Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas CraigsList: Ho Ho Sew

It's that time of the year again:  my annual CraigsList Christmas sale of vintage sewing machines.  If you want to see the ads, visit Raleigh CraigsList and type dragonpoodle into the search box.  Or just click this link.  This, however, is the only place to see the entire Christmas collection, including ones that have already been sold and ones that have not yet been listed.

I assume if you are reading this blog you like to look at pictures of vintage sewing machines.  Long time readers will have seen many of these before. 


Fuschia pink Morse, Japanese straight-stitcher
This is the best color I have ever seen on a sewing machine.  Too bad it is so faded on the back.

Adler Belvedere

Coolest looking vintage machine.  Ever.  Too bad it has a plastic gear.  This one is not broken---yet.  All fully disclosed in the ad.


American Home, Japanese zigzagger by Sanshin

SOLD.  Another really cool solid tank of a machine.  Sold to a nice young woman who bought it for her husband, who wants to learn to sew and repair backpacks and such. You gotta love a woman who buys her husband a sewing machine for Christmas.


Another Japanese zigzagger.  Badge quite obviously missing.

SOLD to a man who wants to experiment with making sail boat covers.  We had a discussion about domestic versus industrial for his task, and I advised him to keep an eye open on CraigsList for a Sailrite machine.  But he decided to get this one first, and perhaps make more of an investment in an industrial after he sees how the job works out.  He's a former sail maker so I was confident that he knows what he is doing.

I took the photos and wrote the CraigsList ads as I finished rehabbing each machine.   That was a big improvement over last year when I left all of that to the last minute.  I am slowly learning how to take better pictures than the one above.


Pink Atlas, made by Brother.  Japanese straight stitcher

 SOLD to Barbara, who bought a Singer 301 black longbed from me last year.  The woman knows her sewing machines.  Another gorgeous machine, although showing its age a bit more than the photos reveal.  The clear coat is crazed and there are some chips.

This one is the full package, however.  Original case, accessories, and manuals.

It's all PINK, too. The accessories box, the case, and even the covers of the manuals.


The hard-to-find BelAir Bantam, knockoff of the Singer 99 but in ALUMINUM.  Weighs 22 pounds in the case.  

This appears to be the complete original package, with manual and original dated warranty.  Originally guaranteed for TWENTY YEARS (expired in 1971). 

The case shows wear but the machine is gorgeous.  And if you go looking at my CL ad you will see that I have priced this at the "make me happy" price point.  Some of them I am just trying to clear out and I know I will have the opportunity to acquire more.  This one I am not expecting to find again, not really sure I want to sell it.  But if somebody wants to make me happy, well could be theirs.


SOLD to a fellow onion.  Onion is short for "treadleonian", a fellow treadle and people powered machine fan.  LOTS of people drooled over this one, and if I were willing to ship I could have sold it several times over.  It's really cute and I will miss having it around here!

Here's another rare beauty, the Kenmore model 11.  I added the hand crank but the original motor also comes with the machine.  This one is also "collectible" but it is missing a decorative button thingy that covers the access point just above the tensioner.  So I did not price it as "collectible".

The machine is from the 1970s, but the long bobbin shuttle system was obsolete by about 1920.  Go figure.


SOLD to a nice young man from my own little town who bought it for his wife.
This is my top-of-the-line, whiz-bang, does everything but wash the dishes machine.  Kenmore 158.1914, one of the two most sought-after vintage Kenmores.   What makes it so wonderful?  Besides the all-metal solid vintage construction, that is...

It has a free arm, not unknown among classic vintage machines, but certainly not common.

It uses a cam system to create all of these construction and decorative stitches.  Sure, lots of vintage machines have cam systems.  But very few have the forward-and-backward capability to create stretch stitches.  And you can make some extra-cute decorative stitches with the forward-and back system.  Like a row of little duckies, for example.

It comes with ALL the bells and whistles.  All the cams.  A monogrammer with all the letters and numbers.  A buttonholer with all of its cams.

Because I used this as my go-to machine in the studio for several months, you even get a parts cabinet with all the presser feet and other goodies.  I like my presser feet CLEARLY labeled so that I can lay my hands on what I want within seconds.


and a trio of 3/4 Singer straight stitchers, all adapted to hand crank use (motors available upon request).  These make dandy machines for teaching children to sew, or for taking with you in your RV or to your remote cabin.

Singer 99

Singer 192, Spartan

Singer 185
and a pair of the wonderful Singer 301s.  One in black, one in mocha.  The mocha one is SOLD.

Singer 301, in cabinet with cradle

and the mocha one, much prettier in person

with a zigzagger and all the stitch cams

in a nice cabinet with cradle, and sewing stool with storage
 If you don't know the 301s, well, you should.  They are aluminum rather than cast iron, mechanically very similar to the Featherweights, but a full size machine.  They sew much faster than most vintage machines.  They sit in a special cradle when installed in a cabinet, and you can pop them in and out of it in seconds--great for taking to quilting classes or workshops. 


Another trio, this time of some of my personal faves, the aqua blue Singers of the mid 1960s.  These were mid-range rather than top-of-the-line machines, but a mid-range all metal vintage machine can still sew rings around a modern plastic machine.  They are a bit loud, however.

Singer 337

The 337 is a zig-zag machine (no cams).  Last Christmas the simple zig-zag machines were the best sellers.  Very easy to learn to use.

Singer 338
SOLD to a nice young woman who is getting ready to go to college and will take this with her.
The 338 uses Singer flat cams, my favorite cam system for ease of use.  And of course if you are not interested in other stitches, you can just leave the zig-zag cam in it and ignore the other stitches!

Singer 348
Sigh.  I bought a 348 in 1968 and sewed on it (LOTS) until the year 2000 when it laid down and died.  I very, very stupidly threw it away, thinking that surely I deserved a nice new machine after 32 years.  The plastic machine that replaced it lasted 18 months. I could have just repaired or replaced the motor on the 348 and I would still be sewing on the machine that took me from hippie dresses made from Indian bedspreads, through sewing for three kids, countless home dec projects, and into quilting. (Wipes away a tear).

WITHDRAWN.  Two years in a row I have talked a potential buyer out of buying this machine (they both chose something else).  I just don't believe in this machine.  I can't really recommend the bobbin system.  It's noisy to the point of being worrisome.  And then I discovered that the needle position lever is not working. I don't sell things that have known problems.  But before I withdrew it, this is what I said:

I even have a Touch N Swear Sew on offer.  Although these machines have a bad reputation, the earliest ones still have the all-metal internal construction (which is all I buy).  This one is from the earliest line of Touch N Sew, a 603.  My aunt has a 603 that she loves, and actually replaced her original one with another one of the same model.  One of the big selling points of the Touch N Sews is that they wind the bobbin in the machine, which seems very silly to me but hey, whatever floats your boat.

The 601 would have been top-of-the-line, with a built in camstack.  The 603 does not have the cam stack, but instead takes one cam at a time.  I feel the same way about camstacks that I feel about power windows in cars:  something expensive is just WAITING to go wrong.  I really prefer the one-cam-at-a-time approach, and for another reason too:  I don't have to get the manual out every time I want to change a stitch pattern.  Not a problem if you sew on one machine all the time, you learn its little ways, but I sew on dozens of machines.

For me the real appeal of the 603, and the reason I bought it, is that it will do a chain stitch.  Chain stitches use just the top thread, no bobbin thread, and make a stitch that is easily removeable--find the right end and just pull it out.   Fabulous wherever you need a temporary seam.

Sorry, but I do not ship machines. Nor will I hold them for you, or sell you one sight-unseen (ie, hold one for you that you paid for in advance).  But if you are in or near the Research Triangle region of North Carolina, that's where I am too.

I will, however, cart anything not sold to the next NC TOGA upon request, where you can check it out before deciding whether to buy it or not.  Contact me at the end of January if you are interested in seeing something at the TOGA (Treadle On Gathering and Academy).  Special pricing on many of them for TOGA-teers, who generally do their own mechanical work and don't usually buy at retail prices.


  1. Thanks for posting the pictures. You are correct, I do like looking at pictures of vintage machines. It's also good to know that there's a market for a machine after it's been shown some care and attention. Perhaps it is time for me to thin the herd here in South Florida. My worry is that the vintage machines are getting harder to find, their condition is getting worse and their prices are going up. I might not be able to replace the ones that sell. But that's another story...

  2. If it could be ponied to NC TOGA, I would be interested in hot pink Kenmore! Di in TN

  3. You have done a wonderful job with these. I love the fuchsia/pink ones--although I have very little pink in my house! I once saw a teal Morse that I would have loved to have--but it was in E TN and I wasn't planning to go there. I so appreciate all your efforts to save these machines and to teach others to use them!

  4. It is sad that you threw away your beloved 348, but had you not done that you might not be "saving history from the scrapyard". Thanks for the picture parade of lovelies. I wish I could buy the BelAir. It has such an unsual and beautiful face plate. The importer, Washington Trading Co. was only 4 blocks from where my father had his Trading Co., importing radios from Japan. 1951 was the year my mother got her featherweight, and the year my sister was born. So many "connections" that would be meaningless if I didn't love that machine! And thank you very much, because now I need one of those Kenmores.

  5. I like how you paint your hand cranks to match. Care to do a post on how you do that? I gave it a try but it came out poorly.....Laura

  6. I have an old treadle coffin top with no machine head. The irons and the table, although dirty, are in excellent condition. The opening for the machine is 13 1/2 inches by 5 3/4 inches. What type of machine head should I be looking for? I would like a machine that I can use. Thanks


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