Singer 1897 Hunt

Singer 1897 Hunt

I made a very quick and spontaneous decision. I hopped on a “local” thrift site, and there it was, one and only antique Singer hand-turning sewing machine. According to the ISMACS database, it was a Singer 1897 machine, which I was dreaming of finding. And since it was still available, either there is something wrong with the deal, or I’m just terribly lucky. We shall see…

NOV 06, 2021

I love sewing, and I am also a big fan of Bernadette Banner-who shares my love for Victorian clothing and, well, Victorian everything. Watching her, I got inspired by her hand-turning antique sewing machine. I’ve had a treadle sewing machine forever after my great great grandfather, who used to be a tailor. But it wasn’t until I had seen the hand-turning one in Bernadette’s video that I decided to look for one.

Cross-country Trip

And continuing with my rash spontaneity, a couple of days later, in the wee hours of the morning, I am sitting on the train, going across the whole country for a wild “machine” chase. I dressed well as it was already autumn, and the windows were frosted this morning. Of course, everyone was bundled up in the stupid COVIDmasks suffocating until we got tired of it and just took them off. For the next 5 hours, I was watching a sunny day passing by the windows. Shortly after noon, we arrived to the little town called Litomerice, somewhere north of Prague in the Czech Republic.

Singer 1897 Purchase

The girl selling the machine was so awesome she was willing to bring it to the train station for me. This way, I didn’t have to deal with any extra transportation and drag it anywhere far. Due to the solid material of cast iron and wood, the machine was quite heavy for a piece of hand luggage. We briefly unpacked it outside on the bench to look at it, and I knew I was getting it no matter what. Yes, the serial number was clear, it was a Singer 1897. So soon, I was $100 lighter and about 22 pounds heavier.

A Walk Through Deserted Litomerice

Anyway, now I had about a 2-hour break before my return train, so I decided to take a walk. I left the machine in the train station depository and went to find some lunch. Little did I know that this city was a ghost town! I haven’t seen anything like this yet. The handful of people I met on the streets was mostly homeless, and few were tourists.

I walked from the train station towards the main square, which was unusually large. I circled it all the way around and then went through a little side street, passing closed places that froze in time or COVID.

Most of the buildings were closed and dilapidated with broken doors and windows. What a sad and touching view! I did find some fast food joints, but I opted out of getting sick unnecessarily. And the 3 restaurants I passed by looked so deserted, uninviting, and surprisingly expensive that I just kept going.

Eventually, I came across a little communist-looking coffee shop which felt like walking back in time. It had the same counter I remembered from my childhood. So I went ahead and got a simple little open sandwich, a nice-looking dessert, and a Cappuccino. And walked back to the train station.

The train station was as strange as everything else in this town. Inside was shockingly clean, out-of-place-modern, with light pouring in through the large skylights. While the exterior was left old-fashioned. I ate my poor “lunch”, half of the even poorer desert, and drank the brown liquid without milk, trying not to taste it. Then I waited for my train back home.

The way back home seemed faster and uneventful, except for people staring at me. I guess they were all wondering what I was dragging with me. I had to switch trains along the way, so I bought some more snacks in the next coffee shop. Because of the ridiculous COVID restrictions, they didn’t allow me to eat my little snack at the table of the open-front cafe. But I could eat it on the bench a yard away, that took some deep thinking. Then I waited for a connecting train and continued my journey home, where I arrived late at night.

Exciting Unwrapping

I couldn’t wait to unwrap my machine at home and look at it closely. It had a few flaws, but it didn’t spoil my happiness. Firstly, because some fool wiped off the paint job in the middle of the base. And secondly managed to bend the handle pin, cracking the wooden handle. Despite that, it is gorgeous, and everything seems to be moving and turning very smoothly. I’m so excited that now I have one of my own!! My antique Singer from 1897. It also came with the original manual tucked in the case! So I can even find out how exactly what works and comes apart. And I found some attachments too.

Cleaning My Sewing Machine

Yes, and the most fun part, is the cleaning! I watched several detailed tutorials on how to clean your old Singer sewing machine. Then I found out I need to stock up on some cleaning supplies, like Singer sewing oil, fine metal polish, and lots of cotton. I spread a big soft towel on my dining table and spent my whole evening cleaning and polishing. The most important piece of advice, be gentle, meticulous, and slow!


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