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The Year of the Sewing Machine

Sophia Miller -- 12/15/22


This year has brought many exciting new experiences, including two sewing machine restorations.


Singer 185k

In the past I would scroll through the depths of Ebay, daydreaming for the expensive vintage sewing machines I would never purchase. Imagine my shock, when at a thrift store, I opened a nondescript box to uncover a Singer 185k! Made in the 1950's-60's, this teal machine was a dream. In fact, it had been one of the models I had previously admired. And what could be better than a 12.99 price tag?

After disassembling, polishing, and reassembling Singer was back to business. The only replaced parts were the motor and belts; everything else was intact. Overall, it was a learning experience since there were no manuals online, nonetheless, I perfected its inner shaft system. A YouTube video documenting this process can be viewed here.



1886 Singer

This machine belonged to an elderly Spanish woman, Maria, whose mother once caringly sewed clothes for her. Her mother would take the machine outside to work. According to Maria, the oil would heat up in the sun and the machine would run smoother. Maria did not speak English, but with my years of studying Spanish, we formed a friendship.



With a hand crank driving the entire machine, one could bring this machine anywhere. An inscription of 1886 decorated the machine. All inner mechanisms were rudimentary as well. The bobbin casing, instead of the modern, rounded bobbin, had the resemblance of a bullet casing. In essence, this machine was a distant relative of the machines resting on my shelves


It was obvious this Singer had not been used since the turn of the last century. My goal was to get it fully functioning. With a little bit of elbow grease and time, it was back to its former glory. I even sewed a bit of a vintage beachwear project. Later, with not much time to spare, I used acrylic paints on paper to capture the essence of the machine. The painting was given to Maria. Pictured below is Maria and I as I unveiled her restored machine.


























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