New team member. Or possibly very heavy decoration.

I’d never seen a bent wood sewing machine case before. I didn’t even know that was a thing. So when I saw one at a thrift store, the word SINGER gleaming under the fluorescent lights, I stopped in my tracks.
“Is that…can I see that?”
I plugged it in, and oh my goodness. It worked. The light (these things have lights?) lit up. The engine hummed as soon as the pedal was pressed. It was a little battered and had obviously lived a long and useful life, but clearly it still had a lot more living to do. At my house.
“This thing is a tank! It’s so heavy!” Dan said as he heaved it into the house.
“Her name is Ethel!”
Some googling (and a wild goose chase to find a bobbin case) later, and I figured out that she is from 1910, and probably a model 15. Apparently, she has one of the weirdest bobbin housings the experienced sewing machine shop guys at the shop had ever seen.

There’s something really appealing about working with a machine that is much, much (much!!) older than I am, and that can probably out live me.
I need to figure out a few more things, but she appears to work just fine. I’d like to turn her back into a treadle (i.e. no electricity) model, which is apparently do-able. Finally, blackout sewing!

About Claire

Absolutely Small is textile artist Claire Chambers. Claire Chambers is a crazy-pants artist/crafter who spends most of her time indoors, very near to Portland, Oregon. She likes making people laugh, chickens and pugs, and writing about herself in the third person. She is utterly obsessed with making things out of fabric.


  1. Shivani Sharma says:

    My mom is working on this kind of sewing machine from last 40 years or so… never thought this could be so appealing or attractive to someone…may be just because one of such lives in my own home… :) :)

    • Ha ha! I guess it’s one of those “eye of the beholder” sort of things. The idea of a machine that can work that long, reliably is very appealing to me. :) The modern plastic machines simply can’t compete with that. Thanks for your comment!

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