Sunday, June 8, 2014

Treasures from the Attic

I have lots of blogging friends that are always "finding" vintage sewing machines. They buy them for a pittance at garage sales or thrift shops or even cast away on the street with the trash. They are able to clean them up and give them a new life. Their stories inspire me, but I'm not much for thrift shops. Reading in between the lines, I would have to assume that they frequent these places constantly in order to find their elusive treasure.

Last weekend, my luck changed. My neighbor Leo stopped by with a carload of sewing machines! He is cleaning out his parents' house. He was very excited because among the treasures was a "pump" one (Leo's terminology). I was hoping he meant a treadle.

It is inside this heavy wooden cabinet.
Fortunately there are wheels on the bottom.

This is what we found when we flipped open the top.

It is a White Rotary made in the U.S.A.

This is the view from inside the cabinet.
I haven't had a chance to thoroughly examine it. And I'm not sure if it works. Unfortunately, it appears to be a treadle machine that has been electrified, since it has a motor and a place for a light bulb on the back of the machine. Leo did bring me a box of attachments. It's in rough condition. The poor old girl needs a cleaning and some love.  I've done a little research and emailed the serial number off to Viking so they can tell me how old it is.

Next out of the car was a Kenmore machine with its case and original box as well as the manual and various attachments. It looks like it is in very good condition. I'm going to give this one to my friend Sue who teaches quilting at a shelter for women. She has a little classroom with several machines.

The bottom dial is a little broken but hopefully can be fixed.

The manual. Check out the clothes they are wearing!
I just need to plug it in and see if it works. I learned to sew on my Mom's Kenmore and then my Dad bought me one of my own when I was in high school, so I know it should run like a tank. In fact, this one looks a lot like the one that I owned. I looked it up and this model was made in 1976.

The next item Leo pulled out of the trunk appeared to be an end table. I wasn't sure why he had brought it to me.

It's a sewing table! The top drawer is a regular drawer. The bottom drawer pivots out and has places for your sewing notions! There are spindles for thread or bobbins and indentations for your tools. Leo was very proud of this find. It needs to be refinished and it needs some knobs, but then it will happily come live in my Studio. I really want to paint it hot pink and make the drawer fronts a zebra stripe...

Finally, Leo pulled out a very tiny box. An original tiny box with a toy sewing machine inside it.

I did a little research on this one and I believe it was made in the 1970s. I never had a toy sewing machine when I was growing up because my Mom let me sew on her real one. It is adorable. Maybe I will have to start a collection!

Leo didn't want any money for these items. In fact he was thrilled to give them to me. By sheer coincidence I had seen Leo in the park that morning when I was walking the Pugs. His dog Chip is friends with the Pugs. He said that he was spending the day cleaning out his parents' house and I told him I was interested if he found any sewing stuff. If I hadn't said that, Leo told me that he would have just put all of these things out for the trash, so he was happy that he had found them a new home with me.

Leo is an avid fisherman, so I bought some fish fabric this week and will make him some pillowcases as a thank you gift.

If you know anything more about any of these machines or have resources that you recommend (or cleaning ideas), please let me know.

Have a great day!

Pugs and kisses,


  1. Lucky you! I think that sewing cabinet will be spectacular. And a RED toy machine is perfect. I never had one for the same reason as you.

  2. I just purchased a treadle sewing machine an our neighbor's estate auction, for a steal of a price. Don't normally go looking for such things, but since the auction was just down the road a bit, thought I would stop and see what they had for sell. Haven't gotten around to calling to see when it was made yet, but they are gorgeous machines!!! Mine did come with the original manual and several feet and bobbins.
    That sewing cabinet is a wonderful find. Hope you get to refinished in pink and zebra =)

  3. Sounds like serendipity! Congratulations on your new treasures.

  4. What a blessed girl you are! Leo is a jewel.Have fun with your new sewing treasures!

  5. um, this friend is quite a friend!!! What a booty of treasures! I especially covet the toy sewing machine. I always wanted one as a little girl. What a find!
    Lee Anna Paylor

  6. Nancy, You are lucky, lucky, lucky! If I had a larger house (ha!) I'd like a tredle machine! Have you contacted Andy at Ann's fabrics (or is it Andy's fabrics now) in Canton? They do a lot of machine fixing -- perhaps one of their techs might have a hobby of doing old machines. Congratulations!

  7. Oh the parlor cabinet is lovely. That is the one type that I do not have yet. Lovely acquisitions.