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Friday, September 27, 2013

The Mr. Enabler Memorial Sewing Machine Collection

I've had plenty of time to think about how to write this post.

This blog is about sewing and sewing machines, and anything else crafty-related that I want to talk about.  It is not about my personal life.

But sometimes things happen that just cannot go unmentioned.

I am now a widow.

And that is all I am going to say about that.  So, since I am not talking about that, but yet I have to, let's talk about sewing machines.  Specifically, all the sewing machines that the late DH, known here on the blog as "Mr. Enabler" bought for me or encouraged me to buy.

He was always supportive of my hobbies and proud of the things I created. Now, I doubt if he really gave a flying fig for sewing machines, but he found a way to be interested.  After all, once the bug bit me it was all I was talking about.  Endlessly.

His path into this world was through history.  He always wanted to know the dates of the machines, and his constant refrain was "why don't you look for an even older one?"

It began at the 2011 NC TOGA (Treadle On Gathering and Academy).  He was recovering from major surgery, yet he insisted that we go.  He really wanted me to have some fun after all the medical drama.  He stayed in the motel room resting, and I came and went from the TOGA when I could.

I had brought plenty of cash to possibly buy some tasty machines, but then someone hacked my debit card, my bank spotted it, informed me, and cancelled the card.  So good thing we had a pocket full of cash along with us!  Nothing quite like having your card hacked while you are on vacation.

This was the first time he brought up the idea of buying a really old machine.  I had seen one that might fit the bill sitting on the floor marked $5.00, all rusty and pathetic looking.  By the time I got back to it the price had been marked down to "free" but I found the owner and gave her the $5.00 anyway.  From the leaf tensioner and VS system I figured it was older than anything I had at the time.

We didn't know what it was when we bought it, so we called it "The Elder"
Regular blog readers have seen this (and most of the other machines in this post) before.  Eventually I got it cleaned up and this past spring I even got it working.

We eventually discovered that this is a National Expert BT Vibrator

Recognizing a full blown obsession when he saw one, he quickly decided that the question to ask before birthdays, Mother's Day, and even Valentine's Day was "Why don't you buy yourself a nice sewing machine?"  And since I knew what his interest was, I interpreted "nice" as "older".

We were old enough, and married long enough, to have figured out that gift-giving always works if the person picks out their own present.


1897 Singer 28, original hand crank.  As found, I did nothing other than oil it.
Mother's Day one year brought in this beauty.  And if you have only experienced reproduction hand cranks, be thankful.  Because once you sew with an original hand crank you will break down and weep whenever you have to use a repro.  Better than nothing, but that's all.

The case for the Singer 28 would benefit from some work, but it hasn't happened yet.
A birthday found me looking on eBay at Wolfgang's Collectibles.  I usually don't bother with eBay because of all the shipping horror stories.  But Mike at Wolfgang's is known to be reliable, and he deals in the best of the oldest.  At that time I didn't find anything from him, but spotted a very fuzzy photo with a completely inadequate description ("old sewing machine") of a machine that a nearby charity shop was selling on eBay.  I took a chance, nobody else did, and for $40 got the most gorgeous machine of my collection.  And I picked it up, no shipping so no shipping damage.

Circa 1880 New Home New National, original hand crank
The decals on this one are almost, but not quite, pristine.  I actually prefer it this way.  If it were flawless I would NEVER sew on it. 

This also is "as found".  It required nothing other than a few drops of oil.

I don't remember how I came up with the "1880"  date.  Maybe a wild guess.  Maybe somebody I believed in told me. 
 And it came with a box of original goodies.

There was a repair receipt from 1978 in the box, and several packs of Kenmore ball point sewing machine needles. 

So my deduction is that someone got the urge to sew during the Great Doubleknit Craze of the late 70's (been there, done that), and dusted off great grannie's machine.  Probably didn't work out as well as she hoped, and back into the bentwood case it went





last photo of decals.  you can wipe the drool off of your computer now,.
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For it to remain this beautiful for this long, it must have lived most of its life protected inside its case.


The next birthday saw us taking a road trip to Lexington, NC in pursuit of a CraigsList machine of unknown date.


It came with a top



and a bunch of goodies in the little drawer



I was attracted by the big flywheel in the back and the adorable "feet" pedal



and a fascinating tensioner



It turns freely but needs some adjustments.  I haven't really tried to sew on it yet.

Googling produced the information that "Wilson" was a company totally unrelated to "Wheeler & Wilson", but very little else.  However, I did find an antique print ad on Amazon from 1871 showing this exact machine.  The documentation that came with the ad says that the model is "Ballou".


Our final outing took us to a nearby city on another CraigList quest.  This time we scored the Domestic I have been writing about recently.  That is still a work-in-progress, so I will show it to you later.  But soon.

There is usually a narrative to these blog posts, and at this point I wrap it up, give you the punch line, tie all the threads together or something like that.  Not this time.  And, for this post only, you will not be able to post comments.  I do assume that you wish me well (and thanks, btw), but this blog has been, and will remain, a blog about sewing, crafts, and sewing machines.  Mostly sewing machines.