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This blog is filled with the things I love. Family, Nature, gardening, my pets, cooking in the fireplace, all things vintage, and the simple pleasures in life. Being a farmgirl at heart, I consider myself a 'Modern Day Laura'

Monday, January 14, 2013

Willcox & Gibbs Chain Stitch Sewing Machine Review

The Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch machines are one of the most sought out machines by collectors to date. They first emerged in the mid 1800's. These machines make a simple and beautiful chain stitch. What I love about this machine is that it uses NO bobbin thread! I was lucky enough to acquire one of these machines through Ebay, and I’m in love with it.

The machine I bought is an 1894 Willcox & Gibbs:

I haven't been lucky enough to find a treadle base for it I could afford, because bidding for them gets pretty fierce on Ebay. In the meantime I put a motor on it. I've sewn on it plenty of times and it's incredible how smoothly it works. I've never had a problem using this machine. It simply amazes me.

If you are lucky enough to come across one of these magnificent pieces of history, don’t pass it up. Parts can still be found on Ebay.

Read more on the history of this machine: http://www.sewalot.com/willcox_gibbs.htm

If you don't have a treadle base you can BUY A MOTOR & mount it to a board. See pic:

14 comments:

tanya said...

So where did you get a motor for your machine?And, did you put it on the machine or did you have someone else do it? Do you use the machine for decorative stitching ?

cmccaffery said...

Hi,
i bought a motor from Ebay and put it on myself. The machine does only a chain stitch.

tanya said...

Hello again. Did you also install a foot control? Have you done decorative chainstitching, like redwork or anything? I have the machine, it's very "cute". I don't have a motor or a hand crank. So I've stitched , by turning the fly wheel. Not very productive. May I ask you if you'd post some more photos of how you installed the motor? I' really wanting to get going with this machine, thanks again, Tanya

cmccaffery said...

Hi Tanya,

I just added a new pic showing how a motor is mounted on a board to use with these machine.

tanya said...

Thank you sooooooooooooo much. Tanya

cmccaffery said...

this is a great motor too....my machine goes fast! the motor comes with a foot pedal and belt.

tanya said...

I've got the motor mounted and the machine set up, and it is wonderful. Thanks again for yur help. Tanya

cmccaffery said...

awesome! have fun with your machine!

Lee in sunny St Petersburg Florida said...


Cleaver Motor setup. Did you bolt your machine to the board? I have the only have the bulky T-Shaped thumb screw.

New Home and National/Eldredge also made "clone" machines that are almost identical (I have one of each).

A manual can be found online at:
http://www.sil.si.edu/DigitalCollections/Trade-Literature/Sewing-Machines/NMAHTEX/0470/imagepages/image1.htm

An Modern needle is available ..
Organ WG-513 , I have purchased on ebay 10 for $12. It has tested fine on my W&G and New Home model F.

You can do some basic embroidary if you sew on the back, the pretty chain stitch will be on the front. Heavy Top stitching threads work just fine.

Have Fun

Lee in Florida

tanya said...

I drilled a hole in an old drawer and used bolt that came with the motor(bought on ebay) to bolt the machine down. Then used another standard type screw to bolt the motor down. The machine is super. I've tried different weight threads with some interesting results.

Preston Runyon said...

Found a W&G at an antique store and bought it. Came with a direct drive Westinghouse motor and base. All is there with the exception of the spool holder and the needle nut. any help with these parts would be greatly appreciated. From the research I've done, it appears to have been built around 1898 or so. Only have been able to find whole machines on Ebay or partial machines missing the same parts.

Thanks
Preston

cmccaffery said...

Hi Preston, your best bet is going to be eBay, and when machines are this old it's a great idea to pick up a second machine solely for parts replacement.

Kristian Heitkamp said...

Thank you for this great entry. I've just bought a willcox & gibbs myself for sewing jeans. I wanted a chainstitch with a machine that can handle thick thread because I want to sew them with natural fiber thread and found some great linen thread which just is too thick to be used on my singer.
The w&g chain stitch machine is perfect because it does not have a second thread and thicker yarn shouldn't be a problem with it.

I also found this motor on eBay but I am wondering if you need a motor that runs clockwise or counterclockwise. Could you please check the rotating direction of your motor? Since my w&g is not here (it needs to get shipped before), I am not able to check the rotation but I would like to order the motor in a meanwhile.

Also I love the idea to place the motor besides the machine. I was thinking about sewing a hole in a table and to bolt it underneath the table. Placing the w&g and the motor on a board is much easier.

Thanks

Kristian

btw – you can find out more about my jeans sewing project on my blog:
DIY jeans sewing how to

cmccaffery said...

Hi Kristian, the motor turns clockwise. What a great little machine!

Connie