Vintage sewing machine

Mark, his Mum, and I went to New Norfolk in Tasmania and had coffee in a little shop that was tricked out with vintage everything. We sat on retro sofas surrounded by fabulous “props”. Just for interest, I’m wearing the Calvin Klein top I wrote about in my last post.IMG_4610

Anyway, one of the things in the shop was this glorious little sewing machine. I hunted around on it to see if there was a price tag, but sadly no. I loved the colour, and instantly decided that I was going to find one, come hell or high water. I needed a sewing machine to leave at my Mother-in-Law’s house for me to use when I visited. IMG_4609Fast forward a couple of days and I’ve got a new, old, sewing machine, and I’ve named her Alberta. She was Mark’s Aunt Fay’s machine and was bought in 1958 and generously given to me this week – how stunningly lucky am I??  Aunt Fay was a tailoress back in the day and this machine has been immaculately maintained.


Note the colour? A bit less turquoise and slightly more duck egg blue. This is an H G Palmer  Princess sewing machine and research shows that it is a generic sewing machine made in Japan and sold everywhere under different brand names. This one was badged by the H G Palmer department store in Sydney. The electrical components are Australian, apparently.

There are some lovely elements to this machine, apart from the colour. For instance, look at the light – how cool is that?


The machine hasn’t been used for years and years, so I ducked down to the shops and bought some sewing machine oil and set about cleaning and oiling it. I downloaded the manual from the inter webs so I knew which parts needed oil (lots of them, apparently).

Not unexpectedly, there aren’t too many tools with the machine so I needed a brush. Cue Mark’s Mum’s pastry brush – perfect and she assured me it wasn’t used for anything to do with cooking! Look at how little dust or lint there is in this machine!!


Once we cleaned it (and that’s Mark’s hand BTW), it just purred along. It sounded much better and I managed to find a stray piece of thread caught in the bobbin case which may have caused a problem or two with the sewing. Interestingly, the bobbin system is identical to the Bernina so I felt really comfortable with taking it all apart for cleaning.

It’s a zigzag machine, and there are cams that give different zig zag patterns. The machine also came with a variety of feet and a collection of bobbins. The case looks brand new, which is really unusual. All the ones I’ve seen on the internet have been really beaten up.


The attachments come in these really cool little boxes, which are duck egg blue plastic. FullSizeRender

I was overjoyed to see this needle threader. How cute is this, and what’s more, it works!!IMG_4653

A last look at this beautiful machine. I’ve already made a couple of tiny little things on it, and done an alteration for MIL.IMG_4655


62 thoughts on “Vintage sewing machine

  1. I love these machines and you have got a great one. I’ve seen many around too but as you say, a bit (or a lot) battle scarred. Lucky you!

  2. What a beauty! People really took good care of their things at that time. How lucky you are to inherit it! With your ever expanding collection of sewing related machines and tools, you could open a Sewing Museum in Perth. And since you’re also lucky to live in a buzzing crafting community, you would have great success and help!

  3. That looks like a well made sewing machine that should sew over anything you can fit under the presser foot. I have a similar Japanese machine made in the 1960’s, and I was very impressed with how well made it is. The only thing I found a bit disconcerting is that it will only straight stitch with the needle to the left.

  4. Thank you for posting the link to the instructions. Saved me searching too much. Yours popped up in an image search I did to prompt my memory, as mine is in storage, and requires a little attention to the electrics in the pedal ( I think )
    I was lucky enough to pick up an old singer 201 in working order, which has prompted me to look into the HG Palmer Princess I have. Looking to expand my capabilities with the princess. Again, thanks for the link. N.

  5. If anyone is looking for the electric blue H G Palmer Sewing Machine Manual, the straight stitch model (which is the same as that Victor machine you wanted to buy, above), the Morse sewing machine is exactly the same and you can download this manual for free at …

    If you are looking for a video on how to thread this machine and the bobbin, then you can find how to do that on youtube here, using a machine that is basically the same, just with a different badge name …

  6. Hi
    I have picked up the same machine today from the recycling centre. It has the attachments box and the box with the 18 cams too. The machine is in excellent condition the cover is a bit worse for wear. I have also found the orginal machine manual. I believe that this machine was donated from a deceased estate and donated by the family. My good luck and a bargain price.
    Rosemary Ormeau Qld

    1. Hi Rosemary. A friend of mine has the same machine, but the belt is broken and there is no manual. Do you know of any place to get a new belt and manual?

      1. Hi I believe manualslib may have the manual they are free to download. I think that may have been where iI looked. The belt well thats another question. Maybe if she can find a manual it will may describe the belt and she can get a generic one.

      2. The machine was a generic machine which was branded by different companies so I’m sure that a generic one would fit if one could be found.

      3. I can’t remember if I got a manual, I’ll have a look. The belt may be generic. These machines were made by the same factory and then branded by different companies. If you do a search for the machine you may find that a singer belt fits it.

      4. Thank you very much for your answer! I ordered a belt in the meantime and I hope it will work… All the best for you.

  7. Hi I am cleaning out my mum in laws home and have come across a h g palmer princess sewing machine. Should we be holding on to this sewing machine. It’s an amazing looking sewing machine, but needs a little tlc

    1. If it has all the attachments then yes, hang on to it. They sew so beautifully and are really well built. They aren’t worth a lot of money so the sentimental value is more. I love mine!

  8. Beautiful condition was wondering what the selling price of these beaut machines go for, Any Ideas anyone ??

      1. Hi
        Isnt it funny I have the same machine and so does one of my friends. Didn’t realise there were still so many in good condition around. I heard they are selling for around $250 or so. Im keeping mine and using it.

        Enjoy using it.

  9. Nice machine Fadanista, unfortunately I do not have any cams for my HG Palmer , not that they are essential , it is a lovely machine, hang on to it , the value of it will increase year by year, I have another HG Palmer will try and send you photo, good luck , David.

  10. Thank you very very much!!!

    I’ve received as a gift, just like you, a Mercury ZIG ZAG Deluxe sewing machine. Almost the same as yours, so now I know how oil and set it up…

    Again; thanks a lot, and regards from Chile…

  11. HI Fadanista,
    Are you still sewing with your HG Palmer Princess? I am looking at buying one second hand.
    How does yours handle thicker fabrics please? I work a fair bit with denim and am wanting something that isn’t troubled by a few layers.
    Any other tips to check before I hand over my money?

    1. Hi Louise, unfortunately I had it at our other house in Hobart, and when we sold it, I had to let it go as it was too heavy to carry home. It was pretty good with thick fabric but I didn’t test it with several layers of fabric. Make sure you get the cams for the other functions as they are impossible to find online. cheers Sue

  12. So excited to say I just bought my very own H.G. Palmer Princess today. She runs beautifully, even before I clean and oil her vintage joints. Thank you for sharing the manual. Brilliant!

  13. Hi got my mum’s old h.g Palmer machine .needs a it of talc.i cannot find a site to download the manual. Can anyone help?

  14. Hey I just want to say this page and the manual has been super helpful! I just scored myself one of these and I was wondering if you know what kind of bobbins it takes. The ones that came with the machine don’t slot onto the bobbin winder comfortably and I don’t break anything.

  15. Hi Fadanista, I do not sew, but have bought & sold many old sewing machines. I buy them for their looks and eventually find people who buy them to repair and use. I too have had a HG Palmer Princess which I sold.

    I am writing because when I buy machines they normally come with attachments, feet, cams etc, and I keep them aside, not knowing whether they even went with the machines anyway. I have a pink plastic box of Deluxe Zig Zag top hat stitch cams that look exactly like your blue box (except for the colour!). The cams are numbered 1-18 and are in excellent condition.

    If any of your followers are looking for these, I have them. They are listed for sale online, you know where. I don’t seem to have an option to upload a photo here, but if anyone is looking for them, they’ll find them.

    Stay happy

  16. Found your post, I have the exact same machine. I removed the tentioner and am struggling with getting it back together , would you have any ideas how it goes back.
    Regards Ron

      1. Truely appreciate your getting back to me.
        I managed to work out the issue. Turned out to be a piece of thick cotton caught up in the bobbin mechanism causing the needle to miss the pickup with the bobbin . I stripped it out oiled every thing and now working a charm. Thanks for the link to the manual. You were very helpful.

  17. This particular model of Sewing machine takes me back a very long way! I can remember it being purchased new from HG Palmer’s in Maroubra Junction along with a couple of other appliances but notably our family’s first TV 1960, my old man lashed out…he bought a 17″ and it was a CRT in a box on four long flamingo legs… it looked like ‘Sputnik’
    I was a youngster then the new TV stole the show. The sewing machine was my Mum’s… she gave it a real workout, sometimes sewing fabric backed vinyl for a car re-uphostery job. Clothes for a family and many other tasks. She ultimately burned out the electric motor in 1962, so found a tradesman, had the motor re-wound, the machine still had plenty left to give and was still going strong and being used into the late 90s. The electrical guy gave it a bit more grunt too in the hand re-wind. The wooden base was still in great shape but like some others I’ve seen the upper part of the case was well past it’s best. Only made from a compressed paper a little like some luggage brands. All the cams, foot/needle attachments were still there…even a strange device that gathers and sows fabric. I think my mum called that a shering foot (not sure how that’s spelt)
    It’s peculiar,to say the least, that this very device was considered ‘portable’ in it’s day, ha,ha! Try carrying it any further than a couple of metres…so portable Yes,at a pinch ! Lightweight, oops that’s a big No! It was a very robustly made machine,there’s a goodly amount of serious metal!

    I have very fond memories of this machine and of what if can and did do in the hands of an artisan.

    1. These vintage machines were the best and their users had no need for a gym. I have a singer featherweight and I can imagine the creators laughing their heads off at the name!

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