Working with Natalie Scarbrough

This is Natalie Scarbrough. 


Natalie and I will be working together over the next week.  Natalie has been moved to our bedroom, so I can continue to sew, while Sydney is living in the sewing room. 

Natalie is one of my two oldest machines, in the running with my 1919 Singer Treadle 127.  She was made by the National Sewing Machine company and branded under the local Scarbrough’s department store.  I’ve never seen another with that brand name, even though I do a search on ebay for national sewing machines every day (there’s one I want to collect). 

I’ve owned Natalie longer than any of my other sewing machines.  I bought her at an auction in the 80’s.  Unfortunately, she’s the machine I’ve used the least of all that I own.  I didn’t use her for 20 years because I couldn’t thread her.  She has a very strange threading diagram where the thread loops all the way around the tension and then crosses over itself after the pull up lever and I didn’t know enough to be able to figure that out and even then, I based it on how a singer is threaded; tension disks, tension spring, thread pull up lever, down to needle.  Now that I know more about her, I can buy a manual easily.


She was alternately  stuck here and there as a table and most recently as a wrap around surface to support my left elbow while I machine quilt because her cabinet is the perfect height. 

This morning, I was reminded of how quiet she is.  She has a funny shaped light bulb that I’ve tried several times to replace without success, and I finally found the right one, so she’s working perfectly.

Her only flaw is this minor loss of decal.


When I bought her, I didn’t know anything about vintage machines.  She was greasy and I tried to clean her with alcohol instead of sewing machine oil.  I stopped when I turned that decal silver.  While she’s out this time, I plan to try to repair it with a paint pen and then cover it with some clear shoe polish. 

Last year, I refinished her cabinet. 


The cabinet had a black crackle finish from the old varnish and the top was in pretty bad shape.  I stripped it and put on fresh polyurethane and peeled off the old top veneer and painted the wood beneath.  The whole thing got several coats of paste wax and her cabinet is ready for another hundred years.

I look forward to opening the drapes this weekend and being able to look out the window.

This morning, we made the sleeves for the quilt delivery tomorrow.  We are show ready.  Until I remember whatever it is that I forgot.

Everybody have a great Wednesday.  We are T minus zero days til MIL visit.  Still, everyone is calm.  Hmmmm, something’s up.



Kath said...

what a pretty cabinet, you did a good job of restoring that. I'm so pleased you mentioned your treadle machine, you reminded me at during our trip to Thailand, I saw 2 people sitting at the side of the road doing clothes repairs using 2 old Singer treadle machines. They must have brought them and set them up, taking them away again when they finished work.

Auntie Em said...

Well, Hello Natalie! Love the name you gave her.
The refinished cabinet looks beautiful.
Hope you have a great time with your MIL.

MQuilter said...

The National machines are wonderful machines! Their threading path is a wee bit weird, but they sew a beautiful stitch. That's a cute cabinet too. It's also nice to have the feed dogs the same length for more even feeding of fabrics, as in this National.

mssewcrazy said...

Love the spool legs and how you redid the cabinet. I like to move my vintage machines around sometimes also. I reluctantly moved my 66 singer into the utility room so I could let the 401 or the 201 take its ideal location and have a turn getting used. I'm still deciding which one I want to be the vintage selection for awhile.

lw said...

An antiques dealer once told me not to refinish sewing machine cabinets because it supposedly ruins the value as an antique, but I believe I'd pay more for a pretty cabinet like yours.

Karilee said...

That is SO pretty. I ruined decals once cleaning too. )-:

I hope your time with visitor and quilt show are just plain wonderful for you all.


Elizabeth said...

Wow! I've never seen a machine threaded like that! That is cool! The cabinet is beautiful! I hope you and Natalie have a nice week together!

xo -E