Thursday, January 10, 2013

I Found...

...this box at the thrift store last Friday. I can always tell a box for a sewing machine but I can never tell what will be inside until I open it. I'm usually disappointed.

This time I was surprised.
A man standing nearby came over and told me that he had many machines at home and had repaired some of them.  He told me to be aware of any frayed wiring and be sure all the parts were there (though I wouldn't have known if they weren't).  He thought the machine was from about 1950.  It looked older to me.

This machine is not a Featherweight!  I picked it up - or tried to pick it up - to tote it to the outlets but it was so heavy I had to ask my husband to carry it.  There was a needle and a bobbin but no spool on the top.  Surprisingly, it stitched, though the dull needle poked holes into my fabric.  (No, I don't always carry scraps of fabric but I was looking for a specific color of fabric for a project.)  The price was $20.20.  My husband said, "Buy it!"  I deliberated a few minutes, then put it in our cart.  This evening I had time to pull it out and take a closer look at it.

As you'll see in the photos below, either the machine was well-loved but not properly cared for or it was mostly unloved.  Notice the speckling (from what?) and all the dust.  Ugh!  Where to begin?

The finishes on Singers seem to be very fragile and they don't all respond the same way to the same products. I don't think I should use water but I'm not sure what to use.

The cover on the bobbin case gave me an idea of the machine's age, though I wasn't able to read it till I took the photo. 

I looked on the Singer website and found that the machine was made in 1915.  I tried to get in touch with the Singer company to get the model number but haven't been able to get through yet.  I need the model number to order a manual.

The machine has been used recently enough to have a plastic bobbin and plastic tape guides near the needle.  Notice how the back of the presser foot comes down at an angle?  It looks odd to me.

I put a new needle in and put a spool of thread on top and threaded it how I thought it should go.  I plugged in both plugs -- one into the presser foot/knee pedal cord, the other into an electrical outlet.  Then I pressed the presser foot to stitch.  Uhhh, I had something wrong because the spool thread came out and got lost.  After threading it several different ways and changing the bobbin to unwind counter-clockwise, I was finally able to sew.  Looks pretty good....

... until you turn it over.

Is the problem the threading, the tension (which I don't know how to adjust), a mechanical problem (that will be expensive to repair), or is the machine unrepairable?  I hope it's one of the first two!

Here are photos of how I threaded it.  Any thoughts, anyone?  Aside from the obvious nail to hold the thread at the top, all the other parts look like they're there (to eyes inexperienced to nearly-100-year-old sewing machines).  It seems like it threads into the needle from the left.

If any of you who read this have experience with old Singers, I would be grateful to correspond with you.

Some other things I've noticed about this Singer sewing machine are that
  • it's belt driven
  • it has only one stitch length
  • it goes forward only, and
  • there's no obvious tension knob
 I wish I knew the history of this old machine.  I wonder if the lady who first owned it thought she was on Cloud Nine to be able to stitch so quickly and neatly.

Happy stitching to you!


This is a Vintage Thingie Thursday post.


  1. Hi Nancy...Your machine is known as the 'Singer Red Eye Model 66. I have one that is a treadle, but have not tried to sew on it as it needs much TLC. Here is a link to more information and a manual.

    Google Singer Red Eye for more images.

    From the look of your stitching examples, the top thread tension is wrecked...probably the spring. Also, it requires a metal bobbin. Hopefully the manual will show an example. I think there is a website for a repair person. I hope to make mine work as a treadle again...someday. Good luck getting it going.

    1. Wow, Sue, you are fast! Thanks for telling me the machine's nickname and model number and sending the link for the manual. It will make it much easier to find more information and get it repaired. I can't tell if it was ever a treadle machine.... I hope you get yours going one of these days. Thank you so very much for sharing your knowledge. I really appreciate it.

  2. Hi Nancy, yes, your machine is a model 66 "red eye" as Sue has said. You should be able to find a manual online, and these old machines are brilliantly easy to maintain. They have few moving parts, and are relatively easy to service yourself. Give it a good clean with a damp cloth. I don't use any cleaning products on my old machines. Just be aware that the electrics should be looked at before you do any sewing.
    Old wires can be dangerous.
    Good luck.

    1. Thank you for chiming in, Kerry. I love easy to maintain (and I wish the previous owner had known that!). I hope I can get enough information and perhaps find a service person to take a look and make any repairs or adjustments to give it a good start. I appreciate your thoughts.

  3. Hi Nancy,
    Beautiful old Singer! I hope you can get it going again. I can only imagine how excited its first owner must have been... The machine is certainly a "keeper," but not as much as your hubby! (Mine's the same way) I think it's wonderful that he encouraged you to get it!

  4. I can't be completely sure, but it looks like your needle is threaded from left to should be from right to left. Also make sure the flat side of the needle is facing left when you insert it.

  5. I clean the surfaces of old machines I find with baby oil or sewing machine oil. The machines like the Red Eye you found have a process to the finish called japanning, and then then there is shellac over top of that, so if you use a cleaner, it will ruin the finish. Baby oil or sewing machine clean it good, and leave a nice shine as well.

    Here's a link about japanning.

  6. You can get a free manual here: You want to scroll down to 66 Treadle English Home Free!
    It was originally a treadle that was converted later to an electric. It does thread from left to right and uses a class 66 bobbin, not a 15 which your other machine uses. Personally, I would recommend converting it to a hand crank sewing machine to do all of your piecing on. That is how I use mine. All of my friends want one after using mine! You can find a lot of information on I can help you with any other questions you have. Do not use water to clean it, you will destroy the decals, I use Murphy's oil soap. You can find more info on cleaning it at . Hope this helps!


I appreciate your comments and look forward to reading what you have to say. Thanks for stopping by.

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