25 Sept. 2020: After months of deliberation with the team and speaking to leading sewing experts and consultants, we have decided to acquire BrianSews.com. We believe the acquisition would increase our content library relating to sewing and embroidery, and enhance the value we provide to our readers and the followers of BrianSews.com. For previous briansews’ readers, you may refer to the links below for 6 of their best articles.
- Introducing the Pfaff 138
- Vintage Sewing Machine Addiction
- When The Lights Go Out
- Give Me Industrial Features In Small Space
- A Question of Irons
- A Question Of The Collection
It’s been some time since I wrote you asking about sewing machines.
I see you mentioned you have changed about your likes towards vintage sewing machines.
Well, I can understand how the computerized machines improve and smooth our way to new designs
however I’m still stuck with budget and don’t need fancy sewing.
I am looking into a Pfaff, Bernina, Viking.
Which models you suggest are good machines. I’d like a machine that can also sew thick fabrics (even leather)
I like mechanical machines. and I’m looking for deals at eBay and Craigs list for no more than $100.00
I am confused (or can’t decide) with the number models of Pfaff specially.
Thank you and glad to see your business is growing.
Hope to see your show on PBS very soon.
Funny how times change! Now I’m back on mechanical machines!
My big problem with the computerized machines is that functions that should be at the touch of a button are often multiple touches to get what you need. I have found the machine that does this and of course it’s a Bernina 1130 which I feel guilty using since electronics especially old ones don’t last forever. (Do I turn the power off every time I step away, or is it better to leave it on?)
My current favorite machine is actually a Kenmore from the 80s.
They came in 24 and 30 stitch models, all mechanical and smooth as silk. Every one I’ve touched sews at full speed with zero vibration. Add to that all the functions are at the flick of the wrist and it’s a winner. I’ve payed as much as $60 for these gems but also much less. Yes they’ll sew whatever you can fit under the foot but unfortunately the foot doesn’t lift as high as I’d like. This becomes an issue when sewing multiple layers of fleece or other bulky stuff.
As far as your choices go for under $100 they’re pretty good.
The older Bernina will do you well and they’re very sweet inside. Be sure to watch for the knee control that powers the motor and not lifts the foot. I would prefer control with a pedal. These machines will have an oscillating hook and could be seen to have more thread jams depending on how you sew.
The vintage vikings are great machines, full rotary hook and heavy duty but simple. I also found that the bobbin area of these older vikings are loud but that’s subjective. I don’t feel like it’s possible to break this machine, it’s just solid and simple.
A Pfaff will give you a lot of bang for your buck and you’re looking at either the 260 flatbed or 360 freearm. The 360 was very popular a few years back and could fetch upwards of $300 easily, now it’s back down to
under $100. The 260 can be had for less than $50. The mechanics of both machines are very similar and both do a lot, a lot of stuff you won’t probably use. The Pfaff has a very sure footed way of sewing, feels like you’re driving a caterpillar tractor.
My gripe with these machines is the markings on the dials. I eventually learned how to fumble my way around but if you don’t have the stitch wheel chart you’re just using trial and error.
They fixed this with the next gen Pfaffs.
I recently got a Pfaff 1222 that I’ve been… disappointed in. The hype of a mechanical walking foot machine was mostly hype. The extra electronic features are bothersome and the foot doesn’t lift up far enough. BUT! All the functions are at the turn of one dial and the magnetic bobbin winder is cool. It’s a good machine just perhaps not as fully functioned as I would need. Plus I’m scared to break it, like the Bernina 1130.
I should mention that the vintage Pfaff machines are much more difficult to work on and you may very well have to send your machine away for service. Just check ebay and you’ll find quite a few that are in great shape but sew backwards or something else wonky. I got a deal on one and sent it directly to Ken over at www.kennsplace.com. I figured with everything included it would cost about the same as one in working order just a but more work. Ken by the way does a bang up job with these machines. Generally they’ve been diddled with by a number of mechanics before he gets them. Mechanics like Ken are becoming hard to find. Something to note, sending a machine away takes time, maybe even months to get it back. It’s only an option if you like waiting or have other machines to use.
I suppose the point is that there is no perfect machine for every sewing job or every sewist. Get whatever you can get your hands on and just start sewing. If you’re really looking to save money get a Kenmore from the 70s or 60s. Nice high lift on the foot, bullet proof mechanics, good features, easy to repair, and cheap.
Also remember if you pay the right price to begin with you can easily sell it for what you paid or more. Essentially you get to use the machine for free, just pay the deposit!
Hope that helps!
You may also be interested in reading:
- Singer 1234 review
- Singer Brilliance 6180 review
- Singer 44S review
- Singer 4452 review
- Singer 4432 review
- Singer 7258 review
- singer 3337 reviews
- singer 7285q reviews
- singer simple 2263 reviews
- singer 7258 vs brother cs6000i
- Brother cs6000i review
- Brother cs6000i vs singer 7258
- Brother SE400 review
- Brother SE425 review
- Brother PE770 review
- Brother XR3140 review
- Brother JX2517 review
- Brother xl2600i review
- Brother st531hd reviews
- Brother se625 reviews
- Brother se400 vs se600
- Brother 1034d vs 1034dx
- Brother se400 vs se425
- Brother se600 vs se625
- Janome hd3000 reviews
- Janome 2212 review
- Janome JW8100 review
- Janome hd1000 review
- Janome 500e review
- Janome 8077 review
- Bernina 530 review
- Bernina 770 qe review
- Bernina 790 reviews
- Juki ddl 8700 review
Give Me Industrial Features In Small Space
” I hope my question will turn out to be a simple one. I already have 4 sewing machines. However, none of them can accommodate sewing that is rather thick under the presser foot. Because I have recently started a sewing business at home, and I’m starting to get more Home Dec jobs, I’m realizing that I should start searching for a (used) machine that is both strong and handles thicker sewing. Can you please tell me your opinion of what I should be on the hunt for?
Thanks so much,
RosanneFollow up questions from me:
This comes down to if you want to devote the space to an industrial or keep it portable. If going industrial most machines will do what you’re asking without complaining. Generally I find the needle gives way long before the motor stalls. Depending on your area a straight stitch industrial can be had for $100. I’ve never spend over $100 and I have 4. If you’re looking for portable then perhaps an older Bernina (less than $200). An electronic machine will give you consistent punching power but a mechanical one will be “smoother” to use.
What specifically are you going to be sewing and what is your budget?
Rosanne writes, “Space would be an issue for me, I’m afraid. I know that industrial machines are strong. I had a “factory” job (It was actually in a home.) once, working with an industrial machine. I might be able to find a place for it if I eliminated one of my machines that’s in a cabinet. However, I’d rather go with a portable. You could label my business as “eclectic”. Although by far, the majority of my experience has been with garment sewing, I find I really enjoy home dec, & also repairs. I’ve taken custom slipcover classes, and have even reupholstered some couches. As a result, I’ve been getting all types of sewing work brought to me. I had a very tough time sewing some pinch-pleated, & swag & jabot, style window treatments when I get to the areas where the material has a few layers of folds. Then it takes a great deal of SQUEEZING, and turning the wheel by hand to get through it. Recently, I was given a padded golf-bag strap to reinforce, and none of my machines would do. That’s when I decided that I’d better see if I can find another machine for those situations, because I’m sure there will be more. I think we could swing getting a machine $100-$200.
Hi Rosanne, Ok so I would say the biggest issue you’ll have is getting enough lift from the foot to get bulky stuff under. If you’re using the right size (as in not too big) sharp needle going through the layers probably won’t be a huge problem since home dec is usually a lot looser weave than cotton (like denim). Unfortunately I don’t think there’s one good answer here for you. Here’s what I know that could be of relevance to you.
- High shank foot machines tend to have a bit more space under the foot but no guarantee. The shank size really should have nothing to do with how far it’s lifted but they seem to correlate anyway.
- A machine with a good hand wheel is essential since you’ll be turning it by hand quite a bit. Nothing makes me more irritated than a small hand wheel with nothing to grab.
- Bernina machines with the knee lift (not the knee power, that’s older) will drop their feed dogs when the foot goes up allowing fabric to be more easily moved under the foot. It seems like it wouldn’t matter but the difference is apparent when moving to a machine without this feature.
- “Electronic” machines are defined to me as machine that has consistent punching power no matter what speed. These machines will have smaller hand wheels because you’re not really supposed to use them for advancing the stitch. They’re great until you get to something they can’t punch through and then they’re a big pain.
- The more features a machine has the less “free” the movement. The most direct path for power from the motor to needle is what you want.
Ok, now for your recommendation. I wish it could be more glamorous…
You’re looking for a 1970s flatbed zigzag kenmore with the lever to adjust stitch length not the knob and external motor. Often the best ones are the green ones. I’m not super fond of the zigzag selector knob on this model but it’s got everything else. This model also has a blind hem stitch which is extremely handy for curtains, maybe even a left hand needle position which is also quite nice. The external motor will allow you to adjust the belt as necessary and makes motor replacement easy if necessary. These Kenmore machines often came with a 1.2amp motor which is about as good as it gets. I saw a 1.5amp once but only once and it was a Consew.
These can be had anywhere from free up to $100. Most were designed for cabinets so you may have to switch out the foot pedal if it’s set up for knee.
I didn’t even mention the Sailrite machines because even used they fall well outside the budget. Another wild and crazy idea might be using a treadle… Plenty of power, not sure on the lift, checking…. yeah nothing special.
This is good, hand wheel could be bigger…
These are bad..
The hand wheel on this one is great but it has the knob for stitch length, no good. Often you can switch the hand wheel from one machine to another so it’s worth keeping an eye open for orphaned machines to strip for parts.
Hope that helps!
What would your suggestions be for Rosanne? Hammering thick seam intersections flat is probably the best tip I can offer regardless of machine. This is a very common issue for a lot of sewists.
A Question of Irons
Hey folks. I just got a great question from a reader.
I am very impressed with your site and now a new follower.
With all the sewing you do, what is your favorite iron? I am not pleased with the one I have (there have been many). Steam is either messy or not enough, sometimes the irons either get to hot or not hot enough. What are your thoughts?
Well I think you’re not alone in your quest for the perfect iron. As people who sew I feel we have different requirements for an iron than the average laundry maid. My trusty Shark brand iron purchased from Target finally bit the dust last year. I had used it so much that the paint had been worn through on the handle and it had a few hot glue repairs.
The features that matter to me as someone who sews are as follows:
- Long cord
- And forget that retractable business, that just breaks and is bulky. Plus I never ever put my iron away.
- No digital controls (just give me a standard dial folks)
- I almost never change my settings, I always keep the iron set for Wool which allows me to iron everything and not worry about melting my polyester thread.
- Good burst of steam button
- This is essential for the sewist. I need precise control of the steam in order to manipulate the fabric. I want to be able to give the button micro pushes for little tiny bits of steam. A perfect burst of steam would only come out the holes at the tip giving absolute control but that’s hard to find.
- Steams successfully at the lower temp of Wool
- This is HUGE. If you look at the dial they never say steam is available at the wool setting however some irons will steam at the lower temp anyway. Like mentioned before I only use the lower temp (unless I’m ironing linen or something) so the steam has to work at the lower temp.
- Stainless steel plate or very durable non-stick
- Those early or cheap non-stuck coatings on irons were/are horrific. Iron over a button and your coating scratches right off. I like stainless steel but it’s not quite as smooth as a coated surface. Therefore I tend to lean towards the durable non-stick.
- Advanced auto-off features
- I never turn my iron off or unplug it unless it’s leaving the building. I want an iron that heats fast and also turns off fast. Often I leave the iron plate side down on the table and walk away. Because it’s on a low heat setting it’s no problem, my iron also senses that it’s plate down and not being moved and shuts off within seconds. I’ve become accustomed to the iron taking 30 seconds to warm up and feel the trade off is fine over an iron that stays on continually. I don’t want to feel guilty for leaving an iron hot all the time. They are after all the wattage of a space heater or blow dryer.
- Not easy to tip over
- The most detrimental thing for the life of your iron is falling on the floor. They really don’t like it. Many irons are designed to be rather unsteady when set up on their base. Pair with the wobbly ironing boards most people have and you need a new iron every six months. An iron that stays on it’s base will last longer.
- Good for right or left handed use
- My mom is left handed and often reminds me that she lives in a right handed world. It’s no skin off their noses to make an iron work for both with a cord that is in the right spot or swivels back and forth.
- Easy to fill with water and water stays in
- Who thinks it’s ok to spill water all over your ironing board when you’re filling your iron? Also, what if your ironing aggressively, do you want the water sloshing back out the hole?
Usually I don’t promote products here because there are very few that I feel are worthy of my seal of approval. This one gets me seal:
T-Fal FV4259 Tefal Ultraglide Easy Cord Steam Iron
This iron gets rave reviews and can be had shipped for under $40. If I had to complain about something it would be that the auto-shutoff is slightly too aggressive. However since the iron heats fast it’s pretty much a non-issue. I have used irons from all the major brands and even the “high end” names (you know the ones) and they just don’t stand up to this one.
So that’s my two cents on irons! Notice we didn’t even get into all the steam generators and gravity feeds. I think those are a whole different thing and would have to be reviewed in their own category.
A Question Of The Collection
A reader sent me this and I thought I’d answer it here since its a question I get asked from time to time. He writes,
“This email is asking your thoughts on a tough question. I recently found myself coming under a great deal of criticism for collecting old sewing machines. I have about nine now, and very few duplicates. My rule is any addition to the family must be old, and be capable functioning, even if help is needed (which is most of the time) Today I got blasted from a guy who said ‘why?’ Why waste money on junk which all do basically the same thing. They’re waste of money and space. Well, it’s my money and my space. Have you ever come across this attitude from people you generally respected? Their recommendation was to pick one, maybe two of my favorites and dispose of the rest. I disagree. Any word of wisdom for when another similar conversation arises?”
I think of it the same way I would probably collect cars if I was wealthy. Each individual machine has a slightly different feel and sound. Each does specific tasks very well and others not so much. As much as manufacturers try there is no perfect machine that can do everything the way I want it all the time. Granted they don’t have me specifically in mind when designing these machines although they probably should. Like everything mass produced it is designed to appeal to an audience.
I’d be interested to see exactly what the marketing demographics are as sewing has changed so much in just the past five years. Companies like Brother that provide excellent products at entry level budgets are probably capturing a good portion of the market. Features that used to be found only on high end machines have filtered down and it’s no longer necessary to spend over grand to get pretty much every feature you want.
Where do vintage machines come in then? It’s interesting watching the market as old stuff becomes more rare and highly sought after models see their prices increase year after year. I admit that I will often hold back blogging about machines that I wish to own because it drives the prices up. I actually own a number of machines that you guys don’t even know about yet!
Back to the point. There’s a difference between old treasure and old junk and everyone draws their own line. At this point to me any black Singer looking machine is junk, I know, sacrilege right? I’m not saying these machines don’t work great and have tons of potential life left in them. What I’m saying is that they’re so common I see no need to keep a bunch of them around collecting dust. I also don’t see the prices going up much except on the “special” ones. I’m obviously not the only one who feels this way. That being said I still own at least three of these. (no not special ones)
I collect what I like and what will retain or gain in value. I’m not using these machines anymore because I have more modern machines I like better. That being said every so often someone wants to try one and we make a go of it.
In the end I collect what I do because for whatever reason that particular object makes me happy to own or I haven’t gotten around to getting rid of it yet. I’ve learned that it’s easier to leave a boring machine on the side of the road then have to dispose of it later. I only need so many door stops after all.
Here’s my current inventory. I also have a few machines at home that aren’t pictured. Remember, I have a “legitimate” reason for having all these… I think?
When The Lights Go Out
Boston didn’t get hit with hurricane Sandy nearly as bad as other parts but many of our neighborhoods did loose power and still have not had service return. Most of the damage was from high winds, luckily it did not rain enough for the widespread flooding that could have been a very real possibility.
I grew up in the country side of Northern California and it was routine to loose power for days or even a week at a time in the winter. Mom still lives in the house I grew up in. She has the monitor heater and electric baseboard units but she will never give up her wood stove. When the lights go out she knows that at the very least she will have the fundamental comfort of heat and that makes her feel safe.
One of the things that bothers me most when the lights go out is not being able to sew. Just the idea that I can’t sew anytime I want makes me anxious. In my head I consider the possibility that the power may never come back on and then what? I’d have a huge collection of useless machines and equipment and in that case a HUGE need to be sewing as a necessity.
Last year I purchased an old treadle sewing machine from the early 1900s for $40. The iron base and wooden top with drawers was in great shape, the machine attached, not so much. I removed the machine and replaced it with a newer Necchi BU with chipped paint from the 1950s with zigzag and reverse stitch capabilities. I had to remove the middle drawer so my knees don’t hit when I treadle. Now I have a very functional and “modern” non-electric treadle sewing machine.
Now when the power fails I know that somehow it’s all going to work out. Even if I don’t do any sewing by candlelight I still know that I can and somehow that makes all the difference.
What brings you comfort when the lights go out?11:07 AM
Vintage Sewing Machine Addiction
When you’ve been bitten by the vintage sewing machine bug, it’s virtually impossible to recover. Once you start noticing the generations of old Singers, Kenmores, Elnas and Necchis, they start turning up everywhere: the thrift store, garage sales, flea markets, etc. Fifty years ago, sewing machine were built like tanks and were as common as toasters; it’s no wonder they’re in overabundance today.
The challenge for the connoisseur of vintage machines is two-fold: Almost any sewing machine manufactured before 1980 can be had for relatively cheap, and it’s easy to fall into pound-puppy syndrome: you feel it’s your duty to save these orphaned machines from the trash heap.
Since this new obsession is most likely here to stay, let’s talk about managing your obsession so you don’t end up turning your spare bedroom into a sewing machine museum.
The ground rules:
- Don’t buy any sewing machines that show signs of having had a hard life. Inspect the underside and peek under the covers and doors, if possible. Chips in paint, rust, or missing parts are signs you should move on. Limited chipping on the machine bed is acceptable, as are easily replaced universal parts like a bobbin case or motor belts.
- Before you buy anything, you should know which brands are most highly regarded. The top two brands in vintage machines are the Italian-made Necchi and the German-made Pfaff. Most vintage machines manufactured in Japan are also excellent and often carry names like Kenmore, Dressmaker, and Montgomery Wards, among others. Don’t pay too much just for a name: no machine is one-of-a-kind; these were mass-produced products and are still plentiful. When in doubt, keep looking.
- Have an understanding of what features set certain machines above the rest. Look for droppable feed dogs and the more rare, but highly useful, needle position selector. Machines that used cams to create special stitches are often missing these extras today and have more internal parts that could go wrong, making these machines less desireable unless in excellent working condition and complete with their original accessories.
- Look for “barn finds”. This is a machine that likely has been sitting around for a very long time without use. The oil will have dried up, the belt may have disintegrated, and the hand wheel will be hard to turn. A machine like this could be priced low because of it’s apparent unusable condition but can be refurbished with new belt, bobbin tire and oil, all for less than $10. It’s a risk of course, but if the price is right you have little to lose. Machines that have been stored in a case rather than a cabinet will be in better condition, having been protected from the elements, than cabinet machines that were open to the air even if closed, and were often left in their upright position, exposing them to dust and moisture.
- Don’t pass up a super-cheap machine that happens to be missing a part or two or is in questionable shape. Motors, tension assemblies, foot pedals, bobbin cover plates, etc. are often interchangeable between brands. Buying a broken-down machine for $5 just for a tension assembly or motor you can use in a machine you are restoring will save you quite a bit over buying new. Look to see if you recognize anything you need but avoid collecting too many non-functional units, especially if space is at a premium.
- Listen to the motor if you can. Release the knob that engages the needle and let the motor spin alone (or just the hand wheel) at full speed. The motor should sound smooth. It’s normal for a dusty motor to have an acrid smell, but a choppy or clunky sound is not a good sign. Sparks are also possible at first but not acceptable after a few trial runs. Motors can be rebuilt fairly easily for those willing for follow directions, but this is time consuming and can be complicated. New motors are easily found but can cost more than the machine is worth, depending on the model. Consider, if it is a very strong machine otherwise, will you be willing to source a replacement motor?
In closing, you must learn to be selective. You can’t buy them all and you shouldn’t.
What if, however, more eligible machines show up in your life than you can possibly purchase? You could avoid places where old machines are likely to be found, but what fun is that? The best solution is to buy only those machines you truly love, and to raise the standards of what you are willing to bring home. Hunt for only the very best examples at the best prices.
And what of the machines you pass up — how can you just leave them there? I suggest bringing your camera with you when you hunt, and creating a photo album of the many machines that don’t make the cut. It’s always fun to have a record of what you found and at what price. There’s always the possibility you’ll find the same thing cheaper at another time.
And if, at that time, you experience a slightly accelerated heartbeat that suggests, This is the machine I want and I want it now?
Go for it!
Introducing the Pfaff 138
I’ve been in the market for an industrial sewing machine for a while now, and I was willing to consider any strong machine at a reasonable price under $100.
I sew a lot of denim and I’ve learned to squeeze out every last bit of power from my vintage sewing machine pool. The problem is that I spend a lot of time walking the needle by hand instead of having the machine do the work for me.
I’m no expert on industrial machines by any means but this is what I think I know:
There are two main options when it comes to industrial machines, the portable all enclosed models or the kind mounted to the table with huge motor underneath. I was willing to take either one and most likely would choose portable over huge motor and table setup. No matter which way you go when you start looking at industrial machines things get expensive fast.
The table mounted machines are designed to be used at high speeds for long periods of time. The large motor spins at full speed all the time allowing you to engage the sewing machine (head) by way of a clutch
pedal. This setup works amazing well since you have access to the full momentum and power of the motor at any time. Table mounted machines are usually big on power but lacking in the feature department often being designed for one specific task instead of all around sewing. Things we take for granted like zigzag and reverse are not always included. Depending on your motor and table setup they might require a 240 volt outlet or even three phase power, neither which you’ll likely have in your sewing room.
Portable industrial machines are much like an all metal vintage home machine with a more powerful motor. They’re designed to be used in high demand situations like dry cleaners or for someone sewing sails. They are not designed to be used constantly like in a garment factory. Since I am sewing jeans this style of machine would most likely work out great for me.
Beggars can’t be choosers.
I check craigslist a lot for sewing machines and other items. People selling on craigslist don’t want to hassle with ebay and shipping. I’ve found the prices are usually better and the transactions are simple and easy. I usually don’t check out of my area but for some reason this past weekend I decided to check what they had just over the border in Florida. Wouldn’t you know it there was a posting for three industrial machines someone was selling.
Taking county roads way out into the middle of no where I was reminded of just how beautiful and lush it is here in the South. The sewing machines were being sold by an elderly couple who had a dry cleaner business at one time. There was an industrial serger, hemming machine, and what they referred to as the “straight stitch”. The machines hadn’t been used in at least 7 years and were being stored in something like a uhaul trailer out behind the barn.
Humidity in the South is not kind to bare metal and there was plenty of rust distracting me from buying this Pfaff 138. After closer inspection I noticed that what was rusty was easily replaceable things like the tension disks and bobbin case. The actual machine did not have any rust and the motor under the rusty table looked clean as well. Curiously looking around the trailer I noticed at the back this old guy had a HUGE safe, being polite I resisted asking about it allowing my imagination to fill in the blank with bars of gold and old treasury bonds.
We struggled to get the machine and table in the back of my SUV and I paid him the asking price of $100! I could tell he knew it was worth much more but was just beyond worrying about such things. Of course since I didn’t take the machine off the table the top heavy thing promptly fell over narrowly missing my back window and doing quite a number on the plastic interior. I should have known better, but was so thrilled about the machine I wasn’t thinking straight. The machine did not suffer any damage whatsoever which was a relief.
For me there is almost no better fun than getting an old sewing machine home for the first time and opening it all up and seeing what it’s about. This Pfaff 138 was was dry as a bone! No oil or grease anywhere which means it was very stiff to turn. I use Marvel Mystery Oil as my sewing machine oil and when applied to this dry machine you could actually see the metal wick the oil like a sponge. It was most satisfying to feel it loosen up with each oiling point until it was smooth as silk.
Speaking of Marvel Mystery Oil, Steve DeCosa passed along this
story told to him by an oldster at a gas station which I find fascinating:
“During the Depression, when I was in high school, I worked as a mechanic in a sewing shop in the Garment District in NYC. Those old sewing machines had visible oilers on top, and when it got hot the oil would stink, and the ladies who ran the machines would complain. The owner, whose name was Marvel, (pronounced Mar-VELL) told me to go down a few doors to the candy factory-I think it was a ‘LifeSaver’ type candy- and get a couple of gallons of Oil of Wintergreen and some food coloring. We mixed it with the 10 wt. sewing machine oil to make it less offensive to the ladies. It became popular with the other shops, and Marvel made more money with that oil, than with the sewing. Whenever anyone asked what was in the oil, Marvel said, ‘Don’t ask… It’s a MYSTERY!’ and that’s how the name came about!”
Works for me! From what I hear it’s mostly kerosene anyway which wouldn’t you know it can be used as a sewing machine oil and degummer. It does a great job of removing the old yellow oil build up that you get a lot on old machines. You can pick it up at Walmart or any auto parts store, you can put it in your gas tank also however the benefits of such use are debatable.
Ok I’ve gotten off topic here, back to the Pfaff 138.
The Pfaff 138 is actually quite an amazing industrial machine and can be picked up used, head only, for around $700 on ebay! Wow that’s expensive and seems a bit steep! Part of the reason for this could be the features but I can only speculate here. This machine has reverse, zigzag, and something I was shocked and thrilled to find, needle position (left, center, right). These features make the Pfaff 138 an extremely versatile all around industrial machine. Instead of gathering dust waiting for a specific project, the Pfaff 138 can be used to sew any textile from leather to silk. As an example the machine came with a box of size 60/8 needles, that’s for some very delicate and lightweight sewing!
The downside to this machine is needing different bobbins, machine feet, and needles than any of my other machines accept. I did find an adapter that would allow me to attach a low shank universal snap on foot adapter so I can use all my guide feet but it costs $45! I know this won’t break the bank but just seems so crazy that it’s almost half the price I paid for the machine itself. That…. is just the way the world works.
I have a little movie and slide show I did for this machine. It’s really me practicing with my video editing software disguised as a sewing machine demonstration of sorts. I tried not to make it too cheesy for you.