I’m a bit of a sewing machine hoarder. If you don’t count the one that is Finn’s, I have four sewing machines. That includes my sewing and embroidery machine combo, but not my two sergers. Also not including the knitting machine, because it knits.
While I’m certainly not an expert, I do have my preferences. I would take a well-built, old metal machine over a new machine any day. Mainly because when they break, I tend to do this:
That is my first sewing machine. It is a Montgomery Ward’s Signature sewing machine from the 60s, I think. I got it from my mom who got it from my grandma. I can’t remember what was wrong with it that time, but it sews nicely now.
The Signatures at that time were made by a Japanese company that specialized in industrial machines, I think for sewing feed sacks. That translates to a heavy duty, domestic sewing machine that will sew through anything. It also has a set of cams. Cams are interchangeable disks that allow it to sew pretty embroidery stitches.
My next sewing machine is another, slightly older Montgomery Ward’s Signature. This one was rescued from a lot of machines that were destined for the junk heap.
I love the blue color! It reminds me of cars from that era.
Like the other Signature, it uses cams. You can see them in the little accessory box. I actually like this one a little better than the other. It sews the prettiest straight stitch out of all my machines and has a cam that stitches a row of teeny tiny hearts!
I’ve never actually made anything on it, though. Unlike the other, this one is in a portable case, which is hilarious. I lift my 40+ pound four year old all the time and lifting that machine is still a struggle. Since I don’t have a dedicated place for it, I don’t have the motivation to lug it out.
My workhorse is a 90s model Kenmore, made by Janome. The case is plastic, but all the internal workings are metal. I know, because I’ve had to open it up a few times now to fix the hook timing. (Posts on that here and here.)
That is the best photo I could find of it not undergoing repairs. I love that machine because it isn’t as quirky as the Signatures. It also tells me how to thread it right on the machine, and when it comes to sewing machines, threading is half the battle.
My final machine is the Brother SE400 embroidery combo. I keep it set up as an embroidery machine because I have three other sewing machines. Also, it scares me, so I want to risk messing it up as little as possible. I haven’t had it opened up beyond the bobbin area, but I’m guessing there’s some plastic, and I know there are scary electronic components. With the other machines, I am freer to play because I know that if something happens, it’s not likely to be catastrophic. With this, something like a timing issue would definitely mean a big repair bill.
But, it makes pretty embroidery, has loads of decorative and utility stitches as a sewing machine, and has the most awesome needle threader I have ever seen. Seriously. Finn’s machine has a needle threader that I will never use, because it is complicated and I stabbed myself with it one time. Brother’s needle threader is like magic. It is especially handy when embroidering with multiple colors. Color changes take mere seconds.
Just to show I’m not as much of a hoarder as I could be, here is a photo of the White machine I couldn’t get working and sold on craigslist.
Then, while I was waiting for the buyers to show up, I decided to play with it a bit and figured out what was wrong. I hope they love it, or at least open it up to look at from time to time. Sigh.
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5 thoughts on “Sewing Machines”
[…] Sewing Machines was originally published on SubEarthan Cottage […]
I have a Montgomery Ward UHT J277C and the machine won’t make a stitch at all. Is threaded properly and oiled. But, for the life of me it still won’t create a stitch. Would you have any ideas?
I apologize for not responding sooner! I’m not an expert, but if it’s turning smoothly but just not forming a stitch, I would suspect it’s a timing issue. That’s generally something that needs to be taken in to repair. I haven’t had to adjust the timing on my Signature, but I have done the hook timing on my Kenmore. I’m not sure how similar they are, but this post might give you some tips to determine if that is the issue with your machine: https://subearthancottage.com/sewing-machine-repair-hook-timing.
I hope this helps!
Hi! I have recently acquired a Montgomery Ward Signature exactly like the one pictured above. You might have the only picture on the internet of that particular model. Do you happen to know which model that actually is? Do you have any idea where I could get a collection of cams? Any information you might have would be very appreciated!
Hi! Are you referring to the blue one or the tan one? I will have to look later when I am near my machines to get the model information.
Ebay and Etsy are usually the best places to look for vintage sewing machine accessories like cams. I’ve only looked for a zigzag cam for the blue one, though, and haven’t had much luck.