Yes, this is another post about vintage sewing machines. Sorry, not sorry 🙂 I know, I know, VSM restoration is threatening to take over the blog. I just can’t stop myself. I love bringing these old ladies back to their former glory. I’ve run out of room, but that didn’t stop me from snatching up this craigslist beauty. She made an awesome surprise for sister in law 🙂
This is Annette, named after her former owner, “Antoinette,” who was a seamstress herself, and the wife of a sewing machine mechanic. Her husband was also a World War II vet. How do I know? Because among the notions were a bunch of needles stored in an old MRE pouch. I think it was hot cocoa at one point? Hard to say, haha.
Anyway, Annette is a Kenmore 47 (Kenmore 158.470) made by the Maruzen Co. between 1958 and 1962. She is a midcentury modern beauty, featuring a great big retro dial, lots of chrome, and an awesome rose pink and peach paint job. She has a center locked needle for straight stitching (i.e. not left-homing machine) which is rare in a Japanese machine like this one. She will be a great multipurpose machine — equally competent at both 1/4″ and 5/8″ seams.She uses cams for decorative stitching, but does not require a cam for zigzag sewing (genius I tell you!). She is a high shank machine, but she is *not* a “Kenmore super high shank” machine, which is good because she only came with a zigzag foot. Oh, and she’s an absolute TANK of a machine. She weighs around 37 pounds!
Working on this machine has been a true pleasure — it is clear that she was loved and meticulously maintained during her working years. Unlike older Singers with their clear coats and delicate decals, the finish on this machine is tough as nails. She’s basically a car. No fancy cleaners (or hours of gentle polishing!) required. A little Simple Green, Barkeeper’s friend, and some car wax and she looks as good as new on the outside. The insides however, were a bit of a different story. Her straight stitch mechanisms were smooth, but the cam selector was frozen solid. Like, so frozen I was afraid that I was doing something wrong with the selector knobs — there was that little play in the zigzag mechanisms. I picked up a bottle of “Bluecreeper,”which is a super thin penetrating oil that that the VSM community raves about. I started with a few drops of Bluecreeper and let it sit overnight, but it didn’t do much. So, I did what any reasonable person would do. I doused everything that looked suspect and left it to sit for a day.
About 24 hours later, I nudged the zigzag arm and OMG.IT.MOVED, leaving behind a nice bit of golden fossilized oil. A few more drops of BlueCreeper and the zigzag mechanisms were moving freely. Lucky for you readers, I memorialized that moment with a photo! But seriously, it was so gratifying to get her moving again. I also used Bluecreeper in all the oil ports to flush the gunk, and followed that with BlueCreeper’s new SMO. Now everything turns smooth as glass, like even smoother than my vintage Brother. I’m officially a BlueCreeper convert, and plan to treat all my other VSMs to a day at the BlueCreeper spa.
Annette is missing some extras — her cams (Kenmore B type), and her attachments (save a buttonholer that was thrown in with the notions) were no where to be found. Bummer. It was also time for a new belt, a new pedal, a new power cord, a new light bulb, and a new bobbin tire so I ordered those from Sew Classic… only to realize that her bobbin case was broken, too. A few other items jumped in my cart on the second order, but that’s a blog post for another day. Luckily, I picked up this machine and cabinet for $35, so having to spend a bit on extras isn’t a huge deal. I think this little restore will come in around $100 (ok, maybe $150), which isn’t too bad given what a great machine she is. You cannot buy a machine of this quality today, and even if you could it would cost a fortune.
Lastly, there was the cabinet. The sad, albeit original, Sears cabinet. You know how I love to save things, but this one nearly ended up in the trash. It is not solid wood, and the laminate was in *bad* shape. It was peeling, bubbling, permanently stained with grime, and even gooey in places. Ew. Plus, the legs were shot and in need of serious repair. I can’t bring myself to paste a picture of its hideousness here, but if you absolutely must, you can check it out at this picture (and that’s AFTER a serious cleaning, so gross!). This was a rare instance where a paint job was completely necessary. My dear husband adopted the cabinet and did an amazing job refinishing it and rebuilding so it could, um, stand. He power sanded the heck out of it and primed it with a tinted oil primer before painting. The high gloss black is seriously fantastic. New hardware was obviously a must as well. A gold star for my partner in crime for an awesome job and for helping us divide and conquer on this project. Thanks to him, we totally made a gifting deadline <3
And so there you have it, folks. One newly restored Kenmore 47 in rose pink nestled in a sleek black and chrome cabinet. Totally drool-worthy. I absolutely adore her and saying farewell is going to be hard. I already got the stink eye from my husband when I mentioned how hard it would be to part with her, so there’s no turning back now, haha. I’ll get to visit her in her new home, and I’m happy to gift her to an aspiring VSM sewist 🙂 Here’s to another 50 years of sewing for Miss Annette! Linking up with Finish it Up Friday with CrazyMom Quilts!
(I can’t help but casually mention that Miss Annette has a twin sister, the Kenmore 158.48 in lavender/lilac. I’ll be fanatically hunting one, I mean, um, “keeping an eye out” for one to add to my personal collection. Shhh, don’t tell hubby!)