Monday, May 26, 2014

Mrs. Williams' triumphant return

We're all rained in here on this holiday Monday (Memorial Day in the US) -- prefect day for sewing, and that's what I'm up today.   I finished up a dress yesterday (Emery #7) and am currently working on a skirt that I hope to be wearing to work next week.    But today's topic is not those sewing projects, but rather what sewed them.  That would be the Mrs. Williams referenced in the title of this post.  Here she is:

... also a sneak peek at Emery #7
Mrs. Williams is a 1947 Singer Featherweight gifted to me by my Aunt Dora while I was visiting over the Thanksgiving holidays.   (Aunt Dora has about as many vintage sewing machines as I do, but used her formidable "thrifting fu" to acquire her lovely collection for a fraction of what I've paid.)   Mrs. Williams was one of three featherweights in my aunt's collection -- they all have names taken from their previous owners.  This is how we know Mrs. Williams' name:

A service tag, from The Singer Company in the Cumberland Mall in Atlanta.  Wikipedia tells me that the Cumberland Mall opened in 1973, but no luck finding out when Singer was a tenant there.  Since the other information wasn't filled in, it's anyone's guess when the service took place or what was done.

I sewed a few projects with Mrs. Williams around Christmas time, after doing some basic cleaning and oiling, but it became clear that she had some thread stuck under the bobbin case:  periodically the thread would get snarled up and I'd have to stop and pull everything out.   Also, while the tension was "good enough" I couldn't seem to get the perfect balance.   Other than these things, Mrs. Williams was working pretty well, but I decided to get her serviced, rather than try figure out how to fix these issues myself (chicken).  However, I dragged my feet on actually taking her in -- my local service center will work on anything, new or old, but their turnaround time is at least a month.   Even though I have other machines to use (9 of them ...) I hate to leave my machines at the shop for that long.

A "before" shot that attempts to show off her pretty faceplate.
Then I noticed an ad in our local newspaper (as I was putting it in the bottom of the birdcage lol) for "Kimberly's Junk in the Trunk",  a local antiques store specializing in vintage Singer sewing machines, both sales and repair.  I checked the place out the next time I had a chance, and ended up bringing Mrs. Williams back there for service.  They told me the turn-around time is usually two weeks, but they had her ready in one.   And not only did they fix and clean every aspect of the machine (and provided a detailed list of everything that was done ... it was a lot!),  they also cleaned and polished the case, and fixed the original screwdriver that was with the machine (it was bent).   Now I am glad that I was too chicken to take things apart myself: no way would I have done this good a job.

It's nice to have Mrs. Williams back home and in tip-top shape, because she's become one of my favorite sewing machines.  Definitely different to sew with than my modern Janome, or even my 70s Kenmore 1931, which I also use a lot.  Someday I'm going to have to work up a big spreadsheet comparing my collection and what they're like to sew with ... but I wonder, is much of sewing machine enjoyment subjective?

I also gave away my Kenmore 1320 last weekend, to someone who is just getting started with sewing.   So, one machine in, one out, and hopefully good sewing karma for everyone!

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