Due to the huge response I’ve had towards my Vintage Singer Sewing Machine (now named Little Miss Susie Soul Singer due to your fab suggestions), I’m writing a post on how I cleaned her.
Before I start, I need to say I’m not an expert at cleaning sewing machines, I just wanted her to look her best so I trawled the web to see what info I could find to guide me. If you want to clean or restore a sewing machine yourself, please seek the advice of a professional and not follow my lead! This post is a record of my experience rather than a ‘how to guide’.
The first thing I did after buying Little Miss Susie was to look her serial number up on this website to find out her year of ‘birth’ and model number. The International Sewing Machine Collectors Society was fab as it also tells you the info like how many of each model were made.
If you have checked out Little Miss Susie’s number you will see she is a 99K model (one of a 50,000 batch!) born July 1949.
With her model number known, the next step was to track down some info on how to clean her. I found a free pdf manual on the thefeatherweight221factory website and another at Tools for Self Reliance and grabbed myself some cleaning tools.
With interdental toothbrushes, an old ‘normal’ toothbrush, cotton buds, soft cloths / rags, tweezers, a screwdriver and some Autosol metal polish at hand I ventured forward.
Once I had hovered out any dust from inside the case and gave the machine a gentle wipe with a damp cloth (with a tiny bit of washing up liquid), it was time to take Little Miss Susie apart.
First off came the face plate, then presser foot, needle clamp and screw, needle and throat plates.
All came up lovely with some Autosol polish – photo on left below is before cleaning and to the right after cleaning.
If I were to do this again, I would definitely cover the bed of my machine with an old pillowcase as cleaning got a little messy and take even more pictures as a memory jogger so I can easily remember where all the bits went!
With the throat plate removed I took the bobbin out, under the machine was a screw that released the feed dogs (the screwdriver is pointing to it in the picture) so I could remove the fluff and polish them up.
Feed Dog before and after cleaning
As I started to gain confidence in taking my machine apart I became a bit ‘unscrewing’ happy, forgot all I had read and took out a key screw that all Singer Manuals and Guidance say not to touch “Under no circumstance must the screw in latch B be loosened as this would put the stitch forming mechanism out of adjustment.” I tried to warn you that this isn’t a how to guide!
The red tweezers in the photo below are pointing to the screw I am talking about. Opps!
So, when it came to taking any part of your machine apart, do your research well and follow it. One website I found pretty useful on the bobbin area assembly was this one: archaicarcane
So here are some of my removed parts.
Once all fluff / grim was removed and polished it was time for the sewing machine oil – my approach was to oil every metal to metal friction joint.
After working on the bobbin and face plate area, I moved to the tension discs, handle and bobbin winder. After my latch screw error (luckily all is not lost as my machine is still stitching beautifully) I wasn’t confident enough to remove the handle or bobbin winder completely so I polished what I could with cotton buds and a soft cloth. Another time I might check out one of the sources I mentioned above or The Vintage Singer Sewing Machine if I wanted to take on the challenge!
And here she is Voila! My cleaned and threaded beauty.
That just leaves me with this box of fabulous sewing machine attachments that came with Little Miss Susie.
What do they all do? How do you use them? How do they compare with today’s equivalents? If like me you are interested to find out send me a comment!