The Emdeko, a vintage Japanese machine
This blog post continues the previous posts in which I searched for a machine for my friend Michael. Scroll on down to see the earlier posts.
After the green Dressmaker fiasco it finally dawned on me that I had an almost identical machine in my hoard that I had forgotten about.
A year ago I restored my MIL’s Singer 66 Red Head treadle and fell in love with the whole process of bringing an old machine back to life. I was beginning to read vintage sewing machine bulletin boards and was in search of another machine to play with. The Emdeko came my way at the Good Samaritan thrift shop, $15. I brought it home, opened it up and LO! It was pristine. I’m talking factory-fresh.
The fact that the exterior was immaculate and you could do your hair and makeup while looking into the chrome should have been a clue. Oiled it, put in a new needle, and it sewed perfectly. Built in zig-zag and the possibility for decorative stitches with cams.
Now it’s not really possible to be disappointed that a $15 machine turns out to be a gem, but I will say that I was nonplussed. It didn’t come with cams, but by now SMAD* fever had set in and cams started coming home with me—finally one set of them did the trick. One of the cams is a blind stitch, and the machine has a built in zig-zag.
*Sewing Machine Acquisition Disorder
This fall will be the 50th anniversary of my journey as a seamstress, and it has been fun thinking about what a newbie would like in a sewing machine. The Emdeko seems to go out of its way to communicate clearly with the operator (unlike, say, a Singer 401). The stitch length dial says “stitches per inch” in nice large letters. There is a giant button marked R for reverse.
The zig-zag selector has icons showing the size range of the zigs (or zags).
I just love this machine. There are other nice touches: a marked throat plate, AND it came with a seam guide. There’s a button to drop the feed dogs down, and another one that changes the height—all the way up is for normal fabrics, and halfway up is for lightweight fabrics. The cam operation is fairly intuitive and the cams are easy to insert and remove. The thread spool pins are metal and hinged so they fold down. There is a needle position lever. All of these things make sewing easier and all are working flawlessly. And miraculously I found a manual online for free. Now a generic manual for Japanese machines is fairly easy to find, but this is the exact manual for this model.
I think this machine could take Michael anywhere he wants to go. Two thread spindles allow for twin needle sewing. A 1.3 amp motor and the solid steel construction ought to handle any home dec project up through occasional upholstery. Put a roller foot on it and I’m betting it could handle leather.
Which leads to the single drawback to this machine: it is high shank. It came with a zig-zag foot. I bought an adjustable zipper foot for it. If Michael comes up with any needs beyond that he is in the realm of full-retail-price. I have only ever seen one set of high shank attachments at a thrift shop, and needless to say I bagged them for my Lady Kenmore 89 (Queen Of The Studio, a Pfaff 280 in disguise).
and, oh yes: Michael was quite pleased with his new machine.
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