A Singer Renovation

I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday.  Where ever did the week go?  This summer is going by way too fast.  For a little change of pace I decided to share a furniture refinishing project currently on my list of things to do.  Before I do that though let me bend your ear with an intro.

I’ve been fortunate to receive three vintage sewing machines.  All three of them have these things in common:

  1. They were previously owned by a family member

  2. All three currently are or have been powered by a treadle

  3. Each came equipped with a beautiful wooden cabinet

  4. Two of them have had their wooden cabinets re-finished and the third will be finished by September

The first machine belonged to my husband’s grandmother.  He has fond memories of playing with the machine, in his grandmother’s home.  By playing, I mean operating the foot treadle until jamming the machine’s bobbin thread.  Grandma I. wasn’t as pleased with his accomplishment as he was.  I know from personal experience how fun it is to set the treadle in motion.  There’s just something about the moving parts that draws your attention.  Even my grandchildren can’t resist.  Grandma I’s sewing machine was given to my oldest daughter Jenny.  She currently has it on display in her living room.

Grandma I.’s Sewing Machine

The second machine belonged to my grandmother.  I don’t really have any childhood memories of her machine but I was blessed to receive it upon her death. I have passed this machine on to my youngest daughter Katie.  Shown below are photos of Grandma O’s Bell sewing machine and the treasures I found inside.

Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine

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This box of attachments was found in one of the drawers of Grandma O’s sewing cabinet

Attachments Found in Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine Cabinet

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I found it interesting that the manual encouraged owners to

“Always speak a good word for your machine whenever and wherever you can”

“Always Speak A Good Word”

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Note:  Grandma O’s Bell sewing machine had a 10 year warranty.  I believe the warranty would be expired by now.

Certificate of Warranty for Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine

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I discovered a very interesting statement on page one of the manual.  The sentence made it very clear why children, or for that matter curious adults, should not randomly set the treadle in motion.  See for yourself.

“Don not run the machine when it is threaded unless . . .”

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This photo has a price list for parts for my grandma’s Bell sewing machine.  Imagine paying those prices today?

Price List for parts to Grandma O’s Bell Sewing Machine

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I had a great time finding all of the above items in my grandmother’s sewing cabinet.  How cool to have these pieces of history to go along with her machine.

The third and final sewing machine was owned by my mother.  This machine has very special memories because it was the very first machine I ever used.  I especially remember how there were only two things it could do, sew a straight line and wind a bobbin.  Back when this machine was made there was no button to push to do back stitching.  Any back stitching you wanted to do was done by pivoting the fabric, at the end of the seam, and stitching once again over the stitches you had just made.  Even though it was a very basic machine it helped me to make many, many garments.

My Mom’s sewing machine typically sat in front of a window in her upstairs sewing room.  The daylight that filtered in, as well as the view outdoors made in front of the window the best place to be.  Unfortunately the window also had its drawbacks.  The biggest and most unfortunate down side was the impact, an open window would have, on a wooden sewing machine cabinet when it rained.  My Mom’s cabinet fell victim to one such open window.  The rain that penetrated the sewing room window screen saturated a portion of the cabinet.  The rain-soaked wood eventually cracked and split.  The repair and refinishing of the fine wood cabinet is the reason for my post.

Some years ago the damaged veneer, on my Mom’s sewing cabinet, was carefully replaced.  Ever since the replacement of the veneer the cabinet has sat idle, in pieces, in a friends basement.  I recently retrieved it from its seclusion.  This machine is destined for my Colorado daughter Jessica.  Since we will be driving out to visit her this fall we decided it is now or never to get the cabinet finished.  Our plan is to finish sanding it, apply a coat of stain as well as varnish, then carefully load it, in the back of our truck, and take it along with the rest of our daughter’s belongings.

Here’s a picture of the Singer sewing machine, as well as the cabinet waiting for better days.

The status of my other WIP items can be found here.  I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced.  Please stop by her blog to catch up on the other WIP postings.  Take care and see you next week.

9 thoughts on “A Singer Renovation

  1. oh, this is wonderful! I – or rather it’s still at mom’s but that’s a long story – have my dad’s mother’s Singer treadle that I started sewing on; remember those pivot days – I really want to get it here, now that they’re both gone

  2. I love the picture of the manual for the Bell sewing machine. They had a way of saying things then that’s certainly changed over the years. The manual for my Brother sewing machine is nowhere near as cheeky. You can tell Grandma O. loved to sew!

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