My first vintage sewing machine!

It’s about time I make a post about my new (old) machine! It’s been in my possession for over two months now, but I have yet to present it to the world.

Introducing my first ever vintage machine, a Singer 128 with hand crank, dating from 1915 according to the serial number. The 128 is the portable model, and is a bit smaller than the standard-sized treadle 127 model. It might have been portable, but this thing weighs a ton! There is unfortunately no cover, I guess it got lost along the way during its 97 years of existence.

I don’t know much about vintage sewing machines, and this one was cheap, so I thought – what the heck!  I bought this machine for two main reasons:

  1. Because I think vintage machines are gorgeous and it’s a collectible
  2. Because they are very strong machines and can sew thick materials like leather.
I think it’s beautiful, even though the decal has faded and the body is pretty rusty. I brought it to my sewing machine dealer to let him have some fun too; he cleaned and oiled the parts, and even repaired some that were either missing or damaged. So to answer the question that’s on every reader’s mind: does it work? Yeah, it does. Well, it did when I got it back from the dealer. And then I played with it, sewing on a piece of fabric and my needle got stuck…. and since then, I can’t seem to be able to make normal sewing ‘loops’. Bummer. Something I’ll have to fix one day if I actually want to use it.
The machine didn’t have many accessories: only an extra shuttle and a few bobbins. And some other strange-looking objects that I’m sure are very useful, I just don’t know yet what to do with them!
I thought: maybe I should get old accessories for it too! So I went on e.bay and bid on some presser foots. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone bidding, and I kept on losing at the last minute. Ugh. But I finally got lucky! I won a bunch of foots (tucker, hemmer, ruffler) AND an original instructions booklet from 1925. Yay! 😀

One thing that works is winding the bobbin! Thank goodness for the instruction booklet, although I had to re-read the same line several time to understand what they meant by: “Draw out the left hand center to the left, and place the bobbin between the cup at the right and the center hole at the left”. Huh? That sentence goes from the left to the right, to the center and back to the left again… help! Anyway, I managed to figure it out and yes, it totally works, as you can see in the following video!

I’m very pleased with my machine, even though I know it needs a lot of TLC. What amazes me is the realisation that despite they were made almost 100 years apart, there aren’t that many differences between this old Singer and my Bernina. The bobbin system evolved, true, and now we have computer machines running on electricity. But in the end, it’s still a needle going up and down, a bobbin, a presser foot and feed dogs. And that’s the true beauty of sewing – ancient and modern, all at the same time!