I love antiques. My house has quite a few pieces of old furniture and trinkets I’ve found over the years. But my favorite antique purchases recently have been related to sewing. Last winter I found a collection of 90 year old needlecraft magazines. I’m not much of a stitcher, but to see the ads, prices and trends are fun to look through from time to time.
When Spring rolled around in CNY the neighborhood yard sales started. I hit the jackpot from the start. An older family was selling their old Singer 15-90 for $20. SOLD! Besides being horribly dusty and in need of a deep clean the motor and other key parts were in great condition. In coming weeks I will share this beauty with you, but today I am going to show you the sweetest Mother’s Day gift I received this year.
It’s mint you guys!! How can you resist such a pretty color?! I was so excited to see this rare beauty and immediately went online to research all about her. I’m still searching for other 125 owners, but here is the first site I used to research:
ISMACS — The International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society
ISMACS is a goldmine of information about all things vintage sewing. This is the place to look up the serial numbers on your vintage sewing machine. You should be able to find out the date of production and how many were made in the production run. Besides dating, you can look up information for just about any old sewing machine and attachment imaginable!
My machine is dated 1956 and 50,000 were produced. The 15-125’s in general were produced from 1955-1958 and were said to be the last straight-stitch models with a potted motor.
From what I have researched, the 15-125 is pretty much identical to the 15-91. It is a straight stitch only machine with reversible feed and dropping feed features. Here is a chart to see the differences in the 15 series machines.
The threading system is on the side of the 15-125, not the front like many models. It’s pretty self-explanatory when it comes to threading too. The bobbins are a standard 15 and it uses needles you can purchase at JoAnn’s. I’m using Gutermann Mara 100 thread here, but I have read you can use thicker/stronger thread on these without issue. The needle plate also has measurements up to 1″ marked on it so no more washi tape to measure out lines for me!
When hunting for vintage machines, I always check for engine and bobbin case condition. If a bobbin case is missing, finding a replacement can be costly (but sometimes you may have luck on ebay.) That goes double for motors. Always try out the machine if you can before you commit to buy. My 125 was very gunky with old oil and fluff buildup but after a deep clean it looked like it does above.
I was fortunate that my machine also came with the original foot petal, potted motor and light attachment. Here is a shot of the 3-prong connector that you insert on the right side of the machine. My cord was in great condition, but it’s common for these older machines to have cracked or decayed cording, especially around the cord ends near the plug. Do not use your machine if you notice this. Try to find a sewing repair in your area to see if it can be fixed. It can be dangerous to use.
This machine winds bobbins in front, using the piece you see above. It’l located right in front of the wheel and is surprisingly fast! To wind, Loosen the wheel (center metal part only) then slide bobbin onto the post (middle left in image) and push the lever above it down until it locks. When it’s done, the lever will pop back up so you just need to tighten the knob and take off the bobbin to finish. Easy.
The stitch regulator on the 125 is a simple lever. You can make between 6-30 stitches per inch and to backstitch, simply push it all the way to the top. The small knob on the left gets tightened once you’ve chosen your stitch length.
So what can this girl sew up? It is said to be able to sew through many layers of thick material and leather as well as delicate types of sewing. An all-purpose strong home sewing machine with industrial strength. You can also drop the feed and use it for quilting, which I really want to try.
I’m getting ready to learn about the potted motor and how to oil, so check back soon to see what I discover. Enjoy your weekend!