Vintage v antique style

I was reading the local paper yesterday and they had a “Guide to the good stuff” which included an antique style Singer 160 for sale in Spotlight. You can see a photo of it here, although I note that the website states that it is no longer available! Whatever. I thought it might be time to share my birthday present and some of my collection of vintage sewing machines.

Please note: This has turned into a long post with a lot of photos – it may be a hazard to your bandwidth.

I’ll start with my collection. This is a hand cranked machine – a Wanzer, Model A, made in 1875. This one is not in fine condition and it weighs a ton. The original “Little Wanzers” came on a marble base and had a round sewing plate. Mine is rectangular and is on a cast iron base. For anyone really interested, here is a lovely article on the Wanzers.


My other hand-cranked machine is a Willcox and Gibbs from New York. This is a chainstitch machine without a bobbin or shuttle which other machines of this vintage had. Again, Sewalot has got some really useful information on these machines. Mine looks as though it was made around 1885. It is in quite poor condition – I feel bad about it, but this is how it was when it came into my possession. However, it is a sweet machine and I think it still works. DSC05525

The stitch plate is full of useful information, and the stitch length adjustment is on it. DSC05528

I also have a couple of treadle machines. One is American in an oak cabinet, but its stuck in a corner so I can’t take a photo of it. The other one is your regular Singer, the type possessed by every family. Still working, still gorgeous…


My husband, Mark, went off to Hobart to visit his parents and when he returned his suitcase contained not one, but two, vintage sewing machines! Please note: they were both in his suitcase – a regular sized suitcase. This is the first cab off the rank – a Singer 222K Featherweight, manufactured in Glasgow in 1956. Remember the post about my Elna Lotus for glamping purposes? Well, he thought this might be a contender. No way am I taking this into the bush! Sewalot has a page on this machine and it is referred to as the “Queen of the Singers”. There is also a picture of a woman holding it aloft in the palm of her hand – um, she’s got bigger muscles than me! However, it is pretty light and can be carried easily even by a weakling such as me. DSC05470-2

It is in immaculate condition. It has its original instruction book and box of feet – joy!


The box contains a foot that looks positively medieval – it looks like a walking foot of some description. DSC05460-2

I shall have to examine the manual, but I am quite reluctant to fiddle with it in case it falls to pieces.  There are also two binding feet – it will be interesting to see whether they work better than the binding foot I bought for my modern machine. Speaking of which, here is a photo of the two machines so that you can get an idea of scale. My Bernina is by no means the biggest one that they sell, but it’s not small either: DSC05510

The sewists in 1956 must have been contortionists because this is where the bobbin lives DSC05468-2

On the other hand, the machine is light enough to flip about, so I suppose I’ll manage this. The whole thing comes in a lovely leather look case. Everything packs in so efficiently. Note the foot which has its own little spot in the lid. DSC05474

The other machine that Mark brought home was another (!) Elna Lotus. This one is in near mint condition and this means that I will either sell the first one I bought, or leave it permanently in our glamper.  Here is a photograph of my two birthday machines. DSC05503

Thrillingly, the Elna has nearly all its accessories, plus six feet.


I will just mention (rather indelicately) that the combined cost of  these machines was less than the new Singer 160. No comparison, no contest. A parting shot of part of my collection in situ in the sweatshop.


GCC: The team I’m in has won another trophy, this time for taking 10 million steps and published here for posterity. Go UndeFEETed!



5 thoughts on “Vintage v antique style

  1. Oh my gosh WHAT a collection. I’m so envious! I have one machine and one overlocker, and I have a mini machine that lives at the beach house. They’re all the most basic machines you can get!

    1. Thanks Michelle, this is a really useful link. You will love your Elna; mine was bought for camping but I use it almost exclusively for topstitching when I’m at home. So much better than my new Bernina.

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