Re-loving a vintage White sewing machine

Winter 2016 finally decided that January 2017 was a great time to begin, so for a week the weather forecasters gave dire predictions of a “southern” nor’easter. Sort of tantamount to a snow apocalypse. But the actuality was a lot of sleet and about 5-6″ of snow on our little mini-farm. However, the bitter cold for a North Carolina day (high of 22) changes things a bit and keeps everyone home and pretty much off the frozen roads!

View off studio steps
View off studio steps

This snowed in period has turned out to be a good time to give my thrift store find some TLC. I only invested $45.00 in this vintage White series 77 sewing machine. And frankly, it seemed like a bargain for the machine with all its attachments, instruction booklet and its all original beautiful cabinet! On a Facebook group, Eco-Dyeing Creating Learning that I am an administrator to, a member, Rudolph Ramseyer shared his research into vintage finds and noted that “An interesting bit of information is that White owned their own forests and sawmills, which supplied timber to their cabinetmaking workshops.”

Partial view of machine and cabinet
Partial view of machine and cabinet
A look at instruction book
A look at instruction book

 

It took 2 men to get this into the back of my little Honda Fit at the Thrift store. The back seats of the Fit fold back and up allowing room for upright items that normally could not go into a compact vehicle. Of course at home, it was my husband and I who unloaded it to my office/sewing room. That weight factor alone tells you a bit about the history of sewing machines in general as none were designed to be portable. My current Brother CSi6000 probably weighs…2 pounds? And in spite of all the fancy stitches built into the plastic Chinese made machine (most of which I do not use), it is sobering to realize that a machine that could go both forward and then, with the flick of a lever, go backwards without missing a stitch, was a huge deal 60 years ago!

View of attachments
View of attachments

The box of attachments is priceless in that they are all there. An immense buttonholer must have been a godsend. And there are attachments (some I have no clue about) and instructions for hemming, stitching lace, a combination tucker, edgestitcher and top braider, embroidery, quilting, a 5 stitch ruffler, one for gathering, one for single stitch pleating, shirring, piping and a host of other techniques, some of which I have never used!

Close up of White Series 77 sewing machine
Close up of White Series 77 sewing machine

The sewing thread sits on the middle spool holder. The one towards the wheel is for use with the automatic bobbin winder. Stitch length adjustments on the right and tension adjustments on the left. It is a pulley system, not a belt system and, of fascination to me, run with a knee operated lever (seen lower right top photo). It is also interesting that these were called “rotary electric sewing machines” and were driven by the rubber wheel contacting the motor directly in back.

So now cleaned and oiled, I have played with sewing on it. There is something oddly comforting in sitting down to a machine that was once the pride and joy

sewing
The sewer

of a household. Was it a  gift from a caring husband ? Or purchased on a new “lay-a-way” plan?  Did the woman marvel at the amazing things she could now do? Was she able to add buttonholes or  create beautiful ruffles she had never before been successful at sewing?

Sometimes it is the little things we take for granted that can give the most enjoyment. This frigid, snowy day for instance, makes me grateful for simple pleasures: indoor heating, hot coffee, power still on, outside animals fed and comfy and, quite frankly, the Internet. I feel no guilt today indulging my inquisitive passion of researching little things such as a vintage sewing machine. And today, it’s a good place to be 🙂

3 thoughts on “Re-loving a vintage White sewing machine

  1. Very interesting to learn that White owned their own forest and mills! I stumbled across your site while in search of bobbins for my series77, I have but 1). I purchased the same machine, cabinet and all, some 15 years ago at an estate sale for only $20 (that was our magic number that day) if you can believe it. I lack the buttonholed though. It’s been moved countless time, yet still runs like champ. Until today I’d only used it make to make pillows, but my neighbor has graciously agreed to teach me to sew clothing, so I’ll finally be using more than the basic presser foot. Thanks for the post and happy sewing

  2. I am re-loving a vintage 77 series white machine too!! I feel that the machine and I were meant to be together!! LOL I went to a local recycle/reuse store here in Vermont and there it was! I was afraid to ask how much they wanted as it was a week that I had very little money left to “play” with. Well, I thought it can’t hurt to ask, so I did. I almost fell down when they said $10.00!! We plugged it in and it didn’t work so I offered $7.00 which they accepted. I am getting ready to repair or replace the cord as I am quite sure that is the problem. I have been searching the internet for the manual and am having no luck. Is there a chance that you could email me a copy? Or, it you prefer, I could send you money to copy yours and send it to me?? I would be forever grateful!! Thank you, Lisa Blair

    1. A great bargain for $10! I paid $45 for mine but at least the light turned on when plugged in! Do a google search first for the manual-virtually all of them can be found online in PDF format I discovered. If you are still having issues, get back with me and I’ll photograph a few key pages and send them to you via your phone or email 🙂

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