Antique sewing machines are very popular collectible items, resulting in a large demand for antique sewing machine parts. Fortunately for collectors, these parts are relatively easy to find.
Collecting Antique and Vintage Sewing Machines
Collecting antique and vintage sewing machines is big business and a very popular hobby in many countries. Antique sewing machines have strong appeal to collectors because they are visually stunning and have such an important role in the advancement of human society. The sewing machine was an important advance in technology because it made mass production of clothing and textiles possible. Whether one collects home sewing machines or industrial sewing machines, most collectors are simply passionate about these beautiful antiques, which are still useful today.
Serious collectors can join the International Sewing Machine Collector's Society. This global club of antique sewing machine enthusiasts was founded in 1985 by a small group of English sewing machine collectors. The organization has grown to include members on every continent with additional branches in America and Australia.
How to Find Antique Sewing Machine Parts
Whether you collect machines or simply want to restore a beautiful find to working condition, it's all about finding the right parts. Many antique sewing machines were human-powered by either a hand crank or a foot pedal, called a treadle. These non-electric machines can be among the easiest to repair if you have the parts.
1. Identify Your Sewing Machine
Finding parts for your antique sewing machine is easy if you have enough information about the machine. Things you will need to know to find the right part include:
- Make (brand)
- Part number, description or function
Carefully examine your machine for identifying information. In many cases, the sewing machine brand is printed on the machine. You'll also find a serial number or model number, and these can help you identify what type of machine you have and which parts you might need.
2. Know What Parts You Need
You also need to know what part you need to replace as you're restoring your sewing machine. You can look in a manual for your machine if you aren't sure, many of which are available online if you search for the model. The most common antique sewing machine parts that usually need replacing include the following:
- Belts (leather treadle belts)
- Bobbins, bobbin cases, bobbin winders
- Foot pedals
- Needle plates
3. Shop for Sewing Machine Parts Online
Once you have the right information, it's time to find the sewing machine part or parts you need. These websites are a good place to start:
- A1 Sewing Machine Parts Inc. - Also specializing in researching machines, A1 Sewing Machine Parts encourages you to send as much information as you know about your sewing machine for help find the perfect parts.
- Sewing Machine Parts - Offering parts for vintage Singer sewing machines and many other brands, this is a good resource for hard-to-find pieces.
- Old Singer Shop - If you're looking for parts to help you restore an antique Singer, this is a good first stop. You can browse by model to find parts and attachments.
Repairing the Most Valuable Antique Sewing Machines
Some antique sewing machines are more desirable and more valuable than others. Sewing machines that were made prior to 1870 sometimes have a higher value, and rare models can also be worth more. If you are interested in collecting antique sewing machines for the purpose of repairing and trying to resell them, these are the some of the types of sewing machines you should look for:
- Hand-held style sewing machines
- Clamp on style sewing machines
- New England style sewing machines
- Paw foot style sewing machines
- Singer Model 1 sewing machines
- Singer Model 2 sewing machines
- Singer Turtleback sewing machines
- Singer Letter A sewing machines
- Singer Featherweight 221 and 222 sewing machines
A Note on Restoring Singer Sewing Machines
By far the largest and most successful manufacturer of antique sewing machines was the Singer company. While the majority of early 20th century, vintage Singer sewing machines are valuable as decorative items only, the early Singer models mentioned above still hold value as collectible antiques. The good thing about restoring a Singer sewing machine is that the company is still around, and replacement parts for antique Singer sewing machines are still available through the company.
Assessing Condition Before Sewing Machine Restoration
Before you undertake a large sewing machine restoration project, take some time to assess the machine's condition. If all it will take are a few vintage parts to get the machine running, it may be a great candidate for restoration. If it has significant structural and cosmetic damage, it may be best to wait for another model to come along. Also consider the cost of vintage sewing machine parts you'll need and whether they add up to more than the value of the restored machine.
Restore a Useful Tool
Many people still use vintage sewing machines to quilt and sew. Whether you're looking for an antique sewing machine for a decorative item for your home or you want to use one for sewing projects around the house, these beautiful machines make wonderful collectibles. Vintage sewing machine parts can help you transform an old machine into a usable tool.