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Curating sewing and quilting talent, techniques, and tutorials, since 1997.

A Guide to Antique Sewing Machines

By Alison Cole
Sewing machines have been mass-produced worldwide for more than two-hundred years. Early models featured unique designs to add beauty and appeal to buyers. The wide variety of styles and manufacturers make antique sewing machines a favorite collectible. Because of the quality workmanship and heavy materials of the early machines many of the antique sewing machines are still working models. The antique sewing machines will typically be made of cast iron and feature the patent information in a visible location. The machines may have a hand crank or a treadle, which was a flat pedal for both feet to provide the motion for the sewing mechanism. The treadle machines would be mounted onto their own table or cabinet, while many other machines would be in a carrying case and the machine would be placed on the kitchen table. Miniature, antique sewing machines are some of the most desirable, as they are smaller working models that served as salesman’s samples, used while traveling or for mending. These small machines doubled as children's sewing machines specifically for use by young girls, since they were expected to learn how to sew. Machines that were intended to be marketed as a child's machine were often painted in a different color or have floral motifs painted onto the body of the machine. Over the past two centuries many sewing machine companies were successful for a time before closing operations, making for the wide variety of machines to be found. Many companies were not able to survive having their manufacturing facilities converted for wartime use, but also lost to post-war Japan's ability to produce cheap products. Singer is the first sewing machine company and continues to have antique sewing machines that are the most recognizable and most popular with collectors. The Singer Featherweight model #221, referred to as the Perfect Portable, continues to be a favorite of quilters.
Sewing Machines Info provides detailed information about industrial, embroidery, antique sewing machines, and sewing machines parts, as well as reviews of best sewing machine manufacturers. Sewing Machines Info is the sister site of Vending Machines Web.

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Comment by Pauline Jellison on September 7, 2008 at 12:12am
I just bought a Singer Treadle Sewing Machine 3 weeks ago at an auction here in the town I live it. We had to buy a new belt for it and we have oiled it and got it to running today and it runs very smoothly and would more smoothly if I can get my feet to peddling like it should be done. I really love mine that I bought. I had been looking for one for years that I could afford to buy and finally I found one.

P.J.
Comment by geri on March 19, 2008 at 10:25pm
My m'i'l had one but the b'i'l got it after she passed on. That thing still works great, too bad he has it as a conversation pce.....But when i go to yard sales i look for them...I'll get luck one of these days and find one...You can bet on that
Comment by Madfishmonger on March 19, 2008 at 1:35am
I own an antique treadle machine. It sat unused for 30 years while my mother put her electric one on the desk. I inherited it, opened it up, oiled it and it's worked perfectly ever since. I love it! I let a friend use it and she loved it so much she bought her own. Don't hide them away in your basement, pull them out and use them! You can use them in a blackout, and they save energy.

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