Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How it all began - My first vintage sewing machine

Let me introduce you to my beautiful 'Tami'. My first vintage sewing machine, Singer 15-91, born in 1936.  She came into my life in April of 2013.  I know, I know. Singer 15-91 isn't that rare or super special. But how she came into my life is. In some ways, it changed my life.

 Pretty girl. Front and back.

I think these were 'before' pictures. Even before getting a spa treatment, she was in a pretty good shape. She was definitely well used, loved, and well cared for.

One day,  I came across an estate sale. It was 2:00pm. Something told me to stop by. I go in the house. The sale is about to end at 3:00pm and everything was half off. I cruise the house that has been mostly picked and looking rather chaotic. I walked into a room which was apparently a sewing room. There was a sewing machine in cabinet (I think it was a Kenmore, but I didn't pay much attention to it) and there was another black sewing machine on the floor which got my attention.  It looked old and dusty, but somehow I was attracted to it. It had some gold embellishments on it which later I learned they are called 'decals'. (I was a complete novice at vintage sewing machines.)

I asked to test it, the folks there said sure go ahead. I plugged it in, I heard the motor. I realized I may not know how to thread it when I looked at the machine. Then the magic happened.  My hands remembered how to. The bobbin case was there, so it was good, and my hands just automatically took the thread and threaded the machine. The threading was very similar to the machine I learned how to sew on when I was, maybe 5. I did this while two women looked over me, as if to say 'you go girl'.

It powered on and it sewed. I decided to take it home. It's half off, anyway, right?  I also picked up some sewing odds and ends that were still left in the room, which included fabric cutter and some large rulers, for practically nothing. I also found this book in the linen closet. Since there was no manual or anything for the sewing machine, I decided to pick up the book. They tell me it's $1. No brainer.
This is how my first vintage sewing machine made it home with me.  I instantly fell in love with the beautiful stitch it made, and its beautiful face plate.

Besides, it was as if something told me to take her home, guided my hand to thread the machine to test it while I was surrounded by a couple of older women encouraging me to take it. I felt an immediate connection to the machine, and couldn't bare the thought of it ending up at some random thrift store or, even worse, at a dump. It had to go home with me.  I hadn't seen a beautiful stitch like that before. It took my breath away. I was amazed. It was even before I cleaned it up and oiled it, mind you.

Later I learned that the machine was born in the same year my mother was born. In honor of my mother, I named her Tami.

I researched and learned how to open up the machine to clean and oil.  Look, I even took the tension dial apart.

And, this is how it all began. Tami was about to change my life which you'll know more about in my subsequent posts. Why this blog title, "Urban Recyclist"?  Well, there is more to my story.  I hope you'll come back to check it out.


  1. Yes, she sure is! Can't wait to
    post some updates. Coming soon. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. She is a beautiful machine. I'm so glad you found each other.

    1. Yeah! Thank you, Deborah. Her eternal beauty is an inspiration to me!