Re-painting a Vintage Sewing Machine

So you want to re-paint an old sewing machine do you?  Some of you e-mailed me wanting more detailed information on how to do this so here we go.

I am sure there are many other ways and products to use when re-painting an old sewing machine but here is how I painted one of mine and the products I used.

Original ugly color

The machine is a vintage Edison Zig Zag sewing machine; not a great looking machine.  It took me about two weeks from start to finish working on it few hours everyday.  It was hard and tedious because I had to take a lot of the machine apart and strip the paint off of it and its parts.

I did not do anything to the bottom of the machine so some of the old color is still there but not visible when the machine is on its base. I used masking tape and plastic to cover most of the machine. I also used pieces of toothpicks and q-tips inserted into the various holes throughout the body of the machine to prevent paint from getting in there.

I used Jasco brand paint & epoxy remover and a stripping tool to strip it, then I sprayed it with primer (for metal), then I re-painted the machine with Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x Coverage spray paint in Colonial Red. (Warning: stripping paint can expose one to lead.) I made sure to do this outside in a well ventilated area using goggles, a face mask and gloves. I also used a large box to spray in to prevent paint from flying all over my patio.

The knobs and other items I was unable to remove, were either covered with plastic or a piece of paper towel then wrapped with masking tape or just covered with tape, you can also use painter’s tape.  The tape was wrapped from behind the knob towards the front of it to create a sort of bubble.

If you notice on the photos where the machine has been sprayed with primer and/or sprayed with paint (but not finished), the machine appears to be puffy on top and other areas and that is because I filled the inside of the machine with paper towels. I did this in case there was any paint seepage when spraying the machine. I ensured that the knob areas on the inside had extra paper towel pieces there too.

In order to get a smooth, non-drippy paint finish you need to thoroughly remove all existing paint including the original primer coat on the machine (see photo for blue primer on my machine).

In addition, one needs to be patient and let each coat of primer and paint dry. I pretty much followed the instructions on the cans regarding how to spray and the number of coats.

Much better!

I also forgot to mention a couple of things:

  • I decided to use the paint and epoxy remover gel on the machine because sanding it off (as noted on the spray cans) would have taken longer, in my opinion.  I did sand off the final patches of stubborn primer and paint.
  • Once the machine and its pieces were stripped, I cleaned all with a slightly damp sponge and then dried every piece thoroughly with a towel and let it all sit outside and air dry overnight.

The materials probably cost me $35 or less for the epoxy, primer spray (1 can), spray paint (1 can) and stripping tool.  Sending my machine out for re-painting was not an option because I have read it is really expensive (above $500) AND I was unsure if I would keep this machine.

Although my paint job is not perfect I am pretty happy with the results.  This machine found a new home recently but I definitely want to paint another!

19 thoughts on “Re-painting a Vintage Sewing Machine

  1. Good morning tell me are you selling these machine what price if you are ,i have a Kenmore model 158199411 serial co89837 I bought it in good fate but the no 40&41&42&43&44 were broke so now tell me can I get these parts other then that is in good condition also came with the table that the machine that goes down in so I can close it can you help????Any Idea where I could get these parts,I thought if someone knows you are sure to .You are doing good job .Only Pink not sure on that but looks nice.

    • Hi Martha,

      My sewing machines are not for sale. If you need parts for your Kenmore you can try ebay or Sears which still sells many parts for vintage Kenmores and provide enlarged diagrams of the different parts of the machine here. You will need to enter the entire model number of the sewing machine in the search box.

  2. Great job! I was excited to see this!!!
    We have an old Remington Deluxe, that I love. It is a cool turquoise color. But it is in such bad shape. Someone found it in their shed. ( It had vines growing in it…) It’s gonna take A LOT of work. But, good to know there is hope!!!
    Also, I have a couple of old Rimoldis. And I am afraid I don’t know how to use the serger. So, thank you for the threading chart! If you know a good place to get a manual for old industrial Rimoldi machines, please tell me!
    –Dawn

    • Hi Dawn,

      Thank you!
      Please share some photos once you paint your machine! You mentioned your Remington being a cool turquoise color, next machine I paint will be in that color. I love turquoise.

      Rimoldis are great but I do not mess with my industrials; I have a local tech maintain them for me.

      Sonia.

  3. Sorry, I realized the machine in need of repainting is a Fleetwood Deluxe! Not a Remington. We do have an industrial turquoise/blue Remington Super Deluxe as well. I posted a “before photo” on your fb page!

  4. That is absolutely incredible, it’s like a gorgeous vintage hotrod
    I have an HGPalmer Princess, it has the same handwheel as your machine, with the silver knob in the middle that has a screw in it. I know you are supposed to turn the outside knob towards you to disengage the needle while you fill a bobbin but I can’t get my wheel to turn. Is there a knack to it that I am missing and have you ever had this problem.
    Much appreciation for any advice you can give me
    You are so brave to tackle such a big job with your machine and you turned the beast into a beauty.

      • Hi Stitchnerd, I just see now I have written the wrong wheel in my question. It’s the silver wheel inside the big handwheel, your 11th pic down shows this silver wheel clearly. I’m supposed to be able to turn than inner silver wheel towards me so the needle wont go up and down while I wind a bobbin. Ive only had it a few weeks and I found a Manual online and it says Hold the large handwheel with your left hand, with your right hand turn the inner silver wheel towards you to disengage the bobbin.
        All other parts of the machine are moving freely, and no rust problems but I cant get that silver wheel to budge. I can still fill the bobbin but it means the needle is going up and down while I’m bobbin winding and I’m sure that’s not the way it’s supposed to be.
        Thank you again.

      • Hi Joanne,

        Ok, now I understand your question. I will do a tutorial/post on this soon but I will explain it here without photos. It may just be old gunk that is dried up up in there and not letting the knob loose; heat must be applied to soften it up.

        Remove the small screw from the silver/wheel/knob. Get your hair dryer and put it right to the small hole, turn the hair dryer on to the hi/hot setting and heat it up for a minute or two, turn it off. BE CAREFUL! THE WHEEL/KNOB CAN GET REALLY HOT. Then get a rubber mallet or hammer wrapped wrapped in a thick towel and tap the knob really, really lightly as you do not want to damage the treads. Now try to turn it. You may need to repeat these step or heat the knob a bit longer to get it loose.

        Sonia

      • Hi Joanne,

        This works, you just have to keep doing it, maybe over a few days. Here is an excerpt of a response I provided to someone with the same problem:

        “I removed the small screw on the knob and sprayed just a tiny bit of PB Blaster in it. (I have read that one is supposed to be careful with the hand wheel (fly wheel) disc area in regards to adding oils, lubricants, etc. but I was desperate.) Once I sprayed in the tiny hole, I heated it with the blow dryer (heat directly into the tiny hole, do not use WD-40)). I put the screw back on and wiggled the knob to loosen it. It took a couple of times of doing this but I got it freed up.”

        You can see what the PB Blaster spray can product looks like on this post

        http://stitchnerd.wordpress.com/2011/08/28/frozen-feed-dogs-on-a-vintage-sewing-machine/

        Wow, you got that machine for a steal! Yes, it is identical. :)

      • I was thinking of using the spray product, I don’t think we have PB Blaster spray out here but we have a product called WD40. I’m sure it will come right eventually. You have been a wonderful help and at least I know I’m doing the right thing to it.
        The little Singer is gorgeous isn’t it, but I’m not sure if I will actually ever get it. The seller has an incredibly low feedback score, he has pulled out of a couple of sales he’s made and through the week I emailed him because I felt the postage couldn’t be right $5 ?
        He didn’t reply so I bid anyway then sent him a message that the postage for that item should be $30.95 and could he send me an invoice…..Ive heard nothing from him.
        Here’s hoping he comes good. Cheers Jo

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