Friday, December 07, 2012

Catch & Release–FAIL!

You would have failed too….I know you would have.

I was walking through the antique mall where I found the great flying geese quilt I shared earlier ((More photos on that to come in another post)) and I came upon this room where everything was 30% off the lowest marked price.

I walked around the room, looking at vintage glassware, bowls, plates, kitchen utensils --- rounded a corner and almost tripped OVER a very familiar bentwood case!

The case was in really nice condition – and I was of course CURIOUS to see what was inside ---

A Singer Red Eye 66!  ((Don’t you love that shag carpet?? LOL!))

I checked the price tag – and then checked it again -- -No, that was not a mis-read.  It definitely did NOT say $99 like I thought it did…it said $49.00.  AND 30% OFF!

The machine bed is worn to the bare metal.  Someone loved this machine so much --- and she was a pin-sewer-overer!  The scratch marks are right in the path of where pins would travel as she sewed up the clothing and household needs of her family.

I considered justifying this purchase as strictly a “parts machine” purchase….see that hand wheel?  It’s the large spoked kind and I thought I could trade out the wheel on Gae and dress her up a bit.  The chrome on the hand wheel is shiny with no rust.  The side plate is also gorgeously decorated with beautiful scroll work.  $35 for the case, the side plate, the balance wheel ----that would be worth it, right?

So home it came.

I did try the motor– definitely dead, and the wiring didn’t look great either.

I removed the machine from the base.  The base will easily fit my other base-less full sized machines, like my 1950s Kenmore.  That’s a win right there.

I started to wipe down the dust, the grime, the years of neglect……and it hit me ---The REST of this machine’s decals are in really good shape!  There is no “pin rash” on the arm from pinning to a pincushion that so often was taped there.

The hand wheel turned easily ---but she had not been sewn on in a LONG LONG time – look what I found:

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Side view of bobbin area.  Ewww!!

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Underside of bobbin area!  EWWWWW!

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More eww and gunk behind the side plate!

I got to cleaning – Geeeze ----how long has this been stored like this?

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A quick search proved that this machine was made in 1911!
It is almost 102 years old.

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Well, you honestly didn’t think I would NOT try to get her working – did you?!

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Hello, Baby!

She sews ---I only had to monkey with her tension just a bit!

And here is the thing about treadles – it’s not easy to pop one machine out and pop another one in the same table unless the machines are the same height because you’d also have to be swapping out belts.  The belts are held together with a really strong staple, but you have to use pliers to open the staple to remove the belt from the machine – each different machine is going to have its own length of belt. 

You don't want to constantly be swapping out belts because undoing and redoing the staple weakens it, and it's a huge pain.

The beauty of this machine?  It’s the same body/model as Gae who was made in 1924 --- it automatically fit the belt that was already there!

The singer 66 had a good long run and many hundreds of thousands of this model machine were made in its day.  The reason I love this machine?  Ease of use.  Drop bobbin -- no bobbin case needed.  Standard size needles.  Hard to go wrong with a 66 if you are just starting to collect vintage machines that you can USE.

I did have to remove the bobbin winder – it had some broken parts and would catch on the belt not allowing it to treadle freely.

Other things that are a mystery ---was this machine treadled in a past life before it was electric?  A big balance wheel like this usually went on treadle or hand crank machines.  It could have been a people powered machine in 1911 that was later made electric.  Or maybe balance wheel styles didn’t change until later.

I checked a website that listed popular baby names for 1911.  One name that caught my eye was Mildred ---my grandparents lived on Mildred Avenue in Edina MN while I was growing up. 

Mildred.  I like it!

I know where *I'LL* be sewing tonight! Who wants to join me for Quilt-Cam at 9pm Eastern??


  1. WOW, What an awesome find!

  2. That's a nice machine Bonnie, can't wait to see her in action tonight.

  3. What a beauty and an outrageously great price!
    I've been sewing all day on easy street. finished the white and purple 1/2 triangles. stopped after doing 16 of th squares. my eyes are too tired. no quilt cam for me tonight.

  4. SWEET!! Mildred cleaned up nicely. I think that's only a failure in the release department. Hope to see you tonight.

  5. did you notice when you changed your wallpaper, that the machine it advertises is $22.00? i know you will give mildred a good home! can't wait to see more photos of the cheddar and lime flying geese quilt, and want to see the back, please.

  6. You are an amazing woman! I want to be just like you when i grow up! ;)
    Ill be watching tonight! So glad you are going to be on. I NEED some quiltcam time to get this tree skirt finished! Doing the "slice of Christmas" skirt by pat wys where it makes two at once and im on the home stretch. You will give me the umph to get it done! , as i need to get on my next step of the mystery....

  7. so very jealous! wish I could find older machines like the ones you are able to find.

  8. All I can say is you are AMAZING! Not only that you are able to find these machines, but you are able to get them home, clean them up, and get them running in no time flat!
    I look forward to Mildred's debut, and your flying geese quilt at Quilt Cam tonight. Better go charge up my iPad right now!
    See you later, Miss Bonnie!

  9. Wow great story Bonnie. My mom's name is Mildred- good choice! ( No she wasn't born in 1911 but in 1922).

  10. My DH and I passed a yard sale today. I spied an old treadle in the mix of stuff and said, "Oh look, an old sewing machine." And of course he acted like he never saw a thing!! I didn't stop, since I'm not looking to start a collection. But, I do love reading about all the lovelies you have. See you for Quilt-cam!
    Melissa the mis-placed Texan.

  11. My mom's name was Mildred. She was born in 1917. Makes me want an old machine. My favorite of mine I got in 1962 new. It is the Singer 500A. Never thought to name it. Guess it isn't too late. Will work on Easy Street at quilt cam time. See you then.

  12. It looks just like mine!! I haven't done much sewing on it but it works really well. Love the decals!

  13. She's the bomb! How the heck do you find these treasures? Its like you have a homing chip in your brain! My grandma's name was Mildred, so of course the name is perfect! And, thank you for posting the square sizes in todays clue or those of us who are Easy Angle impaired!

  14. She reminds me of our handcrank, but she has a shuttle bobbin, great find, I would have been too afraid to take on such a mess.

  15. oh and my Nanny was Mildred they called her Mimi for short, pronounced "Mimmee"

  16. Hey Bonnie!! Way to go!! Welcome to the herd Mildred. Great story of how you found her; thrill of the hunt. I'm so delighted you got her up and running in no time flat. See you and Mildred during Quilt Cam. P.S. Let me know if you'd like a bobbin winding assembly for her. I've got spare parts I just ran across from a 66 parts machine -- which I am glad Mildred did not become!!

  17. What a great way to name a machine! I have named my old Singers names like Elvis, Jenny Lind, and Enrico Caruso. My Brothers are Don and John. I never thought of naming them based on their birthdays.

  18. OH, what a treasure! I have one of those in a treadle at my mom's summer cabin - haven't seen it in over 2 years now though because we haven't had a vacation in that long! I really have been looking for one of these in a case like this that I could put a hand-crank on. I have a white Featherweight, but it's not the type you can put a hand crank on unfortunately :( I want one I can take camping or maybe just use in the living room since they are so nice and quiet :) Great find!

  19. Where do you look on the Internet to see how old a singer machine is?

    1. Bonnie has some links to websites at the bottom of her Vintage machine tab on her website. Try there. B

  20. Oh, I am going to miss quilt cam tonight and I soooo want to see Mildred. I am on the lookout for a good 66 treadle in a decent table. I learned to sew on an electric 66 way back in high school. That was many years ago, and I have missed that machine all this time. You will love Mildred, and soon I'll have one of her sisters.

  21. I'm getting ready to purchase, from a friend, her feather weight. She'll live very happily with her older sister, Ethel Sue! I'm thinking of naming my new one Esther.

  22. Bonnie, I absolutely love the Singer "Red Eyes". They are one of my very favorite. I think the decals are just beautiful. I am so glad you gave Mildred a new home. Yes, please, on the quiltcam tonite. Going through "quiltcam" withdrawal. *LOL* Cathy in TN

  23. Great find, Bonnie! How do you do that? This one was a mess but you made her look awesome. Can't wait to see her in action! Later...

  24. me thinks you will need a storefront place before long there....LOL

  25. Bonnie, love Mildred what a sweetie. Worked on the flying geese today, used your tutorial and it worked so good. I think I have conquered flying geese. Now to work on Part 3. See you on quilt cam.
    Thanks for all you do for us quilters.

  26. Okay, I need a road trip to wherever that antique shop is that you always visit. How far is it from Raleigh? Is it the one where I see a billboard calling it the "Grand Daddy of them All"?

    Thanks for all you do to inspire us. Happy Quilting.

  27. I find old sewing machines from time to time but having not much experience with them, can never tell if they are worth buying or if the price is reasonable, etc. See you on quilt cam tonight. I'll have all the Step 3 parts and pieces cut and ready to go.

  28. She's a beauty! A Singer red-eye was my very first vintage machine....the rest is history!!!

  29. @ Christa Marcotte....here is the link to look up your machine serial number to find out manufacture date: http://thefeatherweight221factory.com/page5.php (hope it's alright to post it here)

  30. Hello Bonnie,

    Lovely machine - great to see you got that nasty old motor off it and put it in a treadle. You will get plenty of mileage out of it.

    Now all you need is a 15 in a treadle so you can catch the FMQ bug.


  31. What a little beauty! I love that I can collect sewing machines vicariously through you, too! :-) See you on Quilt Cam!

    Margaret (Mirror, Alberta, Canada)

  32. My dad was born in 1911 - I would have bought that beauty too and called it Johnny!

  33. You have all the luck in the world finding old machines. Congrats on another addition of a machine and a string quilt too!!

  34. Gorgeous decals on your "new" machine. My mother's name was Mildred.

  35. Did anyone stop to realize that this machine was up and running BEFORE the Titanic sank a year later? Isn't that amazing? Oh, if old machines could talk! Love it!!

  36. There was no doubt in my mind that you would give it your best shot to see if you could get Mildred running! LOL She's a nice looking gal, in you overlook the yuck stuff.

  37. I'm going to have to poke my head in just to get a look at your new baby in action!

  38. I love Duck Dynasty! So Funny. Was leary at first but now I am hooked! Love your new trendle machine and you are doing great. Looked like it needed a major clean up first.

  39. just tuned in . Love the new machine . What a find . I'm making mug rugs with the cute little pattern from earlier . ...So ,Have we remembered What is the other Necchi's name ? just wondering .thanks Beth

  40. Did you try switching pressure feet from the Gae?

  41. What if the machine and quilt came from same lady!?

  42. I have a redeye 66 that was originally a treadle, the lady I bought it from converted it to a hand crank sewing machine. It is also called a redhead and since I am a redhead, I have to have it!

  43. I have an original redeye treadle machine, and I really love it. It's like the one I learned how to sew on!

  44. Where do you go to check the year on the machines? A friend/coworker bought one to restore for his girlfriend and I have the serial number but my googling is apparently not up to par with yours!

  45. What a great old machine! I have a Singer 66 handmachine! She still sews! :)
    And too crazy you name everything you love....... because I do as well.... Even our car (Leentje) and my mobile phone (Harry).....
    My Bernina Aurora machine is called Nina; and my two Singer Featherweights are Josephine (after René and Lucy's dog Joseph- also friends of yours I think..?) and Caroline (after Caroline of the Little House on the Prairie..).
    I have a habbit of naming everything....., my husband sometimes start calling: NO, you don't give it a name!!! (giggle....) :)
    Enjoy today!
    I had so much fun with part 3 of Easy Street! Thanks so much for such a lovely mysterie!!
    Love from Holland!

  46. A friend of mine just gave me this exact same machine to fix up that he got from an aunt. He wants to use it to fix PACKS! All I can see is all the buckles scraping against the decals which are PERFECT. It is in such good shape...

  47. Oh Wow, Mildred is a real beauty. You have inspired me to take my late mother-in-law's old treadle machine back up home with us on Monday(we're currently on a short vacation in Jeffreys Bay cause it's summer here in South Africa)and see if I can find somewhere to purchase new belts for it, so that I can also start treadling.
    Thanks for the inspiration (and thanks too for a fun mystery).
    Regards from hot and Sunny South Africa.

  48. Hi Bonnie,
    I have a Singer machine which looks very similar to this one. the # on my machine is
    G9022580 I have been wanting to clean it up as it looks just as bad as yours did as well as some bird seed intermingled. I do not believe it is frozen but it does have some rust here and there. My question for you is how did you clean it? What did you use to wipe it down and shine it up? I started to clean it but it is very almost sticky from the oil I suppose. Thank-you for your help ahead of time! I love all you do! Keep up the great work!!!!!


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