Another old Singer sewing machine reborn – Lilly gets a new lease on life

Some time ago I found another old Singer 201K at the Tender Centre…there were spider webs and rust every where and she was fairly filthy. I couldn’t just leave the old girl there (these old machines are as hard to walk away from as puppies at the shelter) so I bid on her. Of course I won the bid, nobody else seemed to see the potential behind all that grime, so home she came. I squirted sewing machine oil into her inner workings and wrapped the machine head in oily rags while I carried on with life, sparing her a glance and a thought now and then as I hurried by.

Now, months after I bought her home, I have finally found the time to restore her, thanks to an enquiry from one of my readers. First I needed a name, it always seems so rude to call these grand old ladies ‘it’; two of the neighbourhood kids who came to visit, and were conned into helping me move her out into the work area, decided to name her Lilly…so Lilly it is.

Lilly was made on the 5th June 1946 in Kilbowie, Clydebank (Scotland).
Her serial number is ED815331
She is a model 201K Singer in a model 46 cabinet.

A blurry picture of Lilly before I started working on her.

After the first oiling and wipe down

The accessory draw was a mess. Sorry for the blurry photo

The treadle assembly was neglected too

A Facebook message from a lovely lady who was interested in giving Lilly a home spurred me into action. I checked her over (the sewing machine, not the lady) and ordered a new drive belt, new beehive tension spring, new stitch control nut and a cleaning brush. Then I gave the filthy cabinet and treadle assembly a good clean with kerosene (for the metal bits) and home made furniture polish (for the wood bits).

Much better after a good scrub.

A good soaking in kerosene for the inner workings of the machine head had Lilly turning freely again and a scrub with a toothbrush over any dirty external bits had her as clean as possible. Lilly has several areas of staining on her and the black japanning (over the head and base) are worn in places, indicating that she has had some adventures in her long life.

The new parts finally arrived and I put her together in a lather of excitement; then it was time to test her. I found a really useful site with tutorials and manuals for Singer treadles.

All ready for a test sew

Trying her out on thicker materials

And on knitted material

The finished project, a lined pencil case with a zipper

A close up of Lilly’s serial number

The inclusions she will come with

She’s a strong and proud old girl.

So now Lilly is ready to go to a good home and make beautiful things. I have enjoyed getting her going again and I’m now on the lookout for my next project.

I have an old Singer 306 machine in the cupboard, these old girls use cams to make fancy stitches and are powerful enough to sew through leather. Maybe my next project will be to make her functional again.

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