Have you ever fixed up a machine that wasn’t working? I did, just this one time, and it made me so happy when it actually started to sew.
I found my vintage Pinnock Super DeLuxe sitting in a second hand store on Goodwood Road here in Adelaide. Not a sewing store, just a regular second hand store. But I liked the colour and particularly liked the fact that this machine was made in Adelaide (in the suburb of Elizabeth), which was very close to where I grew up. That was back when we still actually manufactured things in Adelaide…
What do you think? 1960s? Perhaps even late 1950s? But I’m going with the 60s, and that makes this lovely machine 50 years old. Wow 50 years old!
Then it got scary. I asked the shop assistant if she was working, and he plugged her in. See that old brown cord in the photo just above us? Well that thing blew up which is why it looks black. There was a very loud POP! and he burnt his hand.
He was OK though, and once we’d established that fact and he’d attended to his burn (which thankfully was minor), we could go back to looking at the machine. Unplugged this time.
The mechanism was super-smooth and power supply to one side (just turning the wheel by hand), everything else seemed to be moving freely and beautifully. We didn’t have any cotton or cloth to try, but I bought the machine and took it home.
The sensible thing to do would be take it to a sewing mechanic at that point. But I was impatient to get started, so I opened up the power supply, bought some bits and pieces from the local hardware shop, and got to work. I’m not sure where this idea came from, and I don’t really recommend it. It could all have gone terribly wrong. But it didn’t.
That first stitch was so exciting. It is a quiet, smooth sewing machine with a very simple job to do. Go forwards, or go backwards, in an elegant straight line. That is all.
It does have a presser foot adjustment (which is quirkily labelled ‘darn, nylon, usual’), a brilliantly big retro reverse button, and a stitch length dial. And that gorgeous red ‘World’s Finest Precision Built Super DeLuxe’ is so charmingly unassuming, don’t you think? It even has a gold crown.
I don’t know what they were doing in that Pinnock factory way back then, but they were doing it very well. The finish on this machine is still pristine (mirror-like) and the mechanism is too. It sews like the day it was born.
I did eventually take it into Allmake Sewing Centre so a serious sewing mechanic could look it over and check that I’d done the power supply correctly. And I had! What a happy fluke that was.
They do a lot of sewing machine repairs and are great with everything from the newest computerised machines to the simplest old vintage beauties like this one. So I now know this is safe to use, which is reassuring.
And I use it quite a lot. It lives on a table in my living room where I can look at it and admire its beautiful green glow.
And it comes out to sew things up quite regularly (though I do have a more modern(ish) Pfaff that I use for most garment sewing, along with my overlocker). Most of a project is straight seams anyway, isn’t it? But obviously it can’t do buttonholes, so I either need to do those by hand, or use another machine for that bit.
I love using this machine. It’s reliable, smooth, quiet and I can reach for that huge reverse button quickly and there is absolutely no way whatsoever I will miss that thing! Which is more than I can say for some modern machines, with their dinky little buttons and extra gadgets.
So there she is. My vintage Pinnock. May she continue sewing for another 50 years!