and one serger.   I gave four of them to prescreened people who would love my babies just as I did (A Singer 127, a Brown Crinkle Kenmore, a semi-industrial Riccar, a workhorse White).   Oh, and my DH bought me a Brother NV1200 once we got here because somehow the cord for my Ellegante went missing in the move and I was going bananas not being able to sew

    Mind you, of the four I still have, I can only use the Brother and my Serger (which is connected to this huge converter/transformer)....I kept the other four because I couldn't possibly give them away, one was my great grandmothers, one was my grandmothers, one is my first sewing machine purchase.

    So you can sit on the sewing machine addicts anonymous bench with me....I'll even give you cookies and tea :-)


    1. Ckbklady | | #2

      Oh, Nancy, wow!

      You win. EIGHT! Heavens! I'm telling hubby about you tonight over dinner! As for tea and cookies, you're on!

      I'd love to know about the makes of the machines from your Grandmother and Great-Grandmother are. How nice that you've kept them safely.

      My scruffy White 1710 (Fred) was my first machine purchase and I'll love him forever, even as I expand my horizons. I've been told to look for an Elna Carina (apparently the quietest electric ever made) and the Elna Lotus, which earned its place in the Museum of Modern Art. Who told me about them? That wee devil on my shoulder...

      :) Mary

  2. Crazy K | | #3

    Let's see.........I have two Designer SEs; a Janome MC9000, a Janome 4300 so if my calcs are correct, that is four sewing machines and I have four sergers..........an Elna904DEX, a Janome Compulock, a Janome Juno and a Babylock Evolve.....and I use most all.  The Janome 4300 will someday go to my daughter who has no space for it now and she will no doubt get the Compulock serger as well.......that is if she ever has space and time to sew.........as a young mom, a daycare provider and an entrepreneur, she doesn't have much time for anything!

    I guess that makes my total about 8 if you count both sewing and serging machines.

    Crazy, huh? ..........


    P.S. - Can I join you gals on the sewing machine addicts anonymous bench....and share your tea and cookies???????

    Edited 1/8/2008 4:12 pm ET by Crazy K

    Edited 1/8/2008 4:13 pm ET by Crazy K

    1. Ckbklady | | #4

      Hey Kay,

      You betcha you can join us, but goodness, you're both making me look like an amateur!

      How are the sergers different? I didn't tally them, but my count is 4 sewing machines and 1 serger. Maybe it needs company!

      :) Mary

      1. Crazy K | | #5

        My first serger was the Elna........four thread, does lots of different stitches but I use it mainly for 4 thread stuff.  The Compulock is set presently for 5 thread safety stitch.  That one is computerized and does all sorts of fun stuff; the little Janome Juno is sitting at the ready with black thread and is just a basic little 'extra' machine.  The Babylock Evolve is an 8 thread 'dream machine' and sits mostly ready for coverhems.  It is easy to thread and changing stitches is much easier than some of the machines.  I got that one for the coverhem but also thinking that my Elna may give up the ship one day and then I'll have a good serger that's easy to thread.  There's the scoop on my machines.  Yes, I use them.......some much more than others but I love them all!!


        1. Ckbklady | | #8

          "Ready for coverhems..", that just sounds dreamy.

          :) Mary

          1. Crazy K | | #9

            Oh......it is!  I have sewn for about fifty years and I just acquired this new and wonderful 'baby' a couple of years ago.  I now wonder how I managed??  Even getting my first serger and learning to use it was a huge discovery.......how did I manage to sew all those kids clothes and my mom's clothing, etc. before a serger??!!  Now I am truly spoiled.  


          2. Ckbklady | | #12

            Oh, yes, remember the pr-serger days? Doing nasty little zig zag seams? Ick. I remember my boss calling me and telling me on the day I bought my serger, "You'll never take it out of the box - all those confusing threads and sharp knives (I was a chef...)". I had it threaded and running before she finished the sentence, I was so ready to kiss zig-zags buh-bye!

            :) Mary

          3. Lilith1951 | | #13

            Actually, ladies, I think I win.....at last count I have 15 sewing machines and two sergers.  Three of the machines are treadles and my newest serger (I just bought it two weeks before Christmas) is a Babylock Imagine Wave, so they run the gamut as far as technology.  I even have a beautiful old machine that does chain stitching like you wouldn't believe.   I have 3 Singer Featherweights, also.

            Hubby and I started collecting machines quite a few years ago.  Many of them are quite old, but some we bought just because they were beautiful or unique in some way.  I am still working full time, so I don't have time to actually use all these machines, but my plan is when I retire I'm going to make at least one quilt on each of my treadles and Featherweights.  Then I'm going to work my way through the "odd machines" (all of them work) and see what I want to keep and what I can give away/sell.  What I'd really love to do is set up a room somewhere with all of them and invite people over monthly to help me sew for charity.....or teach classes....or SOMEthing....not sure yet. Right now I don't have a room big enough, but that will work itself out somehow.  Hope I live long enough to find out!  I have over 5 years till retirement.:-(

          4. Josefly | | #17

            Wow, you have enough machines to set up a sewing studio, for people who want to sew but who gave up their machines years ago when moving or somethin, and don't want to buy another one. Of course, you'd also have to supply all the accessories, and instructions, etc., possibly also scissors, cutting tables, etc. And then you'd have to supervise, to protect your machines from harm...so, maybe a bad idea!

          5. Ckbklady | | #18

            Oooh, Lilith, I second the motion - you should teach! At the very least you should show off your machines to your local sewing guild!

            I love that you have everything from treadles to the new Space Shuttle-ish serger! Maybe you should open a museum?

            :) Mary

          6. catvoke | | #49

            Lilith, you're famous!  Does this mean that owning 16 machines is the critical number in determining eccentricity in a sewer (sewist)?


            Still laughing,


          7. Lilith1951 | | #53

            LOL! Catherine, I was really beat out by someone with 70, but yes, quite possibly 15 or 16 would be a boundary fro sliding into "eccentricity."  But then, it all depends on how much space you have.  Since I really don't have enough space or time to use them all, I'm definitely eccentric.  But someday........I'm going to use them all for a really good purpose. 

            I guess if someone is both buying and selling machines, it isn't eccentric to have many....it's at least a sideline business.  But only buying them, and not even using them....is definitely eccentric.


          8. catvoke | | #56

            You guys are such a hoot!  I love reading the sewing machine stories.  I have only three machines, one of which I don't use, and NO serger.

            I can easily see how a variety of machines would serve a person who was doing lots of sewing; like a mini factory with machines set up for specific, dedicated sewing tasks. 

            I got started in the forum because I have finally come to a point in my sewing life where I wanted a stitch my Pfaff didn't have.  Now I know that in the near future I will add a new sewing machine AND a serger to my "collection" bringing the total to 5 machines and I will be taking over ANOTHER bedroom!I don't sew nearly as much I use to (Quilting) but I love it just as much as ever and I love nice sewing machines.

            Looking forward to becoming more "eccentric", and when the (future) grandchildren come to play and sew in the Studio,  there  will be enough machines to go around.... 

          9. damascusannie | | #58

            >>I can easily see how a variety of machines would serve a person who was doing lots of sewing; like a mini factory with machines set up for specific, dedicated sewing tasks.
            ~~I'm the one with 70 machines and I actually do have five treadles set up in a big table in my studio that are used for specific functions: a head for machine quilting, one for piecing and other sewing, a zig zagger, a walking foot machine for putting bindings on quilts, and a chainstitcher for basting. I have a couple of other treadles around the room with black and red thread in them for when I'm piecing on darks or reds (I usually just use off-white for piecing.)>>Looking forward to becoming more "eccentric", and when the (future) grandchildren come to play and sew in the Studio, there will be enough machines to go around....
            ~~Ooohhh! I have seven kids and I've never even thought about the grandchild angle before! I bet I can convince myself that I need MORE machines! As for eccentricity--you noticed that they're all treadles, right? A fellow collector friend once told me that it's important to cultivate a reputation for eccentricity when you are young so that when you are old, your children won't put you in a home. It's working so far....8^) Annie

          10. catvoke | | #59

            Of course no one is going to put you in a home.   They'd have to deal with your machine menagerie and all your "collector" buddies!  Have you made a will for your machines? 

             My friend and sewing buddy since 1978 is my designated recipient of everthing in my Studio.  We started out together and have remained together for 30 years despite moves, children and aging eyesight and endurance.  She has "Studio A" and I have "Studio B" and we shop and swap the two studios like they were one.  We travel to each other's homes (she is Toronto now and I live in Oregon) our sewing machines in tow, and can still lose a cat or two in the fabric moutains we manage to make on the tabletops.

            Do your children like to set the treadles to humming?  I learned how to sew on a treadle machine, wish I knew what happened to it.  I remember how neat it felt to get the treadle moving, kinda like a Jungle Jim!

          11. damascusannie | | #60

            >>Of course no one is going to put you in a home. They'd have to deal with your machine menagerie and all your "collector" buddies! Have you made a will for your machines?
            ~~LOL! Not a will exactly but the kids do know that they have first pick if they want one and then the rest are to be offered to the folks at Treadle On. Whatever is left after that, they can do whatever they want with. In all likelihood, by the time I get to that point, I will have liquidated the collection myself or donated it to a museum, preferably one in or near Belvidere, IL where most of them originated.>> My friend and sewing buddy since 1978 is my designated recipient of everthing in my Studio. She has "Studio A" and I have "Studio B" and we shop and swap the two studios like they were one. We travel to each other's homes our sewing machines in tow.
            ~~My pattern design partner and I are sort of like that--she's near Dallas, I'm Wisconsin. The only difference is that we don't bother to tote our own machines since we both collect them and have plenty to share. >>Do your children like to set the treadles to humming?
            ~~Some do. My youngest daughter (17) has the most free-time and seems the most interested in sewing. She designs her own clothing. Another likes to quilt, but hasn't had much time to do so in recent years with work and a new husband. I expect that she'll get back to it one of these days. My son (15) makes bags and whatnot for his hunting gear. The other four girls all know how to sew a bit, but aren't really interested in it. They have other creative outlets. >>I learned how to sew on a treadle machine, wish I knew what happened to it. I remember how neat it felt to get the treadle moving, kinda like a Jungle Jim!
            ~~I try to tell myself that it's good exercise, but unfortunately, it's not! Jungle Jim is right--but at my age more fun, and less dangerous!Annie

          12. MaryinColorado | | #82

            How wonderful to have such a great sewing buddy!  Love the "Studio A and Studio B" idea.  Mary

          13. catvoke | | #83

            Hi Mary,

            I just got back from Clearwater, Fla.  My husband attended a conference and I  tagged along.  I went to the session at which he presented his paper and was once again impressed with his skills and his character.

            Didn't quilt or stitch (embroidery) but did get another 3 rows added to the hub's "sweater in a decade" beauty.  I just hope he fits it when it finally gets done.

            My friend, Marcille, introduced me to quilting when our husbands were students at Stanford way back in the late 70's.  She is left handed and can type and play piano at very acceptable levels.   I can type at 30 words a minute and play chopsticks really, really good.  She grew up in Bronson, Kansas:Swedish stock.   I come from a long line of several English families that setttled in Ct. known as the "Rogerene Quakers".  Bet you didn't now the Quakers had splinter groups.  One of Marcille's ancestors was a Methodist Itinerant Circuit Preacher in the 1800's; yep - he married folks already living together but just waiting that 7 years or so for the circuit preacher to come through and legitimate their relationships....  Can't ya just hear the hoofbeats....?






          14. Crazy K | | #14

            How did we manage?  And to think, I made lots of things pre-serger..........ugh!  I've just had sergers for about 10 years out of all those non-serger years.......

  3. maggiecoops | | #6

    Thank you Mary for a bringing a chuckle to my evening, I've been thinking of thinning my sewing machines out. I started in 1964 with a Singer 325K, a wonderful machine, I still have it. I never named her but I would sit in front of her and say, "ok lovely lady, help me make a miracle" and as I sewed if I made a boob I would tell her , if something turned out better than I hoped I'd thank her for her co-operation and help. I got a companion for her some 10 years later, a Pfaff 1100 E , she was like a sulky teenager and needed gentling along, but she couldn't compete with lovely lady. Then after another 10 years I added a Brother Super Ace 11, he's not quite a gentleman as he runs on after I've lifted my foot from the foot pedal. He's perniketty about tensions, refuses to be rushed but has saved my bacon a few times when I've had to complete a project overnight. He's stitched on and on, every stitch perfect, then when I've finished, refused to wind a bobbin or let me quickly stitch a short seam. He'd be pooped and wanted a rest, so I'd use lovely lady, she could sew forever without getting tired or complaining. 

    I also bought a lovely old Singer hand operated machine with the fish shuttle that did the most wonderful straight stitching, perfect tension the whole time. On one of our house moves it got broken and wasn't repairable. In 2003 I bought a Janome 10000 to replace an embroidery only machine I'd bought in the mid 90s, I never worried about the embroidery machine upsetting my other machines as it wasn't a sewing machine, but with the introduction of the Janome there was a shift of status in my sewing room. I purchased a Janome serger at the same time, my Pfaff shed it's reverse gear, lovely lady mislaid the thumbscrew on her bobbin case, Brother became grumpy as well as perniketty. I had Pfaff repaired and loaned her to my daughter, lovely lady was retired and sits waiting for me to source a new bobbin case for her. 

    Then to add insult to injury I added two industrial embroidery only machines to the sewing room, Janome  decided it would not wind any bobbins, and Brother would wind his own but make a mess of Janomes. Now Christmas and New Year are over they both have to visit the machine tech for a service. My family would shake their heads and wonder if mum had lost it, but I know my machines have characters. I have 8 knitting machines all of which need to be treated with TLC to give their best.

    I'm wondering how the sewing room will feel when I install a new mechanical machine. Which one will sulk first.

    1. NY2NZ | | #7

      Isn't that funny how machines have personalities?  I have believed that since Day One, and many people have looked at me like I'm nutters (well I am, but still, who are THEY to look at me that way?)

      I talk to my cars too...well except this one we have now.  Perhaps its a language barrier as its Japanese? ;-)

      To answer Mary's question:

      My great grandmothers machine is a Singer 66.  My grandmothers machine is a Singer 99...in the cabinet.  They are both pretty much the same machine actually, just about 20 years apart in age.

      I love my old Singers cos they make the best straight stitches and can sew through ANYTHING without being fussy.  Switch from Leather to Silk, no issues.  Especially the 127 with the shuttle bobbin.


      1. Ckbklady | | #11

        Oh, me too! I bought a Volkswagen a couple of years ago and the unintelligible manual supplements spurred me on to learn German. One of the mechanics in the service department commented on the German tapes he saw when he was putting the last service reminder in the glove box. I shot him a look and said, "Well, I have to talk to it, don't I, and the thing doesn't speak a word of English!" I still chuckle when I remember his face. (And when I told my Mazda-driving sister the story she went out and got Japanese language tapes - it's too much!)

        Oooh, lovely Singers - 66 and a 99, wonderful! I oohed and aahed over similar models in my local Singer service center when I dropped off the 9110 yesterday. I'll get to visit them tomorrow when I pick it up. And with those Singers I don't need any international phrase book, giggle.

        :) Mary


        1. MaryinColorado | | #71

          Whew, I am so glad that my Volkswagon EOS T2 is multilingual!  Sometimes we communicate through pictures he puts on the screen.  Like the other day, I slid a bit on the ice and "Skye" showed me a picture of a car with curved lines behind it.  This is so entertaining to see.  Do you think he is "patronizing me"?  He dings and puts up a snowflake when it's cold out too!  I never know what he is going to "say" next.  The most recent is "Service due in 100 miles or 41 days".  He is the best car I've ever owned!

          I have a 27 yr. old Singer (Barbara Streisand), a Husq/Viking Rose (Rose is Rose), and a Designer 1 (Harmony) Sewing/Embroidery machines that I adore.  They tolerate my computer illiteracy well with just the occasional soft beep, and (Hannahleah) Huskylock 936 serger that is the busiest bee in the studio and she has her own artistic Muse, (Lyric) . 

          I'm glad to know that others name thier special "friends" too!

          Back to the "saltmines" to learn the 4D Suite software.....................my brain hurts!

          1. Crazy K | | #72

            With regard to the 4D........do you like it so far?  I have 3D and like it very much........you had an older version if I remember.  I don't know that the 4D has enough to make it worth my $$$.  The splitting feature would be awesome but not sure of any of the rest............So far, I pretty much take a design and stitch it (really adventerous, huh??? :-)) or if anything do lettering with a design.......pretty simple and straight-forward stuff ..........

            Just kind of curious.  I wish I was closer.  I could probably help you wade through because I think there is enough similarity between the two programs.............

            Good luck..........


          2. MaryinColorado | | #73

            Yes, it is very impressive so far.  I'm getting over the sticker shock a bit now that I see what all it does.  I just had the basic Customizing for about ten years, then the newer version that came with the D1 with Disk Manager, so it really was time to upgrade it. 

            I don't know how it compares to the 3D, but if you go to the Pfaff or Viking website, you can do the tutorials online and see what you think.   The design splitting and Fabric Decorator seems fairly clear, but we'll see when Iactually do stitch outs.  The fonts and shapes looks like alot of fun to fill with a huge variety of options. There is so much there that I expect it to take me about a year to learn it all. 

            I signed up for the block of the month clubs where we will work on one aspect of the program each time and computer club.  I don't know if I will take the regular 4D class as it is a long time to sit in one place for me. 

            My only complaint is that so much of the information is in adobe format so I'm using up alot of paper and printer ink to make my own manuals which is also very time consuming and adds to the cost for me.

            I can see already that I want to get the Endless hoop for curtains, sheets, and so many other things.   This is just what I needed to inspire me to do more embroidery again, can't wait to get to Picture Stitch!  Mary

          3. Ckbklady | | #74

            Ooooh, an Eos! Yes, they're the UN of autos. Mine is a straight German fella (Golf GLS) with few bells and whistles - I was only in it for the great stereo. The car doesn't beep or mutter about snowflakes (although our Volvo does that, and in perfect Swedish, and being in Seattle, getting a dictionary for it was a snap).

            I call my car "Mein Bitte" when I like it and "Blumenkohl" (cauliflower) when it acts up.

            Oh, and I must confess...I (just) picked up (another) sewing machine in (another) thrift shop a couple of days ago.....oh, brother! It's a 2003 Singer 2732 with all the attachments, manual and foot pedal. It was missing nothing, was clean as new, needed no repairs and was a mere $25. How could I say no??

            I think someone broke a needle and thought either that they had wrecked the machine or said, oh, rats, I hate sewing (shudders!) and here's my excuse to give it away! What good fortune.  For the fun of it, I took it completely apart guided by the exploded parts views in the online catalog at the Singer website, cleaned and oiled it (and removed the broken needle bits inside) and then got it up and running. I'll probably pass it onto one of my two dear friends whom I'm teaching to sew. But in the meantime, it's called R2-D2! :)

            I've learned that naming sewing machines makes hubby more likely to cave when I beg him to let me buy another stray. There's a Singer 201 in a lovely cabinet at the Goodwill I'm eyeing next - he's called Harry, and I'm taking hubby to "meet Harry' tonight!

            I bet that the 4D software is brain-intensive - remember to drink lots of water and to stretch occasionally!

            And to consider Sew Expo again - Puyallup is calling yooooou!

            :) Mary

          4. MaryinColorado | | #75

            When I was young, I understood quite a bit of German, Polish, and Bohemian which my grandparents and so many others in Wisconsin spoke at the shops and at gatherings.  I only recall a few choice words, which are probably slang anyway!  I do speak Spanish with my brother so we remember it, though it is not our heritage, we learned it from school and friends.  My grandson is learning German in school, maybe he should teach me, lol.  For now, I'll concentrate on the 4D as my brain is busy enough in the 4th Dimension.....

            It got down to 4 degrees today but then up to the 40s and windy.  brrrrrrrrrr

            Skye is happy after having his tires rotated and fluids topped off and oil changed, they also gave him a bath and vacuumed him after teasing me about him being dirty for the first time ever!   Now he's road ready when the whim strikes!  Mary

          5. Ralphetta | | #76

            I read somewhere that people who name their cars are more likely to have road rage.  Do you think there's a similar danger with people who name their sewing machines?

          6. Ckbklady | | #77

            Really? I would have thought that drivers who personify their cars are more careful with them. Funny.

            I've never had sewing rage, because to me by definition, sewing is all about soothing the mind and heart. A bad day sewing is better than a great day working!

            :) Mary

          7. Ralphetta | | #78

            I thought the same thing about naming your car and that's why I reread it to be sure I got it right.  I'm not sure i believe they knew what they were talking about 'cause it doesn't seem logical.  I like my machines very much, but I've never thought about naming them.  I did call a machine I had many years ago by many, many unprintable names.  It DID cause "sewing rage!"

          8. sewtimely | | #79

            Never named my machines either.  But I have called them names at times, and talk to them...sometimes I yell and sometimes I babytalk to them. It's a relationship that I can't understand how it could be.  People would think I'm crazy, but you definately get attached to them.


          9. damascusannie | | #80

            I NEVER get angry at my named sewing machines. A gentle reminder to behave is usually enough! Annie

          10. MaryinColorado | | #81

            ooooooooooooh!  I never heard that!  I've been naming my cars and sewing machines for too many years to count!  I am attached to them, so I guess I could be at risk for it if someone "hurts" them!  Small but mighty....ha ha


    2. Ckbklady | | #10

      Well, you've got me chuckling too! I quite agree that they have personalities.

      My White started making a buzzing sound the day before I brought home the treadle, and grumpily botched up a fleece dog coat I was making for our neighbors' dog. I fought with it all the way and got the coat done for Christmas. Then last week when I brought home the Singer, the White quit altogether. The Singer's coming back from the "vet" tomorrow - then in goes the White. It'll be a while before it forgives me, I'm sure. Of course, you're right that an embroidery machine wouldn't compete with a sewing machine, hence less friction. I wonder if that's why my White put with the serger all these years! Sounds like a great children's book to me!

      Cripes, you have KNITTING machines too? The only other multiples to which I can admit are the three KitchenAid mixers in the kitchen (who ARE in shouting distance from the sewing machines - maybe they talk???).

      :) Mary


    3. sewtimely | | #37


      I had a feeling you'd have a post here when I saw it was about muliple machines:) Hope all's well.  Looks like you're doing quite well.  Been busy with those curtains?  You were hoping no one would ask weren't you?


      1. maggiecoops | | #39

        I delivered 3 pairs so far, I couldnt take a picture because she hadnt had the curtain poles put up yet. As soon as my my muscles are a bit better I'll finish the rest, she's over the moon with the ones I've finished so far. Being a totally modest person, they are stunning. Walk to close and they'll fall on you stunning you for hours because they are so heavy.

        I impressed the family with my napkins I took with me and no one was allowed to touch except myself. The 3 girls oohed and ahhed and drew diagrams of the folds, I declared somewhat loftily they were a gift from a freind in America. My daughter quipped, you havent got any, so they must be ownerless, I'll adopt them. I believe her ear is still sore.

        1. sewtimely | | #41

          I know she is (I am sure "over the moon" is a good thing), not heard it before, but I think I know what you mean.  I am really amazed that you spent so many hours.  You're such a good mum. 

          Glad they liked the napkins. I just loved them when we learned how to make them and managed a couple sets for friends.  Your's and one other.  I hope to make more next year.  Maybe if I start now?! 

          happy sewing!  Glad you're in this forum.  You answer so many questions with your kind enthusiasm for helping others and as you do me, make others smile along the way.  Glad you're here.


  4. Teaf5 | | #15

    Wow, you make me feel really good; I have only three: one working treadle machine and two department store brand machines from the 1980s, all of which were gifts or hand-me-downs. 

    Two of them moonlight as nightstands--very lovely with lace cloths-- but the third is in almost daily use, mainly repairing and altering family clothing and gear.

    How do you keep track of the bobbins and threads and idiosyncracies of that many machines?

    1. Ckbklady | | #19

      That's very similar to my list - careful - you may end up with more just from talking to the lot of us! :)

      I keep all of the bobbins etc straight by keeping separate notions boxes for each one. Patient hubby gave up a few large plastic boxes from his workshop. A good scrubbing and they were just the ticket.

      Which of your three machines is in almost daily use?

      :) Mary

      1. Teaf5 | | #34

        A hand-me-down Montgomery Wards 28-stitch machine from the early 1980s is my daily workhorse, and a Sears Kennmore from 1970 (with a gazillion miles of stitching in its history) is my backup.The working treadle machine is a jewelry table most of the time, but I'll open it up to teach people to sew or to entertain children who visit. The treadle sews a strong straight stitch, and has always been a hit during Pioneer Days at the local elementary schools.

        1. Ckbklady | | #35

          Pioneer days - beautiful!

          :) Mary

  5. meg | | #16

    I admit to:

    1981 model Pfaff 1222E, which I purchased new;
    early 1900s New Home (I think) treadle, purchased at an antique mall;
    1935 Singer treadle, given to me by my aunt; it was my grandmother's;
    1938 Singer 221 Featherweight, purchased from a friend for $50; it belonged to my co-worker's grandmother who made doll clothes for pin $$;
    1987 Pfaff 796 serger, given to me by my husband.

    1. Ckbklady | | #20

      That's funny - you admit to having machines! Do you use the treadles? I'm just getting going cleaning and assembling the one I bought at Christmas - it moves so smoothly that I'm dying to get using it.

      :) Mary

      1. meg | | #24

        No, I haven't used the treadles. One is not in very good condition although the cabinet was refinished. The other, my grandmother's, is probably in more usable shape. I really ought to give it a try, though!

        1. damascusannie | | #25

          Meg--if you do decide to try your treadles and need some help getting started, I'm happy to answer any questions. Annie

        2. Ckbklady | | #27

          Hi Meg,

          Yes, you should give it a try! Even rough machines can come back to life with a gentle cleaning and oiling. Damascus Annie and the gang at Treadle On can guide you through the revival if you consider it.

          I'm trying to find time to get started putting mine together, and they're my go-to resource for all things treadle.

          :) Mary

  6. damascusannie | | #21

    I counted back in November and if memory serves, it was around 70, of which a dozen are working treadles, five are working hand cranks and the rest are either vintage electrics or "orphan" heads.

    I have to chuckle when I read the comments about sergers vs zig-zaggers. I was really excited when I finally acquired a ZZ machine that I can treadle. I use it to patch my husband's jeans and, rarely, to finish the seams on a particularly ravelly fabric.


    Edited 1/9/2008 10:55 pm ET by damascusannie

    1. Ckbklady | | #22

      Hiya Annie,

      Nice to see you here! I'm happy to see that you and Amber are in touch. It would be super to see you add your knowledge to Threads!

      Here at Gatherings, Gloria recently mentioned an article about Donna Kohler in the current issue of American Quilter. I've never been a quilter, but I was delighted by the article - it told me more about treadles and even had some lovely quotations from Captain Dick (Richard Wightman, the Treadle On founder, for others who are reading this note).

      I think you get the gold medal on this discussion - SEVENTY! You leave us all handily in the dust.

      I'm tickled pink at your mention of zig zags. Have you tried a "motorectomy" (as Donna Kolher called it in the article) on a serger? Boy, a treadle serger sure could be something! :)

      :) Mary

      Edited 1/9/2008 11:25 pm by Ckbklady

      1. damascusannie | | #23

        >>I'm tickled pink at your mention of zig zags. Have you tried a "motorectomy" on a serger?I haven't seen a serger that could be treadled yet--no external belt groove for the treadle belt. Since my seiwng is pretty much limited to historical costumes (to wear when I demo) and quilting, I've never seen the need for a serger in my studio. I just don't work with the kinds of fabrics that require serging. It would be an interesting experiment, though! 8^) To finish seams on clothing, I either use a shortened straight stitch a scant 1/8" from the edge of the seam allowance, or if the fabric's really ravelly, my "modern" ZZ machine: it's from the early 60s according to an old sewing machine repairman that I asked about it.Did I mention that my quilting machine is from the late 1950s, and that my piecing machine and vertical feed (walking foot machine) are from the 1920s or earlier? That makes my ZZ-er a comparative baby at only 40 years old!Annie

        1. Ckbklady | | #26

          Oh, Annie, that's funny - if 40 is a 'relative baby" then I feel great - I just turned 40 a few months ago! I love having a sewing machine that's 60 years my senior.

          I hadn't thought about the location of the belt on the serger - sure, that would affect its "motorectomability". I can see how it would be historically inaccurate, but just think the good it could do for conventional sewers during power failures. Hubby loves to tinker with things like that. I'll watch for a serger in the Goodwill and see if he can make it into a treadle, just for the fun of the experiment.

          :) Mary

          1. damascusannie | | #28

            >>I hadn't thought about the location of the belt on the serger - sure, that would affect its "motorectomability". I can see how it would be historically inaccurate, but just think the good it could do for conventional sewers during power failures.~~I'm not at all purist when it comes to historical accuracy. I prefer old machines because I believe they are better quality machines, because they are consistently reliable and because they are a joy to use. If I could find serger that could be converted, I'd be willing to give it a shot, too. On the old Singers with gear drives, we can remove the original handwheel which has no belt groove and replace it with a grooved wheel for treadling. I wonder if something similar could be done with a serger?Annie

          2. Ckbklady | | #29

            I'm with you about the quality of older machines - heavier and more durable. I'm awaiting the Slant-o-matic Rocketeer from an eBay win, and I've been told it's 30 pounds of metal. Sounds like it would win a battle when sewing over pins!

            I think there must have been a serger along the way that could be converted. I'll keep my eyes open for possibilities and if I see anything, I'll let you know.

            :) Mary

          3. damascusannie | | #30

            30 pounds sounds about right on the weight for a full-sized vintage head. The shipping costs are a killer these days, but the machines are still worth it, I think.Annie

          4. Ckbklady | | #31

            I think I did pretty well - I won the machine for $68.00 and the seller has wangled UPS shipping for $36.50. It's crossing the US from Florida to Seattle, so I think it's a steal. I'll surely spend any savings on bits 'n bobs for the machine, or even a good repair if someone drops it along the way. I've alerted my dear Singer repair man that I may be bringing in a sick Rocketeer in the next couple of weeks, and he's tucked aside a couple of defunct heads for parts if I need them. I sure hope I don't!

            :) Mary

          5. damascusannie | | #32

            It does sound like a good deal. And you are fortunate to have an OSMG (Old Sewing Machine Guy) in your area. The "O" can refer to either the guy, the machine or both. Annie

          6. Ckbklady | | #33

            Funny - he's older than the Rocketeer, but he's an Ol' Guy nonetheless and worth his weight in gold.

            :) Mary

  7. sewtimely | | #36

    One (1)

    1. Ckbklady | | #38

      Hiya sewtimely,

      I admire your restraint! :)

      What kind of machine do you use? Have you given it a pet name? Do you also use a serger or is your sewing machine your go-to machine?

      :) Mary


      1. sewtimely | | #40

        I did that to be funny.  Everyone writing about their machines and which ones do what, and where they put them all.  Big issue for me.  Space.  My machines (serger too) are both in the dining room.  If I had a sewing room, I may have another.  I love my machine though and would feel like I was cheating on it to get another.  I almost bought a lightweight once, because I take my machine to classes and training for teaching through our extension office, but I didn't.  I thought, I don't want to be using it and saying "wish I had my other machine," or if I needed to do something that it didn't "my other machine would do this, wish I had it with me."  I believe that would happen.  My one and only is a Janome 9500.  Like I said, I can look like I'm faithful to one, but I'd probably "play the field" if I had a field to play in :)


        1. Ckbklady | | #42

          Hiya Sewtimely,

          It was funny! You gave me a giggle - it sounded so deadpan.

          I felt the same way about my clunky White 1710 - that it would be cheating to get another. But then I saw the $40 Singer at the Goodwill, clean and ready to go but for a broken spring that lifts the presser foot. The repair cost me peanuts, and I saved a machine from the landfill. When I explained it that way to the White, it behaved and met its new little sister. When I brought the treadle home, I explained to the White that it was a patriarch grandfather that needed a good family. Again it behaved. But it was when I told the White that I'd won the Rocketeer on eBay and that Uncle Spock would be coming in a couple of weeks that the White quit altogether. It's going to the "vet" today.

          I don't have much space either, in fact, I have to clear out a wall of cookbooks completely so that the treadle will have a little floor space. I sew at the kitchen/dining table, so all machines (treadle excepted) will have to be ready to be stored on the kitchen shelves when not in use. Hubby, although very excited about all of the machines, is a bit grumbly about the cramped kitchen. And the Rocketeer hasn't even arrived yet!!

          I don't know that you would necessarily wish for another of your machines while working on one. I haven't experienced that one yet. I'm so pleased that the Singer is 10 pounds lighter than the White, for taking to classes. They share a hard plastic carrier, like pets do a cat/dog carrier. Hilarious.

          I wish you more space, someday, so that even if you don't "play the field" you can spread your sewing out further.

          :) Mary

          1. sewtimely | | #43

            That is funny!  I enjoyed your response.  Our children --- I'm so glad that they get along.  Maybe mine, when I venture to buy another (and, yes, at a yard sale, etc. I have been tempted) but it will probably have  "only child syndrome."  I do plan one day to have a new room added on (my husband's a self employed contractor, so the peddlers kids have no shoes, if you know what I mean), but he keeps promising.   He's wants me to expand my sewing to make money with it, so I can can do what I like to do and quit my job.  I don't expect that to happen as much as he does, but I'm dreaming, one step at a time.  For now, a room, then more playmates.  I will keep in touch and let you know when I venture out to have more than one machine. 


          2. Ckbklady | | #45

            Please do! And if you develop a sewing business, report in about that. You'll inspire (or make very envious) the lot of us here!

            :) Mary

          3. sewtimely | | #50

            ok, I'm not holding my breath though.  The extent that it's been so far is some alterations (I don't do too much) It's my least favorite thing to do, but decent money to help support the habit I have of buying, well, I'm sure you know all about it...thread, fabric, notions (I have to have every new and updated tool and notion made), and a few mongramming and small sewn things.  I love the palethera of bags, purses that can be made and hope to do that one day.  He knows I like making them for myself and family, and keeps saying "you can sell those." 

          4. Ckbklady | | #51

            And you surely CAN sell those. Have you explored the offerings at http://www.etsy.com to see what other sewers are selling (albeit online, but it's useful to see it all at once)?

            :) Mary

          5. sewtimely | | #52

            thanks! I really liked the site.  Never saw it before.  I know I could, but haven't committed to sewing full time, and don't know if I want to.  But I am thinking more and more about it. My days working in an office are about to be numbered. 

            Every day I think "I'd rather be sewing"

  8. cree9 | | #44

    I learned to sew on a treadle machine - went to Featherweight Singer to 401A Singer that I loved to death have also had Elnas, Vikings, Pfaffs, Brothers and others - currently I sew on Pfaff bought secondhand from dealer have traded in Singer 401A as I spent more time threading it than sewing. Also traded in Viking same reason -had several other machines - like a cheap machine that sewed flower patterns with attachments - I still have attachments but not machine. Have an Elna serger still learning to use - also new Babylock with thread cutter which I thought would not be used but have discovered that it makes it possible to use invisible thread for adding couching and have loved this feature for my work. I used to do thread painting on 401A before all the stabilizers and stuff may go back and try this again now but am busy quilting and couching and so I may never get to it - I've never had more than 5 machines at one time and currently have only 3 - am thinking about serger with threading ability - now am using bifocals - I thought I had sewing block years ago but with reading glasses discovered that it was inability to see to thread needles that discouraged me. I suppose that I will go blind still sewing.

    1. Ckbklady | | #46

      You sound like me with cookbooks - so many used and read, so many passed through my hands.

      I like that you say you currently have "only 3" machines. :)

      I hope you keep your eyesight, certainly, but with enthusiasm like yours, I bet it wouldn't stop you for a moment.

      :) Mary

      1. cree9 | | #55

        I also have read, sometimes used many cookbooks - I am currently trying to decide how many of the collected ones I will keep - I am getting on now and have decided that I will not have a chance to reread the books that I have had for many years - I have so far taken 6 boxes to local store for credit where they can for more second hand books - the rest are going to a friend in Florida who is running a second hand book store. The cook books are about to go into the same weeding process - I also have many that my mother bought as mementos of her travels. My first husband died this past fall and I am about to be inundated with the leftovers of his life as my children are taking the leftovers to clear the house that he was living in so it can be sold. I have taken this as a warning and am trying to sort through all the odds and ends so that if I don't live for the next 25 or so years they won't have to do the same sorting thing again - or at least it will be for things that aren't remnants of 45 years ago. I have more fabric than I can ever use so I am making quilts like crazy - but so far haven't managed to empty many boxes - I have one place that has white fabric that I haven't seen for at least 8 years - really scary thought. Whenever I feel I am winning I just have to think of looking through that to get discouraged. On the whole I am keeping busy til gardening time comes around again and then I will disappear into the gardens til it gets too cold to be outside - and then I'll go back to sewing and the like. I hope that I don't have too many more machines as I am mastering them slowly and I don't have much room for many more. Fortunately I am strong and healthy so I assume that I will manage to get all sorted and taken care of before the years run out. It is interesting that I find ways of using things and sewing things that I have had for far too long with new inspiration and ideas that I wouldn't have thought possible several years ago.So I may end up with a new serger - and where will I manage to put it.

        1. Gloriasews | | #57

          I know what you mean about the books, Cree - I, too, have scads of cookbooks, sewing, knitting, embellishment, crocheting, quilting books, not to mention reading-for-entertainment & knowledge books - I've run out of room!  I, too, have scads of stash to get rid of - so much to do & so little time . . . guess we'll have to live forever! :) 


          1. cree9 | | #62

            I used to think that I would live forever now I am aiming for 25 to 30 years - which should give me enough time to sort through all the stuff I have collected over the years and to deal with the ideas for using it up.

          2. monkfan | | #63

            Came in late to these discussions about machines...we have 2 friends (men, they know NOTHING about sewing machines) who bring me SM's that they "find" at flea mkts, etc.  Over the past 10 years, I have "restored" about 30 machines, giving away all but 7 at this time....it's surprising how many people want a machine but have no confidence about buying one, thinking, I guess, that if they spend a bit of money they should feel they need to use it a LOT...

            The only machines I have not been able to fix/restore are those Singer Touch and Sew things....have had to toss three so far...

            We always check the "date of birth" on the Singers, and I finally found one that was born in the same month I was....gave it away by mistake!!  (OK, OK, I forgot which one it was and someone admired it.... :>)

            But reading the posts about naming the machines, I was reminded of my friend who just (finally) bought a Featherweight, which is named Grace.  Last time I spoke to her, she said that Grace said "Hi" to my Walter...gee, sometimes we can't even remember where we put our handbag, but we remember the other's Featherweight's names !!!!



          3. Ckbklady | | #64

            Hiya Monkfan,

            Whwn you say you restored the machines, what is it that you've done? Do you mean that you cleaned and oiled them, or did you replace missing attachments or both?

            I ask because I picked up yet another machine yesterday in yet another thrift shop, but this one is different, I swear! :) It's a 2003 Singer 2732 (a "bush league" basic machine typically sold at Hancock Fabrics and JoAnn Fabrics & Crafts) with nothing missing, with manual and presser foot and all attachments. Go figger.

            It runs perfectly well - I think someone broke a needle(half of which was still mounted, no sign of the broken tip down in the bobbin area) , assumed they wrecked the machine (or decided they hate sewing, alas) and gave it away. I cleaned and oiled it, and now have a $180 machine that I bought for $25. I have two sewing newbie friends who both want better machines than they have, so I have one ready to pass on to one of them, and I'm fired up to find another.

            That's neat about finding a machine with your month/year of birth. I didn't know they did that!

            :) Mary

          4. monkfan | | #65

            Nice to keep this going...

            The machines I have "restored" and given away included, mainly, my oiling, cleaning, and making sure they run quietly and well...some of the cabinets I have had to restore, too; on one of them I learned to re-veneer, since the top of the cabinet had been used for a plant or something which completely ruined the top from water.  Mainly, the machines I get include many many of the attachments and bobbins (and old old thread and needles and pins!), including some from different machines, so I match them up and give those that match with the machine.  BTW, I use GoJo hand cleaner(not the one with the grit in it) for cleaning, and of course the regular SM oil and goop for the motors...

            Interestingly, I have never gotten one with a bad motor...I would probably have to seek professional help with that...I have, however, had to realign needle positions (gently) which were probably ruined by the broken needle syndrome, and have had to rewire some...

            And it's amazing what I've found in the old machines' dirt...including a mouse nest with food, and bugs of all kinds (thank the Lord all dead) and fuzz of the ages.(I know that one machine had NEVER been cleaned in the bobbin area...On the other hand, there have been remarkable remnants of the former owners' lives, like notes on patterns, half-finished needlework, etc.

            Quite a journey...



          5. monkfan | | #66

            Oh, and I forgot to mention that my dear friend rushed to our house to say that our local thrift shop had a "machine that you have to have, for only $14.95"--it is a Singer sort of industrial machine, a Singer 31-15...we went to the shop, bought it, and then tried to lift it!!

            It weighs about a thousand pounds, took two of us to lift the head, and again 2 to lift the base...

            Gee, movers charge by the pound...perhaps if we move again, I will just leave it where it is....did I mention that my sewing room is ON THE THIRD FLOOR????  The machine sews through layers and layers, for example through the many many layers of felled seams of jeans when you re-hem them, and never stops or even hesitates and every stitch is the same as the last one !  It has the treadle-like foot pedal and knee needle lift..

            On the other hand, my DH forbids my friend even to MENTION the words sewing machine and thrift shop in this house :>)

          6. Ckbklady | | #69

            Ooooh, crikey, yeah - movers ARE costly. The last time we moved (2002) it was "a buck a pound" multiplied by the number of miles traveled and then divided by 1000. It cost us just shy of $35K to move across North America the first time, and $42K the second time- both times gas was less than half what it is now, so I shudder to think what all this added weight might do to our wallets on a later date. I'm trying to sell the equivalent weight in cookbooks each time yet another sewing machine walks in my door.

            Our next move won't be as long - from Seattle to somewhere on Vancouver Island, so the costs will be a smidge less, but STILL!

            And moving a machine up three flights of stairs? Yoikes. That's why I have to stop at one treadle. (But those tabletops and portables fit so nicely on the kitchen shelves....)

            Hubby only allows "sewing machine" and "thrift shop" in the same sentence because I don't complain about his fleet of table saws.

            :) Mary

          7. Ckbklady | | #68

            Yeah, I wouldn't touch motor problems, particularly with low-end machines since the motors can be more than a new machine.

            A journey, indeed, and a wonderful hobby. If hubby looks the other way, I might get seriously into this...

            :) Mary

          8. damascusannie | | #70

            >>The only machines I have not been able to fix/restore are those Singer Touch and Sew things....have had to toss three so far...~~On the collector lists and repair groups like WeFixIt they are called "Touch and Swears". Rightly or wrongly, they have the worst reputation of any vintage machine--nobody seems to be able to fix them!Annie

          9. Gloriasews | | #67

            I hope you make it that long!  I'll be doing well if I make it 20 - so I'd better get busy, eh?  I've been doing lots of mental planning, but can't decide which project to start first, now - I want to do them all now!


    2. catvoke | | #61

      For years before me my sewing buddy was using the needle threader on her Pfaff because her eyesight was poor close up.  I just couldn't seem to get the hang of it, but now that I need reading glasses, bifocals and anyone elses' glasses that are lying around, I have discovered that the needle threader is a fine tool indeed.  Better yet, I recently bought a magnifying glass mounted in a lamp like base(from OTT-Lite, I think) and it has changed my sewing life.  I put the lens wherever I want it and I have to take off my reading glasses!  Stitch in the ditch is a snap and I can even thread the needle by hand if I want.  I wonder what my face looks like through the lens from the needle's perspective.


  9. sewchris703 | | #47

    Let's see:  I have my first sewing machine--a toy Singer that really worked.  It's made of iron and does a chain stitch from the mid 60's.  It serves as the door stop for my sewing room.  It still works and my son (age 10) will sew on it from time to time.  Then there is my Featherweight, c. 1950; a Montgomery Wards; 3 Kenmores (of various ages); and an Univeral from 1954 (I think).  That one belonged to my grandmother.  Then there are the sergers:  a White, a Babylock, and a Phaff (all from the 90's/early 00's).   And I have one blind hemmer--called a Supreme.  Altogether--7 sewing machines, 3 sergers, and one blindhemmer.  Not all of them are in working condition.  


    1. Ckbklady | | #48

      That sounds like one happy family! I love that your son uses the toy Singer from time to time. I bought a new toy Singer for a 9-year old neighbor this year. It's nowhere near as solid as yours, but she's having a blast with it.

      It's nice that you keep ones that aren't working. My local repair guy (or rather, My Repair Guy Who Is Worth His Weight In Gold) says that no machine is truly unfixable, and his goal is to keep the landfills free of them. What a worthy goal! Even as doorstops, they belong in our homes! :)

      I thought I would be the only one with more than one machine here. My hubby was convinced that I'm nuts. Thanks to you and the gang here, I'm vindicated!

      And I appreciate my machines that little bit more.

      :) Mary

      1. sewchris703 | | #54

        On a regular basis I use 2 of the sewing machines, 2 of the sergers, and the blind hemmer.  The Featherweight is use for bridal and is my carry along machine since it only weighs 10-11 pounds.   The newest Kenmore is my workhorse.  I use it for historical clothing and general sewing.  It's about 5 years old.  My oldest Kenmore (my mil made her boys' clothes on it) is set up with a ruffler attachment but the motor quit last year and I haven't gotten around to having it seen to yet.   I should because it has the best ruffler.  My Babylock is set up for 3-thread serging and rolled hems.  The Phaff is used for 4-thread and differential feed.  The Babylock doesn't have differential feed and is actually "borrowed" from my sister (about 5 years ago when the White serger needed all new tension discs).  I'll use both when making parti-colored hose and tunics so I don't have to keep changing threads. 


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