A few months ago, I found something special during my regular op-shop rounds. It was a sewing machine: in particular, a vintage New Home model, in the perfect shade of retro teal. With its chrome fixings, tactile knobs and dials and wooden carry-case, it would not have looked out of place on the set of a 60s TV show.
Obviously, I had to have it. However, my recent experiences with the quality of goods at Salvo’s had been disappointing, so I enlisted the help of a volunteer to test the machine. She eagerly obliged, and soon I was set up at a table with the machine plugged in, and thread, needle and scissors in hand.
Does anyone know anything about new home sewing machines? I'm about to test this one at the salvos – I need a good straight stitch machine while my Bernina is at a seemingly endless service. #sewing #craft #memade #memadeliving #imadethis #sewcialists #handmade #handmadeliving #handcrafted #sewistsofinstgram #sewist #sewer #imakeclothes #isew #sewersofinstagram #memadeeveryday #sewingmachines #sewhelp
To an observer, this must have been a comical sight. The table in question was for children and barely reached my knees standing. All 178cm of me was squeezed in a kinder chair, with my knees bent so high I could rest my chin on them, while I clumsily tried to operate this machine. Luckily, the volunteer knew more about vintage sewing machines than I do, and threaded the machine for me.
It worked! As well as could be hoped, at least. The needle went up and down and formed adequate stitches. For $25, that was enough for me, and this heavy beast came home with me.
When I arrived home and set up the machine, problems soon presented themselves. It was gunky, I presume from decades of neglect. The stitches which seemed to form in the op shop soon failed to catch, and I was left with lines of skipped stitches. Never mind – I was in a entrepreneurial mood, and ordered some parts on Aliexpress before attacking the machine with WD-40 and carnauba wax.*
This was a tough job for my poor, weak body, and I soon found myself thinking that perhaps vintage sewing machines were not for me. They just require so much more effort than modern, computerised machines, effort I am unable to proffer. This might be difficult for an able-bodied person to understand, but every knob manually turned, every ounce of strength required to operate a stiff vintage sewing pedal, and every thought process that is more involved than just pressing a button requires energy that I cannot afford to expend.
So my dear New Home machine sat idling in the garage while I decided what to do with it. At the same time, my friend Alyce mentioned she had taken a sewing class and had enjoyed it so much she wanted to save up for a machine. A ha! Serendipity! I offered my machine to her, and it was soon destined for a new home.
Meanwhile, I hoped that the parts I had ordered from Aliexpress would be easy to install, and solve the problem of the unformed stitches. They were, and they did. My purchase, which cost all of $10 and included a set of needles, bobbins, feet (with adapter) and a bobbin case, brought new life to the machine. The bobbin case did the trick, but as the machine was missing a few extraneous bits and pieces, the order made the machine complete.
On a recent visit home, Alyce picked up her new, old sewing machine. It now sits in her study, next to her matching teal typewriter. I am glad to share the joy that is creating with others, and hope that she finds she loves sewing just as much as I do.
*I can hear vintage sewing machine lovers screaming their disgust. I now know that WD-40 is not at all suitable for cleaning sewing machines, as it strips the machine of any lubrication. I’m hoping that the one clean-up job, with wax applied after, didn’t do much harm to the machine.