Showing posts from 2016

1957 201K23 Electric - Cleaning Part 3

I've resolved my table problem for this machine! I'm sorry to say that I do not have any miracle solution for getting bad odours out of wood - I had to buy a new table.

I had been watching the local classifieds for several weeks and amongst a half dozen vintage machines I wanted to buy, I'd seen a Singer table advertised. It was expensive at $110. Then, I saw the ad again yesterday and the price had been lowered to $60, still pricey, but better. It was a two hour drive to collect the table, but I made a nice day of it with my 6-year-old, we had lunch and then went to the beach.

The table is clean, sound, and has no smell. It does have two problems:
It has been sprayed it with varnish, quite thickly, on top and inside. I'll be using my trusty Citrus Strip to take that off in the near future.The arm which holds the tabletop when lowered, is missing. It was missing on both tables, so maybe it was weak part? The original table did have a spring still inside it, which I oile…

1957 201K23 Electric - Cleaning Part 2

A lot has been achieved cleaning-wise over the last week. I'm liking this machine more. I removed the motor and light, and have been concentrating on cleaning the head.


The motor made me nervous. I'd never seen inside a sewing machine motor before. I could find a lot of tutorials about repairing or rewiring US potted motors, and UK models, but Australian external motors are less documented. The only source I found was at Tailor or Failure, who has some good information here about disassembling the light and checking the motor. There are another two posts from Mike, one here about the female machine plug and the foot controller, and another here about cleaning and checking the main moving parts.
Anyway, I looked at my wiring and compared it to what Mike showed. None of my wires were touching, or looked damaged. They just looked old.

The female machine plug was a different story. While the wiring inside looks ok, the point where the wires enter the bakelite have sprung …

1957 201K23 Electric - Cleaning Part 1

Today another vintage Singer sewing machine awaits me in my studio, cleaning products surround it, and empty trash bags lie at the ready.

My husband did not seem pleased to see this machine. I suppose he is right to be worried - I am definitely a collector of expensive and time-consuming hobbies, and now I add vintage sewing machines to that long list. (He likely sees nothing interesting about dismantling a machine and lovingly restoring it, and that is his loss, I say!)

So, the machine is a 1957 201K23. This is my first vintage electric machine, and the electrics will be left for last. I photographed more 'before' images this time around.


I've seen the paintwork on this model described as tan/brown or the more whimsical combination of mocha/chocolate. I'd say mine is simply light brown/dark brown.

Its hard to tell from this photo, but the face plate has a lot of rust below the dark brown enamel, it feels rough. The side not shown in the photo was the worst.


Machine: 1957 Singer 201K Electric

So, after enjoying much of my 1951 201K restoration, I decided it was so nice I'd do it again. I looked around town and my charity shops had nothing, and the one antique store had several machines in very poor condition with very high prices.

My local classifieds showed exactly three machines: an industrial, a modern embroiderer, and a mysterious brown Singer! I called and discovered it was still available, so I arranged to go and see it as soon as I could.

So, I bought the machine, but I may have bitten off more than I can chew.  Today the machine I picked up for my next project is a 1957 Beige/Brown aluminium-bodied 201K with a belt drive (201K23?). I had been prepared to learn how to re-wire the machine, but the nice lady I bought it from said she had last used it 6 months earlier, and sure enough, we plugged it in and it went fine.

The machine is is fair condition. Lots of rust, and I think the lady was a smoker, sometimes I detect a whiff of something when I am close to the m…

1951 201K Treadle - Cleaning

A couple of weeks ago I decided to sit down and determine the exact state of affairs in regard to my 1951 201K. It worked, and everything moved freely, so I didn't have a huge restoration job like those who have frozen machines.

I wanted to fit a new needle, a standard 90 universal, and in doing so realised that the needle system was a good indication of how dirty the machine was. After a lot of gentle coaxing, the thumb screw finally gave way and I could discard the old rusted needle. Next, I examined the hinged presser foot, it was cruddy, and the hinge was tight. The presser foot shank was really stuck, and very difficult to remove, but I got there.

Not enough people talk about how dirty, smelly, and gross a vintage sewing machine can be. I don't do anything by halves, but even I had to draw the line at dismantling the whole thing and scrubbing every piece of metal.

Do click each image to zoom in and get a really good look at the yuck.

I'll talk a bit about my cleaning …

Free Machining

Years ago, shortly after I bought my Lisa, I attended my first sewing workshop - a free machining* workshop with a local textile artist who says that "the needle becomes the pencil".  This piqued my interest very much as in my other creative endeavors I am a watercolourist and oil painter.

So, I attended the two-day free machining workshop with much excitement - here was an opportunity to learn some new sewing skills and polish up my old ones. I had great fun and learned so many techniques, and while the fundamentals have remained with me, much has been forgotten...

A sample:

* Free machining = freehand machine embroidery/free motion embroidery with no marking.

Machine: Husqvarna Viking Lisa

In 2004 I purchased a lightly used Husqvarna Viking LISA for $350AU. The machine is a Viking special edition from 2000 or so, and is a basic Type 600 computerised machine, a hybrid LILY model.

I love my Lisa. It is the first machine I owned, and it has always served me well. It has its limitations, but really, it is a good little machine. After its recent service (nothing was wrong with it, it just hadn't been serviced for twelve years), my technician found some abrasions inside the bobbin case, which he was able to polish out to make for smoother motion. (The abrasions had happened by my breaking an Open Toe Free Motion foot and needle simultaneously. I had installed the foot incorrectly (put the wire under the needle bar instead of over it), and when it broke a piece of the wire flew out and hit my cheek. Close call.)

So, some notes:

TOP STITCH: My Lisa does not like any top-stitch thread I have given it. I have tried G├╝termann Top Stitch 30, Wonderfil Fruitti, and Mettler Extra…

Machine: 1951 Singer 201K Treadle

In 2005 I inherited my maternal grandmother's Singer treadle sewing machine. My grandmother had never used it much, so it had spent much of its life stored in a packing shed in their orchard. It became rusty, and dirty from the fine soil of their fruit tree orchard. Sometime in the early 90s my mother's Pfaff had some issues, and while it was being repaired my mother brought the treadle over to our house and oiled it up, I recall us all marveling at the fact that it still worked. After a brief period of use, my mother put it in her foyer and my brother promptly stored his sneakers on the treadle.

It then came to me, and I moved it across the country with some other furniture I had inherited. I regarded it as something sentimental but decorative. In 2010 my parents were visiting and had to make some repairs to a sail on their yacht. My mother looked at my Lisa, and said, "Oh, I might break that, where's the treadle?" So it was wheeled out, and impressively, still …


Welcome to my sewing blog. This is a means to record the learnings, frustrations, and accomplishments between my sewing machine and I.

I am much of an amateur in the world of sewing, having only covered the basics for a couple of years in high school. I sewed the occasional garment with my mother as a teenager, but as my mother was extraordinarily possessive about her beloved Pfaff 1222E my sewing skills did not progress much.

I play around with free motion embroidery samplers, basic sewing projects, and have been toying with the idea of learning to make some sort of modern quilt... or trying to copy a garment.

I hope you enjoy my writing/rambling/rants. :)