Meeting the Girls- Part One. My ascent into a vintage sewing machine addiction.

Meeting the Girls – Part One

My descent into Vintage Sewing Machine addiction. 

Meeting Mae.

In the past two years, I have had two ankle surgeries.  I used to play a lot of tennis, but since my injury, I picked up quilting again to keep myself busy.   My mother taught me to sew when I was little and it is truly one of the things in my life that I am most thankful for – besides my own precious family of course.  Lately this skill has played a large part in my life.  It has kept me busy while I was laid up after my surgeries and it has even made me a little bit of money to help out with mounting medical bills. 

My mother introduced me to Bonnie Hunter who is a well-known quilter.   We both love her simple, colorful, scrappy style.  We both follow her blog daily and both of us have made quilts designed by her.   Her blog is Quiltville if you don’t know who she is and want to take a look.  Bonnie also loves vintage sewing machines and she includes these in her blog and daily sewing.  Reading through her posts about the machines, I couldn’t help but be just as enamored with them as she was and I yearned to acquire one myself. 

One of my tennis pals is in the process of downsizing and said she had a machine they were looking to get rid of and that she would sell me.  They didn’t use the machine, but her husband had restored the cabinet and they had it as decoration.  I called her and went on over to see it and instantly fell in love.  We agreed on a price and she, her husband and I carefully loaded it into my car.  I was terrified it was going to shift in my vehicle as I made a turn and break, so I SLOWLY made my way home on the back roads.

When I got home, my husband and son settled it in the dining room in our house that we use as an office.   

I quickly did some research and after a few days, I discovered that I owned a Singer 9W machine made circa 1908 in Bridgeport Connecticut.   The original design of the machine was manufactured by a company called Wheeler and Wilson, but Singer purchased that company in 1905 and kept this particular design – the 9W - and manufactured it until around 1913.  According to a Singer website, the Celtic Knot decals were added to machines around 1908, so I date this machine around then.   Singer usually has a very comprehensive serial numbering data base and tells you the exact DAY your machine was made, but the machines made at the former Wheeler and Wilson plant during this time are tough to get that exact of a date.  

Here is a photo of the serial number.   Also, see how dirty?  Ugh.

 I set it up and got to work cleaning off the years of grime.   Although the cabinet was in pretty decent shape, the machine itself needed a little love.   It had layers and layers of grease or – something  - on it and it took quite some time to get it cleaned off. 

See the clean spot I made on the front left of the base?  Yeah, this was going to take a while.  It was a delicate operation because I didn’t want to destroy the decals and the progress was painstaking.  After removing as much of the gunk I could and some rust as well, I oiled up the insides and I was able to make it run and make stitches by turning the wheel.

I ordered a new belt for it so I could get the treadle working, but it was slow to arrive.  Impatient to get it truly working with the treadle, I used an idea of Bonnie Hunter’s to get some 3/16”plasting piping from my local hardware store and make a treadle belt out of the that.   I found out later that my local quilt shop actually sold treadle belts.  Didn’t matter now, I had it threaded and sewing.  I sent a video of it to my friend who was happy to see it in use.  Here she is all cleaned up and in almost daily use.   

Here's my cute scissors I got at a local quilt show - had to show you those.

Ladies with vintage machines have a habit of naming their machines  and we named this machine Mae after my tennis pal's grandmother who owned the machine originally. 

When my mother and father downsized, I acquired some of my mother’s fabric stash, and this is where I went to get fabric for a quilt to make on this machine. 

I chose mostly old calicoes and a simple churn dash pattern.  My son and husband carried the machine upstairs to our bedroom and placed it in front of the window where it gets great natural light in the afternoons.   It try to sew on it a little every day or so and it is good exercise for my ankle which has only healed so far.

And this is where something that was supposed to keep me sane during my confinement led me to a little bit of a crazy vintage sewing machine addiction. 


Edited to add:   Here are the blocks all sewn together.

It isn't the prettiest quilt I ever made, but it was fun using the treadle machines to create something