Information on vintage Fleetwood sewing machines can be hard to find because they were made generically by various companies. However, these machines are beloved by their owners and still in daily use. If you're interested in a vintage sewing machine, a Fleetwood might be an excellent option.
The Fleetwood sewing machine resembles the Singer model 15, and some people felt that it is a close copy of the machine. These machines were made from the 1940s through the 1960s.
After World War II, Japan received money from the United States to help with rebuilding the country and economy. They manufactured sewing machines, the most common being a clone of the Singer Model 15. These machines so closely resemble the original that it can be almost impossible to tell the difference. Many of the machines use the same parts as the Singer. The Japanese machines were in reality often quieter and more dependable than the machines they were copied from. The clone sewing machines were also available in many more colors than their American-made counterparts. Pink, blue, yellow, tan, and even red colored machines are found. Fleetwood is thought to be one of these Japanese clone machines.
Identifying Your Vintage Fleetwood Sewing Machine
It is difficult to identify a particular Fleetwood because although there are serial numbers, the manufacturer is no longer making these machines, and records no longer exist. While you can look up a Singer machine by its serial number and get a fairly accurate sense of when it was made, this isn't so for Fleetwood machines. Instead, it's better to focus on the model. While there isn't always a model number on the machine, there are a few ways to identify which Fleetwood model you have:
- Look for a model number on the machine. Often, you'll find this embossed on a metal plate on the front or underside.
- If the machine doesn't have a model number, examine it for identifying features. Look for special colors, design elements, and decorations.
- Compare your machine to other Fleetwood models to see if it looks similar.
Notable Fleetwood Sewing Machine Models
There are a few Fleetwood models that are especially popular with enthusiasts. You'll notice that they have some lovely mid-century design elements and come in pretty colors.
The Fleetwood DeLuxe was popular throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and there are actually several submodels for this machine, including the DeLuxe 195, the DeLuxe 325, and the DeLuxe 705. These machines were all electric and came in black, pink, aqua blue, tan, and other colors.
The Fleetwood ZigZag was another popular machine, and you may encounter these in vintage shops and antique stores. They came in black, blue, and other colors, and as the name implies, they specialized in the zigzag stitch.
Fleetwood Manuals and Parts
If you have an old Singer machine, you can call the company and get manuals from previous decades. However, this is not so with the Fleetwood. Because it is a generic machine and is no longer manufactured, there isn't a company to call to get manuals or information.
The best possibility for finding a manual for your Fleetwood is to check with local sewing shops to see if they know of anyone who has a machine like yours. You can also keep an eye on eBay for manuals for your machine. You may be able to find vintage parts on eBay as well.
The Fleetwood uses a size 15 bobbin, just like a Singer. The bobbin can be loaded at either the front or on the side of the sewing machine and the bobbin winder can be mounted near the flywheel. The thread tension assembly allows the seamstress to create an even stitch no matter how many times the fabric is changed.
Finding Information on Vintage Fleetwood Sewing Machines Locally
If you have one of these old machines and you don't have a manual with it, you may be able to take your machine to a local sewing machine repair shop for more information. They may be able to tune up your machine and get it working as good as new and they may also be able to help you learn how to use the various features. Not all shops will have this type of expertise, but if you do some calling around, you may find one that does.
Value of Fleetwood Sewing Machines
The value of a Fleetwood is considerably less than a Singer of the same age due, in part, to the problem of getting parts and information. Many models, even those in great condition, sell for around $100. For example, a pink Fleetwood ZigZag sold for $125 on eBay in 2022. Heavy-duty models can sometimes be worth more, since many people use these vintage sewing machines to sew leather and canvas.
Don't Give Up
The most important part of finding information on vintage Fleetwood sewing machines is just not giving up. It can take weeks or months of diligent searching in order to find the antique parts or information that you need. Be patient.
Ask at antique stores and thrift stores, sewing repair shops and fabric stores. Talk to people who sew and see if there is a sewing club in your area where you might be able to find someone with a similar machine. A very experienced seamstress with usually be able to figure out most of the details of working one of these machines.
Sewing History and a Useful Tool
A Fleetwood machine is a piece of sewing history, but it's also a useful tool. Many people enjoy sewing with vintage sewing machines, and Fleetwood models can be just as useful as modern examples.