Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Restoring a 201-2: Interview with Elle Dubya of "My Sewing Machine Addiction"

Elle Dubya's restoration projects: One down, one to go

A month before I started this blog, California-based homemaker "Elle Dubya" fired up a vintage Singer blog of her own. Titled "My Sewing Machine Addiction," it chronicles her impressive mission of completely tearing down and rebuilding a model 201-2 that she acquired in May. Her blog went up in June, and I've been hooked ever since discovering it. "When I purchased this 201-2, I rushed into buying her," Elle admits, and it's a feeling many of us know well. "I was charmed by her decals, and it wasn't until I got home and into good light that I realized that she was in really bad shape."

The 201-2's condition earned it a nickname: "I named her Ms. Rusty," Elle says. "I couldn't move the needle, her gears were locked up, and she was in dire need of both aesthetic and functional repair.  At that point I figured I couldn't really do any more harm to her so I might as well try fixing her up...even though I was probably diving into the deep end of the pool."

Elle's 201-2 rescue project is fascinating and inspiring because 1) She's tearing down everything on the machine, and 2) she's never done this before. Although her grandmother taught her to sew at a young age, the 40-something Elle didn't get back into sewing until her thirties, and "the vintage sewing machine bug bit me just this year," she confesses. How did that happen? Read on for the Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Blog's first People Profile, the Elle Dubya interview!

VSSMB: You got into vintage sewing machines just this year. What's the story?
Elle Dubya: I was looking to get a Featherweight because they are such cute little machines and are easy to transport to quilting class.  Unfortunately, I'm also a cheapskate, or "bargain shopper" depending on your view… 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos, Part 5: Is It a 99?

Model 99, up top, is stubbier. Model 66, on the bottom, is longer.

The model 66 is a full-size machine; the model 99 is a 3/4-size machine with the same visual DNA as the 66, the same lines and curves. Identifying the model 99 by sight is fairly easy, because it's just a horizontally-squashed version of the model 66, as you can see above.

The model 99 is the only 3/4-size machine I'm covering in this series. One other 3/4-size machine you might see on Craigslist--I've only seen one once or twice--is the model 28/128. This is easily distinguishable by the shovel-shaped inspection plate and/or dual slide plates:

NOT a 99, as evidenced by these features.
So, if you see either of those indicators, you'll know it's not a 99. The 99 has a single center-mounted slide plate, as seen below:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos, Part 4: Ruling Out the 27/127, Ruling In the Model 66

Now that we've learned to figure out if a tiny Craigslist photo is of a Singer 15 or 201, we'll next turn to the model 66. The 66 was the entry-level Singer and is extremely common on my local (NYC-area) Craigslist.

The model 66's silhouette can easily be mistaken for a model 27 or 127, so the first thing we'll learn to do is rule that out. The model 27/127 has two dead giveaways that are easy to spot from many angles: 1) A silver shovel-shaped inspection plate, and 2) Dual slide plates running the entire width of the bed:

NOT a 66, as evidenced by these features.

So if you spot either of these items in any given photo, you can be sure it's not a 66. And either of those features are often visible in even the smallest, darkest photo.

Next, how do we determine if it IS a 66? If you're dealing with a large photo, the 66 has some unique lines. The top and bottom lines of the arm are both slightly curved and tapered inward, and there's that Ski Jump area that's too steep to be a model 15:

But what if you're dealing with a tiny, dark photo? When the photo is not clear or shot at a bad angle, the 66's lines can often be mistaken for both the 15 and the 201. In that case we need to rely on some other clues.