Saturday, July 10, 2010

My New Old Rocketeer

My first post here was an admiration of my Singer Sewing Machine.  Now I have another addition.  Not quite an obsession, but the start of a collection.   My “new-old” sewing machine is a Singer Model 503 Slant-O-Matic.  
Referred to as a Singer Rocketeer.  Seeing as I have been making do with my original Singer Straight Stitch for as long as I have been sewing, the thought of zig-zag makes my head spin.  Not just zig-zag, this machine has a variety of stitches which are achieved by changing the cams on top of the machine.

Rocketeer machine

And who can resist the look of this machine.  I am not sure where the Rocketeer name came from, possibly from the shape of the machine,  looking like a rocket  (seems a bit of a reach to me)
 I didn’t really need it, but my sister was given this machine, and said I could have it.  Just the small matter of shipping it back to CA.  I gladly paid $ 132 to ship it here but it sustained some serious damage.  Scratches all over the top, one of the side door hinges broken off, the top thread guide bent, and the plastic carrying case a total loss as the hinges were snapped off. Very sad but all in all still usable.  It had a bit of rust and  grime but not too bad considering it has been living in Hawaii for the past 50 years.

I took it apart, cleaned, and oiled the machine, lubricated the gears, and now it purrs like a kitten.   One great thing about having this machine is that all my accessories (various feet, buttonholers etc)  work on this machine as well as my original one.
Here is a look at the top.  I have not tried it yet, but you can see it has two thread holders and can do double topstitching.  Amazingly the workings inside the top cover were undamaged.  

Rocketeer close up top
These are the sewing machine feet and other items that came with it. Most of them I already had but the roller foot is new, as well as all the ones pertaining to the zig-zag.  

Rocketeer accessories

mystery sewing foot

There are actually a couple of feet here
that I cannot identify.  If anyone has this 
machine or another old Singer and can tell me what
this one is for I would appreciate it.  In a previous post
and website, however I don't find this one in there.
So still a mystery.

I wanted to try the decorative stitches so I made a cotton skirt and put some squiggles around the bottom edge with metallic thread.  (Chosen because I have these new shoes which are a copper color metallic)   The squiggles are
random, I didn’t mark anything as you can tell.

brown skirt embroidery closeupBrown skirt front

Not sure it is a success, but it is my first effort with the decorative stitches.   Actually I like the metallic stitching a lot more than the actual skirt style.  This is Simplicity 2451.

There is something about the pleats across the front that bug me, it is kind of puffy in a place where you don’t want puffy.  The skirt fits and if it was a flat front it would be fine.
Brown skirt pleatsSo I am not sure about this skirt pattern.  I have made it before, using it as the skirt for a wool suit I made a few months ago. (Suit for a Japanese Wedding)   However for that skirt I took out the dip in the center front of the skirt and made the waistband piece a straight line instead of a curve and that seems to work better.  This pattern has another version with no pleats and a flared hem which I may try but it might just be a loser, at least for me.  

I do see possibilities for the decorative stitches and zig-zag.  After a lifetime of straight stitch I can’t really wrap my mind around it.  Yesterday I was doing something requiring a small piece of elastic, and after I finished creating a channel and inserting the elastic I thought hey - I could have sewin it on with the zig-zag in one minute. Oh well, another thing to practice.  Along with that 1/8 roll hemmer foot which I have yet to master.
Onward - working on my pink/green floral dress.  
And here is today’s SunnyGal garden photo which I took some weeks ago, when the Spanish lavender was in full bloom.

rose and lavender


  1. Nice skirt and decorative stitces at the bottom look cute. Love the Rocketeer machine.

  2. If I could find a Slant-O-Matic around here in Canada, I'd snap it up in a second!

    I love the stitching you did on that skirt but I can really see where the pleats would make you appear to have bumps where you don't!

    I can smell the lavender from here, YUM! Stunning rose.

  3. Thanks for the nice comment on my blog! Your Rocketeer looks great - not too beat up at all! Mine is missing the label inside the top lid - I saved your photo so I can remember it! I read that the hinges are very fragile on these machines - my top is fine, but the side hinge is broken (I put a pin in there to hold it on, but it's not very usable... fortunately I almost never adjust the tension.) I hope you love yours - I simply adore sewing on mine! One more tip... I have found that it prefers plastic bobbins, as the modern medal ones of that type sit slightly higher, and sometimes will catch the thread. The older ones (and the plastic) are flat. I laughed at your comment about the zigzag - I actually bought this machine for its beautiful straight stitch, and have yet to even try out a zigzag after I made sure they worked! Can't help with the foot, but I have it too... let me know if you figure it out!

  4. Just found your blog! I ABSOLUTELY love your Rocketeer! I just love Retro kinda stuff and that is just cool looking! I MUST find one!!! Sorry to hear about the beating it got from Hawaii...that can be a tough trip regardless!! lol However I am thinking of that trip from Honolulu to Ft Lauderdale,Fl...looonnnggg trip! and that was where I was born before it was a

  5. Beth,
    I really love my Singer 500. I have several and it can sew anything. The presserfoot looks like a version of a "slant foot" used to sew knit. They are very rare and hard to come by. A good way to idntify your unknown feet is to look on the side of the foot. There should be a model numbers. The slant foot number on mine is 163374. Just google Singer presserfoot and your model number.
    I hope this help,