MawMaw’s Old Singer Sewing Machine – I am VERY sentimental! I think it is wonderful to have a piece of furniture in the house that reminds you of loved ones. When my grandmother passed away my dad gave me her sewing machine. I love to sew and I love that I have something that reminds me of Mawmaw. I remember she kept a bowl of Atkinson’s Peanut Butter Bars on top of the sewing machine and Dad would grab a handful every time we when to see her. This memory always puts a smile on my face!

I’ve had Mawmaw’s sewing machine for a little over 25 years. I wanted to keep the original finish and seat cover as long as I could and I think I’ve done this… But, the finish is tired and it’s time for a facelift! Here are some pictures of the sewing machine before I started refinishing it.

The sides and legs were in pretty good condition but the top was a different story. On the top, I used a palm sander to take the remaining finish off.

However, on the sides and legs I used lacquer thinner. I would paint the lacquer thinner on with a paint brush, wait 5 minutes and paint another coat on. I would repeat this process until the lacquer finish was crackly and peeling off the piece of wood. Then I took a 5-n-1 to scrape off as much of the finish as I could.  Paint the lacquer thinner on the piece again and use a piece of steel wool to rub off the remaining finish.  (This is the hardest part!) Once I had all of the finish off and the pieces were dry, I sanded each of the pieces.

The picture below shows the finish “peeling” up.

The video below shows the lacquer thinner bubbling up.  The video isn’t great but you can see the bubbles popping in the sunlight.

These are the pieces after being stripped.

The sewing machine is sanded and ready to put back together.


Once I had everything back together, I wiped down the surface of both pieces with paint thinner to remove any dust.  Then I wiped down both pieces with Old English Scratch Cover Dark Wood.  Finally, I used Minwax Helmsman Satin Spar Varnish Aerosol Spray.  I applied two coats.  NOTE:  I find it MUCH easier to use spray paint with a trigger.  You can find these at Lowe’s but I didn’t see one in their online stock.  You can click here to see what they look like.  Second, make sure the first coat is dry before starting on the second coat.

Now, I need to recover the seat.  I never liked the red/brown seat cover.  I pulled the staples from the bottom of the seat cushion.  When I pulled the cover off, I realized the seat had horse hair in it!

I decided to keep the original padding with the horse hair and I covered the seat with a brighter material.  I used a staple gun to attach the material to the bottom of the seat.  (Make sure you pull the material tight.)

Here is the sewing machine in the extra bedroom and before/after pictures.  What a huge change!

Before & After Pictures of Old Singer Sewing Machine

NOTE:  This machine was made on April 30, 1947.  It is a model 99.