Monday, October 24, 2005

My Sewing Machine

Last weekend, my pal Erin and I both took our vintage Singer sewing machines to the vintage sewing machine repair man (as in, he works on vintage machines, and he's pretty vintage himself) in Turners Falls. Erin has a cute little Featherweight that she bought from the repair guy when she was in college, about four years ago. My machine was my mother's, and she bought it second hand, for $15, when she was in college about 1950. Mine is ostensibly a portable, but it sure isn't a Featherweight. It's made of black cast iron, comes in a solid wood dome-topped case, and weighs a ton. It only goes forward, but it's a fabulous machine. My mother made tons of tailored clothes on it, using designer patterns and designer fabrics that she bought on our annual trip to Fishman's Fabric in Chicago, where Mr. Fishman himself would take us around the store and show us his favorite new arrivals that he kept in the shower stall in his office so that he could look at them for a while before he was willing to put them out on the floor for sale. Very few people got to see what was in that shower stall.

Erin was having trouble with the light on her machine, and the repair man quickly put in a new bulb, tested it, and gave it back to her without a charge. My machine is staying with him for a while to have the light repaired and the wiring gone over. He promised to fix it up without compromising the vintage quality of it, i.e. no new-fangled wires or plugs.

We both asked about the age and value of our sewing machines. Erin's was made in the 1930s and is worth about $700 today because it's the little darling of the quilting crowd. Mine was made between 1938 and 1941, originally sold for about $150, and was worth $7 according to the 2000 price guide. But it's worth much, much more than that to me. I learned to sew on this machine when I took sewing in 4-H starting in the fourth grade. When I was in high school, majoring in home ec much to the dismay of my guidance counselor who wanted me in science and math classes with the other brainiacs, I made nearly all my clothes on it. I lugged the thing with me from Michigan to Northampton and have taken it with me wherever I've lived since. I've made several quilts with it and hemmed a lot of pants. Right now, I'm thinking up a holiday gift item that I plan to be sewing for lots of my pals. I can't say what that item is because people who might be receiving it might be reading my blog. But after the holidays, I'll try to post some pix.

The repair guy just called to say that my machine is ready to be picked up. He's got it running great, and it will cost me only $55 -- a totally worthwhile investment in such a stalwart.


  1. What a great rendition of our trip! Glad to hear the machine is fixed and the cost won't break the bank. :) I can't tell you how shocked I was when I called the neighboring store to ask if the repair guy was still next door and hey told me he wasn't. Thank goodness it was only that he'd moved to a larger and more remote location. He's such a treasure. :)

  2. Anonymous4:46 PM

    Might be interesting to you:

  3. Time for an update!