Monday, July 3, 2023

A Well-oiled Machine


Before I journeyed across the Oregon Trail in May 1997 I sold my treadle sewing machine. Space in the moving van limited and I'd decided that the machine was a Very Bulky Item that I could probably live without. On Independence Day that year I decided to spend the day sewing, using my portable electric machine. A few minutes after I started work, the power went out in my neighborhood, and stayed out until late in the afternoon.

I can take a hint. After that I poked around antique shops regularly and eventually found this nice old Singer 201K treadle machine, manufactured on June 5th 1945, in Clydebank, Scotland. The after-market electric light was a great investment of about $20.00, and with that and a new belt I was set. On a sunny day I could get along just fine, irrespective of the state of the power grid.

The 201K was Singer's top-of-the line machine at the time, and mine soon became my primary sewing machine. The only drawback was buttonholes. I'd worked with aftermarket buttonhole attachments on other machines and they were cumbersome and didn't make terribly nice buttonholes. Sometimes I'd haul out my portable electric machine just to do buttonholes using its 4-step button hole feature. Just as often I'd do them by hand. Or, more accurately, I'd procrastinate doing the buttonholes.

Finally, one year, income tax refund in hand, I bought a new electric sewing machine with a well-regarded buttonhole capability and set aside the 201K.

However, for an upcoming project, the 201K machine is right tool for the job, so I've opened it up and given it a good oiling.

Good quality tools are like good friends - no matter how long it's been since you've seen them, you're delighted to see them again.

Ahhh...the lovely sound of a well-oiled machine!

This well-oiled machine runs so quietly that I can listen to the radio while I sew. You just can't say that about an electric machine.

My recollection is that I bought that can of sewing machine oil at the Woolworths at 11th and Market streets in Philadelphia in the 1970s.

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