I never get tired of playing with my vintage machines or hunting for new ones. I look at the contemporary models that do with a touch of a button what I have to do manually - like adjust stitch length/width and tension. They have automatic threading, needle up/down features, hundreds of stitches, and automatic buttonholes. They have cute little storage compartments for sewing feet and flashing LED displays. They promise to make sewing FUN and EASY. But don't appeal to me at all.
Finally I put my finger on it: they don't just don't have the character of the beloved older machines.
Compare them to vintage cars, for example:
Retro Cool vs. Ho-Hum
This is without even taking into account that every machine on the left still WORKS, while those on the right will be toast in just a few years. (Even if the cars are still running, their computerized systems will be obsolete, and no one is going to want to restore them like the ones on the left - because why would they?)
As I mentioned in my last post, I have found that the vintage Singer sewing machines I covet are getting harder and harder to come by at the give-away prices I used to find. I guess the secret is out!
Anyone who has followed my blog knows that
1. I don't hoard machines, and
2. I don't buy/sell them solely to make money.
Its a hobby, and the little bit of profit I gain just goes back into the hobby. Whatever I make from buying a machine, fixing it up, and re-selling it goes towards the vintage sewing notions, attachments, and fabrics that I actually use.
Here is just one example of a one-of-a-kind item made from a piece of random, repurposed vintage print fabric:
Seriously, now, how cute is this? I bought the piece of fabric at an antique store for a few dollars and the size and shape of it (it is identical on both sides) could be nothing but a tote bag. I added my own decorative stitching around the print and a button from my collection.
Back to the machines: I have had two experiences lately which gives me an idea of where the trend is heading. I subscribe to EstateSales.net and the advantage is that it gives me a heads-up on sales and includes photos and lists of the items. That way I can save time skipping sales that don't have what I'm looking for.
The disadvantage is that they don't list the prices up front. So last week I saw one of these pictured at a sale.
(Not the actual machine I saw)
Now while I haven't particularly wanted a white Featherweight, I had to go take a look. Best case scenario I bring it home, have a blast playing with it for a while, then find it a new home and replenish my hobby fund.
I drove 20 miles to get to the sale at 8:30 and I was the second person in line. The man ahead of me was there for - you guessed it - the white Featherweight. But then we saw the price - $495! That is at least the full asking price you see on eBay so I took a pass. When I left the sale, I heard the other shopper trying to talk it down to $250.
This week I saw a Rocketeer 503 in the cool modern table with the brass tipped legs like this:
(not the actual one I saw)
Once again, I got to the sale at 8:30. Again I was second in line but this time it was the guy behind me who was there for the sewing machine. (I'm not fighting other women for these machines, its the men who are after them!) This one was priced at $125, which is also about fair market value but not in my budget so I deferred to the other buyer.
What I'm seeing in this trend, then, is that these machines are being used as bait to get buyers to the sale (and it clearly works.) Its also clear that Estate Sale professionals are doing their homework and asking top dollar. But it was only 3-4 years ago that I was picking these up for $40 or $50.
What I want to know, is how did everyone suddenly catch on to this? ;)
Not much going on with the historical sewing at the moment - not since the mock up of the Regency gown I made. More on that later, I hope.
But now that I have graduated - and have yet to find a job - I have time go get back to my vintage treasure hunting hobby for a while. One thing I have noticed is that good vintage Singer sewing machines at dirt cheap prices are getting harder and harder to find. (Or maybe I've already cleaned out my immediate area!) But I'm still always on the lookout for interesting old notions, attachments, or other sewing supplies. The pickings have been slim this summer but today I did find this great cache of vintage Coats & Clark silk buttonhole twist:
With the original boxes, too!
Seriously, aren't these threads gorgeous?
I didn't buy them to resell, but I looked on Etsy and eBay and found that these spools sell for $3-$4 EACH, and I got three dozen of them for $2 TOTAL!
For another $1, I got the Tidee Maid vintage thread box and a cool scallop ruler/template.
I have several of these thread boxes, and they are great for hand sewing. It works as a dispenser, where the thread comes out a little slot on the side and is cut along a metal edge, kind of like a dental floss container.
I got all this for less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks, so I'm happy :)