My Vintage Sewing Machines

It all started with the Singer 15-91. I thought that would be the only sewing machine I would need or want, aside from my modern Janome. After spending some time taking it apart, cleaning it, and polishing it, I decided I wanted to do it again with another vintage machine. While I can’t wait to start sewing with a new-to-me machine, I also enjoy opening it up and seeing what’s inside. I’ve learned so much about how sewing machines work, and still want to learn more.

This is a summary of each machine and how I use it.

Singer 15-91 ~ I adore the clickity-clack sound of sewing on this Singer. It’s a straight-stitch only machine, and can even get through webbing with the right needle. I use this one when I want to enjoy the quiet sewing sounds.

Necchi BU Nora ~ This is a serious machine! I had to replace the motor to work in the U.S., and it is powerful, quiet, and incredibly fast. I’m still learning to control it. It does a basic zig-zag, and I hope to do some appliqué with it in the future. It can get through any number of layers of fabric, so it’s the one I use for my tougher, trickier projects.

Necchi BF Supernova Ultra ~ Another zippy machine. It makes a wonderful straight stitch. I use it when I need a quick run of straight stitching, like the apron straps.

Pfaff 1222E ~ I thought I was done with the Singer and Necchi machines. Then I came across the Pfaff and needed to try it for the special built-in foot capability. The “IDT” system feeds layers of fabric evenly, something I need a special attachment to do on my other machines. The Pfaff is strong, silent, and will go as slow as I need it to go. It instantly became a favorite. I use this for all my top stitching on the aprons.

Singer 31-15 ~ This industrial sewing machine is from 1915, but behaves brand new! It is the smoothest to operate out of all my machines. I can use stronger threads with this machine than I can with the domestic machines above.

Juku LU-563 ~ This industrial is a compound feed/walking foot sewing machine designed for leather and upholstery work. I’m not sure how old it is, but it’s probably the youngest of all my machines. I plan to use it for roman shades and more complicated pillows. Someday, I will get back to upholstery; I have a couple of stripped-down chairs in the basement and bolts of fabric for them!

Singer 401A ~ What a fun machine! I can control the pace from start to finish. It has many, many stitching options and patterns that I haven’t even begun to explore. I share this one with my eight-year-old son, but I grab it when I need a patterned stitch.

Kenmore 158.1040 ~ This pint-sized machine is full of power! It makes amazing buttonholes, so is a staple when making my convertible harvest aprons.