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My other Classic / Vintage Obsession... Sewing Machines.

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Classic & Vintage This forum is to discuss the many aspects of classic and vintage bicycles, including musclebikes, lightweights, middleweights, hi-wheelers, bone-shakers, safety bikes and much more.

My other Classic / Vintage Obsession... Sewing Machines.

Old 03-27-15, 01:24 PM
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Originally Posted by djkashuba
I want to learn how to sew bicycling caps. Traditional designs and materials.What would I need to look for in a sewing machine for this purpose?

Thanks.

-D
Haven't looked closely at the construction of my old cycling caps but I would think just about any old machine would work fine. Thin materials so no need for a heavy duty machine. Keep your eye out in the want ads, yard and estate sales. They come up now and again for cheap. But see if can at least plug it in and make sure it's working before you lay down any coin. Don't want to get into major over-hauls, unless you're into that. Old Singers are hard to beat, as long as the motors are still running.
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Old 03-27-15, 01:48 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
Haven't looked closely at the construction of my old cycling caps but I would think just about any old machine would work fine. Thin materials so no need for a heavy duty machine. Keep your eye out in the want ads, yard and estate sales. They come up now and again for cheap. But see if can at least plug it in and make sure it's working before you lay down any coin. Don't want to get into major over-hauls, unless you're into that. Old Singers are hard to beat, as long as the motors are still running.
Thanks rootboy. I am going to look for a basic sewing class and borrow my mother inlaw's machine for starters. I have a Xlarge head so I just need to learn to fend for myself. There are a few tutorials on line regarding cycling hat construction...

-D
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Old 11-07-15, 12:25 PM
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My 1958 403a got moved to the main sewing room...


Last edited by Sixty Fiver; 12-01-15 at 10:41 AM.
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Old 11-07-15, 12:34 PM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
Pics, gent' men. We need more pics.
I have been collecting cams for my Singer 328 and we have pretty much every accessory for it. My sewing area is wonderfully sunny in the mornings...

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Old 11-07-15, 12:38 PM
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My wife went to a fabric show today and came back with a sample of a product named Kraft-Tex. It is a paper that imitates a heavy fabric or a light leather. The sales person said that it could survive becoming wet if pre-washed, and could be waxed as well.

My knowledge of sewing and fabrics is nil, so I put this out there for comment.
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Old 11-19-15, 04:56 AM
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Found this beauty yesterday... a '53 or '54 Singer 15-91 in nearly perfect condition.

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Old 11-19-15, 01:19 PM
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That IS a beaut!
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Old 11-19-15, 10:56 PM
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Originally Posted by LeicaLad
That IS a beaut!
It is like it came out of a time capsule.
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Old 11-20-15, 08:09 AM
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Oh man. Very nice find. Decals look pristine.

DON'T repaint it!
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Old 11-20-15, 07:10 PM
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This thread makes me so happy. I am newish to working on bikes but have loved sewing machines for a long time. I don't have pics of all of mine but here are a few:

Singer 99K hand-crank sewing machine by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

Singer 99K hand-crank sewing machine by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

The last machine my grandmother owned. This model has no belt and is all gear-driven. Plus, it looks like it is from the future.
My grandmother's sewing machine by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

My grandmother's sewing machine by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

I don't own this featherweight anymore but have another from the 40's with the Egyptian scroll plate.
Singer 221 Featherweight by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

Singer 221 Featherweight by sunrisebreakfastgang, on Flickr

I also have a Singer 401a which I love sewing with, a Japanese Singer copy from the 70's that was my first machine and my mom's Singer Fashionmate that she got when she went off to college. Does anyone else think the smell of old sewing machine oil is strangely wonderful?
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Old 12-01-15, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by oldbicycles
This thread makes me so happy. I am newish to working on bikes but have loved sewing machines for a long time. I don't have pics of all of mine but here are a few:

<snip>

I also have a Singer 401a which I love sewing with, a Japanese Singer copy from the 70's that was my first machine and my mom's Singer Fashionmate that she got when she went off to college. Does anyone else think the smell of old sewing machine oil is strangely wonderful?
Beautiful machines... your grandmother's is a 500a "Rocketeer" which is mechanically the same as the 401a.

Featherweights are probably the most collectable machines, they were a top of the line model in their day and cost a few month's wages.
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Old 12-01-15, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by rootboy
Oh man. Very nice find. Decals look pristine.

DON'T repaint it!
I have seen some nice repaints but like bicycles, that is reserved for really beaten up machines.
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Old 12-01-15, 10:46 AM
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Another recent find, a Pfaff 1222e from 1980.

These German made machines fall into the Bernina category when it comes to quality and performance, and they hold their values exceptionally well. They were originally designed in 1969 and manufactured into the early 1980's which was a very long production run.

It is the BMW of sewing machines...



60 possible stitch combinations...



Built in walking foot...



I got a spectacular deal as it needed a new takeup lever and some work to the power switch, these are not hard things to replace.

Last edited by Sixty Fiver; 12-01-15 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 12-01-15, 04:18 PM
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There is a certain affinity between bicycles & sewing machines that just never occurred to me.
Until a couple of minutes ago.... When I clocked this thread: )

I'm just arranging to get a Singer 401 Slantomatic (UK version I guess) from my sister.....
I know it's a top machine of its era, quite sophisticated & tough enough to make saddlebags, caps, etc!
But I don't know much else right now.

Will post some pics when I'm in sight of it.
Bit like getting a 'new' bike to deal with.
Looking forward to it, in other words.
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Old 12-01-15, 11:08 PM
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Today's catch is actually slightly rare, it is a Singer 191J which was made in 1954 and only produced and sold in the Commonwealth and not in the United States... many folks have never heard of or seen one.



It is a class 15 machine and is much like my 15-91 save for a front mounted tension dial and a feed dog control on top, instead of having a screw under the machine. It also has the same direct gear drive of the 15-91 and 201-2 which would have put it in a premium price range, the body style is much like the second generation 201 except it is steel and not aluminium.

The motor is right behind the handwheel...



It works amazingly well and runs as smoothly as butter on glass... these are said to be able to handle some pretty hard work too.

Last edited by Sixty Fiver; 12-07-15 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 12-07-15, 10:39 AM
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FS on Chicago CL. I don't know squat about these things but it looks cool and costs $30.

https://chicago.craigslist.org/sox/atq/5336726993.html

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Old 12-07-15, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by due ruote
FS on Chicago CL. I don't know squat about these things but it looks cool and costs $30.

https://chicago.craigslist.org/sox/atq/5336726993.html

Singer Model 27 with Sphinx decals... these were made to run forever.
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Old 12-07-15, 06:55 PM
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Thanks to the advice and help of Sixty Fiver, I picked up this Class 15-91 for $28. Everything moves, but I need to clean and oil it. It's my first machine, so I wanted one that would be virtually bulletproof.

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Old 12-08-15, 12:34 PM
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This is a picture of a Singer Featherweight which Singer made for about 40 years ending in 1968. It is machine that is highly valued buy quilters and other sewers because of its quality and light weight. It is the Singer model 221 and has free arm capabilty and a hard case all for a weight of under 10 pounds. I found one for her this year and had it cleaned and gone over. One that is complete and unbroken condition is worth $200 on a new Singer. Her's is a January 1948 machine and cost under $45 when new. Roger
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Old 12-08-15, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by rhenning
This is a picture of a Singer Featherweight which Singer made for about 40 years ending in 1968. It is machine that is highly valued buy quilters and other sewers because of its quality and light weight. It is the Singer model 221 and has free arm capabilty and a hard case all for a weight of under 10 pounds. I found one for her this year and had it cleaned and gone over. One that is complete and unbroken condition is worth $200 on a new Singer. Her's is a January 1948 machine and cost under $45 when new. Roger
The Featherweight was one of Singer's most expensive machines, that $45.00 in 1948 was a week's pay for many.

The 221 has no freearm capability, the Featherweight 222K has the free arm and these were made in Britain... the 222 sells for considerably more than the 221 and in very good condition can sell for more than $1500.00 while a 221 in very good condition usually sells for $300 - $400.

$200.00 is a good deal on a clean Featherweight.

Some of the later 221 machines came in white and sell for much more despite them not being quite as nice (mechanically) as their black counterparts.

This is a 222K, the K refers to it being made in Kilbowie, Scotland. It also has a drop feed capability that the 221 does not and was a massive redesign on Singer's part to turn the 221 into a free arm model.

This is the holy grail for many Singer collectors.

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Old 12-08-15, 01:18 PM
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Originally Posted by ddeand
Thanks to the advice and help of Sixty Fiver, I picked up this Class 15-91 for $28. Everything moves, but I need to clean and oil it. It's my first machine, so I wanted one that would be virtually bulletproof.

The 15-91 has a potted motor (gear driven)... these require a little extra care.

This is probably the best info you can find on the www on the 15-91... it is an awesome machine and will probably outlive you.

My Sewing Machine Obsession: Anatomy of a 201/15-91 potted motor
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Old 12-08-15, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by Sixty Fiver
The 15-91 has a potted motor (gear driven)... these require a little extra care.

This is probably the best info you can find on the www on the 15-91... it is an awesome machine and will probably outlive you.

My Sewing Machine Obsession: Anatomy of a 201/15-91 potted motor
I have a feeling that a lot of the things I own will outlast me! I started wiping down the machine last night, and it looks to be in great condition. The cabinet has some chips, but for a machine that is 69 years old, it's pretty decent.

Thanks for the link!
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Old 12-08-15, 05:00 PM
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thanks for this thread!

over the holiday, back in oklahoma, i showed my elderly mother this thread. she's a quilter with a modern german machine and an antique singer. this thread gave me another chance to talk with her about my classic road bike lifestyle, associated saddle bags, and her own sewing interests.

i did a google search on "@rootboy saddle bag," and showed her the results, which included my davidson wearing its carradice zipped roll. she thought that was pretty cool.
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Old 12-08-15, 05:33 PM
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Originally Posted by autoteacher
There was a similar store in Glasgow Scotland. IIRC it was a high end clothing store. Please excuse the terrible picture, I was attempting to hide the fact that I was being touristy.



I also love to sew. I have a not-so-old Singer 5050, but I also have an old Singer 125 from the 50s. It's the long forgotten younger brother to the Singer 15-91. I bought it because I knew the old singers (specifically the 91) could sew through pretty much anything, and this one surely does.

Apparently this machine came from Australia because it's upside down (don't know why that happened, don't feel like fixing it.)


Me testing out the machine on some thick leather strapping.

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Old 12-08-15, 08:00 PM
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Originally Posted by ddeand
I have a feeling that a lot of the things I own will outlast me! I started wiping down the machine last night, and it looks to be in great condition. The cabinet has some chips, but for a machine that is 69 years old, it's pretty decent.

Thanks for the link!
The grease pots under the machine feed the worm gear that drives the handwheel, if these are crusty with old grease they need to be cleaned out and re-loaded. By removing the handwheel you can take a peek inside and see what state the grease is in. You can also fire up the machine without the handwheel and it should sing to you as it spins.

The small screws (flathead) at the back which sit at the top and bottom keep the motor brushes in place, you have to be careful with these as they are bakelite and are easy to strip / damage. Sometimes folks puts oil in here by mistake and this will cook the motor, the spring and brush should be clean with no oil residue.

The old guy at the sewing shop told me he used marine bearing grease since Singer grease is no longer what it was.

Alternatively, petroleum jelly is supposed to be an excellent substitute.

My 15-91 and 191 came to me in perfect serviced and squeaky clean condition, I suspect the 15-91 was barely used while the 191 was owned by a seamstress who took good care of her tools and it was properly lubed and sewed perfectly.

Nice thing is that these are simple machines that were made to a high degree of precision which means they rarely fail and are easy to service by anyone with moderate skills.
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