Myer Victor Supreme Zig Zag Vintage Sewing Machine.
For some time now I have been on a quest to find a vintage zig zag sewing machine . The experience of using antique and vintage sewing machines is so enjoyable. The industrial strength, workmanship and durability of the machine and mechanics are so good. Not to mention, of course the timeless aesthetic appeal!
The comparative simplicity of the machinations make it possible for the home sewer to maintain their own machine. What’s more, the value for money is really incomparable, I think, compared to a modern-day plastic machine. Of course there is no stitch selection other than straight, but it is a beautiful straight stitch, so unless complex stitches are really required or one is an embroiderer, then of course you may justify the price of some of the very sophisticated machines. Having said that, with the right skills it is possible to make beautiful, cut work and lace embroidered fabrics on very old machines.
Anyway moving on, I became interested in finding a vintage zigzag for all the reasons above and durability and strength and beauty of the stitches. A couple of days ago, whilst rummaging around a second-hand store in their sewing machine “graveyard”,I suddenly spied the word zig zag. The machine was covered in leaf matter and dirt. I pulled out the machine with out expectation and the owner dragged it to a power point (it’s really heavy). I found the foot pedal and he plugged it in. The motor made a noise. The hand wheel needed some encouragement to turn. I anticipated the bobbin was jammed so I took my chances for $25-.
This machine has had a bit of a hard life, the finish is a bit chipped and stained. Nevertheless, sometimes it’s a good sign that the machine worked well and was well used and loved! I cleaned it up,. I think it’s the first time I had to tip out all the leaves out of a machine into the garden!
I used a mild detergent to clean up the duco, then dried it off and oiled the machine well. It sews very well. I did make some adjustments the lower tension in particular. Makes a beautiful zig zag stitch. The fifth line of stitching shows the blind stitch. The blind stitch is activated when the machine is set to straight stitch and the silver button next to the Myer Victor label is engaged.
I’m sure it would have been quite a big deal in its day. There is no doubt that these machines carry no real value as a collectable, however as a sewing machine they are really very good.
The image below shows the machine with the zig zag engaged. The mechanism is basic, in that it is necessary to manually tighten the two silver coloured thumbscrews (top centre)in order to maintain the zig zag position. If the left screw is loose, it will bounce back to a straight stitch. The lever, (top left) determines the width of the zig zag.
The image below shows the inside of the top of the machine with the zig zag mechanism engaged. The Spring on the right is under tension.
The following image shows the top of the inside of the machine with the mechanism released for straight stitch.
This particular machine is Japanese. It has an embossed Liberty written on the underside of the machine and Made in Japan in gold engraved lettering. I’m assuming that Liberty, may be the factory it was made in. It has a serial number and it is Model JA12. I Think it was made by Brother. It is a high shank machine. It was brought out to Australia, probably in the early to mid sixties, the motor was made in New South Wales and the Foot Pedal is made in Australia. It was “Badged” Myer Victor for the Myer Emporium as it was known back then. It is a lovely green and white and it features the zigzag stitch, a blind stitch and exposed buttons to choose whether to have the feed dogs up or down. No tipping of the machine required to drop the feed dogs. It has a vertical bobbin like the Singer 15 which can be a great advantage for Free Motion Quilting too. The bobbin is a big bobbin like the Singer 15 which is easily recognisable due to its wider size and holds plenty of thread. ( I believe a great deal of these machines were based on a Singer 15 model.). It appears to have a lower tension adjusting screw located near the bobbin under the needle plate. Another lovely feature, is the door, which opens to expose the needle bar and globe, with a hinged globe attachment to make it super easy to get a hand in to change the globe with absolute ease.
This machine and others like it are very well made and with some TLC, I’m sure they could easily last another 50 years and give plenty of reliable sewing enjoyment. In the image below you can see there is a silver knob on the machine top left. The knob can be depressed if extra pressure is required under the presser foot.
If you are looking at buying vintage machines, make sure it works, before buying. If the electrics are questionable, be prepared to wear the cost of rewiring, or wait for another to come along. Remember the wiring is old and having the machine rewired is the safest option. Also, if you are new to the machine type, resist the urge to change the machine settings until you figure out the workings. Chances are they were set to a reasonable sewing position in its previous life. With old electric machines, when not in use, disconnect from the power.