This is a photo diary of my costuming "travels"; where I've learned and struggled to make historical costumes for myself. They're not always pretty, but always fun. And I want to share with others what I learn along the way. **You can find me on Facebook, or have my posts delivered to your email by signing up at the lower part of the right column.**



About Me

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HI, my name is Val. I'm a Past President & member of the San Diego Costume Guild,Costumer's Guild West in Los Angeles, and Orange County Costume Guild, & a representative of the San Diego History Center. I make my own historical costumes but don't sell any unless I get tired of it.The eras I've made so far are 1770 up to 1918. My favorite is the 1880s bustle.

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Friday, January 13, 2012

Meet my new baby- she's 104 years old!

Last year at the Dickens Fair in Riverside, CA, a shiny object caught my eye: hand cranked sewing machines! I’ve often watched others at reenactments using them, and envying the use of such a wonderful machine. Unfortunately I didn’t have enough cash with me at the time, and had to walk away.
I’d forgotten about them until recently when my friend, Cindy, got one for Christmas, and I remembered the Dickens Fair was coming up soon. Armed with a cash gift from my Mom, when I arrived at the Fair this past weekend and before it opened to the public, I headed over to the Marketplace in hopes the vendor would be there again. And he was! I saw a lineup of about 15 machines, all gorgeously restored and in working condition. And the price was still the same from last year!
                                                                        Photo from a friend.
The first machine I looked over was the obvious;   a Singer, a familiar name. The others were names I’d never heard of. But still all just as pretty in their gold designs and glistening black skins. The vendor gave me a tour of all of them, mostly English or German made ones. One in particular stood out to me, a Jones.  It was made in England in 1908, and had a warrant emblem that said, “Supplier to Queen Alexandra”. It was particularly beautiful with so much delicate gold decoration that it won my heart right away.






























It uses these tiny narrow bobbins that don’t hold a lot of thread. There’s a storage area on the side of the machine under the wheel, and a bobbin threader in front of it.
















It has the ability to have a cable attached under the hand wheel to become a treadle sewing machine if I ever decide to do that, or even find a cabinet I could do it with. But that’s not my goal.
This website tells the history of my machine. Jones history
My mother just reminded me of a miniature Singer sewing machine she gave me when I was younger that was a child’s hand crank machine. I found it, looked it up on the internet, and found out it was made in 1951 to celebrate Singer’s 100 year anniversary and they put a badge on it to commemorate it. If she hadn’t mentioned it, I might never have looked it up, and I actually forgot that I had it, although I knew I did. It’s just “up on a shelf somewhere”.  It’s missing its bobbin so I’ve never been able to sew on it.  It has a small brace that you can attach it to a table to stabilize it too.
It’s been fun having people now tell me their stories of using hand crank or treadle machines. My Mom said she used a hand crank to make all her school clothes, and that her aunt wouldn’t allow an electric one into the home because that was dangerous. My aunt said she also used a treadle to sew all her clothes. Then my next door neighbor told me about sewing all her children’s clothes on a treadle machine. It makes me think of all the exercise I’m missing with only using my foot or toes to press on a pedal now.
When I mentioned my mini one, she said one of her friends had one of them that he traveled with to do sewing repairs. What an idea!
Please tell me YOUR stories of using hand crank or treadle sewing machines. I’d love to know of others who own these, and especially what you do with them & what you've made on them. At some point I hope to use mine at a reenactment demonstration.
ETA: I contacted the owners of Sew Cranky who I bought my machine from, and they do carry extra supplies for hand crank, treadle operated, and maybe other antique machines. Check out their website here. http://sewcranky.com/
And this tells you all about my Jones sewing machine. http://www.sewalot.com/jones_sewing_machines.htm


 

15 comments:

  1. This summer I bought a beautiful Singer from 1899 that has a golden sphinx on it, which meant I had to get it. It used to be treadle but was converted to electric, so someday when I have the space for a table (my grandmother has one I'm hoping to snag, though no machine) I can change it back. I haven't used it yet, and though it is in "working" condition, it needs some cleaning and TLC. I also only have one bobbin. Do you know where you can get extras? And also, I can't figure out how to thread that thing! :P

    Yours is lovely! Can't wait to see what you do with it! :D

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    1. Oh, and that mini one is so cute! Can you give us the scale of it? I can't tell just how big it is. How fun to be able to travel with it!

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    2. Carly, mine is 9 inches tall, 7 inches wide. It just does a chain stitch so I'm not sure how permanent a sewing it would be. But you're right, how cool would that be?
      Val

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  2. Yay! It's beautiful! And, I think what you have there is a shuttle machine. Those long "bobbins" fit into a shuttle. This page has some photos & illustrations of shuttles. . .

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    1. Jenni, thank you, that looks exactly like the shuttle in mine.

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  3. Hi folks! I just switched my browser to Google Chrome and now it seems I'm able to get back into my blog again.
    Yes, the vendor I bought mine from does sell extra accessories, so check out their website. http://sewcranky.com/
    They'll be at some more shows in So.CA soon so if you're interested, let me know, and I'll post the dates and locations.

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  4. OMG! This is soooo vintage and antic. But wait we still have the singer sewing machine the one that is black and it is still working and in very good condition. Now I realize that everything that was made before was in good quality I'm jealous!

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  5. Super cool! I would love to find one of these someday!

    My only experience with a pedal operated sewing machine was in a hotel in Santorini. There was an interesting looking table in my room. I recognized the pedal, so I did a little investigating. The top opened and out popped a sewing machine. Well, it didn't pop - it was quite heavy - but it swung up and I set it up and it still had all it's parts and the pedal worked! There were even a couple bobbins in the drawer! So cool. I wish I could have brought it home with me! Bummer.

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  6. Hello ive seen your Blog and i have a question ive got 3 sewingmachines i want to sell them but i dont know anything about them , its an old Mini sewing machine from Singer , one beautifull Kayser and a Gritzner who needs to be polished .

    please can any one help me before selling.

    i come from Holland (europe)

    they are on my website www.sanfransisco.nl

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    1. Mr. Middel, I'm sorry I can't help you with any info on your machines. But try the two links I left at the bottom of my post.

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  7. Oh wow! That's such a beautiful machine! I love all the painted work on it. Really, really lovely.

    Have you made anything on it yet? Is hand cranking quite tedious or do you like the control you have with it? Sometimes I get a lead foot and I zip along a little too fast...

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    1. Yes, Caroline, I have. Actually I started a little girl's Civil War dress at one of the reenactments so I could demonstrate how they worked. I was mostly doing the seams and growth pleats, but later finished them up on a regular machine since I needed to make 5 for a sutler to sell them. I get stopped alot with people asking me questions, so I didn't get to sew for long periods of time. I find it relaxing but I'm not on a time schedule to finish anything. It is kind of hard only having one hand to hold the fabric tho. This shows me using it at one of our reenactments near San Diego. http://timetravelingincostume.blogspot.com/2012/03/cranky-ladies.html
      I'm hoping to try it again in March at the next event. I've been a little too busy to use it at home right now.
      Val

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  8. Hi! Those old sewing machines are so beautiful!

    In Sweden, where i come from, they are not appreciated at all, people practically give them away and I have rescued several which were dumped in skips! A real shame.
    //Malin

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    1. Thank you Malin, we think they're works of art too. And we pay big bucks for them, like $300US, if they're in great condition. Please keep up the rescue!
      Val

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I would love to hear if this was any help to you. Pretty please!