Saturday, March 14, 2015

VS2 Restoration: Paint and Decals

This is the last in a series of posts about the complete restoration of an 1891 Singer model VS2.

The usual reminder: I am not an expert.  I do all of this for fun and I learn by experimenting.

Here's how the experts repaint a vintage sewing machine, such as a Featherweight

  • strip off all of the old paint
  • create a completely smooth surface using the same techniques and products that auto body shops use.
  • paint
  • decal
  • clear coat
I've read the blog posts and watched the YouTube videos and am in awe.  I hope to rise to those levels one day and repaint a couple of Featherweights myself.  But I am not there yet.  

On my first re-paint I did not strip off the remaining badly chipped original paint. Hammered Rustoleum has a texture that hid all of the chips beautifully.  The decals melted themselves to the smooth undulations of the texture with no problems.  

On my second re-paint I did strip off all of the old black paint.  This paint was originally baked on in layers and is thick enough to hide small irregularities in the casting.  I painted it with a sparkly paint. The sparkles created a different type of texture, rather sandy.  It was not thick enough to hide some gouges in the metal, yet it was textured enough so that the decals did not meld down into the surface.  (Clear coating before applying the decals probably would have fixed this).

For this third re-paint, the Singer VS2, I am going with what worked well, Hammered Rustoleum, this time in black.  I went into great detail about the wonders and perils of using this paint here so take a look if you want more of a tutorial.

The first of several coats

The same quart of this paint has covered two treadles and this machine and I still have a lot left.  I think it has gotten thinned down because it did not cover the surface irregularities very well.  I built up some paint in the low spots and then put a couple more coats on.  24 hours drying time between coats.

Keeler Sales gave me a copy of their brand new VS2 decals as a thank you for providing them with measurements of the bed.  At the time I delivered the machine to Sadie and Patricia these decals were not yet on the market, which was an additional thrill for me.  They are now though and you can get them here.  I would tell you about this even if they had not given me a freebie.

I scanned the decals, printed copies of them, and checked the placement of each piece before beginning.  I learned this the hard way on the sparkly blue machine.

Another thing I learned the hard way is that it is very difficult to work with long strips of decal.  Look for breaks in the design and cut them into segments.  It makes life MUCH easier.

You can see the smooth and subtle texture of the paint and the way the decals just flow on to the surface.  You absolutely cannot see the edges of the decals.

On the first two machines I had trouble getting the decoration smooth on the convex surface at the top of the pillar.  The trick is to look for breaks in the design and cut from the outer edge towards the center in several spots, like spokes of a wheel.  This allows the decal to shape itself smoothly to the curved surface.  It worked perfectly this time.

All of the openings were taped prior to painting.  I left them in place during the decal process.  The next step is the clear coat.

I mask off the chrome hand wheel before spraying the clear coat.  Thin strips of painters tape are clipped so they can follow the round edge, followed by more thin strips until the chrome is covered.  There is probably a better or faster way but this works for me.

Three or four coats of clear coat.  Read the can for the drying interval, which was pretty quick.

After the last coat of clear coat dries, remove all of the painter's tape and re-attach the bobbin winder, the tensioner, and all of the access covers.

DD A and I delivered it on Christmas Eve, wrapped up in plastic bag meant to wrap a bicycle and with a big red bow.  You can see the bag on the floor in the photo above.

The sisters were delighted to see their grandmother's machine brought back to life.  From its 1891 vintage I suspect it may even have been their great-grandmother's.

Gasps were gasped (by the sisters).  Tears were shed (by Sadie's husband).  Christmas cookies were consumed (by me).  A good time was had by all.

Pat, me, Sadie

This was the highlight of the year for DragonPoodle Studio.


  1. Thanks for sharing each of the steps you took restoring this precious heirloom.

  2. Beautiful job! I love reading about your projects!

  3. Gracious, and "she" is lovely! What a heart-warming restoration.

  4. Lovely machine and treadle! Thank you for taking the time and effort to produce this series of tutorials on completely restoring a machine and treadle. This extensive restoration most certainly shows your love the the sewing machine and family.

  5. Such a great job, all the steps. Congrats on restoring that lovely treadle. I hope they use it, too.

  6. You did a wonderful job! I hope my restorations will turn out as nice!

  7. Where did you find the hammered Rustoleum paint? I'm having a hard time finding it in any color other than black, silver and gold.


      and there is a similar brand named Hammerite


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