Most of my sewing machines are at least as old as I am. Not that I’m a serious collector; they’re all bought to sew on, not to be part of a collection. In the case of this machine, I was actually buying the cabinet. The seller didn’t even want to bother taking the machine out of it, so this Singer 66 came home with me as a freebie. I oiled it up and it ran, so it stayed. Little did I know how much I’d come to value the throw-away machine.
66s don’t seem to get a lot of praise. They’re common, so they’re not highly-prized unless they have a fancy paint job. And they suffer when compared to machines like the 201; people say the 201 was made for dressmakers and the 66s are for farm wives. I’ve even seen buying guides that say the 66 has no value.
I use all my machines in rotation so that everyone gets exercised. For the project I’m working on now (the “Buttondown” shirt from the 5/2013 issue of Ottobre), it was the 66’s turn. As I was sewing, I appreciated more and more the nice stitch and straight even feed of the machine, so much that I felt it could be trusted to do double contrast topstitching. A machine that inspires that much confidence, how can it be of no value?
Something else I’m loving is the narrow little foot that seems to make topstitching and edgestitching so much easier. I’m not an engineer, so I don’t really know if the narrow foot and corresponding close positioning of the feed dogs is what actually makes the difference. Probably the straight stitch throat plate has something to do with it, too. But look at the difference in the feed dogs between this 66 and my semi-computerized Janome. Does anyone have a comment about the mechanics of the closely-positioned feed dogs?
I felt like I owed the 66 a little public apreesh. And I owe it to my own sweet 66 to get it a plate marked with seam guides, so it can stop wearing that blue tape.
If you like to cruise Craigslist for sewing machines, here’s a great blog series: A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos. The link is to part one of four. Links to the other parts are at the bottom of post #1.
Next time there will be a finished shirt to show you.