After what seems like the longest winter I have ever experienced, (today’s the Vernal Equinox and we still have 4-feet of snow on the ground and 8-foot tall snow banks) my feelings of cabin-fever and winter blahs are finally starting to subside. Certainly the longer days, warmer weather and Rhodiola have buoyed my mood, but none has helped as much as my 58-year old Singer sewing machine.
It originally belonged to my grandmother, and is the machine on which I first learned to sew when I was seven. When unfurling the cast iron machine from its walnut table, I still catch the occasional whiff of my grandmother’s house. The whirring whispers and bobbin-tango clunks from recent use, have planted daydreams of finding a tailoring apprenticeship, or at the very least of sewing straight zipper seams.
Before I tracked down an owner’s manual on eBay, I had discovered that my grandma’s AJ 66-16 was built at the Elizabethport Factory in Elizabeth, NJ and was one of the most popular models of the day. My grandma passed away last spring, so I don’t know much about her use of the machine, but assume that being a stay-at-home mother with five sons, she spent many hours just mending.
I am not a proficient seamster by any means, as I spend more time seam ripping than anything else, but I can’t blame it on the sewing machine. It is both strong and beautiful. And believe it or not, the electric motor can be operated by either alternating current or direct current! Aside the obvious sentimental value, sturdiness and reliability, what I really love about this machine is the knee lever. It just makes sense.
My complaints are few: no way to make a zigzag stitch, and no measurement markers on the throat plate. I actually called a Singer dealer to inquire whether I could get a new throat plate with the marks. There was a pause on the other end of the line, and then the gentleman told me that he hadn’t received a request for one in over 30 years! Perhaps I’ll order another blank plate and try to etch it. But for the meantime, I’ll continue using masking tape.
Click here for a general manual for the 66 Family machines.