Tuesday, February 3, 2015

My Twin Sisters - Vintage Toy Sewing Machines



If you have ever passed by one of these toy sewing machines at a garage sale or thrift shop, you may want to rethink this. Manufactured in the 1960's, Sister electric sewing machines were made in Japan. That's about all the history I know about them. There are, of course, many other brands of toy sewing machines that date much further back than my two little sisters. But many of them, though certainly not all, function primarily the same way ... they sew a straight stitch but have no bobbin. 




These little machines are made of fairly durable plastic housing and have an electric motor with a foot pedal and a light, just like mom's. The electric foot pedal is notorious for failing though the motor seems to hum softly. Not to worry! There is a hand crank that works without electricity that will get the job done. I wrap the cords up to keep them out of the way.




Though these are a breeze to thread, I have two so I keep one threaded with white thread and another with black. They are small so they take up very little space and lightweight so they can be moved quickly and easily should I require that space. 




The hand crank moves easily but the machine is a little jumpy. It handles various fabrics and thicknesses well and uses common 24 X 1 needles. I only use my Sisters for basting.




Because these machines have no bobbins they do not produce a lock stitch. They produce a chain stitch. I am a firm believer in basting before sewing and the ability to simply pull out the basting stitch with such ease has saved me both time and frustration.




There is a tension control but no stitch length control. The top of the fabric looks just like a lock stitch while the bottom is a chain. Just a little toy machine that does one thing really well. I picked these up at thrift shops some years ago for a few dollars. They have been trusty companions in my sewing studio for many years.

Do you baste before you sew and like the idea of a stitch and pull basting stitch? Look around, these little machines are out there for reasonable prices. And you can always let your own little one sew right next to you and get hooked on the fabulous art of sewing.

Missing the manual for your little Sister? Download a copy here for free.

10 comments:

  1. I've seen a few toy machines but not the sisters and certainly not in this good of shape. This is a great idea, guess i'll be stopping and looking next time instead of passing them by.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I had a toy machine when I was little. I'd forgotten about the chainstitch. I think I'll pick up one if I find it.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I had a machine similar to these as a child as well. But instead of being a plug in it ran off batteries or hand cranked. I still member the frustration as a child of the stitching always pulling out. :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. These are really neat items. About 10 -12 years ago, I used to find toy sewing machines at garage sales and then re--sold them at antique shows. I haven't seen a working version in some time. But I live in the middle of nowhere....;(

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just purchased one of these sweet little machines and even though the light works, the motor won't run the machine. I can't seem to get it apart to get to the motor and wondered if you had any suggestions. Love your article and appreciate the free manual download!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your comment. The motors in both of my machines do not work, though the lights do. I use the hand crank to sew with them. I have considered adding suction cups to the bottom of the machine to stabilize them while sewing which would also free up my other hand to guide the fabric better. I do not know how to open the bottom to access the motor.

      Delete
    2. Thanks so much for your input. I may just forget about it and stick with the hand crank. I didn't even care if the electric worked when I bought it anyway. Suction cups is a great idea!

      Delete
  6. What is a reasonable price to pay for one of these? I found one and she wants 45

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I paid $25 or less for each of mine. Find out if the electrical parts, like the foot pedal actually work. $45 seems reasonable if the foot pedal actually works.

      Delete
  7. Thank you so much for posting the manual! I just picked one up for $5, so I guess I won't complain that the foot pedal doesn't power the machine... seems to be a common problem. Love your suggestion for using it for basting.

    ReplyDelete