1.9.10

The Blue Elephant (Singer 338)

I picked her up, with manual and all extra parts at a yard sale for $8.  I was looking for a Singer 185, and asking everyone if they were selling an old sewing machine.  While Mr Snork rolled his eyes, and mumbled that if they were selling a machine, it would be on their lawn.

Naturally, as he was mumbling something to this effect at a sale in Pacifica few weeks back, the lady ran back into the house, talking about indeed having an old machine or two.  Her son/cashier, confided in me that it was the 'ugly blue/green from way back', and I probably wouldn't want it, as the Mr groaned.  "If it's ugly, she'll want it even more.  FML"

It turned out to be a Singer 338, complete with a plastic blue carrying case.  It's giant, very heavy, and generally elephant- like.  I stayed behind and petted its beautiful pastel blue enamel paint, lest someone think it's not taken as Mr Snork left to the ATM.   Not having any cash is usually a foolproof way not to buy stuff, but every once in a while, when I start petting inanimate objects, he just turns around and comes back with some money.  It's almost telepathic, and really, really endearing.  I wish I could pay him back in kind, but he just never gets excited about a screwdriver or a saw at a yard sale like that.   

Good thing I stayed, too, because two other ladies were hawk eyeing my new baby like crazy, and one asked if she could pet it also.  True story. 



The 338s were only made for a couple years, in the early 60's.  It uses cams for decorative stitches, and can even do double needle stitching.  Pretty fancy.  (I wonder if ever there arises a need for decorative stitches.)

I didn't need another machine, and I still want the 185.  But - for $8 - how do you walk away?? 



It's my very first "portable" machine, and I promptly unfolded it all at my dad's house, and imagined myself a travelling seamstress.  I mean.  It might be a little over a flight baggage allowance on most airlines, but it's such a pretty blue color.. 

It fired right up, the light and everything, and went to stitching like new.  All very, very pleasing. 


And, to crown the last yard sale of the day, while the Mr was off banking, there were these sterling earings in an old sewing box.  First I hunted down a matching pair..  and then I added them to the tab.  Total at check out: $8.25.  Win.

16 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness! I so completely thought of you in Goodwill today! Okay, so that sounds both poor and stalkerish, but I'm not creepy, I promise.

    Anyhow, they had an old Singer machine set in it's own sewing table. I took a picture although I have no idea why because I clearly can't post images on comments. I think my intention was to post my finds and I was going to toss in the pic and a link to you, but since I've already passed along the Mrs. Claus dress, it's too late for pics.

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  2. LoL!! I want to see the picture! I've been absent from blogland for too long!

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  3. I happened upon your blog in search of assitance with the Singer 338. I just got one for my birthday. I'm sure you're a much more advanced seamstress than I, so perhaps you can help? I think I'm having a tension problem. Lots of thread (from the needle, not the bobbin) keeps braiding up on the underside of the fabric. Any idea why? If not, that's ok, you're site is cute and I wish you many adventures in yard sales and otherwise
    -cc

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    1. I just got my newy acquired 338 serviced and he said the spring behind the tension was broken but luckily he got the part he needed off another machine apparently it is common for this to happen as most its job is to tighten the thread between the tension discs when you thread it and if done incorrectly the thread will bunch up and cause a jam I highly recommend getting it serviced! It is well worth the price.

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  4. Hm. You know, I can't say I'm an expert. Are you sure you're threading it right? I'm often surprised how sensitive these old behemoths are to minute threading wrongs.

    Do you know if your tension assembly is put together right, and working? Sometimes people take these apart on the old machines, to 'fix' them, but they're tricky to put together right. There are service manuals online, you can consult.

    I have managed to get all of mine working with a lot of trial and error adjustments, and one reworked tension assembly (it's a pain).

    I don't know if you're a member - Yahoo Groups has a Vintage Singers Group, and people there are amazing, and very helpful. I bet they would be able to get you sewing. That is also where you will be able to get service manuals and diagrams.

    Good luck and report back!

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  5. I was tickled to read your story; I laughed out loud. My find was a beige Singer 301A for 10.00 at a yard sale. I think it had been sitting in a barn for years, so I may well have just purchased a large, musty paperweight, but it turned out to be a gem, sews beautifully; I use it regularly. My 338 came from an estate sale for 40.00. Beware who you let service your machine; I immediately took it in for a servicing, thinking I was being a responsible machine owner. The tension still isn't right, and I haven't taken the time to try to figure out what's wrong. Makes me wonder what else wasn't done well.
    I'd love to see those pictures, MM!

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  6. Love these stories! I have a few elephants too. My 301 was my mom's, but have a green 338 I bought at a garage sale in Massachusetts 25 years ago for $5 with all the cams and attachments, a 66 I found on Craigslist for $30, a 328 I found at a second hand store for $20. A few 66 clones for $5 apiece at garage sales. All these machines came with attachments and extra attachments, and spare attachments.... I have boxes and boxes, just in case... My husband is wondering if I'm every going to quit tinkering and talking to my machines and sew something :)

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  7. Love these stories! I have a few elephants too. My 301 was my mom's, but have a green 338 I bought at a garage sale in Massachusetts 25 years ago for $5 with all the cams and attachments, a 66 I found on Craigslist for $30, a 328 I found at a second hand store for $20. A few 66 clones for $5 apiece at garage sales. All these machines came with attachments and extra attachments, and spare attachments.... I have boxes and boxes, just in case... My husband is wondering if I'm every going to quit tinkering and talking to my machines and sew something :)

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    1. Wow! I'm jealous of all your attachments! Especially the cams that came with the Elephant, just because they're cool. You wouldn't happen to have a spare walking/even feed foot for the Elephant, would you? I am looking to buy one for my quilting aspirations.. so far, in the aspiration stage, but, like you, I like talking to my equipment. Ha.

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  8. I'm so appreciative to whomever wrote about the spring behind the tension. My 338, which I inherited from my grandmother, just jammed and stopped working for me, but now that I know what the problem is I'll just take it in. Thanks so much.

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  9. I'm so appreciative to whomever wrote about the spring behind the tension. My 338, which I inherited from my grandmother, just jammed and stopped working for me, but now that I know what the problem is I'll just take it in. Thanks so much.

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  10. I would love to have another 338. My mother had one when I was growing up. I inherited, but sold it for $15 when I moved. So many times I could have used a sewing machine. Wish I had another one.

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  11. those earrings may be Stuart Nye designs from Asheville, NC.

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  12. Love the dogwood-blossom earrings for 25 cents, too!

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  13. Thank You for this memory exercise! I have always liked the 'muscular' appearance of the Singer 338, but I haven't acquired one....yet. The only one that I can recall ever having seen "in the wild" was at a church's annual "Estate Sale Leftovers Sale" in Merced, Ca...that must have been back in 2004 or 2005. My aging and ever-so-increasingly-unreliable memory tells me that I passed that Singer 338 up, as I had previously read numerous internet postings regarding the undesirability of the Singer 338 due to some inherent quirks that these machines have.

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