Thursday, January 24, 2013

More on the Singer 127

Don’t you love the picture of this Singer repair guy and his old van?

This photo was taken somewhere in the 1940s by the look of he van ---Did he just deliver machines, or did he work on them making house calls wherever he was needed?

I sure could use someone who’d make a house call with these treadle beasts.

I showed a couple pictures of the new treadle last evening in the Quilt Cam post – but for those of you who missed it….

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This is just a beautiful machine.  I’ve not seen one with the decals so lovely ---and the cabinet AND machine cost me $75.00

At first I was thinking “Oh, I don’t know”  and then I realized that 7 yards of fabric off the bolt at the local quilt shop would cost me at least that much.  Done Deal!

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I can’t get over how intact these decals are!  And look at this side plate….lovely!

I have a suspicion on HOW the decals lasted so long.  I believe this machine was kept near a kitchen if not in the kitchen area itself.  How do I know?  That side plate you see above was crusted with dried and aged kitchen grease.  It took some very hot soapy water and dawn dish soap to get the yellow gunk off and the chrome to shine silver again.

Look at this piece:

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Yellow Gross-ness!

I scraped it with my fingernail, and saw that it would come off…so this was soaked in hot water and dawn soap too and then scrubbed.  You can see how much build up there is around where the screw goes!

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Shiny and clean! Look…the reflection of my hand and my cell phone taking the photo!

So yes, the kitchen grease is gross ---but is that what helped keep these decals? A protective coating?

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I’m not scrubbing the machine bed.  I simply clean with sewing machine oil and rub with a soft cloth.  I don’t want to risk chemicals that will react with the gold leaf and turn the decals silver. 

The serial number is AA786058.  This puts her manufacture date at 1925.  I thought for sure she would be “older” than my 66 Red Eye – because the 66 has a drop side round bobbin, and I would consider those “more modern” –and this is the old vibrating shuttle with long bobbin ---which I thought was more “old fashioned” but evidently Singer made long bobbin machines well into the 1940s.

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A whole drawer of goodies!

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And this part is amazing….after all these years…the KEY to lock the drawers is still here!  I wonder what was locked in these drawers over the years.  I suppose locked drawers would prevent small children from gaining access to sharp needles, pins and scissors….I’m tickled about the key!

Evidently the previous owner only found the threading and bobbin winding pages necessary. This was all there was of any kind of manual ---

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Three pages – definitely belonging to this machine.  Pages show how to thread the needle, and how to wind a bobbin.  I’m thinking of having these pages laminated ---because they are tearing and brittle and I’d really like to preserve them in a way I can read both sides of the pages.

And the big question of all – does she sew??  Yes!

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I haven’t wound a bobbin yet, but I couldn’t resist just trying with the thread that was on the bobbin already in the machine.  The stitches were large, almost like basting – but the tension was almost perfect!  A quick turn of the stitch length screw to the left and I finally had her sewing a  “normal” every day stitch length

There is one thing missing ---she doesn’t have a check spring in the tension assembly.  That must have broken off somewhere, so I will be ordering a new one….and a couple more bobbins and a couple spool pins.  I had to borrow a spool pin from another machine to get one on her.

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The cabinet is in better shape than I thought it would be too.  Dry wood just soaks up  furniture oil and I have  a bottle of beeswax wood nourisher I bought at an antique mall years ago that really shined her up nice.

Still no name…..I’m hoping the seller will get back to me in the next few days and let me know the name of his next-door neighbor’s mother.  This was her machine.

With two treadles, back to back in the basement –my hope is that I can convince my local quilty friends to come treadle with me! I mean – they could actually say they are headed out for a “work out!” :cD

Yes, it was a GREAT birthday!


  1. She's beautiful, Bonnie! Wish I could come treadle with you. I could use some lessons! I have a beautiful Singer red eye but have not made a project on her yet because I am just not good at keeping the fabric lined up while I treadle.

  2. Oh Bonnie! Your 127 is a gorgeous machine. Those decals are fabulous. I think it is sad that these old treadles are worth so little money. They sew a lovely straight stitch, with some oil and regular cleaning last indefinitely. Enjoy your new sewing machine, she surely is a treasure.

  3. Definitely a beauty, Bonnie. I'd say that cabinet is fumed oak, from the weight you describe, and from the look of it in the 'polished' photo. Your picture of the shuttles/bobbins reminds me of some of the as-yet-unidentified parts for the Singer 191J my friend found in the Seniors' Centre in her small town recently. I'll have to have another close look at them and see what's what. You've piqued my curiosity!

  4. She is beautiful Bonnie! You did a great clean up job. One day I would love to get a treadle machine but right now I don't have the space to keep any extra machines and I don't know how to take care of them. That is on my someday list! My only memory of a treadle machine is when I was young I was playing around one and hit my head on it -- I had several stiches in my forehead because of it! A happy belated birthday to you!

  5. someday I will give your treadle machine(s) a try. and you can laugh at me breaking thread many many times.

  6. She's a beauty! I marvel at your ability to find these machines ... so much fun to share the adventure with you. Would love to have a treadle someday ... I keep looking ..... Linda

  7. I really enjoyed the quilt-cam last night! I loved seeing you use the treadle, as I'd never seen one in action. Pretty cool!

  8. What a beautiful machine! You are such a good shopper! I would love to come and learn how to treadle. Sounds like a lovely way to spend time. Enjoy!

  9. Ooo she's a beauty!

  10. Love these old machines, and yours was a great deal. Very nice!

  11. The side plate looks almost like a quilting motif. So beautiful.

  12. You got a deal!! I paid more for mine and it was NOT in good shape at all. Took a lot of work to get it going. But I love it. Yours is really beautiful. I am a little intimidated by the shuttle machines though. ;)

  13. Gorgeous, I would have snagged her up real quick, I need to make a trip to NC, when you find antique machines here in Florida, they want $200 or more for them, even if they don't run.

    Congrats on the great birthday find!!

  14. Oh she is a beauty for sure! She couldn't be in better hands. I'm glad you had a great birthday!

  15. At one time that was going to be my retirement job. I was going to have a van that I could go to people who have machines in cabinets, and work on them. Haven't thought of that in a while but maybe that would still be a good idea. Got my roommate for Ireland. Getting more excited every day.

  16. Why are things so plain now? We buy a new machine and think they are nice until we see an older model. They really knew how to decorate then. Now it is plain, plain, plain. Look at new buildings and compare them to the older buildings. No beauty any more except for friends--they are beautiful.

  17. I imagine the new machines are plain because 1. it costs less and 2. manufacturers must think we prefer them that way. I just found a "1940's Singer Electric Sewing Machine" on craigslist for $50. I have sent off an enquiry to see if it is still available. It sits in a cabinet and looks to be a Singer 301. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

  18. Bonnie, her name is either Lydia or Frieda. Or Mabel. Pick one.

    Thanks for the great blog, you have got me quilting again and this is just what I needed after losing my mother in October. She was a great sewer and quilter and taught me how to sew on her old black Singer.

    I have my husband's great grandmother's White treadle! So much fun to sew on these things and think of all the generations that have gone before us, isn't it?

  19. Hi Bonnie as I read this post this morning the phrase ...someone's in the kitchen with Dinah...from I've been working on the railroad sng came to mind. I googled it and it was originally a minstral song and then was adapted into I've been working on the railroad. It was recorded in 1927, about the same time your machine was born.

    If you can't find out the name of the original owner I think Dinah might be a good fit.

    She looks lovely,enjoy her for many years.

  20. Beautiful treadle! I would treadle with you if i were near by. I love my treadle! I will just enjoy the time with you on quilt cam...see you next time.

  21. Did Quilt Cam for the first time last night and really enjoyed it. The machine is gorgeous! I have one very similar, although I have never tried to treadle on her. After watching you, I may have to try it. I have a collection of about 20 vintage machines ranging from hand cracks to electric and love them all. I also have a "Minnesota" treadle and cabinet. They were only made for about 4 years and this one is in awesome condition. Don't know why but I really love these old gals. I also have several newer machines also covering everything, including a Statler longarm. Guess I just love anything sewing/quilting!


  22. I just got a 1951 anniversary Singer and it has the long bobbin in it! Is a curiosity as to why they had 2 different bobbin assemblies at the same time-maybe two different factories?

    1. It's different sewing machine models. The model 66 and 99 are rotary (round bobbin) machines. The 27/28 127/128 are all "long bobbin".

  23. I remember the Singer guy coming to our house to try and fix my mom's machine. He talked her into trading it in and she was unhappy with the new one. I think she had a Singer Golden Touch and Sew. I haven't found one that I could get to remember her by. I'm so glad that your new 127 works and the decals are in such great condition.

  24. Oh Bonnie she is beautiful, sorry it was a tough job but it looks like the grease did her a favour. I had a treadle that belonged to my gran, she had to go to a new home a couple of years ago. Sadly I got my quilting cabin last year so I could have kept her. I have just managed to buy a singer featherweight fully serviced and in good working order with all feet original manual etc for £191 including postage. She should come next week hopefully. I am very excited. Just about to try out my seam guide on an old singer . I am working on roll roll cotton boll for a work colleagues 50th birthday. I love the smell of the old machines. I think I was born in the wrong era sometimes.

  25. Now I really need to clean up my two treadle machines, AND get my grandmother's 66 out and see if that still works.

  26. Bonnie, I will come tredle with you. I have an old Singer, and the belt is broken. You can teach me how to love her back into service!!

    Becki (from FP&Q Guild)

  27. Love your machine...it is very similar to mine manufactured in 1904. Mine is very used so the decals on it are worn away. The decals on the machine are still sharp, however. Your's is a beauty.

  28. I think her name should be Isis, with the Egyptian-looking ornaments and all. :)

  29. I often treadle along with you,Bonnie. In my living room I have a Pfaff 60 and Singer 237 treadles; the living room is where the computer lives too. :o)
    My oldest working treadle is a 1914 Singer 115 it sews quietly and has a perfect stitch. I named her Tiffany(has Gingerbread/Tiffany decals).
    It wasn't moving at all when I bought it for $15. It had 2 mud dauber wasp nests in the machine's pillar and lots of rust. Thankfully it had no rust in the bobbin area at all.

  30. She is a beauty with Sphinx decals. I use OxyClean or washing soda in hot water for a soak of the brightwork--of course don't get that on any of the painted surfaces. The hot water with a strong solution of OxyClean will soak the gunk and grime off the cover plates etc. in 15-30 minutes. A quick rinse and wipe and they are looking so much better. Usually such perfect decals mean the machine was not used much, poor girl.

    I highly recommend Cindy Peters of Stitches in Time for parts for vintage machines. Very reasonable prices, speedy, and extremely knowledgeable. http://stores.ebay.com/Stitches-in-Time Contact Cindy at stitchesintime@earthlink.net for prices and many parts not listed in her store.

  31. Wow, wow, wow - what a beauty!!!

  32. So gorgeous...my goodness, what a beauty!

  33. She is a beauty, mine is a red eye and sews great. Such fun. I couldn't get Quiltcam last night, darn. Bad internet connection. Hope next time. Know I missed a good time. I have an old singer that is a shuttle and am a little scared of it. have not wound a bobbin and just let it set. She isn't a pretty machine , has the ruff finish. DH brought it home to me. Need to get her out and just see if I can get her running. What I love about the old machines is I can work on them and usually get them running.

  34. Ooh she is beautiful, what are the decals called? I am heading to Ct tomorrow to pick up a treadle that has been in my husbands family for many years. It was in his Aunts attic and she asked us if we would like it, she also is asking around to see if any others want to join us on our trip home! Thank you for giving me the joy of finding vintage machines, I have successfully fixed three since Dec! It is therapy! My father has lathed out screws which are special sizes for FW's and 301s, I feel a family business in the future:) happiest day to you Bonnie!

  35. Glad your birthday was a great one. Your new machine looks amazing. I am always shocked at how good they look once you clean them up.
    Can't wait to find out what her name will be.

  36. Beautiful -- looks just like the machine I learned to sew on. My mother had me hemming diapers on one of these when I was 10 years old. I am so jealous!

  37. The Singer man used to come to our house once a year when I was a girl. He would put a new belt on, check the bobbin winder, make sure the treadle was moving smoothly, and give it a bit of oil and cleaning. And I think he charged the HIGH PRICE of like $10 total for everything, including the new belt! My red eye is from 1913, and it still runs smooth as can be!

  38. OMG you could open a new kind of work out studio, y'know, like the "spinning" ones out there. Treadling for great looking thigh and calf muscles. And you can take home the blocks you sew. A new way to use up your scraps!

  39. Bonnie, you sure hit the jackpot this time! Congratulations, and Happy Birthday!

  40. She is gorgeous!!! Challenge for you, Bonnie...create a quilt design based on her decals!! That would be fabulous! So glad you had such a great birthday!

  41. My gran had one of these, she got it as a present from her husband, dont know when but my mother was born in 1907 and neither she or her younger sister ever sewed. I came in contact with the machine when a young Mum and my aunt was using it as an exercise machine, treadling away to ease her arthritic ankles! I eventually got it in late 1960's but did not use it long as I soon acquired a portable electric one. Many years later I found a beautiful table top Singer with hand cranked wheel with decals similar to yours. I sat under the apple tree in my garden and sewed patchwork squares When I moved house years later I swopped it for a new set of pots. We lived in Glasgow near large Singer factory which made munitions during WW2 1939-45. Returned to Sewing machines afterward but never the same quality or beauty. Sad as many generations had made machines there with love and pride. So I will just enjoy yours. Wonder if any of mine are still around or ended up dead or in India.

  42. I bought one today that looks like this. It's number is B1488199. The plates over the bobbin won't move. :-( Any tips how to break them loose? So hope that I can get it going. I'm looking for the tutorial you did to replace the belt. Hope I find it soon. I'm anxious to get her going and see if she will sew.
    Linda Baker

  43. Hi, I am a treadle loving woman. I have 17 antique sewing machine, dating back from 1879 to 1927. I love sewing on a treadle and have made many things on my treadler. I find it very relaxing: the sound alone can rock you to sleep. I love love love my treadle sewing machine.

  44. Such a beautiful machine. I love the beautiful decals. Your beauty sure cleaned up nice.
    I have a Singer treadle. I don't know anything about it like when it was made, I found it at a garage sale years ago. I made a queen size scrap quilt on my treadle years ago for my husband. He loves it. It took awhile for me to get the hang of using it. The machine takes one step back if I don't stop treadling at the right time. I loved making the quilt on my treadle. I heard about a woman that came to guilds and taught people how to clean their machines. It was a great class and my machine cleaned up beautifully.


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