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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Catch of the Day

This morning I went fishing in the waters of our local Kijiji and caught a big one – a thirty pounder at least! A fabulous 1936 Singer 15-91straight-stitch sewing machine in a classic wooden cabinet.  

My new-to-me Singer 15-91
The machine is not in mint condition, but she has been thoughtfully used and doesn’t have any major battle scars. Her decals are still bright, and the black paint is mostly shiny with a few knicks.  Best of all, she is clean and in working condition, and purred the moment I pressed the foot pedal. Her curvy silhouette, that little flash of gold – she looks great for an old babe.

Unfortunately the poor dear came naked, without any accessories or manual, but those were problems easily remedied. The 15-91 has the same size feet as my Featherweight, so the girls can share. I downloaded her operational manual from the internet, so that was a non-issue.

Not only was she naked, but (I hate to mention it) she smelled a little. I won’t say she inhaled, but it was clear she had the habit of hanging around smokers. I scrubbed her down and wiped away a lot of brown film. In the process, I discovered her pretty cabinet had suffered another indignity – cellophane tape! That’s right, somebody had stuck miscellaneous bits on her table top. I wonder if it was the same naughty person who crayoned on the bottom of two of the drawers. (Actually, I think the crayon marks are rather cute.) The cabinet has drawers on one side, the other side features a cubby hole that’s exactly the right size to hold a phone book. Did Lady Singer moonlight as a telephone stand in her younger days?

Don’t be misled; although she is quietly understated, Lady Singer has personality. She prefers that her bobbins be inserted backwards, so they turn counter-clockwise in the bobbin-case. Needles, she insists, must be installed with the flat edge facing left, and thread run through the eye from right to left. As she’s 76 years old, she’s rather set in her ways, and I must respect her preferences.

Doesn't she look right at home?
Still, she is a gentle soul. You only have to press her foot pedal to realize it. Nothing flashy, no wild shaking, no loud noise. With quiet competence, Lady Singer produces row after row of perfect straight stitches. She infuses the atmosphere with a sense of calm assurance.

What are your thoughts about vintage sewing machines? Think their day has come and gone? Or do you feel they’ll still be sewing strong when the newer models are bits of broken plastic?

-             Lady T

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