Sunday, 11 March 2018

My Singer 338!

Well here it is my very first sewing machine, the one I got for my 21st birthday in 1966! I know it cost my Mam a lot to buy it for me & she traded in her Jones treadle to buy it. I wish I had offered to pay for to keep it but I suppose that's the thoughtlessness of youth.

I learned to sew from about 5 years old with my Nana's Jones treadle, my Mam had learned to sew on it too & so did my sister. In the days before telly we spent hours sewing & knitting together. I remembered watching with horror the time my Mam got the sewing machine needle through her finger nail! Don't know how it didn't put me off.

I decided I didn't want a gold watch for my 21st as most people did I preferred a sewing machine. I loved it! Such a gorgeous colour and my how it stitched! It could zig zag & embroider and it has made hundreds of things from my mini dresses, wedding & bridesmaids' dresses in the sixties, curtains, cushions, dresses & trousers for me & my children in the seventies & in the eighties I did a City & Guilds Fashion & Design 3 year course. My the machine got some hammer during that course.  

Apart from when the electric foot control broke the machine never flackered until I got it out about a year ago & discovered there was a screw missing from the stitch lever. Just a tiny screw but it stopped the stitch setting working properly although you could still sew with it.

Well I started a quilting class a couple of months ago & wondered whether I should treat myself to a new lightweight machine to carry to the classes as mine is quite heavy with the case on it.

Next I spent hours looking at reviews on the Internet (as you do) & it looked as though most of the cheaper ones weren't worth the money. I didn't want to spend too much on one so I looked into getting the part for the machine. Well that was another hunt that took hours! Although the machine was made in Scotland it's hard to find replacement parts in the UK. I found one on a website in the US but it was going to cost a heck of a lot just for a tiny part so I gave up. I thought about buying an old 338 just to get the part but they all looked in poor condition on ebay & they weren't cheap either. So I was back to square one.

I started looking at vintage sewing machine websites, by this time I was hooked on them, finding out more about them & how they were built to last unlike the pastic stuff being sold now. Well I found one UK website, it belongs to Helen Howes, a lady who is really into restoring these fabulous machines. Well she has some beauties which she has lovingly restored for sale here & I drooled over the Jones treadle machine I learned to sew on as well a most of the others here

So I started browsing the rest of the site & found she also has parts for sale. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the exact part I needed for the princely sum of £1! I rang her, she posted it to me & last night I fitted it & voila! It restored the machine to working order perfectly, now the stitch lever works like a dream. Hard to believe I could be so delighted, more delighted than if I had won the lottery. 

Can you believe a machine doesn't work properly, all for the sake of a tiny screw you can see here.

So now I can start quilting properly! The sewing saga continues & I think it will have to go into the box with me when I go. Hard to believe you can get so attached to something mechanical but I am, I love it probably because I know it cost my Mam a lot to buy it for me back then. Then I think of all the things I have made or repaired with it, such memories. I hope Mam knows it was been worth every penny!


  1. What a great story. I love the colour of your machine. I know how you feel about them, they are part of the family...........

    1. Yes, you get attached to them. Glad yours came back home without needing major surgery!

  2. What a lovely post! I stiil have my grand mother's Singer which is a lot older than yours , extremely heavy and still working. I bought another one few years ago , which is a lot lighter and more 'effective' but I'm always very fond of my grandma and mama's old Singer!
    Tina x

  3. Yes although it's classed as vintage it's not exactly ancient. I wish I still had my nana's old Jones treadle. Sewing machines carry a lot of memories, of the people & also the clothes & other items made on them.

  4. Hi Winifred! Loved this post and so glad that you found the screw. Perseverance pays off.
    I am picky about buying things also...especially when they cost hundreds or thousands like most new machines do these days. I learned how to sew on a Singer that had the foot pedal. The right leg really got some exercise! Wish I still had that machine. I am looking forward to coming back to see what you are quilting. I am going to try and blog again. I miss it and all the friends that I you.

  5. How lovely to hear from you Brenda. It would be great if you could start blogging again so I can keep up with how you're doing. I loved you last quilt post.

  6. How interesting! My first machine was a husband took over my payments when we got married. That machine ran like a dream also. a very interesting post Winifred. I enjoyed it. I sewed a lot when my kids were little. We had a set of twins and I remember pushing the twin stroller back and forth with my foot...while I sewed darling little outfits for the babies to wear to the fair. I wish I had half the will power and motivation now that I did then! How sweet of your Mom to give up her treadle to get you your machine. Now, thats love!

    1. Yes they saved us such a lot of money when wages were low & I didn't work. Those machines are beyond price. Yes my Mam was so kind I just wish she had lived to see how much I used it & how much I still love it. She would have been amazed & so pleased.

  7. I thought I had already commented here. Anyway, I don't own a sewing machine. Traded my saxophone for one 48 years ago but never used it. Didn't play the saxophone very well either. LOL

  8. Hi Annie - Can't see a comment that I missed. At least you played it. I had a violin when I was young & it is still in the loft. Never played it after I left school sadly. Wish I had kept up the lessons.


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