Saturday, November 2, 2013

A Vintage Singer Sewing Machine Gets a New Life

Several years ago, I saw one of these lamps and admired it quite a lot.  I always hoped that someday I'd be able to own one.  When I stumbled across a vintage Singer sewing machine at a flea market a few weeks ago, I jumped at the chance to make my own lamp.  The man wanted just $20!

One of the great things about vintage Singer sewing machines is that you can use the serial number to search for the year the machine was manufactured. (

This serial number indicated that this model was made in 1925.  Imagine...a machine that's nearly 90 years old!  What is really surprising is how great the gold graphics still look!

The challenge was how to attach a light fixture to the back of the machine.  Luckily, this model already had a small work light on the back.

I was able to unscrew the work light from the machine and disassemble it.   Once I took it apart, I realized I could use the bracket to attach the new lamp to the machine, and the black base was threaded and would hold the new pipe.

The hardware store had a lamp re-wiring kit and a white silk shade.  I had to buy a threaded pipe and a nut separately.  The entire bill was about $40.  After cutting the electrical cord of the old lamp, I ran the new wiring along the same path..  I changed the position of the lamp bracket from horizontal to vertical, and followed the instructions on the back of the lamp kit to thread the pipe, attach the socket base, wire the socket and add the harp, shade and light bulb.  

The new threaded pipe fit snugly into the existing hardware, but I did
turn the bracket 90 degrees to hold the lamp upright.
Next, the sewing machine got a bit of TLC.  I dug out the brass polish, Orange Glow wood cleaner/protector and good ole' fashioned Johnson's paste wax to shine up the metal case of the machine. I also added felt pads on the bottom of each corner of the wooden case, to prevent scratching the furniture.

Time for a little clean up!
Although I'm not generally very mechanically inclined, the step-by-step instructions on the lamp re-wiring kit were easy to follow and I'm proud of myself for finishing this without any help from my d.h. (truth in reporting here -- I did have my son tighten the nut and screw on the bracket holding the pipe...I just couldn't get it quite tight enough!).  The moral of the story -- don't be afraid to re-purpose something neat into a lamp!

My vintage Singer sewing machine lamp!
[After taking another look at the photos of the lamp, I realized the shade didn't cover the base of the socket.  For $4, I bought another harp, two inches smaller than the one pictured, and swapped it out...that solved the problem!]

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