Thursday, March 30, 2017


I haven't cleaned any machines since last fall, before I hurt my elbow.  It's hard to turn the hand wheel and screwdrivers when your elbow hurts.  Since my elbow is doing better, I decided that it's time to clean some machines.

First, a friend asked me to see if I could get his machine to stitch.  He'd loaned it out, and, when he got it back, it wouldn't pick up stitches.  First, I cleaned the machine, then I got it stitching.  I didn't get any 'clean' pictures, but, here is the machine.
Gene's Kenmore

Last fall, Deborah asked me if I wanted a vintage sewing machine that she had.  She had bought it to restore it, but, never got around to restoring it.   Hubby and I picked it up after Thanksgiving, but, because of my elbow, I hadn't had a chance to clean it up and see if it stitched.  It doesn't have a power cord, but, it has the foot control.  I think I can wire in the power control, but, I didn't have the wiring.  I might rewire this later. 
Japanese Post WWII series 15

back, before cleaning

missing the bobbin case
grime, and bobbin tire is brittle

grime under the motor area

First, I took as many parts off this machine as I could, and cleaned them.
nice and shiny now

 This is what was left, needing to be cleaned.
poor, naked machine
This machine had a hard life.  There are holes in the metal to the bobbin area.
2 needle holes in the thin metal, by my thumbnail
This machine cleaned up nicely.  There is some discoloration from old oil, that won't come off, but, it's fine for a machine that is about 70 years old.
all cleaned up

clean machine

I got some sewing machine attachments, including a 15 series bobbin case, off the freebie table at my large quilt guild, a few weeks ago,   I used the bobbin case for this machine, along with one of the bobbins.  

For the moment, at least, this is a hand crank.  I think I'll go find some paint to match the old hand wheel, and paint the new, spoked hand wheel and hand crank to match (or get hubby to do the painting).
old hand wheel against black spoked hand wheel and hand crank

I don't think I could match that lovely turquoise, but, I might be able to.  I'd have to take the whole machine in with me, since there isn't any removable parts on it that are turquoise. 

While all the cleaning stuff was out, I decided to clean another machine. 

Last weekend, at the quilt show, I got a little Singer 99K.  It came in a cabinet that is in pretty bad shape.  The only way to save that cabinet is to sand it down and paint it.  Most of the veneer is chipped off of it.  I hate to get rid of a 3/4 size sewing machine cabinet, since they don't come around very often.  I might work on it when the weather gets warmer.

This machine was FILTHY!
bobbin case area

back of machine with motor removed

dirty bobbin winder
This machine took a lot longer to clean, because of all the grime on it.
just a few of the cotton balls I used to clean this machine
There was lots of dried on oil all over this machine, and, old oil attracts dirt and lint.  I had a hard time getting the feed dogs out of this machine because it was 'glued' to the machine. 

The motor works on this machine, but, it runs slowly.  I won't use the light, since the wiring to the light is bad.  Not sure I can rewire it, since I can't find where to get to the wires on the light itself.  I may disconnect it later, just in case.

This machine cleaned up nicely, even if it did take more time than the other machines.
cleaned machine, great decals

back of cleaned machine
I can't get this to stitch properly.  I think it needs more cleaning (presser foot doesn't like to go all the way down). There is probably more dried on oil on the presser foot bar.  Also, the stitches are really bad underneath.
underneath stitches
Not sure if I was so tired that I threaded it incorrectly, or, I just couldn't get the tension adjusted..  For the moment, this machine is waiting for more work.  I had to put it away, since it was dinner time. 

The only stitching I got done today was testing stitches on all three machines.  At least two of the machines stitch nicely after they were cleaned. 

Have you cleaned and oiled your machine lately????? 


  1. Gracious, girl -- that looks like WORK!! You've got some fascinating machines, though. I wish I could collect one or two of the vintage machines -- especially a hand crank or treadle, but space really doesn't lend itself for more! :)

  2. Oh, I just love getting all the dirt off machines and getting them moving! Looks like you had your work cut out for you! You will figure it out- the 99s are a pretty easy machine. I always wanted a color machine. Turquoise or pink would be nice. Not the band aid color ones. Nice work!

  3. I'm so impressed that you can take apart sewing machines and fix them yourself! I am afraid to buy a vintage machine because I wouldn't be able to do all that cleaning and rewiring myself.

  4. Wow. You got a lot done. I haven't done my machines lately, I used to have a guy, but he is gone now. He was my mr fix it.

  5. Wow, I couldn't believe how beautiful that "filthy" machine was, I kept scrolling back and forth, you did a great job! I hope you can get her sewing.

  6. Great job on the clean ups.....that turquoise machine is so cute! Hope you can find the paint to finish it off. Iagree the cabinet should be saved as much as possible. Good luck with the 99....Too.

  7. Wow! You are a wonder when it comes to cleaning machines. I try to clean out the bobbin regularly, and a drop of oil once in a while. I did have it cleaned and serviced a few months ago, but I can tell when there is stuff in the bobbin. The machine starts talking to me :-)

  8. great machine, it took lots of work to clean them, but they look awesome now

  9. I was cleaning my blue machine on Tuesday, since I have a broken finger, it was not easy and Chris had to keep turning it over for me, and doing the screws. After cleaning and oiling it, the needle still won't move. I'm hoping Margaret can help me at the TOGA next week.

    I love your aqua and white machine!

  10. Have you ever removed rust from a vintage machine? If so, what works for you?

  11. WOW, I am amazed at the transformation from the old dirty Singer and the new cleaned version. I had to keep looking back and forth to see if it was the same one or a new one. You are a wonder when cleaning and fixing these vintage machines. Maybe I should invite you over to have a go at a couple of mine. lol I do a lot of the elementary cleaning, but I'd be too afraid to take it apart--it would not get put back right, I'm sure. Good job.

  12. BEAUTIFUL machines! Love your cleaning! you ARE wonder quilter!

    1. Thanks. You are no-reply, so, I can't reply to you personally.

  13. Quite a variety of machines. Maybe I should rub a bit of oil into my hands to get them working faster.

  14. Great to see it's getting the attention it deserved! What a difference!


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