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I adopted a new (old) baby!

March 23, 2014

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I have always wanted a vintage sewing machine and have ogled many in the antique shops or estate sales in the past, but they were either missing some parts, too expensive, or the timing for making the purchase just wasn’t right. That all changed this past Wednesday when I wandered in to my local resale shop, The Brown Elephant, located just a block and a half down the street from my studio. My daughter, who was home on spring break from college and I ventured in on just the right day, as all furniture was 25% off, or 50% off if you took it with you at the time of purchase.

I spotted several wonderful items that I would have loved, but didn’t need.  Why is it that you either see nothing you like or too many items that you want?  A great patio table and metal chairs, some book shelves, a Knoll glass table all caught my eye, but, then I spotted this sewing machine cabinet and inquired as to whether there was indeed a machine inside. They let me flip it open and explore! I asked if indeed the sewing machine was included in the 50% off sale.  And yes, it was!  She is a beautiful Domestic Rotary Electric series 153, circa 1950, born in Cleveland, Ohio. She was a little dusty, but all of her parts seemed to be intact and in good shape.  A little more exploration into the cabinet drawer found many original bobbins, a case of needles and the operation manual, leading me to believe there was a possibility that she would still run. I wanted her! Unfortunately she wouldn’t fit into my Hyundai Sonata, so we were left with having to push it on a wheeled dolly down the street if we wanted to take advantage of the 50% off deal.  We unscrewed and removed the sewing machine from the cabinet and put that in the car, to take some of the weight off.  Thank goodness my daughter was up for this adventure, I could never have moved it alone.  And thank goodness it wasn’t just a couple of weeks ago, we would never have gotten her wheeled through the snow banks!  But we did it, up and down some little bumps and we got her to her new home, in my studio.

Later that afternoon after I’d gotten my other tasks for the day done, I re-screwed the machine back in to the cabinet.  I dusted her off, oiled her and plugged her in.  The light bulb was even working after just a little re-tightening!  She has a knee pedal rather than a foot pedal, which I folded down from the cabinet.  The threading was easy and the bobbin went in like a charm.  I rotated the hand wheel slowly to be sure I had her all put together correctly.  Interestingly it rotates backward (clockwise vs. the usual counter-clockwise direction).  It seemed to rotate just fine.  I cautiously pushed the knee pedal and she hummed along just perfectly.  She only does the straight stitch, but has adjustment for stitch length.  I’m just a little disappointed that the various foot attachments are missing, but I am investigating Ebay for those!  The hem, zipper and ruffling feet would be a great addition. The manual had a cover envelope addressed to a Mrs. Marley Russell of Columbus, Ohio with a post date of January 1958.  Oh the stories her previous mother could tell me of the adventures she’s been on.  I only hope I can take her on a few more.  Maybe I should make something for my daughter. She probably deserves a quilt for helping me push this down the street and for only asking me once, “doesn’t this mean you now own 6 sewing machines, mom?”  (One of those that she was counting is actually hers, but in my possession right now and several of those I use for my sewing classes.)  This does beg the question, “how many sewing machines does one need?” Well, that is a question for another day my dear! Now, I can forgive my mother for selling her lovely Pfaff sewing machine from that era in the early 70’s to trade up to “the Cadillac of all sewing machines”, the Viking 6030, which had 16 stitches on “cams” and never needed oiling! Now that I think about it, I may need one of those for my collection too!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Becky permalink
    September 25, 2016 11:05 am

    OMG, I have just acquired the exact machine and cabinet…how does the knee pedal work?

    • September 25, 2016 5:07 pm

      Hi Becky,
      Congrats on getting this machine. I have found it very straight forward to use. The knee pedal pulls down out of the cabinet to the right edge of your own knee. To use it you just push against it with your knee. I find it more convenient than a foot pedal! When you aren’t using it you can push it back up into the cabinet.

      • September 25, 2016 5:10 pm

        Also, Becky, I did end up finding the set of accessories for this machine on Ebay. If your’s didn’t come with the ruffler, binding and other attachments, it’s worth looking for them!

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