Singer Hand Crank Custom

The Sews-it-all machine

The Sews-it-all sew anywhere machine is finally finished!

Singer 1901

I started this project over 6 years ago! This old 110 year old Singer had been left for dead and destined for the scrap heap after being discarded by the side of the road. When I took it in, the inner workings had rusted together from years of neglect, and the finish was bubbled, chipped, and totally destroyed.

Hand Crank custom Singer

With the help of Mr. Fixes-it-all, we took it apart, soaked it, stripped it, cleaned it, and oiled it so that it once again sewed. Then we did some body work, sanded it, added primer, sanded some more, added layers of paint, and then I finished it off with some detail painting of my own. The hardwood base is newly made, stained a deep red and finished with a durable clear coat.

Giant hand crank

This Singer 15-30 was originally a treadle machine. Since I already have three other treadle machines (that I never use) I decided that this needed to be transformed into a people-powered hand crank. Unfortunately, this Singer was not manufactured with a hole to accept a motor mount, which means that I don't have the option of attaching one of the new aftermarket hand-crank adapters. So, we got creative and made one from scratch. We took an extra clutch nut and threaded it to accept two screws holding on a piece of flat-stock steele with a handle at one end. To get around the problem of turning the handle in the same direction that the clutch nut turns to loosen for winding a bobbin, we added one extra washer between the clutch nut and the original washer, and that allows me to tighten it enough that I can crank and sew away without spinning out the clutch.

Base handle

The other out of the ordinary modification we made was adding a handle on each side of the wooden base. I plan on carrying this out and about with me, and believe you me, these make it much easier to lug around than trying to grab the bottom of the base.


Oh, but the real test is how it sews, right? I just threaded this baby up, and did it CORRECTLY after taking this photo (I missed the spring on the side of the tension disks below the take up lever). In this machine the needle is set in "sideways" facing the left side.


Not bad for an old timer! Sews great! The only drawback is since the hand crank is attached directly to the machine, it takes one full turn to make one stitch. Which turns out to be a lot of turning to sew a seam! I finished this little holiday pocket tissue holder in just a few minutes, but I sure didn't want to turn the crank any more when I was done.


My plans for the Sews-it-all sew anywhere machine are to take it with me for events where electricity isn't available. It will be perfect for making fabric flowers from strips (plus I have a ruffler attachment for this machine, woo-hoo!), or sewing up a seam or two for any little craft project.

Phew! One project done, now on to the next one!

Comments

Michelle said…
I love it! What an accomplishment. It's beautiful!
Angie said…
Love, love, love! I just unearthed my great-grandma's old Singer and you've got me wanting to get it running again. How wonderful!
Mary Keenan said…
You know that if you ever do get too tired of cranking out seams you've also got a gorgeous piece of folk art, right? So, so adorable!
CJ said…
Oh my such fun! It's a work of art! I'm on a bit of a vintage machine kick myself, so this really tickled my fancy!
Alice said…
Beautiful! I bought a Singer hand cranked machine for my girls last Christmas. I love the way you saved this one.
Unknown said…
Wow! That is amazing!

~Nat
woolywoman said…
very pretty! And, it sews! I think the shiny finish paint is essential for these re-paints. I did one in a flatter finish, and it does not look right. I'm inspired to do a little sanding and try again.
Lynn said…
I love the paint job!!
OrrtannaKat said…
It's very pretty & you saved a wonderful machine, but I don't understand why you don't use the 3 treadles you say you have. Treadling is a lot easier than cranking, in my opinion.....
OH MY!! Shiny....sparkling in the sun! What patience and endurance to finish up this l-o-n-g project!! Wow, it's sooo spiffy!!
Erika Mulvenna said…
Thanks everyone! OrrtannaKat, this machine was specifically made to travel with me to crafting/sewing events where there is no electricity. I don't use the three treadles I own mostly because they are in storage. Maybe in our next house I'll have enought room to also sew on a treadle!
smazoochie said…
Love the story and adore the machine!!! She is gorgeous!!!
My hand-cranks are back-ups for when the power is out.
Erika Mulvenna said…
I've had some questions about the hand crank, and although it might not seem like it, the crank turns VERY easily. In fact, you can "spin" it and it will turn on for several stitches before coming to rest. So although it may seem like a pain to turn or that hand sewing might be faster, it really isn't bad for small projects. In fact, it's kind of fun!
Cathy said…
I love it! I love the painting and the fact that an old left for dead machine has a new life again. If you don't mind my asking, what did you soak it in?

I just discovered your blog through Pinterest and I'm so glad I did!

Cathy ♥
Anonymous said…
I would like to convert my Wife's early model 66 singer the same way as you did. What size tap and drill bit did you use?
Erika Mulvenna said…
Howdy Anonymous, my husband used a size 1/4 - 20 to tap the holes for the screws. Good luck to you!
Anonymous said…
I know this is a response to an old post, but I'd really like to know more about just where on the machine you did the drilling, etc. I have a Singer 66 from 1904 that is a treadle machine with no motor boss, I was given it as a rescue, and I can't find a base for it. All I can find is "upcycled" overpriced shabby-chic travesties that used to be a treadle base! I'd use a Wrap-Around' Hand Attachment if I could find any anywhere, but they aren't making reproductions of those. So it would be most peachy-keen if you could point us at some pictures of the modified part of the machine.
Erika Mulvenna said…
Hi Anonymous, and thanks for visiting my blog! I ended up turning this machine back into a treadle with a modified base. It sits in our living room. You can see one photo that shows the handle screwed to the clutch nut, the flat disk that you turn to disengage the sewing mechanism while winding a bobbin. My husband created screw holes in this piece, the clutch nut, which he screwed the handle to.

It worked, but the biggest issue was how slow it stitched in this way, since every one turn of the hand crank only created one stitch. The other hand cranks I have create something like 3 stitches for every turn of the crank, and sew more efficiently.

Best of luck to you! - Erika
Cristina S. said…
Miss sews-it-all what a great job you did painting your machine! There is not much information on painting sewing machines. Can you please tell me how this done? Do I use a paint stripper and take all the paint off or do I just need to take the old decals off and then put a layer or two if doing the same black color? And what paint? Are we using spray enamel or car paint? Can I just mask off what I do not want paint to get on? Sorry so many questions but I have 2 that I want to beautify!!

Cristina S.
Erika Mulvenna said…
Hi Christina S. and thanks for visiting my blog! This machine finish was already in terrible shape, so I had help stripping the remainder of the old finish off. Yes, I partially disassembled the machine, blocked off holes and masked parts from paint. I used an auto type primer and sanded well before applying the blue paint. And then I hand painted with Tester brand model paint. Lastly, we applied a clear top coat. I have seen more and more folks posting online about their own process of painting a sewing machine and you might find more information by searching. Best - Erika
Joe o 462 said…
The bolt for the bobbin winder could be replaced with a slightly longer bolt then you could attach a custom bracket to hold a motor, just an idea. That said, she is beautiful and I love the handles.
Farmhousesewer said…
But don't you have to turn the handwheel towards You? And... don't you only get one stitch to the turn?
Erika Mulvenna said…
Hi @farmhousesewer, yes - and yes. I've since housed this machine in a treadle base from the same time period, and use it every once in a while. I love treadling, and just wish I had an even BIGGER sewing room so I could leave it set up all the time. Cheers! - Erika

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