Old and new Sewing machines

If you read my blog regularly, you know that I am a fan of Bonnie Hunter – Quiltville.com ..  I find her blog to be fun and full of great information.  What I love about Bonnie Hunter is she uses vintage sewing machines, hand cranks, treadles, featherweights etc.  She has an incredible collection of machines, and often shows machines out in the marketplace (craigs list or antique stores) to be wary of, cheap imports, clones etc.  On her blog a couple of days ago, there was a video by a reporter, speaking to the “plastic” in todays modern machines.  If you are shopping for a machine, I would recommend spending a few minutes; read Bonnie’s post and the imbeded video.


My sewing machine collection is growing…I think there are seven machines in my house & sewing room out in the garage.

Sadly #1  machine sits  on the floor of the garage; waiting to be loved….I haven’t even taken the cover off of it.  I found it in a closet recently. My husband has lots of closets full of his mom’s stuff. Though I never met her (we got married in 2006); I’m sure she will love knowing her machine is going to be used again. My mother-in-law passed away around 1993, and I am guessing the machine has not been touched since.

Ok; for the sake of a photo; I am going to the garage right now for a photo….ohhh…I’m back…that was a delightful surprise….I took the cover off; there was a bit of rust on the hinge plate…but then wow…..

Sew Gem Model 215 "full rotary"

Sew Gem Model 215 “full rotary”

What did I find:  a SEW-GEM FULL Rotary machine, model 215; Gellman Manufacturing Co, Rock Island Ill USA.  It has NO rust anywhere that I can see…the paint is a textured brown.  Well; since I had the cover off and saw what beautiful shape it was in, I loaded in the car to take to the service technician to get it in “GEM” shape.  I really do need to research this machine and find a book so I know more about it.  I will have to dig for a serial number too.  I am going to take it to my service lady at Serendipity and see if she thinks she can put it in working order.    It weighs about 40 pounds.  When I get it back home, it may take two men and a crane to carry it up the stairs though! Beastly heavy; so guessing it is real metal!

singer touchtronic

Singer TouchTronic vintage 1977

I think I am going to also take the (#2) old Singer touchtronic back to her also to put in a new bobbin case.  It is a 70’s era machine and was quite pricey in it’s hey-day. I chatted with Bill to see how much he is willing to spend….mmmmmm…I think another $100 would get that bobbin issue resolved…maybe I will contemplate it a while.

My sewing machine(#3) that I use all the time is a Brother 6000ci.

Brother 6000i

Brother 6000i

Bill got it for me for Christmas when we were newly married; thinking I might want to consider sewing for a hobby.  He has lots of hobbies, and was worried I would grow bored in retirement.  (What do you think???)

After working on the queen sized quilt and struggling with the lightweight plastic machine; I am definately thinking SOLID METAL !  The Brother has a broken “foot”…part of the base got cracked when my dear husband was trying to get it from the dining room to my car.  I didn’t have a tote for it; just the hard plastic cover. Poor guy tripped on our old porch steps; he fell; the machine hit the driveway; and the rest is history. The porch steps have been redone….we spent a kings ransom and had the whole porch removed and rebuilt!  The machine, well, it is not fixed. Since I use an extension table; it keeps it “steady”; but with the weight of big quilt going through, I was constantly having to adjust the legs, etc.  Only about 15 of the 60 stitches work properly anymore.  Perhaps there is a plug to a computer card loose .  ..hmmm…excuse for opening it….but NOT while I am in the middle of a project…oh dear….

In our dining room are two treadle machines.  Initially; I just love them for the cabinets.  One was a machine my husband had bought at an auction, and he refinished the wooden portions of the cabinet.  The machine is a MINNESOTA Model C; serial nr L251844. He said it “just needs a belt”.


Minnesota Treadle In cabinet

Minnesota Treadle In cabinet

The other treadle machine is a Singer.

We acquired this machine when my husband’s ex wife passed (along with her Singer touchtronic and the heavy duty singer).  The cabinet is in beautiful condition as well.  This machine used to belong to one of her grandmother’s.  Her father, Walt, restored the cabinet and put the machine in working condition, including a new belt, and said it works.    Now, I have not tried either treadle….but I would like to learn. I think I am going to invite Walt over for lunch and a lesson on day this fall.

Back out to the sewing room in the garage; there is another SINGER machine.  …oh; what have I started…it has such a great table, I have piled it up with STUFF…..so….before I can progress to the garage I go.  (Ok;  There will NOT be a before & after junk pile photo…..I am a messy girl).   While I clean up; I might as well really clean up!  (Blog entry on hold for 24 hours…….)

Well….cleared this great table off and look what was hiding underneath!!

Singer Model 16-11- built as a  treadle circa 1917 - converted to powered machine; serial G5462069

Singer Model 16-11- built as a treadle circa 1917 – converted to powered machine; serial G5462069

Bill tells me he and Walt added an electric moter to this machine…note the switch on the table top.  Throw that switch and that big old motor fires up.  Bill and Walt did upholstery with this machine.  It is missing a thread post and there are parts missing on the tension coil.  Going to look for an “owners manuel” on line and see what is missing.  He thinks it was used in an industrial environment before he got it at auction.  See how much room there is for quilting!  10 ” of space.

And last, but not least; the newest…the Brother Embroidery machine I won in February!

Brother PE500 Embroidery Machine

Brother PE500 Embroidery Machine

So, a little view of the machines in my life!  Enjoy !!


44 thoughts on “Old and new Sewing machines

  1. Wow – you have got quite a collection, haven’t you? Those old machines all look so lovely.

    I’ve only got one machine, which is an almost 10 year old nearly bottom of the line, never been serviced (or oiled – I do clean it though!), Kenmore. It still chugs along pretty good, but I often think about buying a new one, but I do find it incredibly hard trying to figure out what to buy to replace it. If you google reviews of any given machine, you can find a dozen people who love it and a dozen people who hate it.


    • It’s really funny to know how we came by all of these machines ! The quilt shop where I take classes recommends a pro-cleaning 1x per year. I had my little BROTHER for 5 or more years before I had it cleaned. You would not believe the JUNK she dug out of the inside of that machine. It sure ran better afterwards…..nice and quiet. It is having troubles now though, maybe a loose circuit card. That’s what I get from draggin it up and down the stairs to go to class. Before you buy anything, watch the video in the link at the beginninig of this post. I was stunned by the “flex” in the machines, and it made me go look at these vintage machines with new respect. 🙂


  2. I love old sewing machines! The only one I have is my mother’s avocado green singer from the 50’s. Still, there is something very special to me about sewing on her machine (even if I can only use it for half an hour before it overheats) since she is no longer with us.
    I also have this old flip-top sewing desk my dad found for me. Unfortunately, the sewing machine had already been removed, but I do love that desk!
    You have some beautiful machines!


    • Thanks. They are really in lovely condition. I want to get them all in “sewing order”; and am starting to downlod user manuals etc. The Singer treadle does work, and I had an original manual, missing about 10 pages. I just found the manual on line and downloaded it tonight = for free!! The manual for the Minnesota is available for a small fee…so tomorrow I will go do it.
      I saw a couple of “repair” videos on line about rewiring onld machines. If you look at Bonnie Hunter / Quiltville blog, she has has a bunch of links on the bottom of the page about the old vintage machines. http://quiltville.blogspot.com/p/my-vintage-machines.html
      The old sewing tables are just wonderful!! Good luck with mom’s singer.


  3. Well Judy; you asked a while back for a tour of the sewing room! Since I acquired 3 of these machines this year, I had to rethink my layout of my room, do some rearranging. I would love to get a good quality MODERN quilting /sewing machine. (And then there is that long arm I want to win from APQS!!!!)


  4. I love your old machines. Every time I use my late Mother-in-Law’s machine I wonder what it has made in the past. Mine was manufactured in the 1950’s. I wonder what yours have been up to for all of those years 🙂


    • I think these machines have been well loved and well used! I know the 1917 singer that has a motor was used by my husband when he was in the furniture business and they did custom upholstery work. Thanks for checking in today.


  5. I love my 1941 British Singer…
    I found at a garage sale for 20.00
    mint condition, cabinet perfect with all the original attachments
    even the oil and manual…
    I learned to sew on a treadle, I would love to find one again…
    my grandmother decided to make a microwave stand out of hers…
    *sigh* broke my heart….
    I love your collection…I am not sure how many I have…I will have to check…
    Great post…Thank you for sharing…
    Take Care…


  6. A microwave cart…oh it was the times I suppose! I wonder if the machine is still inside her cabinet….the wood can always be refinished if she still has the machine. Keep your eyes open at flea markets, yard sales and Craigs list, but be cautious. Lots of “reproduction” machines exist. Enjoy your Br. Singer! Now go out and count your machines!


  7. I bought a Sew-Gem in cabinet today knowing very little about it but knowing $65 was a really good price! I would love to be able to actually sew with it. I started searching the internet for information before I even got it home! It looks just like yours here, so I’m betting that’s my model number as well. It needs a complete service, which I will have to do very soon, but I am wondering if you ever found out more information about yours!


      • Just saw your post. I took our Sew Gem in to the local sewing repair shop last October, and was told “DON’T PLUG IT IN”. All the wire underneath were bare. They wanted about $141 to rewire, and my husband said he would be able to do it himself (still in the back of his car). We are guessing it was sold through Sears in the late 1960’s. Can’t get a lot of info on it. The sewing center said it took “class 66” bobbins. They dated it in the late 1960’s because it had a nylon (plastic) gear in the area near the bobbin. I saw one tonight on E-Bay for minimum bid of $250. I think you got a good deal, but I would hope you have someone check the wiring before you plug it in. I’d hate for you to get shocked.


      • Thanks! I have not plugged it in yet (the belt from motor to hand wheel is missing) and now I surely won’t! I plan to call around Monday to find someone to take a look at it!


      • Probably wise. Hope you find someone who can put a new belt on it and ensure the wiring is safe to use. You don’t want to get shocked. I was really surprised ours had bare wires, but my hubby said it is to “be expected” on old machines. Just age rotting coating off the wires. Have fun with it.


  8. My friend recently got a Sew Gem 215 machine at an estate sale for $5.00. Do you know of a place where she could get a manual for it? Thank you, Jackie Mc


    • I’m sorry, I don’t. Try Ebay or just google. Also, Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.blogspot.com has a lot of vintage machines, if you check her tab for vintage machines, she has lots of resources listed.


  9. I have a sew-gem 215 machine that has been well loved and well used. It is in a cabinet that I don’t want to give up. I have tried to find a machine that will fit the cabinet but can’t find one. Anyone have a suggestion?


    • So sorry, wish I could tell you. I think you might want to keep the dimensions with you so if you happen to ‘trip” over something in an antique store, flea market, Good will or yard sale, you will know instantly if it will fit. The other options are to “modify” the cabinet if you find something slightly larger, without damaging the integrity of the cabinet. I think I would try to find someone to FIX that sew-gem 215! Good luck. 🙂


  10. FYI – The machine labeled “Singer Model 16-11” appears to be identified incorrectly. Take another look at the brass tag, and I believe that you’ll see that it’s a 16-41 instead (it shows up in the full-size version of the photo, with the “4” stamped lighter than the other numbers). I bought one like it yesterday. My Singer 16-41 is serial G5674797 that was issued in August, while yours is serial G5462069 issued in June, both in 1917. Yours has better decals and is prettier than mine, otherwise they look very similar, even down to the missing spool pin. I plan to use mine in an industrial treadle stand.

    CD in Oklahoma

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you SO much!! Your craft room sounds wonderful. I sew “over the garage” and keeping it cooled and heated was a challenge. We got those free standing a/c-heater units and it really helps. Can’t wait to see what you do with it…..post some pix!!


  12. Pingback: 500th blog post | Stitching Grandma

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