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Topic: Please weigh in on your favorite vintage sewing machines...  (Read 16566 times)
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« on: September 21, 2008 08:58:30 AM »

HI there, I have been thinking about buying another machine and often look at the ones on ebay, I know the good names but there are so many and my eyeballs are going crossed and my head is spinning....so fellow craftsters....what do you have...want....love oh and the cheaper the better. I currently have an old New Home XR-VII, and a vintage basic singer, and a newer brother....they all seem to be a bit tempermental and are picky about what they sew, each one a little different. I want something that plows through anything and works like clockwork (those green elnas? the old bernina? pfaffs?)....but that I can afford .....so give it to me ladies (and gentlemen? if there are any out there)..... I can't wait to read what you all have to say....
« Reply #1 on: September 21, 2008 09:11:30 AM »

When you said "please weigh in" I was thinking you meant "please tell me how much your machines weigh"!  Cheesy  I was all ready to say that my Bernina weighs about 50 lbs and I can barely carry it across the room. 

Well as far as vintage machines go, I have two.  One is a Bernina 600 that I inherited from my friend's mother when she died.  It was her mother's (my friend's Grandma's) and is from 1961, and it will sew through ANYTHING.  I haven't found anything yet that it refused to sew.  It goes forward and backward, does straight stitch and zag, and has adjustable stitch length and width.  So no fancy stitches but I rarely use them anyway, and no automatic buttonholes but I have no problem making manual buttonholes, I think they're nicer than the automatic ones anyway.  The only thing I've ever needed to get repaired was a little spring under the tension knob, which somehow lost its springiness and had to be replaced, but apart from that it has always run like clockwork.

I also have a Singer Starlet, which in the US was called the Singer Genie.  It's the one with the flower pattern.  I really took a fancy to one purely because I thought they looked pretty, and had a job finding one, but I got one eventually and I really like it.  It's a lot more temperamental than the Bernina about what it will and won't sew though, and it's a bit more fiddly to thread and to get the tension right.  And if it's not oiled frequently enough, particularly the bobbin mechanism, it will complain.

I do also have a newer, computerised machine (even though it's about 15 years old or more), which is a Viking 1100 and I absolutely love.  It barely needs me sitting there, it's so clever, and it will also sew through anything.  But I still love the Bernina more.  (Here's a photo, even though it's not a vintage machine.)


« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2008 09:32:15 AM »

that singer is cute! and your bernina sounds pretty nifty....and 15 years old is "vintage" in this instance, in my opinion.... so thank you! oh and as for the "weighing" in yeah, seriously my New Home weighs a ton and makes my Brother (the automatic threader to which I broke twice and now do manually!) seem wimpy...and it is... 
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« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2008 09:42:24 AM »

My Elna Carina SU 66 is my all-time favorite.  I bought it new in 1983, and recently had it factory serviced to its original specifications.  The stitches it forms are perfect. It is the last great mechanical machine actually manufactured in Switzerland by Elna.  Though I have a jam-proof Viking 400 computerized machine that I also enjoy, the Elna is the machine that makes sewing most pleasurable.


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« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2008 02:13:29 PM »

I have a Viking 6440 named Vivienne that I LOVE. It has a high-torque/low speed option which is good for sewing through thicker materials, and it runs reaaaaaally smoothly. I got an awesome deal on it off eBay - I think they normally go for $150ish + shipping but I got mine for $50 with shipping because it didn't have a foot pedal. It came with several different bobbins and feet, and all of the original cams. Coincidentally, the foot petals for that series often run $80ish but there was an auction for one at the time for $15. SCORE! It always runs smooth and isn't ever really tempermental.

I also have an as-of-yet unnamed Singer 503A. I loveeee this one too. It only does straight-stitch without any cams, but with the cams it does a variety of stitches. It isn't tempermental at all. In fact, my ONLY qualm with the whole machine is that for some reason, whenever I'm sewing a lot, thread from the spool tends to get caught under the spool and then that messes with the tension.

I also have a 1953 Mercury, named Sylvia, which I haven't really got a lot of chance to sew on yet but from the little bit I have, has a beautiful stitch.

So I'm probably not very helpful at all because I don't have any favorites, I LOVE all my vintage machines to death  Grin

I would recommend watching garage sales, flea markets, thrift shops, and eBay (although you will pay more there because it costs a lot to ship these heavy mofos!) for a good vintage machine with all-metal parts, unless you get your heart set on one particular model. If you want a variety of stitches, watch for one with cams.

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« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2008 05:28:08 PM »

thanks sapphire! your machines are beauties and so is your one on ebay. I think you guys have ignited a lust for a rocketeer . ( am I nuts or have I seen those is pink and aqua?) and an aside...I was in goodwill quite a while ago and they had a box of like 30 brown round things  only I didn't know what they were then(cams that change the stitch--for newbies)  only that they were marked Singer, so I knew they went to a machine...but I had no idea, dammit if only I had bought em!
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2008 06:32:59 PM »

Oh I had another thought - if you have a local Craigslist, post an ad under "wanted" saying that you're looking for vintage sewing machines. I posted one saying that I was willing to pay up to $35-40 for vintage sewing machines and that's how I got the Mercury ($25) and the Rocketeer ($35). I was actually planning on keeping the Rocketeer and selling the Slant-O-Matic but for some reason I just fell in love with the 503(which I got for $20 WITH a desk full of old notions at the local Salvation Army). Go figure, right?

Decline Designs - the blog
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2008 09:13:40 PM »

I am loving my Singer 15 clone. It's does only straight stitches but it's got power -- 1.3 amps.  And it cost me only $5 at a yard sale:)Smiley

« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2008 06:41:34 AM »

With the exception of the newer Brother, I would expect your machines to be able to sew all kinds of heavy duty stuff. When was the last time you had them professionally serviced? You might be better off investing in what you already own instead of replacing. Any vintage machine is going to have a few quirks, trading in quirks you do know for ones you don't know may be more trouble than it's worth.
« Reply #9 on: September 22, 2008 09:07:57 AM »

well, the new home doesnt like bulk... so french seams on a baby sling for example are a pain....the singer is okay but really basic and a bit pissy...and the bro....well you know....and the older ones were recently serviced....I also like seeing what people like to use and why...thanks penlowe you are a sewing machine goddess....you really know your stuff( i read posts till my eyes were crossing over the weekend).....xangomommy that blue one is ADORABLE!
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