Daffy's Stitchy Friends

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A New Facination

I have become increasingly interested in vintage Singer sewing machines. Mind you, I said vintage...not antique! While I think the oldie-oldies are pretty and quaint, I don't find them as attractive as the little bit newer ones. I'm talking 1950-1960 era, the true workhorses, electric and made so well they are still running today. I decided I wanted one. While I love my Juki and I have a cheapie Singer as a backup, I really wanted a vintage machine. What to do but go shopping? I asked Dash to take me to two antique malls nearby.


I spotted this pink box in the first one!
A buttonholer!


Everything was inside, including the connecting screw that is almost always missing. The space-age clamshell box is adorable. It was mine for less than $5 even though I didn't even own a machine it would connect to! I did see a couple of machines in that first mall but alas, not what I was after.


Halfway through the second mall I spotted a familiar cabinet all closed up and half hidden under a display shelf. I peeked underneath and saw a machine in the dusty recesses. I called Dash over and together we dug it out from under its burden and I opened the top.


A Singer 503. wow.
The price sticker:



I dashed to the front of the store and asked the lady for an electric outlet. The light came on and the motor worked! Poor thing had been sitting there, buried in junk, since 2014. Mine for a mere $35.

I googled on the way home that the 503 uses the buttonholer that comes in the pink clamshell box. Dash swears this was a SET UP, that I knew the two items were there and we were merely going to pick them up! But no, it was truly an adventure...



The Singer 503 was released in 1961 in the height of the space craze. People call this model the Rocketeer and it is rather "Jetson's" in styling isn't it? I have him cleaned up, oiled and sewing like nobodies business. Oh, dear I'm hooked! 


I next asked Dash to go to Claremore, Oklahoma. where they have a huge gathering of antique shops. Dash was game for that but he wanted to go extra early so we could eat breakfast at Hugo's before any shopping. This meant an hour and 45 minute drive, plus a good long wait in line before eating but Hugo's bacon is to die for! Dash and I shared these plates and could not finish.


The second shop we went to was a large mall, super squirrelly inside and easy to get lost and turned around. I spotted this pink Wilson sewing box. It was full of notions and I saved what I liked but most of the stuff shown here is my eBay purchases for the Rocketeer. 


The 503 Rocketeer uses those black Bakelite Tophat cams to do fancy stitches. I had found a large set on eBay and snapped them up. I adore the pink Wilson box and now I have someplace nice to store all the cams in. Dash and I were unlucky for the rest of the day and only bought the box, and breakfast...the breakfast would have been worth the whole trip!


Looking at eBay can be dangerous. I saw this lovely Singer 301 with no bids at a reasonable price. Sold! This was the machine I was originally interested in finding. The 301 is a straight stitch only machine. It can whiz by at 1500 stitches a minute if you could keep up. I unboxed excitedly, took it apart and oiled and lubed and she took off like a racehorse, not bad for an oldie 1956 machine! 

Sewing on these vintage beauties has a bit of a learning curve when you are used to sewing on modern machines. They look different, sound different, smell different, feel different! Sound? The vintage machines sound like a miniature jet plane revving up! Not loud at all but very different! Where I have learned even the tiniest sound my Juki makes (I can tell when it misses a stitch) and can tap out a single stitch on the foot pedal the vintage foot pedal looks like this:


1950's era ergonomics! You rest your foot against the right peg and roll your foot left on the button. It is taking some getting used to! The cabinet the Rocketeer came in has a knee control. This foot pedal goes inside and you control with a push of the knee. I just need Dash to help me put the Rocketeer back into the cabinet now they are all cleaned up. 

I have been watching lots of  YouTube videos and reading blogs and other websites about these vintage machines. I am so interested! One day, I'd love to learn how to adjust and repair them formally. For now, I shall watch videos. And learn!

Thank you for visiting my blog today!


17 comments:

Uglemor said...

Gratz on your new, old wonder. This is a fascinating jorney full of surprises. I learned of the wonders of vintage sewing mashines some time ago. http://krydderuglen.blogspot.dk/2015/09/furoshiki-2.html

LaNelle said...

What a great find on the machines!! Enjoy....

deb said...

Wow, you sure found some great machines and lucked into the perfect accessories! I love the space age look of the one you picked up at the antique mall. My mom's machine that I learned to sew on had a knee/thigh control - sure felt funny learning to use a foot pedal when I got my own Singer!

Boyett-Brinkley said...

Shhhh....I have two of those Singers(the same exact ones) sitting in my closet right now. My mother in law was part owner of an alterations store and when the business was sold the inventory was divvied up and my sisters-in-law and I all got one of the machines. I have now gotten my MIL's which is going to my eldest granddaughter, if she wants it. When I saw that buttonholer I knew what machine you were talking about. They are very good machines, all metal and will literally last forever! What a great find you made!

Kerryp77 said...

Those are incredible. There is something about that era that is just incredible for technology

Marilyn said...

Looks like you hit the Motherlode!
What great finds.
Enjoy them!
Marilyn

cucki said...

Awesome :)

Goofin' Off Around the Block said...

You came across some really great finds. It sounds like you've had quite the successful week.

moosecraft said...

Two beautiful Singers! That was some great treasure hunting! I enjoy YouTube for all that you can learn how to do.... I learned quilting from YouTube and now I feel the need to learn vintage sewing machine maintenance! :-) Happy sewing!

Julie said...

Lovely treasures that have come to live with you.

Caro said...

I'm hooked as well. I have three Singer 301's and a 404 which is a super machine. It has a top loading bobbin and the needle threads front to back. My aresenal is full and although I keep looking, I think I'm done.

The Inspired Stitcher said...

One of my close quilting friends is an expert on Singer machines. She even holds Singer enthusiast meet-ups and can tell you anything you want to know about those old machines. Her business is refurbishing Singer machines for people. Let me know if you want her contact info. She's a wealth of knowledge!

Cynthia said...

What great finds!!! I wish you all the best with your new "toys" and many happy hours of sewing.

Khristine Doiron said...

Great buys!! Haha to Dash thinking you had everything set up :)

Merilde said...

I love this post! My mother had a late 50's Singer that we all learned to sew on. It practically sewed your garment for you. Great hunting!
Lori

Desiree Ehleiter said...

The Rocketeer is the model my mom had, and now I have. She used that machine like anything - made most of my clothes when I was young. I got it professionally serviced after she passed and the service people told me in 30 years I should come and have it serviced again and it will last another 30 after that! Enjoy using it.

Val's Quilting Studio said...

I love the clamshell case....and well have collected a few vintage machines as well. I wish they could tell us their stories.