Sears Kenmore 158.14301, my parents’ machine
This is the machine on which I learned how to sew, how to oil and maintain machines, and how to swear. I adore it.
White Superlock Electronic 1934D serger
This was actually the first sewing machine that I bought on my own. I found it on steep clearance shortly after winter break my freshman year of college; little did I know SVP Worldwide had just formed from Singer, Viking, and Pfaff, and had also acquired White, so old White models were being phased out. To make a long story short, I got a great deal, especially considering my experience with sergers prior to purchasing this was one afternoon helping edge tutu bodice pieces. It’s very basic (capable of 3-4 thread overlock stitches, differential feed from .7 to 2, decently adjustable cutting edge width, and the ability to open out fully to allow for relatively easy threading), and has proven quite capable.
Brother Pacesetter 3700
My modern, plastic geared machine. I like the clear window to the bobbin compartment, the wide selection of feet that just snap on, and the adjustable needle position. I hate the lightweight feel and the inability to really adjust tension to perfection; this machine just doesn’t have the same stitch quality as my vintage machines.
Sears Kenmore 158.14101, “Joy”
I purchased this machine via Craigslist in September, 2013, for $25. She came with a random assortment of accessories (geared bed plate for buttonholder attachment but no buttonholer, two zipper feet but no straight stitch foot…). She’s lovely, although still suffering the effects of poor maintenance during her working life, and very poor storage after. She was filthy and in very rough shape when I purchased her; I was barely able to turn her hand wheel, and every surface was covered with brown crud. She’s currently able to stitch again (although not in reverse), and very happy about it. She’ll get a new belt and new reverse lever soon, and I keep cleaning some new nook or cranny every time I sew.
1922 Singer 66 treadle, “Ruby”
A beautiful machine, and a huge project. My parents purchased her via Craigslist for me in April, 2015, in South Lyon, MI for $75. She came with a lovely assortment of feet for her back-clamp presser foot bar, two treadle belts, and a whole lot of grime.
1919 Singer 128 electric, “Cygnet”
Another machine that my parents picked up for me via Craigslist in April, 2015, this one from Hudson, WI, for $80. Cygnet belonged to a woman named Swan (the grandmother of the man who was selling her) who ran a seasonal rooming house in rural Wisconsin and made extra money sewing and repairing clothes for the laborors who rented rooms. Cygnet’s wiring is completely shot, her shellac is flaking off, and her bentwood case smelled musty as could be when I first opened it up, but she was much cleaner internally than Ruby, and came complete with slide plates, presser foot, shuttle, and three original bobbins. Opening up the case and letting it air out in the afternoon sunshine in my living room did wonders for the musty smell, and she’s on her way to becoming a real, working machine again with a reproduction hand crank until I can rewire her motor.
Sears Kenmore 158.14300
Nearly identical to my parents’ machine (I have yet to discover what the difference was between the 14300 and the 14301 models), but in the nicer table that my mother remembers looking at and rejecting as too expensive when she and my dad purchased theirs. In truly lovely shape when my dad and I picked it up for $95 in Roseville, MN via Craigslist. It had been sitting unused for some time, and needed a light dusting and good oiling, but that was the only “repair” work I had to do on this machine. It had obviously been well cared for, and belonged to the mother of the man who was selling it; he said that she actually worked for Sears for many years. It came with bobbins, pins, pincushion, hand and machine needles, original oil bottle, buttonholer, several presser feet, manual, needle threader, extra lightbulb, thimbles, etc. and a hatbox full of sewing extras (zippers, seam binding, buttons, snaps, etc.) all in excellent shape.