Shiny old sewing machine

>> Thursday, August 28, 2008

I've finished cleaning up the 15-91 Singer that was inside the little sewing table. It was such a mess when I first saw it, but I had rubbed a little spot on the back metal plate with my finger and got the impression that it was mostly just a thick layer of greasy old dust that would clean off nicely.
This was my first glimpse of the sewing machine. Yuck!

Some close-ups of the state it was in:But now it looks like this:I use mineral oil (ie. baby oil) to clean the outside, which is safe and doesn't rub off any of the gold paint. It turned out the condition of the machine underneath the dust was very good with very little wear to the decorative gold paint and just a few light pin scratches which you'd expect from any sewing machine that's been used at all.

I also opened up areas of the machine and cleaned them with a Q-tip and some more baby oil. It's mostly just dust that collects inside the machine. Then I used sewing machine oil to oil all the points indicated in the manual, on the top and underneath the machine. I found the manual on this sewing blog. Very friendly emails and the manual arrived in no time!

Here's the back:
And a detail of the front:This is a lovely machine. It can basically do everything you need apart from built in zig-zag stitches. Ie. a nice quality stitch, adjustable stitch length, numbered tension, reverse stitching (which not all old Singers have), and it uses regular needles and round bobbins. And it has a nice elegant shape with a spacious gap in the middle (called the harp) which means you have room for sewing big items like curtains.

I've used it already and despite all the neglect there doesn't seem to be thing wrong with it. These old Singers certainly aren't very fussy, just a little bit of attention and they're ready to get back to work.


Christie August 28, 2008  

That machine is so beautiful! Nice Work. What a treasure.

Nanette Merrill August 28, 2008  

Wow that is a beauty. Wolf whistle beauty. Good for you. Its amazing what a little elbow grease will do. I'm sure it will sew lovely even stitches. Good old girl still has plenty of life left.

Anonymous,  August 29, 2008  

Wow, it's BEAUTIFUL :o) you completely gave it a new life!

Anonymous,  August 29, 2008  

Wow... What an amazing treasure you found under all that ick!

Anonymous,  August 29, 2008  

This whole project has just been so wonderful and heartening. Yay for lovely old things given new life. :)

Cele August 29, 2008  

Oh how pretty it looks. i have a very old singer in my loft. It would need a lot of work though. Youve made a great job of the resoration.

roz August 29, 2008  

pretty machine you have there! :)

Anonymous,  August 29, 2008  

Looks lovely. I found a website (I can't find the weblink) where you can date your machine and find out where it was made from the serial number! Mine was made September 1939 in Clydebank, Scotland, so I guess not too many were made for a while after that.

Claire Louise Milne August 29, 2008  

Thank you for the comments!
Thank you Stimpetta, mine is 1949 made in Clydebank, Scotland as well. They did actually make them through the wartime as well.

You can date your machines on this Singer site:

Anonymous,  August 29, 2008  

Gorgeous! You did a great job, wasn't it satisfying?! I had my grandma's old Singer just like it for years, til my husband got me a bernina for my birthday about 10 yrs ago (I really wanted the zigzag and backwards stitch)...but I still miss it sometimes! Enjoy it!

Xxx August 31, 2008  

Great machine and great job cleaning it ;-). It's great how this sewing machine is not only useful but a real treat for your interior decoration!

elisabetha September 07, 2008  

i am so envious of your machine. great job on the restoration, and on the table/cabinet too! you've sure been busy!!

Anonymous,  September 16, 2008  

Oh. My. Gosh.

I was given an old Singer a while back -- even older than yours, I think, I mean this thing is ancient -- and it's dirtynasty. I haven't touched it. It's just sitting in my office looking sad, but now I'm inspired to at least see if some of the grime is actually just old grease.

Anonymous,  September 19, 2008  

Wow, this is so inspiring. I have a similar sewing table/machine that was my grandmother's and I love it for it's quality. However, my set is not very pretty. Your post has inspired me to clean mine up! I never considered trying to make it look better probably because I did not know how! Many thanks !!!!!!!

Anonymous,  September 19, 2008  

That looks great!! I was browsing CL today and saw almost the same machine on there but for $195 ( and then I remembered that I had seen your post earlier today (got here from decor8)

Anonymous,  September 20, 2008  

Hey i got the same machine as you, im looking for the manual, i can even know how to install the wire, i just dont want to broke anything!
Do you have some tips for me, please! Thanks!

Claire Louise Milne September 22, 2008  

My best advice for anyone with vintage sewing machine questions is to join the Yahoo vintage sewing machine group. They can answer any question by email and I'm always amazed at how much those guys know. I'm not really an expert and wouldn't want to steer anyone in the wrong direction.

One tip: find a copy of the manual for your sewing machine online if you can - with a google search or look on ebay - also the yahoo groups often share their manuals and can even help you identify your machine.

Marnie September 23, 2008  

oh! i'm going to visit those same people this fall to hopefully pick out a treadle machine for myself! they are very helpful. i'm soooo jealous of your beautiful machine - now to go read all the back posts on all the work you did....what a project!

looking forward to hearing how it sews....

Tara October 20, 2008  

Oh my goodness! I just found this same sewing machine, I only hope I can get mine looking as beautiful as yours. I'm going to the store for baby oil right away!

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