Vintage Sewing, Anyone?

(25 Posts)
JoffreyBaratheon Wed 22-Jul-15 09:20:26

Just curious who else has and uses vintage sewing machines, or likes buying vintage cotton/haberdashery/fabric?

I have a little herd of 1900-ish handcrank sewing machines - just gave away two Jones machines to my sons, and a 1902 Singer 28K to one of their friends for making Cosplay stuff. I used these machines got cheap at car boot sales, to learn how to service and clean old machines as they fascinate me.

But still have my husband's great grandmas' Pfaff and Singer 66K and recently bought a 1956 Singer 221K which I can't seem to leave alone!

I'm working my way through a massive pile of wool, linen and cotton fabric, to make all my dresses for the next year or two. The pile was a middle aged man's granny's fabric stash that he said dated from the 1970s - 90s. Some of it is top quality Superfine worsted, etc - (according to selvedge) looked it up and it sells now for £70 a metre, and upwards... I got metres and metres of different ones, some linen, and a whole roll of navy blue polkadot poplin... for the princely sum of a tenner for the lot!

Also recently got a box full of vintage cotton - every colour you can imagine and many unused, on wooden cotton reels - for £9. So, I realised, I'm sewing with vintage cotton and fabric on a vintage machine!

Anyone else do this, and speak to me of your bargains!

PolterGoose Wed 22-Jul-15 10:43:06

All my 'vintage' sewing stuff has been given to me, I've got an early electric Singer (not sure if it was an aftermarket motor or not) which interferes with radio signals but sews like a dream. It came with a plethora of original attachments and was given to me when I was about 19 by a colleague who's mum had died and he'd hung on to it. I was also given a stack of pre-war and war time sewing and craft books which I cherish and I've probably got some old odds and sods in my sewing basket. I haven't sewn much for years but when I eventually sort my spare room I hope to do more smile

lavendersun Wed 22-Jul-15 17:23:59

I have a vintage singer 99, it was one of the early ones. It was my 8th birthday present and I am now 47!!

My 9 year old uses it more than I do these days tbh. I would love to buy a treadle but I don't need one, don't have anywhere to put it and DH might just kill me smile.

There is a shop locally to me that only sells fabric from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Washed and ironed and cut into neat rectangles, as big as they can get, up to 6m lengths.

You can get old singer manuals free online if you don't already have them, I took mine apart a couple of years ago with the help of one of them.

The 99 was my only machine again for a few years when I moved abroad, it coped admirably with anything I threw at it. There was an Amish community nearby and some of the women used them too ... we bonded over old sewing machines smile.

I am lucky enough to live near Helen Howes although a trip to her workshop usually spells trouble for my bank balance.

RavenRose Thu 23-Jul-15 10:36:36

Lavendersun - where is that shop?! It sounds like heaven!

I love working with vintage stuff. I have 2 computerised brother machines. Yet the machine I use all the time is a 1951 singer 201k. It's just wonderful. It came serviced and PAT tested from a local charity shop for £50. Plus came with a stack of attachments and Helen Howes supplied buttonholers and zigzaggers. It's just beautifulsmile

I also have a 1898 singer hand crank. I'm now on the lookout for a featherweight. Ideally a 222k but they are going for silly money so I need to save a bit more. Still kicking myself for not getting the 221 for £30 in a local junk shop. I went to cashpoint, dealt with dds, went back and it was gone!

lavendersun Thu 23-Jul-15 13:03:44

It is in the back streets of Norwich Raven, they sell lots of retro gear with a big fabric section. When I was about 14 I was given a bright orange sit on sewing box thing like this. Hideous but I absolutely loved it at the time (and for many many years)!

Looks like a loo to me now but I truly loved it. They had one in this shop, I wasn't even tempted!!

zoescrafts.wordpress.com/category/vintage/retro/

JoffreyBaratheon Thu 23-Jul-15 13:24:41

Raven that's bad luck on the Featherweight. I just got the 221K and have probably already made 6 or so dresses and a pair of curtains on it! Worth saving for, though - you won't regret it. I paid £160 for mine and as I said upthread, just a fortnight before it had a £60 service - so I was happy with that. But still fantasise about finding one at a car boot for a tenner.

Charity shop here has vintage machines for ridiculous prices - recently saw some for £75 each - very obviously broken/frozen old machines with huge and glaringly obvious bits missing! Yet I have got faultless - just dirty - 1890s/1900s hand cranks at car boots for £10 - £15.

SoupDragon Thu 23-Jul-15 22:39:47

The house clearance charity place near me usually has a variety of vintage machines. The properly old ones are so beautiful. I limit myself to rescuing the abandoned sewing stashes of elderly ladies so have a large collection of vintage needled packaged in paper envelopes and teeny tiny pins as well as buttons, trimmings and thread.

JoffreyBaratheon Fri 24-Jul-15 09:57:47

SoupDragon that's pretty well what I do, too! Abandoned sewing stashes of elderly ladies! I think I will get about ten dresses from this last £10 stash, and all pure wool, linen or cotton.

I try not to have too much of a fabric stash, as I already have a yarn stash and don't have space for both so if I acquire fabric, I try and sew it but I still have a few pieces of this last one left, although I've been sewing solidly since May!

I always think of the lady who bought the fabric/haberdashery before I use it. The man who sold me the last big pile told me his grandma used to go to a stall on the local market and buy roll ends and bargains. I hope she made more things than she stashed but I am getting through her stash for her, now.

For years, one of our things was getting old ladies' button boxes/tins at charity shops. In the 1980s, I even found ones with little weights for dress hems - all kind of things that could even be Edwardian. They aren't around any more but you can still get some cool 1950s/60s buttons. Also sewing boxes on eBay - have had several for a fiver that are full of haberdashery.

SoupDragon Fri 24-Jul-15 11:40:51

I also rescue abandoned yarn stashes... grin

SoupDragon Fri 24-Jul-15 11:41:56

I try to turn my rescued year stashes into stuff for Woolly Hugs sales.

SilverHawk Fri 24-Jul-15 20:40:50

Raven I have Singer 201k passed down from my DM. It still works perfectly. I also have a new spare motor and the rubber rings to keep it running.

flightywoman Fri 24-Jul-15 21:36:49

Ooh, lavender, where in Norwich? I'm guessing not Anglian Fashion Fabrics on Magdalen St?!

RavenRose Fri 24-Jul-15 21:40:11

Lavendersun, thank you! We are hopefully heading to Norfolk for a break soon. Dh is is birder however I now have another reason to go to Norwich for a day!

I'm so pleased there's a few vintage fans here. I'm seriously thinking about a 99k to add to the collection as well. There's one in a local cafe used as an ornament. I think I need to rescue it and put it to usesmile

Much as I love my 201 she weighs as absolute tonne! If my backs bad I can't lift her and have to ask dh to help. So I'm thinking a lighter one that I can use the attachments with

GetMeOut Fri 24-Jul-15 22:52:48

OMG - Is Anglian Fashion Fabrics still there ? I remember going there in the early 70s with my DM ! I even found some samples from there the other day when I was looking at my old patterns ( which by definition must be vintage now shock). The samples were a lovely range of 100% polyesters in various shades of browns and oranges...

lavendersun Sat 25-Jul-15 07:49:57

I have never been in Anglian Fashion Fabrics shock, but it is still there in the same street as the vintage shop (I think it is the same street).

I don't actually know Norwich that well, live halfway between there and Cambridge and used to live in Cambridge so know it better/tends to be my first choice but I generally buy my fabric online tbh, I am not really a shopper despite my credit card bills. Might pop in for a look now though!

Raven, Helen Howes is only about 30 mins from Norwich, there is a rustic cafe there, the odd event in the old barn complex where she is and you can visit the gardens of the hall in the village. There is a really interesting used clothes/bag shop there, a killim/rug shop and an antiquey shop - the house that the antique (not posh antiques) shop is amazing. All a bit 'rustic' but nice when the sun shines.

raveningham.com/gardens/

lavendersun Sat 25-Jul-15 07:53:22

Also .... Helen doesn't post machines, but she does sell them, make a bit of room in your car smile.

www.helenhowes-sewingmachines.co.uk/buy.html#machinesales

I have been coveting the Jones treadle all year, but DH would be seriously unimpressed, more than seriously actually.

poppyinstitches Tue 28-Jul-15 09:33:56

I love vintage machines, but don't have one. One thing I have found though is vintage thread can be unreliable, its can degrade - so if your finding it snapping just swap for another reel.

sunshinenanny Tue 28-Jul-15 22:00:50

I have found some lovely vintage threads and haberdashery in charity shops and have also picked up vintage fabric. It's lovely to sew with and I like to think of it's original owners and wonder if they would approve of the things I use it for smile

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 29-Jul-15 11:33:06

Poppy, that's true: vintage thread can degrade. I just check it out subtly if buying one or two reels but if, like recently, buying a whole box full of the stuff for a fiver or so at a car boot, I will probably just try to break a random spool or two's, then take a punt! I've been lucky so far and managed to get only sound thread. When I bought these at a car boot, I assumed that some of it would be unsound - but so far, the ones I have used have been good!

SilverHawk Wed 29-Jul-15 22:05:36

Re vintage thread. I had problems with the snapping and snarling.

Just wind off the outer layer. Especially if they are faded or have been stored higgledy piggledy.

Joffrey, apart from the RHS tray, if they were stored like that, they should be fine.

flightywoman Fri 31-Jul-15 16:50:20

I found the fabric place in Norwich, it's called Junk and Gems, and is at 149 Magdalen Street. She said they restock the vintage fabric every week.

I bought some gorgeous flowered fine and slightly shimmery stuff that will be a blouse and some AWESOME 50s abstract patterned heavier cotton that I hope will become a skirt.

Pics to follow, they're being laundered at the moment!

What a find, thanks Lavendersun!

Katymac Fri 31-Jul-15 16:59:15

I don't actually use vintage stuff but I recycle adapt and create with old stuff

If that makes sense?

For example a hem I cut off a bought tee shirt dress, some curtain hooks & some webbing from fixing a chair has become a top for DD

crockydoodle Fri 31-Jul-15 22:44:26

I've got a 1956 201k, a 1951 99k with knee control, a Jones cs hand crank (est 1995), a lotus pattern 66k head and a modern janome 607. I'm on the lookout for a treadle but the people on gumtree at the moment are looking silly money for them. Usually for rusty machines too! My favourite is the 201. I intend to use it for free motion quilting and embroidery if I ever get time.

crockydoodle Fri 31-Jul-15 22:45:29

You can't just stop at one vintage machine!

lavendersun Sat 01-Aug-15 08:30:19

Glad you liked it flighty (and found it despite my hopelessness), she is a really nice girl, does all the buying with her mum. I only found it because DD used to have a history teacher who lived not very far from there and I would kill time after I dropped her off.

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