Vintage and industrial sewing machines. A tinkerer's blog. I buy, collect, refurbish and sell vintage sewing machines. Pre 1970s all metal machines are my favorite. I've developed a love for these mechanical creations of industrial art. I also love meeting the people who use them. Creative designers, artisans and craftspersons who are able to make things with these marvels. Don't forget to view the videos of the machines in action.
This is one of the most popular sail-repair sewing machines you'll find. Small in size but very powerful and with a zig zag stitch. This Pfaff 130 was meticulously cleaned and polished to mint condition.
I even found some gold paste to refurbish the zig zag knob. These sewing machines are very popular, I've seen some for as much as $600 and not as good looking as this one, I might add.
These are truly indestructible so if you find one that doesn't look to trashy get it, they clean-up well and work as strong as an industrial machine, but much smaller.
Marvel of design and engineering. The Pfaff 332 is an all metal cylinder bed machine with flat bed attachment and built-in embroidery stitches, as well as straight and zig-zag.
Before the advent of built-in embroidery, sewing machines had multiple cams that would be installed to sew any number of different stitches. Each cam would give you access to a different embroidery stitch.
The Pfaff 332 came with a built-in cam system they called "Dial-A-Stitch" which meant you didn't have to carry any more cams. Just turn the appropriate knob or dial in the right combination and you had access to a multitude of embroidery stitches.
It was quite a complicated set of knob and dial positions. Pfaff devised a wheel computer that would enable the user to pick an embroidery stitch and determine the corresponding dial setting.
These Pfaff 332 and similar sewing machines always remind me of old Navy battleships, tough and unsinkable.
If you run across one of these, the most common issue is a gummed-up cam system. Old oil residue in the cam system needs to be cleaned out carefully so as not to damage the delicate cam mechanism.
This video shows a Pfaff 230 a flat bed version of Pfaff's Dial-A-Stitch machine.
My dear friend Nina Serrano read my Blog a couple of weeks ago and sent me this beautiful original drawing she created from her childhood memories:
I asked Nina to write a couple of words to describe the drawing:
This pen/ink and wash drawing was created in 1980 to illustrate two poems I'd written about my childhood memories in the early 1940's in New York City.
As a child I often visited the crowded apartment of Haydee and Orencio Miras and their children with my uncle. There was always a big pot of food on the stove in the kitchen, near the sewing machine where Haydee's elderly mother stitched.
In the living room adults played guitars and sang, while we kids played among the piles of coats on the bed in the bedroom. The sewing machine was the hearth and heart of that wonderful home.
Nina's book of poems is available as an ebook on amazon.com
A few readers had asked me about thread sizes and the appropriate needle to use. I found this information on the web and post it here for your info.
Size 33 is a lightweight thread typically used for sewing garments. It is stronger than comparable polyester and cotton threads. Stitching, with a size 12 or 14 needle, is unobtrusive.
Size 46 is a lightweight thread typically used for sewing leather, lightweight upholstery fabric and drapes, canvass, and vinyl. It is sometimes used for sewing heavy duty garments because it is twice as strong as comparable spun polyester and cotton threads. Stitching, with a size 14 or 16 needle, is not highly visible.
Size 69 is a light-middleweight thread typically used for sewing leather, lightweight upholstery fabric, canvass, vinyl, awnings, banners, flags, patio furniture, sails and tents. Stitching, with a size 16 or 18 needle, is noticeable. **It is the largest size that most home sewing machines can handle.
Size 92 is a middleweight thread used for sewing leather, heavy upholstery fabric, drapes, canvass, auto interiors, awnings, boat covers, banners, flags, patio furniture, sails and tents. Use a size 18 or 20 needle.**This size thread normally requires a commercial sewing machine.
Size 138 is a heavy-middleweight thread typically used for sewing leather, heavy upholstery fabric, drapes, canvass, seatbelts, auto interiors, awnings, boat covers, pool covers, banners, flags, patio furniture, sails and tents. Stitching, with a size 20 or 22 needle, is noticeable. **Requires a commercial sewing machine.
Size 207 is a heavyweight thread typically used for sewing heavy-duty leather, upholstery fabric, canvass, and auto interiors. Stitching, with a size 22 or 24 needle, is very visible
Size 277 is a heavyweight thread typically used for sewing heavy-duty leather, upholstery fabric, canvass, and auto interiors. Stitching, with a size 24 or 26 needle, is very visible.
Size 346 is a heavyweight thread typically used for sewing very thick leather, upholstery fabric, canvass, and auto interiors. Stitching, with a size 26 or 28 needle, is very visible and often used as a focal point.
Size 554 is an ultra heavyweight thread typically used for sewing heavy-duty leather, shoe repair, canvass, and auto interiors. Stitching, with a size 30 or 32 needle, is very visible and often becomes a focal point.