Sunday, May 27, 2012

Singer 66

I took the leap, everybody. I bought a vintage sewing machine!

A year ago I didn't really see any reason for me to own a vintage machine. My grandma's Viking Husqvarna  from the 1970s works just fine, and I don't like a lot of clutter in my life. Three months ago I was beginning to really admire the machines featured over on Male Pattern Boldness. They make beautiful stitches. (Who knew most modern machines don't do a real straight stitch? Not me!) They have all-metal parts. (Who prefers cheap plastic over metal? Not me!) They easily pierce through thick layers of denim and leather. (Well, some of them.) They operate quietly. (Who wants a noisy motor? Not my poor roomies!) They're pretty. In the last month I began surfing Craig's List for all things sewing-related and admiring the nice old machines that would pop up here and there. Just window shopping! I don't know the first thing about owning or operating a vintage machine anyway. I can just look. It's harmless.

But then I saw this machine...

Such a beautiful design, still in its cabinet. Oh, and with all its parts...

I mean... it even says, "Best Set of Steel Attachments." Period.


Ahhhh.... (ah, did someone try to staple the belt back together? Yes, yes they did.)

Even its little booklet is included, albeit in rough shape. It's a Singer 66. I looked up the serial number on this website, and apparently the serial number was issued in 1923. I might still have resisted, but I turned the wheel on it and all the parts moved smoothly. Also, it was only $75. Also, my birthday is coming up soon. Am I justified? Please say yes.

Here are some other similar machines I found on eBay. I did a search before buying to see if the price was right.

Same model but a little older and without cabinet

Same model, 13 years older, very nice condition with a beautiful cabinet

No cabinet, but with a motor!
I think I did alright. I know, I know - people like Peter find nice machines for around $50 (or less!) on Craig's List and at flea markets in the big city, but I don't live in the big city. I live in Indiana. I have no idea how many nice, old sewing machines are floating around the town where I live, but it's definitely not as many as in New York!

That $75 price tag seems like a deal to me. Then again, this machine is not in mint condition. Despite turning smoothly, it is quite dirty. Yesterday I spent all afternoon going at it with q-tips and some Dr. Bronner's Almond Oil Soap (diluted with water). This I did based on the advice of Elizabeth over at My Sewing Machine Obsession. Her blog name is fitting. I've also been consulting If you don't know about Captain Dick (I didn't), and if you're interested in vintage machines, definitely check him out. I'm quite charmed by his wealth of knowledge combined with the old and clunky website.

Anyway, Elizabeth said "q-tips and Dr. Bronner's" so that's what I did. Here's a sequence of photos to show you what I'm cleaning through...

edit: I just realized... this looks like the Eye of Sauron glaring out of the darkness.

And the box of q tips...

I'm not even half done. Maybe... a quarter done? Maybe. Plus I have to clean the insides which will be a whole nother adventure.

Wish me luck!


  1. Wow it's beautiful! I just got one like it but a few years older (1919) and set up for a motor. Reading online trying to find the best way to clean I've used kerosene for moving parts (its ok if it gets on the outside of the machine as long as you clean it off with bronners or mild det.) and maas polish for the silver metal parts. This blog has a lot of great suggestions too:

    1. Thanks! I think I might switch over to the moving parts today because cleaning the body is realllly slow going.

  2. This is very exciting! What a gorgeous machine. And can I say - Errant Pear is the best blog title of all sewing blog time.

  3. Oooooh how exciting! I love the before and after shots. Can't wait to see you cleaning the insides. :)

  4. I'm going to be doing this with my 66 shortly, so I'm glad someone has paved the way!