Vintage Sewing Machine Tips

This page is where I will be listing all my sewing machine tips, just click on the highlighted link to view.  Check back as I will be posting more soon.

  • Need to replace the belt on your vintage sewing machine?  VIew this review and scroll towards the end of it to learn how to get an approximate measurement.
  • Don’t know what type of shank your sewing machine has?  Take a look at this image.
  • Need a manual for your vintage KENMORE sewing machine?  Take a look at my post here.
  • Need a manual for your vintage SINGER sewing machine?  Take a look at my post here.

17 thoughts on “Vintage Sewing Machine Tips

  1. I was given a beautiful Kenmore 16951 machine-it looks brand new. It runs quietly. Problem-it was stuck in reverse. The reverse lever seems to be free moving but the machine would only sew in reverse. I played around with it-opened it up and got it to go forward, change between stitch type, but once I reversed it, there it stayed- in reverse again (and with teeny tiny stitches). I can get it to sew forward but once I reverse it -it stays there again and again. It is pretty gummed up and sticky inside along the gears. Is it possible to clean that up and re-grease it? What would I use for removing the hardened sticky old stuff?

  2. Susan,

    The collar that controls the feed dogs is stuck to the feed dog drive shaft. I just picked up this very machine at Goodwill in near mint condition for $3 and the feed dog lever and the shaft were stuck very bad. I am asumming that you freed the plunger that engages the feed dogs, but you also need to free the collar that has the hole in that the plunger engages and has the cam that runs the dogs. It must be loose on the shaft so the dogs can retract when the plunger is pulled back. The collar that contains the plunger is what actually drives the dogs when it is coupled to the collar that is stuck. When it is disengaged, it simply floats on the shaft and the dogs drop down. Mine was very difficult to unstick and took quite some pressure to loosen up. I would suggest spraying a solvent like brake clean around the shaft and running the machine with the dogs disengaged for several minutes, spraying more in there occasionally. If that doesn’t work, you will have to try to pry the collar back and forth to loosen it up. Mine was a bear as I only used oil and I did not get a controller with the machine, so I could not run it. When you get it loose, remember to clean up the mess and re-oil the machine


  4. Même vous vous semblez faire des erreurs, dans les extraits que vous citez sur le commerce extérieur Hollande ne parle de 2000 et 2001 mais du départ de Jospin donc bien de 2002, la ou les comptes étaient bien à l’équilibre. Son affirmation est donc juste… Pourquoi la présenter comme fausse ?C’est Sarkozy qui parle de 2000 et 2001 ! La encore ils semblent avoir tous les deux raisons puisqu’ils ne parlent pas de la même chose…

  5. – Closest thing to NY pizza? That’s a bold statement. However, that clam bar is what’s drawing me in. Going to have to give this place a try when I visit MV this sumker.Thanms for sharing.Katie

  6. I love you!
    I have a 1926 singer model 66-16 I use almost daily, as well as a 6212c singer and a Kenmore 1249 that I use frequently. I also have a new brother 1634d serger. All these machines are set up in my living room lol. Needless to say I am totally geeking out on sewing, and I’m so glad to see other people love these vintage machines as much (or more) than I do.

  7. Athena 2000 ..bobbin will not turn to wind bobbin. Please make suggestions on what to look at and repairs that may need to be made. Thank you so much. Love the blog!

  8. Thank you for your vintage sewing machine tips! I thought my machine was just old, but now I can call it vintage. I have a Kenmore 1521, the same model you used to show how to free the stuck feed dogs. I had that problem, and followed your procedure to successful free the lever so it now moves freely between the up and down positions. However, the feed dogs themselves still don’t retract. I’ve also oiled the machine per the manual. Do you have any suggestions to get the feed dogs to move? I actually took the machine to a repair shop, but they wanted more to look at it than a comparable new machine would cost.

  9. I have a question rather than comment if you will, I’ve a 158.161 kenmore I would like to know whether I can use the kenmore monogram for my low shank machine. Ps I’m a complete novice.

  10. HI, I need HELP BAD! I purchased a Singer 750 deluxe model from n estate sale. The previous owner really really took good care of her machine. Anyway, the problem that I’m having is that the needle will not pick up thread from the bobbin. The needle is actually hitting something on its way down. Almost like the bobbin case is in the way. The problem started yesterday while trying to use a very stretchy, lace like material .he material kept getting stuck in the machine. I’m kind of a do-it-myselfer, so any instruction on how to fix this would be great. Thanx in advance.


  11. Hi Theresa,

    I would first unplug the machine and remove the needle. Feed dogs are usually pretty easy to replace, you have to remove the throat plate first (usually held in place by 2 screws) to get to the feed dogs. Once you remove the plate, remove the screws that hold the feed dogs in place. Before replacing the feed dogs, I recommend clearing out any lint, threads, etc, then oil it in that area if your manual indicates an oiling point. Most sewing machines have similar parts in this area however, I am not very familiar with your machine.


  12. Oh, my gosh! Who knew there was a blot out in blogland like this? Where have I been? Stitch Nerd, you rock! I have been fighting the urge to “collect” sewing machines but I think I just lost the battle and with a great excuse in case my husband begins to catch on to me. I’ve been in mourning since I lost the love of my life, my 1976 Singer ATHENA 2000, to a lightning strike this past July. One day we will be together again but for now she’s been left to rest under the closed lid of her very own table. I haven’t even taken her in to let someone diagnose the problem because I’m terrified it will cost me an arm and two legs. So now I’m on the hunt for a replacement (aka beginning my dream vintage collection). Nevertheless, one day I will get my Athena repaired because she’ll always be my “first”. I’m wondering, Stitch Nerd, do you know anything about my Singer model? Or, if I told you that she was plugged in when lightning struck very close to our house and knocked out the whole house circuitbreaker. It rendered our phone, the cable modem, and a coffee maker absolutely useless, entirely fried. But my sewing machine which was also plugged in at the time still powers up… its just that the minute you flip the power switch it starts runnung about 100 miles-an-hour, no need to even touch the foot pedal. I’m worried its the circuitboard. Actually I’m more worried worried about letting just any old sewing machine repair person get their hands on her. As I said I’m already going to get me another vintage model of some sort (though I’m partial to Singers especially with slant shanks and drip in bobbins) but is there any advice you can give me about getting my Athena 2000 repaired?

  13. Can you please help me out. Trying to find out about my old King pedal sewing machin. Any info would help. Thank yoy

  14. Hi Lil,

    I believe that it may be the the setting controls, they need to be set correctly or the machine will not sew properly. I have a couple of sewing machines that are a bit temperamental like this. Do you have a manual for this machine? You can sign up at the Sears website, to get a free, downloaded copy of the manual.

    If adjusting the setting controls for sewing does not work, it may need oiling. Vintage sewing machines like these can be a bit sensitive to dry climate and also to lack of use. I would oil it if you have not used the machine in a while (see your manual for all the oiling points). You will most likely need to open the machine and add a couple of drops of oil to the reverse mechanism and wiggle it a bit. You can type this link to your address bar at the top to get to your machine’s diagrams:

    The diagrams may give you an idea of what the reverse mechanism and its parts looks like.

    Hopefully oiling it will take care of it. If not, and if your machine is truly sewing in reverse then it may be in the linkage somewhere inside which would probably best be taken care of by a repair tech.


  15. Hello,
    I have a Sears Kenmore Zig Zag Sewing Machine (Model 1937). While recently sewing, I pushed down the Reverse Button and when I released the Reverse Button, the machine still continues to sew in reverse! Not matter what I do, the machine now will not sew forward. This has never happened before, not sure what to do. Do you have any suggestions?? Any advice is appreciated. Thank you! 🙂

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