Work in progress · Yleinen

Restoration project: P. Sidorow sewing machine pt.1

For as long as I can remember there was this old sewing machine leg sitting under a huge tree at my grandmother’s cottage. This summer I finally had the courage to ask if I could have it and make a side table from it. Since granma has been trying to get rid of some stuff she was happy to give it to me. I logged it off to my parents for cleaning, as I don’t have a place for such a project at my apartment. Dad then remembered that the actual machine and the table top should still be at the cottage attic. Cue treasure hunt! Suddenly my simple side table idea had transformed into a restoration project!

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Here’s the foot that started it all. For my shame I didn’t take a picture from the place it had sat under a tree for 40+ years. Covered with partial undergrowth, rust, and all things nice. Most of the original black paint has rusted off, but the letters still hold a light golden shade. It’s very difficult to photograph, so I’m not sure it shows.

Since it’s not a Singer, Tikka, or Husqvarna which I’ve come across, I was intrigued if it was imported from Russia. So I took to the internet, and found mostly nothing about the sewing machine. To my luck the I did find something on P. Sidorow.

Paul Sidorow (1838-1907) ran a store selling farming equipment in Helsinki from 1873-1894, when the store was transferred to the possession of A.E. Sundström. Later it was run by Uno Staundiger, who had worked as the manager under Sundström. In August 1917 Leopold Lerche became the sole stock owner after acquiring majority of the shares. It seems the store was very reputable, but in the end was collected by it’s bank. The store merged 30.12.1930. It was finally shut down in 1932.

So my machine could have been produced anywhere between 1873-1930. That’s nearly  60 years to track down. I wanted to find a little more accurate timeline, and I was lucky.

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antikvariaatti.net

I found this advertisement from an antiquary webpage. That’s the machine. The ad is dated June 1898, and it says the machine has been selling in Finland for a year now. It’s simply titled “Koti” (Home). This makes me think the machine is from the turn of the 20th century. My grandma couldn’t quite recall how the machine came to her possession. Either my late grandfather had found/bought it somewhere, or it was left behind by it’s previous owner and they found it. Anyway, the machine has come a long way. If it’s from 1898, it’s 19 years older than the independence of Finland.

Shall we return to the treasure hunt?

After climbing up to the attic I didn’t notice it at first, but there it was. Sitting in the back of the attic, covered up in cobwebs and sawdust. Lots and lots of sawdust. For a moment I regretted that I hadn’t brought up gloves. But I was also surprised. The leather cord that connects the pedal to the machine was still intact. A little worn and dirty, but still in working condition. Considering the age the table top was in good condition. No mold or weakening of the wood was visible, but it needs a good sanding and a coat of varnish.

There was a little problem at this point:

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Getting everything down without breaking any bones. Those steps are very narrow and very steep. Almost a ladder, and I didn’t have an extra pair of hands with me. But I did get everything down safely.

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And here she is. I rinsed most of the sawdust away. It was still very dirty, but the lovely craftmanship was shining through.

The plates covering the bobbin had so much rust and dirt in them that I thought they weren’t meant to open. It wasn’t until I took a look under the machine that I realized that to reach the bobbin I had to open the plates. It took a good while to wrestle the other plate open to get a good look at the bobbin. It still had cotton thread in the bobbin! Which was good because I could see how to thread the bobbin.

Today I took most of the machine apart and performed a thorough cleaning. I got most of the dirt off, but in some places the rust had settled in and wouldn’t budge, but I think a 100 year old machine can show some wear and tear. As I took a good look at the machine, I realized just how beautifully simple this machine’s construction is. There’s adjustments to presser foot tension, thread tension, and stitch lenght. I didn’t find any specific markings, except a number “2” from the bottom.  No idea what it means though.

Click here to see that bobbin in action! (it goes to my instagram account)

To end my journal now, here’s the fabric I’m planning on using to make a new hood for the machine. The original was lost before my grandmother got the machine, and I seriously doubt that I will find an original replacement. But this fabric fits the theme so nice!

Signing off now! Next stop is cleaning the table top!

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