December 23, 2010

Peter made me do it...

Do you read the blog male pattern boldness? You might know it from the long-standing semi-feud with the selfish seamstress...
Anyway, if you do, there's no way one of blogger Peter's obsessions could have excaped your attention: vintage sewing machines.
Reading about them time after time (he's actually using machines from the first half of the 20th century), made me think of mine. I do actually own not one but two vintage sewing machines. Which I have put up for display in my living room.

This Pfaff was given to me by my paternal grandmother. It is not her own old sewing machine, she passed that on to someone else many years ago. This one used to belong to a lady she calls to as aunt... eh... I forgot her name (my grandparents were both only children but they stayed in touch with many, many old friends throughout their lives. Those were aunts and uncles to my father and his brothers and are still refered to in that way).
When she the machine to me, my grandmother was convinced it was a Singer. It isn't. It's a Pfaff, hand-crank only and looking quite pretty after all those years. I also have a small bag full of what might be embroidery feet for this machine.

So far, the Pfaff has taken center stage amoung the bookshelves, but I am starting to eye it up as a sewing machine, rather than as a purely decorative object. I tried and it does still work. I may just try and make something on it (which is easier said than done, since there really isn't that much space in my sewing room for an extra machine).

This Singer used to belong to my maternal grandmother. She was still using it about three years ago. According to my mother, it was originally a hand-crank machine, which was converted to electricity. It has the official Singer motor, but no lamp.

Despite it having been in use fairly recently, I really don't trust the wiring. Even less so after taking these pictures. The wires had stained the wood of the shelves in some places (which is bad, that bookcase is still new). An orange-y colour. I know electrical wiring is made of copper, which would leave green-ish stains, but still, it doesn't seem right.

I think this machine is less pretty that the Pfaff. It has had a less elaborate 'gilded' paint job and where the wooden base of the Pfaff is seductively curved and has decorative inlays in differently coloured wood, the Singer's base is quite plain. It has a decorated plate on the 'head' though, where the Pfaff has a plain one. I should have taken pictures of those things, but there wasn't enough light to show them to their advantage.
Both machines use a now-out-of-use type of bobbin, a small, slender brass spool.

If I make something using the Pfaff, I will definately keep you all up-to-date. And I will soon show you the real work-horses of my sewing life, as well. When there is enough space on the sewing table to take a picture...


  1. They are both lovely though I agree the Pfaff is even more beautiful. (I learnt to sew on a Pfaff, not quite of this vintage however). I can't quite wrap my brain around sewing with a hand-crank machine, however---it would take great skill, I think, to maneuver the fabric one-handed!

  2. Gorgeous -- both of them! I take full responsibility. ;)