She’s here!

Introducing my Singer 500A, Doris!

I’ve named her after Doris Day, of course.  I love her films with Rock Hudson, and they are from the same time period as the new machine!

I’d say this machine was in great cosmetic condition.  There are only a few tiny tings in the paint, and a little cracking on the feet underneath.  I haven’t tried yet to shine up the gold printing, but I’m pretty sure it will clean up.  However, when this machine arrived a week ago, it was immediately apparent to me that it had one big problem – whoever owned the machine before had been oiling it with something that was distinctly not sewing machine oil.  It was probably WD-40 or similar, and you should not use those in machines – over time they freeze up the works!  It sewed, but the bobbin winder didn’t turn, and the feed dogs were cranky… really cranky.  She needed to be totally cleaned out and relubricated, so  I took her into “my guy” at the sewing center for a checkup.  (He’s “my guy” because the 500a is his favorite machine, and he congratulated me on buying one!)  I could have cleaned it out myself, but to be honest I don’t have a place that’s great for doing that kind of deep cleaning – plus I really wanted a professional to go over the machine and make sure nothing else was wrong.  He ended up replacing the stitch plate, because the old one had some big nicks in it, and he fixed the broken front door hinge.  But other than that, he gave her a clean bill of health!

You can see above a test on a double layer of denim.  The stitch quality is really beautiful – completely even and balanced.  Honestly, the straight stitch blows poor Audrey the Bernina out of the water.

The 500A is the blue thread above, and I sewed a parallel line next to it in white with the Bernina (on the right… the other white line is something else.)  Sorry it’s hard to see, but the stitches are lovely!  The stitching underneath is nice too:

In this photo the 500a is the black thread, and the Bernina is white.  Beautiful! Does it matter?  Probably not, but I am thrilled!

I have a few more projects to complete on the machine before it’s totally up to speed.  I want to thoroughly clean the exterior, as I mentioned.  I’m not sure yet what I should use, but I will find out!  I also need to clean the other feet I got with the machine  – a ruffler, an edgestitcher, and some unidentified parts.  They are very faintly rusty, and I’m going to soak them in Evaporust.  Luckily, no rust at all in the machine, in spite of coming from humid Florida!

And then, after that I will be up and running!  I would like to stitch my next project as much as possible on the 500a, to get used to the feel (I actually like the weird pedal – it’s a sort of button that you operate with your foot rather than the clamshell style.)  An all mechanical machine is different, and I will say that I miss the needle up/down button!  And I don’t have a buttonholer yet, so I will do buttonholes on the Bernina.   Still, I’m excited to get going!

If you’ve made it this far, here’s a preview of my sundress!  I have had some trials with the pattern, which I will write about later.  It needs hemming and buttonholes, thus the extra strings in this photo.  I do clip my threads, I swear!  But not serger threads right away, so that’s what most of those are, along with basting from the underlining.  I hope to have photos on Sunday!

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18 thoughts on “She’s here!

  1. Congratulations on your new (old) machines, with sewing machines the saying; “they don’t make them like they use too” is very true. Your dress looks lovely.

  2. Very cool machine! I have an old Kenmore that I use and was so excited to find a buttonhole attachment that worked, so you may be able to find one for yours as well.

  3. Your excitement just makes me smile. There’s nothing more jazzy than new equipment or gadgets or toys! Beautiful stitches … yay! I love the names you choose. I have an old Bernina and the name that pops in my head is Trixie. Congratulations and have fun with Doris Day!!!

    Your sun dress is classic. Love the big roses on the fitted bodice and gathered skirt!

  4. My husband sat next to Doris Day on a flight once and said that she is an absolute delight! Really, how could she NOT be?!

    Love the sundress – cannot wait to see the completely finished product. I have just returned from a trip to JoAnn’s so will be spending this rainy week-end with Bob the Bernina. Maybe I should download some Doris songs in the iPod for inspiration…

  5. Sue says:

    Love all your garments! Did want to say that if the Bernina is one where the bobbin sits horizontal and “Doris” has one that sits vertical that is why Doris sews a much better straight stitch! Even a very inexpensive machine with a vertical bobbin will sew a nicer straight stitch than the most expensive machine with a horizontal bobbin! No idea why but I sold machines for years and it always held true even among machines of the same brand.

    Good luck with her! She IS a beauty!

  6. Welcome to Doris! She is very cool, as is your sundress. I am loving all of the retro outfits you are sewing, so much prettier than what you can find in the stores.

  7. Hello Doris! Glad to hear you’re thrilled with her stitching quality. Not only is she easy on the eyes but she can perform! Fantastic!
    PS. Sundress looks gorgeous so far! Lovely print, the bright flowers on the white is such a nice contrast!

  8. Liza says:

    LOVE your machine. Beautiful. I have my mom’s 404, the machine I learned to sew with. Such fond memories. The button foot pedal is fine and I find that I have great control with it, can’t wear shoes, though I rarely do while sewing.
    Loving the dress pattern too – thanks for the hints, I have a Vintage Vogue, not the same as yours and appreciate the hints. Some rosey pink something is in my mom’s stash ready for this summer.

  9. Janice says:

    Congrats on Doris, she’s a wonderful machine. I couldn’t believe she still worked, I’m excited for you; I bet you’ll enjoy working with her, as lovely as her stitches are. I agreed that the stitches looked as lovely (or better) than the bernina’s. Have fun! Janice

  10. Doris is fabulous! And the previous poster (as well as many other people who have said it) is right – they don’t make them like they used to. Hope the two of you spend many wonderful hours together. I’m so glad to have found your blog – knitting and sewing are two of my fav things too and your photos are lovely.

  11. What needle did you use on the Bernina? Was it new? I don’t feel it’s really fair to compares machines’ stitches if you’re using needles of different types/sizes/qualities, or if one is much used and the other is new.

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