There I was, doing what I so often do...mindlessly rummaging through the aisles of the Goodwill Store. The store seemed way more crowded than usual with items, not necessarily people and I noticed quite a few large-sized donations had been made since I was there last. I was greeted by the sound of a child banging on an old piano followed by an adult (I assumed) actually playing a part of a song, which was quite beautiful. I thought to myself that I had never seen a piano before at a Goodwill store. As I walked over in that direction and made my way past a few large pieces of furniture, there she stood, in all of her glory.
I'm pretty positive I remember hearing myself gasp when I saw her. I immediately sought out that familiar bright orange price sticker and gasped again.
NO WAY....$30...ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!! I gave her a quick once-over and could tell she was in pretty good shape for her age, although there was some water damage to the veneer on top. The cabinet itself was in good shape and all of the drawers were intact. The treadle worked and the needle mechanism as well but was missing the belt. As you can see, she is well over 100 years old.
Temptation grabbed a hold of me and wouldn't let go. Does that ever happen to you? So I whipped out my phone, took a photo and sent it to Jim at work. I toyed around with the idea of just going ahead and getting it as I browsed the store, all the while continually glancing in the general vicinity of her location...to make sure no one else was admiring her. Jim hadn't responded back to me so good sense won out and I left the store...without her, being the good little submissive wife that I am (um...yeah...that's me). I could have kicked myself as I bid her adieu, looking over my shoulder as I exited. After I had been home for probably a couple of hours, Jim called me and wondered why I was sending him a picture of a sewing machine. I told him my sad story and he asked me why I didn't buy it. What?? You could have called me back before I left the store!! So he told me to call and see if it was still there. I did and it was....YESSSS!! So off I went to rescue this beautiful piece of vintage workmanship.
Since then, I have been scanning Pinterest and YouTube for information about restoration and the like. At first I was mostly interested in the cabinet but after seeing so much on the web, I decided I wanted to get her back in working order like so many others have done. I also learned a few things about this model, in particular...it's what's called the Singer 66 Red Eye model. I supposed you already guessed where she gets her name. See all of those red eyes??
After I got her home, sprayed off and wiped down, I could actually start to see what I was going to be dealing with. The veneer on either side of the top of the cabinet were looking pretty rough and the very top was totally bubbled up...hmmm...more research. I came to the decision to completely remove the veneer on the top and just "doctor up" the sides. I didn't want to get into more than I could handle, plus I didn't want to remove all of her character.
The rest of her was in pretty good shape.
This also gave me a great excuse to go out and get me a new toy!
So after removing not one, but two layers of veneer, I finally got down to the solid wood top. I found out why they add that lovely veneer...the wood underneath left a lot to be desired but Mr. Mouse did a great job on it. I used boiled linseed oil with a fine steel wool on the cabinet base and drawers. It worked like a miracle.
I spray painted the iron frame black and used an antique walnut all-in-one finish on the top. This is after the first coat of the new finish...still a little more work to do but just a little bit of an improvement, wouldn't you say?
During my reading up about old Singers, I discovered that many people who restore these machines give them names. I wanted my girl to have a name too so I pondered and pondered what I might name her. I have always liked the name Sophie so that's what I'm calling her. I was thinking about maybe spelling it S-e-w-p-h-i-e. Nahh, probably not :)
So now the real fun begins, restoring Sophie, herself. The belts and most likely any part that might be needed are available on ebay, although I don't think it will take a lot. I happen to know a wonderful mechanic named Aaron who may one day need a rainy day project during his slow season :) I will also be doing a bit more research about bringing her complexion back to life and brightening up those red eyes of hers. That will be a different post on a different day, my friends. Don't hold your breath, as this may take a while :)