Sunday, October 11, 2009

Treasure (??) Hunt

Our neighbors held an estate sale this weekend, and I picked up a few cool sewing finds.

Two "Star Thread" 5-drawer Thread Chests
When I spotted these, I immediately wanted them bad (even though they were all grimy from being used as a tool chest in a garage). But, she had them priced very high. I have absolutely no clue how old they are, but were used back in the old days by stores to display and sell thread spools. I have lots and lots of thread (thank you, embroidery business), not to mention that I could store all sorts of notions in these nice big drawers (17.5" wide, 15.5" tall, 15.5" deep). My super sweet super awesome husband pulled the lady aside, worked his bartering magic, and... Happy 10th Anniversary, they were mine!!! What a great guy to go out of his way to get me more sewing stuff! Gotta love it.

In the back corner of the garage, I found this lovely. Under an inch thick layer of dust.
Price tag: $50 Hmm... pretty cool, but nothing I need. Then I spied the buttonholer and the box of attachments. How can sewing machine feet stir up feelings in me that make me crazy in a good way? Shiny and numerous, I suddenly felt like I might need this machine. I went home, and did some research, finding this quote online (at the TreadleOn website)...

"The White Family Rotary, or FR, is one of my three favoritest machines. It was much ahead of it's time when first brought out. They are really well made and a pleasure to use, also very attractive. There are a lot of them, and parts are generally not a problem to find. They use standard needles but use the older style top clamping feet, so you can't fit piecing, walking or darning feet. Grandma couldn't either, and she still did all of her sewing and quilting on these things, so that isn't the end of the world. I have and use two lovely White FR's regularly. They are one of the strongest of the old treadles. If you find one, give it very serious consideration… you won't be sorry."

I grabbed a fabric scrap and headed back next door for a test drive. After swearing to me that she knew it worked because she just sewed on it last summer, imagine our surprise when the light worked but the machine didn't budge. No hum of motor. No buzz of electricity. Nothing. Nada. Nil. Thanks, but no thanks... and I headed back home.
But now, it was bugging me. Those shiny attachments still wanted to come home with me, so I jumped back on the internet and made some phone calls. Take the risk and hope it can be fixed, or say good-bye? I offered $25, she countered with $40, and we agreed to meet in the middle at $32.50
So... if any of you know anything about what I should do next, please drop me a message! I've read about cleaning the machine, and will start calling around tomorrow for a repair man who is familiar with antique machines. If the estimate is too high, I'll sell off what I can and hopefully get my money back. Hopefully, it can be repaired for a decent price (I've set a budget already), and I'll end up with a real piece of sewing history. The serial number on the machine's base dates it's manufacture at 1926, and seems to have been one of the first popular electric machines. I think it's Model 12, but I have no owner's manual, so I'm not definite. I do know that there is a wealth of information on the internet for anyone who owns or wants to own an old machine, and that without current technology, I probably wouldn't be brave enough to start this voyage. Keep your fingers crossed for me and Martha (this is known as the Martha Washington cabinet), and I will keep you posted! There are more pictures coming, too...

My Chanel jacket is a few hours from the finish line. Hems are all done and pockets are made, so I'm just attaching them and then the chain! It would be finished and you'd be looking at it now if it wasn't for that darn garage sale... I'll have it posted here by the end of the week, promise!!!

12 comments:

JustGail said...

Congratulations on the present! As far as the White, she's beautiful. If it sews by turning the wheel, I'd think it would be fixable, it may even be something as simple as a broken wire, since neither light nor motor work.

JoanneM said...

Beautiful machine....how fun! Give it some love-it might be great.

gwensews said...

Wow--great score! I have a treadle machine in my living room. Those thread drawers are to die for! Lucky you!

Michelle said...

What a pretty machine! I love all the decals on those older machines...everything was so ornate, even if it was the sewing machine used every day, and gorgeous cabinets!

Handmade said...

Very exciting - good for you - hope it all works out.

Gail said...

I went absolutely green when I saw that thread cabinet. It is stunning.

Beth said...

Jenny at Sew Classic does a fabulous job of refurbishing machines. She lives in Ohio and you can find her by googling Sew Classic.


I bought a refurbished Singer sewing machine from her and it looks brand new.

Good Luck.

Beth

Dawn said...

Oh, it's perfect! I would not have been able to resist either.

cheryl said...

I got a vintage machine this summer that needed some help, and one of the best resources I found was the Sew Classic Website. (www.sew-classic.com) There is an article on the blog about refurbishing machines: http://blog.sew-classic.com/2009/02/07/refurbishing-whats-that.aspx. Mine was a singer, and they still sell replacement parts on there website, so you might be able to find someone who still sells white parts?

Kathi said...

The machine is beautiful, but I love the drawers!! I am a librarian and would LOVE to have an old card catalog! I am a sucker for places to store things!

Pamela D said...

If the machine has been kept in a garage it might have been affected by the humidity or other weather conditions. Try oiling it for starters. I brought a regular sewing machine back to life with a lot of oil. Sometimes the leather belt that spins the wheels gets loose. You can order a new one. Lehmans, which is a purveyor to the Amish, sells leather sewing machine belts for $5.95.

http://www.lehmans.com/store/Home_Goods___Sewing_and_Quilting___Singer_Part___1001762?Args=

I learned to sew on a treadle machine. They are simple mechanically and pretty much are always fixable, unless there is a lot of rust. They are also great at sewing heavy duty items.

Have fun! She's a beauty!

rj said...

If it still turns without electricity, you have a place to put a belt on. You could remake it into a treadle, if you liked. Santa brought me a New Home treadle, 1915, for Christmas. The shuttle needed adjustment, and I had a repairman out, and he said that it was a wonderful workhorse! And, to keep upholstery thread away from my new Viking, but it was okay on the New Home!