Thursday, November 10, 2011

1940s Piedmont - Singer 15 clone

Two weeks ago my cleaning lady Linda brought me this straight stitch sewing machine!  Her husband Dennis rescued it from a dumpster.  The case looks pretty rough.
The shinny black machine head, gold decals and chrome trim were all pristine.  If it wasn't for the wear on the foot pedal it would be hard to tell this was a vintage machine.  I think this sewing machine was well used and well loved.  Most likely discarded by  someone other than the person who used it.  I'm guessing the accessories and manual were also dumped.  A closer inspection revealed that the motor belt was very frayed and the light bulb is missing.
Nonetheless, this machine is gorgeous!  I didn't polish it at all for these photos, this is exactly the way she looked...fresh from the dumpster. 
This Piedmont is a clone of the Singer 15 series.  It uses class 15 bobbins, standard needles and short shank screw on feet.  There is a knob on the base beside the bobbin winding spool pin to drop the feed dogs.
The machine had five bobbins all with thread, one needle in the machine and the bobbin casing. I spent $5 CAD to purchase a new motor belt.  After installing the new belt, the motor was smoking and stinky so I spent another $10 to get the motor refurbished.
People who lived during the great depression were extremely frugal with thread, they would wind more than one colour on the spool.  I wonder if they ever used the colours underneath.
I did some sample stitching with it.  The motor runs hums along as it sews.  I put red thread in the top needle and yellow in the bobbin.  Even with the bobbin screw tightened as tight as it would go and the upper tension set as low it will go the stitch is still not locked in the centre.
See the little red dots on the reverse side.  I'm going to clean the upper tension disks with dental floss and see if that fixes the problem.  Jenny at sew classic provides excellent tutorials for cleaning and fixing vintage machines.  She also sells parts.  After checking Jenny's instructions on tension issues, I tightened the upper tension to 4.5 and left the bobbin tension as is.
The purple scrap had too many tracks running across it.  The red thread is the top and yellow is the bottom.  The tension is fixed!  Yippee~  dancing around the room with glee!
My goal of reducing my sewing machine collection from 12 machines to only 8, just took another step backwards as I now own 13 machines again.  ~sigh
  1. 1910 Bernard Stoewer Treadle - Bernice manufactured in Germany
  2. 1940 Singer 15-91 - Pearl
  3. 1940s Singer 15-89 Treadle - Rose
  4. 1940s Piedmont - manufactured in Japan.  This machine will be donated or sold once I buy some accessories for it.
  5. 1954 Elna Supermatic - manufactured in Switzerland.  This machine is listed for sale on kijiji Winnipeg because it is operated with a knee bar which I do not like.
  6. 1954 Necchi Mira BU - Mira manufactured in Italy
  7. 1961 Necchi Lelia - Lelia manufactured in Italy
  8. 1956 Domestic Automatic - Wilma manufactured in Japan will be given to my son.
  9. 1970 Elna Supermatic - Ella manufactured in Switzerland
  10. 1979 Husqvarna 6570 - Ruby manufactured in Sweden
  11. Bernina Nova 900 - Novalee manufactured in Switzerland between 1982-85
  12. 1983 Bernina 930 - Helga manufactured in Switzerland
  13. Pfaff QE 4 - Big Bertha manufactured in China with German engineering.
So many toys and so little time!  The way a sewing machine operates just fascinates me.  I collect sewing machines because they are so inexpensive and plentiful.  Most of my vintage machines were purchased for less than $100 CAD and many were free.  I bought one treadle for only $20 in a cabinet.  I love these oldies, they are usually all metal construction. If kept clean and oiled they will keep sewing for years and years.  My favourite sewing machine of all time was my 1995 Husqvarna 500 that I gave to my daughter in July 2011.  Currently, I am falling in love with Helga the Bernina 930 and I'm very partial to Pearl the Singer 15-91 straight stitcher.  Pearl is conveniently set up in the craft emporium overflow area which is also where my 42 inch tv and extensive collection of dvd movies reside.   

Dear readers, how many sewing machines do you have?  Do you have any favourites?  If you collect them, why?  Do you name your sewing machines?


  1. Dear readers, how many sewing machines do you have? Um...I would have to count, but I'm guessing 40+

    Do you have any favourites? I love them all!!!

    If you collect them, why? When I see them sitting on a shelf feeling lonely and begging to go home with me, how can I ignore them? I am fascinated with them. I wonder about their history...who sewed with them, how old they are, where they lived, but most of all, before I take them home, I they still work? If they don't, I CAN FIX THEM!!!! I love tinkering with machines...more than sewing!

    Do you name your sewing machines? No, I don't name my machines.

  2. Just wanted to let you know that your favourite machine still sews like a dream! I'll have to get a photo of the model in her new puppy coat :)

    The new Piedmont is beautiful. I love how they made the old machines so decorative as well as functional. I like the 5th photo on the page that shows the side of the machine. Good luck with your goal of 8 machines ;)

  3. I am happy to see that someone else loves sewing machines and collects them. My husband and I (he fixes and I set up) volunteer at a thrift store. There are so many good old sewing machines I have a hard time not buying them. I have 7 right now and I do use most of them doing some volunteer sewing for a charitable organization. I have my trusty Elna SU that I bought in the 70's and a Janome that I rescued from a garage sale, a Singer 15-91 in table and 2 Singer featherweights and my Husqavarna D-1 that I bought new in 1999 and a real workhorse German machine called a Phoenix.

    Happy Sewing and Collecting!

    Linda in Winnipeg

  4. I just recently picked up an extremely similar machine to your piedmont. The faceplate is identical and the whole look is the same from what I can tell. The only thing on mine different is that it does not say anything about the hudsons bay company and instead of piedmont mine says Comrie, made in edmonton alberta. I was wondering if you had been able to find out any information on your machine as I am desperately searching for some on mine.

    Here is the link to the photos of my machine on flickr if you would like to take a look

  5. Hi Tammy, great info about the Piedmont. I just bought one today at my local Goodwill. I went through it to clean it up and oil it. The last owner replaced some of the wiring. It works but I'm struggling to get thread on the bobbin. I'm engaging the lever that says 'push' but it pops back out, and I've tried holiding it in as I press the pedal--little luck. I'd appreciate any expert tips. Sincerely, Josh Ann

    1. hmmm you are saying when you engage the bobbin winder it pops back out? What does the rubber tire look like? If the rubber tire is cracked and brittle, it needs to be replaced. The bobbin winder piece has an adjustment screw and it is spring loaded. suggest you google youtube to find how to fix the bobbin winder. Contact


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