Nothing says “I love you” like a vintage sewing machine (or three)

Singer 201-1 15 66 Hearts2

My husband surprised me with three vintage sewing machines and two treadle stands for Valentine’s Day. These will last so much longer than flowers or chocolates! They definitely made me happier, too. I’m still smiling.

Singer drop-leaf dressmakers treadle stand

The dressmaker’s treadle stand has a larger wheel for faster sewing.

Last week I mentioned to my husband that I’d seen exactly the sewing machine and cabinet that I’d wanted on Craigslist – a Singer 201-1 treadle in a drop-leaf dressmaker’s stand. Last fall I had given up on ever finding a treadle 201 and instead converted a 201-2 to be used on a treadle base. So I certainly didn’t need the sewing machine, and I was expecting my husband to try to talk me out of it, since he’s been complaining that my sewing machines take up too much room and I really need to justify any future sewing machine purchases. Instead he said, “I’ll pick it up for you.” He’s such an enabler.

We left a message with the seller, but after not hearing from them for a couple of days, I figured they must’ve sold the sewing machine and were too lazy to return calls or take down their ad. Well, it turns out they had just been out of town for a few days, and they got back to my husband Saturday night. He didn’t tell me this, though, because he figured it would make a good Valentine’s surprise.

The people selling the sewing machine were over an hour drive from our house and many miles down gravel roads in the middle of nowhere. When my husband got there, he found out they had two complete treadle sewing machines plus another sewing machine head listed on Craigslist. He didn’t know which one was the one I wanted. I’d previously sent him an e-mail with a link to the ad but there was no cell service that far out, so he couldn’t check. His solution was to buy them all!

Singer Treadle Cabinet

Missing some drawer pulls, but otherwise in pretty good shape.

So now I have an antique Singer 66 and a Singer 15 in addition to the 201-1. I have a total of six treadle stands, I don’t even know how many vintage and antique sewing machines (I think about a dozen complete machines, plus a few parts machines), and I have to figure out where to put them all in my little house. What a problem to have. I keep thinking that a few generations ago in the US, or in a third world country now, I’d be very lucky to have one of these sewing machines.

I feel sort of guilty for owning more than my share of sewing machines, but at least I rescued them. Every vintage sewing machine I’ve acquired looked like it had been sitting unused for decades. And hey, if the zombie apocalypse hits and we no longer have electrical power, I’ll be all set to open a sewing business!

The sewing I had planned for this week will be put on hold as I rearrange the house and clean and oil sewing machines. The model 15 is completely locked up, so it will be satisfying to get it working again.

Posted in Treadle Sewing Machines, Vintage Sewing Machines
7 comments on “Nothing says “I love you” like a vintage sewing machine (or three)
  1. dr P says:

    What a husband! He’s a keeper


  2. Fadanista says:

    What an amazing present! I can’t wait to see what you make with these!!


  3. klarisabet says:

    True love indeed! I have one of these non-treadle machines as well. I am rather intimidated by it, especially by the zig-zag foot…so I am going to ‘eavesdrop’ your blog regularly to get inspired!


  4. CD Thayer says:

    If you end up using a variety of machine heads in some or all of your 6 treadle stands and find that the fit of the belt doesn’t work for all of them, try using a 2-piece belt. It’s been working good for me on leather belting. On the treadle stands that I swap machines in, both household and industrial, I have a long piece of belt on each stand (the ends generally reach around the flywheel and back up to about the bottom of the table), and then I cut a short piece of belt to go from the table top up over the balance wheel of the machine. I crimp only one end of the attachment clip tightly on one end of each belt piece, and leave the other end of the clip open just wide enough to wiggle the other belt on and off of the clip. That way, each belt has a clip on one end of it, and just a hole on the other. While the long piece of belting usually stays with the stand, the short belts are each put into a re-sealable plastic bag that is labeled with the machine model number written on it with marker and stored in a box. Sometimes the short belt works for more than one model, so I write that number on the bag too. When I get some belt stretch and need to shorten it, I always trim off of the long section of belting since it more than likely will stretch more than the short sections.

    CD in Oklahoma


  5. Leila says:

    I’ve been using two piece belts, too. I ran out of staples, so I started connecting the leather belts together with heavy thread sewed several times through the holes instead. I put fray check on the knot. I actually like the thread better, because it doesn’t scrape up the machine or make a ticking noise. I don’t know how the thread holds up long term, but if it breaks, it’s easy to fix.


  6. hgrace says:

    So neat! I got a vintage singer sewing machine a while ago at a thrift store! It has a floral pattern all over the top, I was so excited to find it!


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