Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Improved Eldredge Rotary Sewing Machine

Improved Eldredge Rotary Sewing Machine
Here she is, my first vintage sewing machine.  To place this in time, I bought this in a thrift shop in San Luis Obispo shortly after I got married.  I thought it was a cool little desk.  When trying to get in my car it seemed a bit heavy but no problem I got it home.  It was only when I went through the drawers did I note there was a manual in there and realized it was a sewing machine cabinet.  By golly, there was a sewing machine tucked inside!  How far I have come.

May I introduce you to the Improved Eldredge Rotary.  It is a sewing machine worth noting, as I do see these on occassion so they are still out there.  This model was made in the mid 1930's but I have yet found no confirmation on the actual date.  Eldredge at this point was affiliated with National Sewing Machines, and it bears much similarity.  The decals on this machine has been seen on other makes, notably the Greybar made by Free Westinghouse.  It is very "Art Deco".  Here is a close up of the pillar design again:
Manual, attachment box, one of the hemmers, bobbin case and bobbin.
Love this illustration, a girl with bobbed hair.

This machine came with a full set of attachments, bobbins and manual.  The attachment set are the basic rotary type made by Greist.  They are very high quality and have managed to stay perfect despite being in my damp former home near the ocean on California's Central coast.  If you need a source for bobbins and needles, here is where I get mine.
The bobbins can be ordered online here:  Eldredge Rotary Bobbins
It takes a less common needle, as Nationals do. The size is 20x1 and can be found here:
20x1 Needles
A manual if your machine did not come with one or you cannot find one: 
Improved Eldredge Rotary Manual

The standout feature of this machine and other Eldredge machines I have seen is the beauty of the cabinets.  There are others, and they are all really nice.  This particular one, like the machine itself, also has a Art Deco feel.  Check out these drawer pulls!
Bakelite insert






Using the Eldredge is much like other sewing machines but there are a few little things that are worth mentioning.  The thread path is a bit longer than most and so take care to check to make sure you are doing it right.   Because it has a few extra stops on the way, I always pull the top thread way out before starting a seam.  This machine has slipped it's thread more than any other.  This thread path set up does seem to have an advantage in that the tension is very sensitive.  This makes it able to handle all sorts of thread.  The one I like best is the clear nylon thread used for quilt tops.  It also handles very heavy thread like the yellow jean top stitch thread.  It is also is deceptively strong, it does not look like it would but this one can sew through heavier material quite well.
Stitch samples
 The stitches are adjusted by a sliding knob on the side, another different feature.  It is numbered from 1 to 10.  Number 1 being the longest stitch.  It is really long too, perfect for basting.
The strait stitch presser foot sews a perfect 1/4 inch.  That, combined with large area to the right (harp space) and the ability to handle the nylon thread  makes the Eldredge Rotary a good quilter.  The elegant style makes using it all the better.








44 comments:

  1. Wow. Thank you for this post! I'm not likely to venture away from my beloved Singers any time soon, but it's great to have this reference point, just in case...you know....I happened upon one of these beauties somewhere in my travels.....

    Your machine is simply gorgeous! I love everything about the looks - the deco touches, the lines on the machine, the cabinet. Those handles are to die for! And I really like the way the seating area is recessed a bit. It really looks like a quality made cab! I appreciate the report on the sewing attributes - it sounds like a great find!

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  2. what a gorgeous machine! the decals are aewsome. and the cabinet, too! lucky find and a great story--I laughed about you dragging it home and THEN discovering the sewing machine.

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  3. Thanks Jillybe and DragonPoodle. It is amazing where I was then and now. Now I can spot a sewing machine cabinet across a warehouse of antiques. Then I didn't even consider a vintage machine and was looking for something new. This one got me thinking....

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  4. Thank you for the needle link. I am in the middle of investigating my treadle, an Electric City model that apparently also takes 20x1 needles, and local dealers don't want to buy more.

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  5. The 20x1 can be found through industrial sewing machine suppliers mostly. A common 15x1 will work if set low in the shaft until you get your 20x1 needles. It can be done but is a bit of a pain to get it at the right spot.

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  6. I love the decals on this machine! And I enjoyed your story on purchasing a desk only to discover a sewing machine. Beautiful desk!

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  7. I am restoring a treadle machine with this design. The owner wants it to look like the day his grandmother bought it new. He is willing to spare no expense. Does anyone make these decals? Please email me at mrsloribowers@gmail.com with any info you might have.

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  8. I do not think decals are made for this design. I know of only one set made any more, and that is for the Singer 221 "Featherweight". There was some talk of replicating decals for personal use on a bulletin board site use a while back though. Sadly, once decals are gone there is no saving them to my knowledge. I'll email with more details....

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  9. http://www.ismacs.net/national/rotary_b_cabinets.html

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  10. It is a lovely machine. I just picked up a project machine from an estate sale. It's serial number is 222393. Do you know where I might find out how old it is?
    Cheers,
    Palmarin

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  11. I do not know how to determine the age by serial number, sorry. I made a guess based on the copyright of the manual. Best wishes with your machine, as you can tell I am quite fond of mine.

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  12. I have been searching for instructions on an Eldredge machine i have for threading and with the Bobbin. I cannot get it to sew quite right.

    I would pay you to copy the manual or scan it for me.

    I previously paid via paypal for a manual from someone online and never received it or a response via email.
    Please contact me at melisastine at hotmail dot com if you are willing to sell me a copy or scan of the manual.

    Mine is a treadle, but the threading part and bobbin parts look the same.

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    1. I made a scan of the manual and added it to this blog entry today. You can print it if you want or just read the thread path diagram pages. Hope this helps.

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  13. I can make you a copy, no problem. I can't do it now but will get to it this weekend. You're right to get a manual with the thread path as it is kind of complicated. Once you get that settled maybe I can help with getting anything else worked out.

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  14. Wow, great post! I recently discovered my mother has been hoarding an old Eldredge sewing machine accessories kit and have been trying to figure out what sort of machine it may have gone to. Thanks so much for linking to the manual!

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    1. It would be great if you found the machine too. If not, keep these as you can find one someday. It has happened to me more than once....that kit is now "bait".

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  15. I have an identical model. The cabinet is beatiful as well. Two drawers on each side. I would be willing to sell to the right buyer. May i ask how much you paid for yours?
    Have pictures if anyone is interested. My email address is:
    mattoxc4m@yahoo.com

    Love your blog
    MM

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    1. I got it for very cheap, and at the time thought I was buying a desk. The cost of rewriting was about $50 in 1988 and was moe than the cost of the machine with cabinet. I felt bad about that then but since I have been using it for over 20 years since, it was a bargain.

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  16. Lovely machine and cabinet. It will go on sewing for many years to come.

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  17. I'm looking for needles for my sewing machine it is a 1930 Montgomery ward's machine. The manual says it is a #6 it is 1 11\16" long. Does anyone have an idea where to get then? Thanks for any info. Evelyn.

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  18. I'm looking for needles for my sewing machine it is a 1930 Montgomery ward's machine. The manual says it is a #6 it is 1 11\16" long. Does anyone have an idea where to get then? Thanks for any info. Evelyn.

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  19. Your machine, if it is what I think it is takes the same needles as my Eldrege. Both were made by National. That means it takes a 20x1 needle. I checked my link and it seems the shop no longer carries them. Try here:
    http://treadlelady.com/Treadlelady.com/Needles.html

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  20. I love your blog, I´m new in the sewing stuff
    gritzner

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  21. My son just gave me an Eldredge Sewing Machine that was in a building of a house he bought. The cabinet is in pretty bad shape with many coats of paint. The machine was frozen up but I have managed to get it back into working condition. I think mine is older than yours. Have you been able to find any pictures of the models this company put out. I would like to date mine.

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  22. My son just gave me an Eldredge Sewing Machine that was in a building of a house he bought. The cabinet is in pretty bad shape with many coats of paint. The machine was frozen up but I have managed to get it back into working condition. I think mine is older than yours. Have you been able to find any pictures of the models this company put out. I would like to date mine.

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    1. Eldredge made sewing machine from around the mid 1880's I believe. To find some help on a date, I suggest looking around on the International Sewing Machine Collectors site. ISMACS.net They also have a digest, read by and commneted on by many people who are very knowlegeable. Join it, from the main home page and then ask the group. If you can place a photo on a site such as Flickr, then a link in a message, people can see it and make a good estimation for you. Best wishes with your machine!

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  23. Hi, I recently purchased a National Rotary 1916 Model A treadle machine. It appears to have been actually built in the 1930s as the decals are identical to yours. They were worn when I bought the machine, and sadly I damaged them more cleaning it. I have searched high and low for replacement decals. Do you know of a source for one's like those on your machine?

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    1. Sorry but no, there are no replacement decals for this. There are for some machines but very few and for common models. On a side note, how cool that yours is a treadle! You may want to join a fun group on Yahoo - TreadleOn.

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  24. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  25. My sister just bought an Eldridge Sewing Machine but it had no manual. I tried to use the link above but it didn't work. Would it be possible to get a copy of the manual please. Beautiful machine you have by the way.

    Thank You

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Thanks for pointing that out, I have no idea why the manual is gone. Let me try and add it again and if it does not work will mail one to you. These are hard to find.

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    3. I think I got it back up there. Many changes have occurred in the internet photo world since this post was made, one being Picassa is now not supported and I missed this album.

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  26. I tried again this morning. It says file is missing. If you could email me a copy I would greatly appreciate it.

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  27. Sure, send your address to yarndiva@aol.com. The link works for me so more testing needs to be done, ugh.

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  28. I have a similar machine, but after getting it home found out there was no bobbin!
    I have looked high & low. No one makes them anymore. My only hope is that someone may sell me an extra they have. Lori mt 1966 g mail dot com.
    Anyone??

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    1. Did you see the link in the post? Bobbins are around as National made the Eldrege and they made many machines. Needles are harder but in a pinch a regular 15x1 can be used, just set it lower in place. I do have some bobbins and can mail you one but am thining you can find some.

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  29. I did find some bobbins, finally. But it wasn't easy.
    Thank you for the repl. Much appreciated!

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    1. Good news, and I am so glad to hear this.

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  30. Thank you for your post. My parents recently gave me this sewing machine and I was at a loss to figure out how to work it. I wish your manual was scanned as a PDF file so I could reference it. I am currently trying to correct the hook timing on my vintage machine. Do you think you could scan that one page for me and post it? Thank you.

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    1. I can try to create a different type of file but am not sure how to domthat then make it accessible. As far as I know there is no page about hook timing adjustment, as it is not a common maintnenance topic- more a repair manual subject. Will check on this.

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  31. Thank you so much for this. I just found in my friends garage this very machine and cabinet complete with accessories, manual & certificate dated 1937. It's so precious, it was her grandmother's and she never used it in 30+ years she had it but did appreciate it and other than some surface damage to the desk surface it's in excellent condition. It got her through college and later used as a vanity LOL but never a sewing machine, strangely enough still has a needle sitting in it. I am doing research on it and finding a new forever home for it and your site has been a big help thank you again.
    Long Beach, CA

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