Free to a Good Home

by Erin on June 30, 2008

Singer Stylist 834

So, who wants a sewing machine? I'm giving one away … This Singer Stylist 834 was the first machine I bought for myself, with my own money (actually, with the first real paycheck I ever got!) … I'm trying not to be sentimental about this (because I really need to get rid of some STUFF) but I *would* like it to go to a good home. So instead of Freecycling or Craigslisting it, I thought I'd try here first.

It's FREE, but there are a few caveats:

— the timing's off, so it needs a visit to the repair shop before you'll be able to use it. Luckily, the sticker on the machine will tell you where to go. Last time I took it in, the tuneup cost $80.

— you have to be able to pick it up, here in Chicago … I won't ship it. This sucker's HEAVY. It does, however, have a carrying case. You have to pick it up before July 15 — I've given myself two weeks to give this away.

— I think I have the manual. Somewhere. I'll try to dig it up. I also have some extra feet for it, but heaven only knows WHICH feet, and WHERE. They will also be the target of some sewing-room archaeology.

I made a lot of clothes with this machine, and I think it's still good for a couple years' more sewing, if you don't do anything rough (like making jeans or canvas bags). It's simple to use (even without the manual) and friendly for beginners.

If you want this machine, email me (the email address is over there, on the right, towards the bottom of this page) and we'll work out the details.

In addition: I am selling my serger. (I really don't use it, and I'd rather use that space for more fabric or as a spot for the Singer Red-Eye machine, instead.) Serger status: sold.

Also: does anyone do any crafting with circuit boards? I just came across a stash of old etherlink cards … if you want 'em, email me. Those are really light, so I'm happy to ship them. Now, like my innocence, circuit boards gone.

{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

jill June 30, 2008 at 8:38 am

I wish I lived near you to snatch up the serger. Quite a deal for someone in need of one. ;o)


melodie June 30, 2008 at 8:48 am

Many of the Singer manuals are available for download at Those you can’t download can be purchased for $15.


lucitebox June 30, 2008 at 8:52 am

Erin–I already have a Singer in my basement that needs a tune-up. Could you recommend a repair shop? I have heard about one on Milwaukee near Damen, but wondered if you had a some suggestions. This is such a gracious offer. I’ll ask around since I’m here in Chicago. I think I *might* know someone who’d take it off of your hands. Maybe.Holly


the_lazymilliner June 30, 2008 at 8:54 am

The pin catcher feature (label?) on your sewing machine intrigues me. Right now, my feet seem to catch a lot of pins. Yowwww!


banzailibrarian June 30, 2008 at 9:26 am

I have that very machine! It’s my “new” one — I also have an early 1950’s machine that belonged to an aunt. The “Pin Catcher” is a thin magnet sheet with adhesive on the back. I have one of those as well, but I put it on the bed instead of the front. It shouldn’t be too hard to make one our of one of those freebie business card magnets and some double-stick tape.


banzailibrarian June 30, 2008 at 9:29 am

Oh, and just got my latest Threads — congrats on the article, Erin!!


lucitebox June 30, 2008 at 9:35 am

Wait–what? You’re in Threads? Do tell, Erin!


Lydia June 30, 2008 at 10:20 am

Yowza! You’re in Threads? I’ll have to go check it out! (since I let my subscription lapse in favor of ReadyMade….*sigh*)


Cookie June 30, 2008 at 10:32 am

I STRONGLY feel Erin’s first sewing machine, her serger, ALL things associated with her, should be kept TOGETHER for a future installment at the Smithsonian. For among other accomplishments, she is the woman who first opened America’s eyes to the fauxlero epidemic, and uncovered the existence of invisible mantlepieces in 1950’s culture. And that was just in 2007 alone!


Julia C June 30, 2008 at 10:38 am

Hey, Erin, do you feel you have to be rid of the serger by the 15th, too? Because I’ll be in Chicago on August 6th, and I DESPERATELY COVET a serger. Can you wait on that one until then? Because if so…I want it!


Anonymous June 30, 2008 at 11:11 am

Looking at your sewing machine makes me feel very old! Mine is older than that!What is a singer red eye? I sell singers and I haven’t heard of one by that name. Please tell. Thank you.


libby June 30, 2008 at 11:19 am

I loved reading about your Red-Eye. I guess that post was before my time. I have the exact same machine, although mine is in a leather covered box-type case. And get this, I don’t know where it came from. I accumulate machines (mostly horrible is all I can afford) to attempted to teach my 8th grade class how to sew. (too bad I don’t live in Chicago.) I was poking around in my basement one day, pulling covers off machines, taking stock, and when I lifted the cover off of the Red-Eye I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. It is so incredibly gorgeous. Was it my grandma’s? Did it arrive through my magic basement portal ? Was it the Sewing Fairy sympathetic to desperate 21st century art teachers with high hopes and good intentions? I’ll never know.


martina June 30, 2008 at 11:48 am

a friend passed your message on – i’m in chicago (ukran. vill.) and looking for a machine. has anyone scooped it up yet? let me know. and either way, thanks for your generosity.


Anonymous June 30, 2008 at 11:53 am

Your Singer is almost the twin to my Singer Stylist 534, which is the machine I still use today. It’s a great machine and a really good work horse. Good luck to the lucky person who receives such a generous gift!Jeannie W.


Erin June 30, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Sewing Machine Repair in Chicago … I use Complete Sewing Machine at 2557 W. Lawrence (which is only one block from the Rockwell stop on the Brown Line, if you don’t drive). Their phone is 773-769-2761.I’ve never had a problem with the machines they’ve serviced, and they work quickly — a week at most. And they offer a warranty on their work, too! The last time I took in a machine the guy asked me if I was a professional. Excellent flattery technique!


Little Hunting Creek June 30, 2008 at 12:36 pm

Aren’t you nice! Although I’d feel the same way. Your sewing machine is an old friend and you want it to go to someone who will love it.I feel the same way about my old patterns and books. You can’t keep everything, but you can’t put them out on the glacier for the polar bears to eat either.Have a great day!Kathleen


xstpenguin June 30, 2008 at 12:49 pm

What Cookie said!Threads? Where, when, what, who? And not before time!


TE June 30, 2008 at 1:34 pm

I got my Singer Stylist in 1975 and will NOT GIVE IT UP. It is the best machine ever – a tune up for anything less than $300 would make that machine the bargain of a life time. It does more reliable production sewing than you can belive. I’d measure output in miles, not garments. I’d agree about the Smithsonian exhibit, though – “All Things Erin” including stuff about her day job.


Velvet Plaza June 30, 2008 at 3:05 pm

Can we all somehow petition the Smithsonian to put in an Erin exhibit?


Anonymous June 30, 2008 at 3:11 pm

I LOVE Weebl and Bob. And Erin./the end. Anna x


kagitsune June 30, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Dude, this has even more features than *my* sewing machine. O_o Straight stitch and zig zag… that’s all I’ve got! xD Not even a buttonholer…Hope your machine goes to a good home! ^^


Eirlys June 30, 2008 at 4:19 pm

What a nice gesture!I’m kind of with the Smithsonian idea, Cookie. But as I’m extremely unlikely to live long enough ever to witness personally a ‘Erin: Tireless Pioneer of Twentieth-Century Home-sewing’ exhibition, the give-it-away strategy is a heart-warming second best. You’re putting me to shame as I have several machines that are excess to requirements (some I’ve “rescued” from charity shops, some inherited). I have recently given away a treadle which took up just too much space (it was a 1920s Frister & Rossman with Egyptomania spinxes all over it). But then (to my shame) I immediately replaced it! – with a much more compact old machine, it is true. Incorrigible.Anyway, I keep being drawn to these charities that tune up old sewing machines and ship them out to developing countries so that some motivated person might actually make a living with what would otherwise be relatively useless space-eating clutter. Maybe one of these days I’ll do something about that.But I just have to ask, what are you using instead, Erin? And will there be a grand unveiling? The nosier sewing cabale members need to know!


Donna June 30, 2008 at 5:05 pm

Congratulations on the very nice article in Threads, Erin. It was a happy surprise to see it when my mag arrived today !


Cookie June 30, 2008 at 5:28 pm

You know what would make an interesting comparison study among readers? SEWING CABINETS! I sometimes cruise CraigsList for free items, and once I saw this interesting sewing cabinet that looked kind of like a 1970’s credenza, but it swung open to show all these drawers and slots for storing patterns and projects…and then I got to thinking how not-so-hard it would be to personalize or even BUILT such a unit, if you had a glue gun or even a handy SPOUSE…and I started wondering what sewing cabinets people had evolved for themselves. I do not have a nifty sewing cabinet, myself, as of yet….but I shall. I SHALL I SHALL I SHALL!


lorrwill June 30, 2008 at 9:01 pm

wait you mean the Erin exhibit would not be for instigating the Fashion Rebel Alliance and the Vast Global Sewing Conspiracy? Are you sure?


/anne... June 30, 2008 at 9:23 pm

I’ve considered a sewing cabinet, but it all seems rather pointless. Who has a stash that small? I’m considering buying a desk with one of those little set of drawers on wheels – the top two drawers can hold various sewing tools and some of my thread stash, and the large file drawer can hold one or two current projects.My MIL had one of those cabinets with a gas-lift thingie for the sewing machine, and every couple of weeks the lamp in her sewing machine needed to be replaced.


Lavon June 30, 2008 at 9:32 pm

It is hard not to be sentimental about the first sewing machine that your purchased yourself.I still have my first one. I was working at Sears at the time and With my first paycheck that is what I bought. It need a tune up as well. The machine I have now was purchased by my husband!I hope you find a deserving home for it.


Lisa @ the Vintage Fashion Library June 30, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Erin, at the very least, you should autograph it.


Cookie July 1, 2008 at 1:25 am

As for the exhibit….Erin also organized the First Official Dress-In protest…September 1st, isn’t it?I think those sewing cabinets were originally devised for when homemakers were just allotted a meager little corner of the living room in which to sew. Then they could whisk their projects away when hubby came home, and it looked like any other piece of furniture, maybe with a doily on it. (These were in the early days of the Sewing Conspiracy, before it went global.)


MeNoSpeakEngrish July 1, 2008 at 7:26 am

Erin, I have just seen a video of your conference speech at Google and I think you’re hot. Marry me!


Theresa July 1, 2008 at 8:47 am

Cookie you crach me up!Theresa aka Velvet Plaza


Amy G July 1, 2008 at 9:03 am

Erin–on getting rid of your serger, a question. I have always wanted one only to do raw-edge finishing. I zigzag over raw edges with my Singer but covet the nice serged edges. Since you’ve been in both worlds, how do you finish your edges so as to make a serger not needed? Thanks!!


Erin July 1, 2008 at 11:49 am

Amy, I’ve found a nice zig-zag looks better and is easier to do (for me, at least) than the serged edge! But then, I don’t sew a lot of knits.


Marjie July 1, 2008 at 12:22 pm

Erin, I just bought a White treadle machine. Do you know where I can find out how to release the bobbin? I can probably figure out how to thread it, but without knowing how to change the bobbin, it’s not of much value!Lucky you, finding Santa giving away the Singer Red Eye!


Erin July 1, 2008 at 12:52 pm

Marjie,I wish I knew!Have you tried asking at PatternReview? Did you Google your machine’s model number?Good luck!


Adrienne July 2, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Everyone is different, and that’s ok when it comes to sewing preferences. I am a ‘serge-a-holic’ and prefer to finish most of my seam edges that way. I have used zig-zag in some cases; it just depends what you are making. I wish the serger was a tamer beast to handle; but I do love it. Very generous of you to give the machine away. Congrats to the lucky person.God Bless.


little red hen July 4, 2008 at 1:21 pm

There is a charity group that take old sewing machines and convert them to hand or pedal power and give then to women in africa to give them an income and therefore self sufficiency. I read an article on it that made me cry about a woman who had lived through some terrible abuse at the hands of soldiers when she was a young girl. She was left a single mother in a community who shunned her and something a simple as an old sewing machine gave her a sense of worth and good standing in her community again. It was amazing.


Anonymous July 16, 2008 at 10:51 pm

I just found a Singer Stylist 834 at a thrift store and found out how to thread but could you give me a few notes on how to make button holes with it?/ What year was it made in?? I have found some old manuals but if I could save my money in case it goes out and I need money to fix old gears. Thanks….. It is going to be my youngest daughters machine. Thanks.


Erin July 17, 2008 at 9:47 am

I don’t remember what year it was made in, but possibly 1971 … I think.Buttonholes are really easy — there’s a dial on the machine that shows little pictures of the different parts of the buttonhole, labeled 1 – 2 – 3 – 4. You put your fabric in and turn the dial to 1 and that’s the top of your buttonhole. Turn the dial to each number in turn to complete the sequence. I hope that makes sense — it’s worth playing with a little.


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