Friday, May 14, 2010

New (old) Arrival - A short-ish post I swear!

Yeah, yeah, my posts tend to ramble on longer than most but I figure it's the only form of a journal I keep these days so maybe it's okay.

Anyway, after more than a year of looking I finally managed to find and acquire a particular sewing machine that I've had in mind for leatherwork for some time.  It's a Singer 29K172 long arm "patch machine" made at the Singer factory in Kilbowie Scotland in 1935.  It was used by cobblers (shoe repair dude in layman's terms) to do repairs and finish work on shoes and boots.  It can only sew about 1/4" of leather but a lot of the work I do is less than this so I don't mind.  The really cool thing about this machine is that it has a very long, very skinny arm that will allow you to get into tight spaces (such as the toe of a shoe) and it has a uni-directional top-feed foot.  Why is this exciting?  Well, let's say you wanted to sew a patch onto the sleeve of a jacket (c'mon, I know you've been dying to).  You just slip the sleeve over the arm and let the the foot walk all around the edge of the patch, changing directions and turning corners without ever repositioning the sleeve.  As far as I know, there's no other sewing machine in existence that can do this.  Any sewing enthusiasts out there are almost certain to think this feature is really cool.  For the rest of you staring blankly at your screen wondering how deep my dorkiness really runs, just trust me, it's COOL!

Even cooler, it's a totally manual machine.  You turn a giant crank by hand to operate it.  One turn equals one stitch.  Being somewhat prone to Luddite tendencies (look it up kids), this really appeals to me.  It stitches nice and SLOW allowing for excellent control.  I wish it sewed a little thicker material and could use thread heavier than size 138, but I'm pleased with it nonetheless.  It's first real job will be sewing some small knife sheaths with my Boy Scout troop as we work on the Leatherwork merit badge.  I think Sarah plans on making some leather baby shoes.

I had to make an 8-hour day trip to Fort Worth to pick it up, but the price was phenomenally low, like 10-15% of the cost of a similar "clone" machine made new in China.  A nice old gentleman with an orthopedic business used it as his personal machine at home and was clearing out his garage.  What a find!

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