Everywhere, I tell you. No sooner had I walked in to my mom’s this past weekend for our near-weekly dinner, then what did I espy, but a cream-and-teal, alligator-texture, sewing machine case. Oh, Mother.
Well, it turns out the culprit this time is less my mother than my mother’s boyfriend. This does not actually make it any better, but the machine is going to continue to live at their house. With my Improved Seamstress treadle and the Army Machine and my mom’s Pfaff 360 and Featherweight. Which is not as pretty as my Featherweight, but has all its attachments. Yes, that’s five machines (only one of which isn’t a straight stitch), in the house of two people who “don’t sew.”
When I opened the case, my eyes were greeted by this gorgeous teal “Piedmont” machine. So pretty, very clean, in lovely condition. Apparently it has been languishing at my mom’s boyfriend’s favourite pawnshop for some time now, and finally he couldn’t bear to leave it there any longer. Thank you, MBF. Except. No attachments. Boo. I like attachments. (Also, I realized when I wanted to hem something last weekend, all the hemmer attachments that are wider than a rolled hem are at my mom’s. That’s like, three different sets. All there. None at my MIL’s or Stylish’s house. Which are the ones close at hand.)
And, even worse than the lack of attachments, the belt is missing and the wiring needs some serious work. The belt is not hard to replace (Sew Classic, for example) but I’m a bit freaked about the wiring. The wiring to the wall and the pedal actually appears to have been replaced previously—it’s much newer, undamaged, and the plug types are more modern-looking. But the wiring running from the weird plug-thing in the case to both the motor and the light is totally shot. Beyond scary. On the up-side, my mom has re-wired stuff before, and my father-in-law knows his way around a motor, probably blindfolded, and has promised me he has my back.
The machine is marked “Piedmont”, which internet scuttlebutt suggests was a badge of the Hudson’s Bay Company (another Great Canadian Department Store) for generic Japanese-made machines of the post-war period. (“Badge” is old-sewing-machine-collectorese for a brand name put on a machine for sale by a particular vendor. Like “Improved Seamstress” was the badge Eaton’s Department Store put on machines manufactured by the National Sewing Machine Company. OK, maybe that’s self evident, but it took me a bit to work it out.) It does look to be a clone of a Singer 15 something, though, not that I know anything about Singers.
I’m reasonably comfortable asserting that it was manufactured somewhere between 1945 and 1960 (the 60s machines start looking modern. Less firmly, I’m thinking probably towards the later part of the fifties, since the colour and plastic knob for the feed drop are a bit “newer” but the style of the overall machine is still very old school. The serial # is C788793, although the consensus on the Yahoo Japanese sewing machine group and other places about these machines seems to be: “You’ll never find out who exactly made it, it’s somewhere in Japan and sometime after WWII. And NO, it wasn’t made by Singer.” There was a helpful generic manual, though, that should do the trick.
Aside from the wiring (as if that’s not the hugest aside in the world), it’s in lovely shape. The decals are pretty much unworn, there’s scarcely a scratch in the finish. It moved very, very stiffly when I first touched it, but after oiling every spot I could think of, plus a couple of hours to sit while we ate dinner, it was moving nice and freely. It had one bobbin in the bobbin case and two more in the bottom, but on inspection the one in the case itself was not quite the right size. I wound one of the other ones on my mom’s Pfaff (also not the right size, but it worked for bobbin-winding, anyway) and by dint of laborious hand-wheeling got a perfectly lovely, balanced stitch. The only thing I wasn’t able to do (aside from wriggle my nose to make the wiring magically repair itself) was to get the needle plate off; one of the screws came out perfectly, but the other is stuck. I gooped a lot of oil on it and will try again next time. I brushed as much lint off from underneath as I could, and it doesn’t seem to have any problems moving, but I’d still like to be able to clean out under there. And the stitch-length lever has this little adjuster knob beside it that sets the maximum length you can move the lever to in either direction.
Which is to say, all in all it’s an adorable little machine, assuming the whole wiring thing can be remedied. Because, y’know, I needed another straight stitch vintage sewing machine.
But, I mean, c’mon. TEAL.