Thursday, 23 January 2014

My First Machine

If you have read any of my previous posts, hell if you have read my blog introduction, you will know that I own a couple of sewing machines. I will write about all of them one day when I get to know them a bit better. This might sound strange to normal people but to people who *collect* them it doesn't. There are people who name them and only refer to them by name. I don't. They already have names. Today I want to talk about my very first machine. My 201K that my father gave me when I was very small, I think about 5. Dad was a real estate agent for most of my childhood and he is a hoarder/appreciator or old things. The story goes that a little old lady let him sell her house and he bought her car and this machine off her as well.

201's were made by Singer for a long time and they were very popular common machines. eBay and gumtree are full on them. The K on the end of the model number means it was made in the Kilbowie factory in Scotland. I looked up the serial number and it says it was released from the factory on April 24th 1956. They came in two shapes, the earlier feminine shape and the later constructionist shape. These are names I've made up because that's what they remind me off. The were first made in black or black and black just like all of Singers other machines but by the 60's they started making them in beige/brown.
These machines are gear driven, use a 66 class bobbin and have a internal motor.  Mine is controlled with a knee lever. They are very heavy sturdy work horses.The advertisements you see around proclaim they can sew 1,100 stitches a minute. They have reverse stitch and you can lower the feed dogs to embroider or to make buttonholes using a buttonholer, but that feature is hidden under the bed and looks like something that shouldn't be fiddled with. Which is why it took me such a long time to find it. I had the machine for 20 years before I did.

I love this machine. It's not rational, when I see other 201's they are not that impressive and I pass by them with not even a glance. But this machine. Something about it makes me very nostalgic. I even love the smell of the bentwood case. Which I know sounds crazy. This is the only machine I own that smells nice.

I remember using it a lot when I was little. I remember just taking it out to look at and test the stitching. It felt like I had the tools and some of the know how to clothe myself using this machine but I never felt competent enough to handle it's speed and power and actually create something. So I used my Mum's machine to sew things. Still it always felt special. It was also a great hiding place for things. In my early twenties I hid my ex boyfriend's cigarettes in it more then once. One day it started skipping stitches and I had no idea how to fix it so I packed it up and it became a d├ęcor piece/conversation piece/hiding place.

What it actually looks like when in use, electrical tape in place for a seam allowance guide
It wasn't until I found instructions on-line on how to remove and clean the bobbin area that I fixed it and started using it again. This is a complicated process and instructions are crucial. But they are easy to find on-line, or if your lucky enough in the service manual.  Since then I have actually made things with it, and while the speed can still be intimidating I just grit my teeth and trust in my skills. I can always unpick it if I have too.

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