Tuesday, May 7, 2013

1950s Fridor Stitchmaster Merino

I fell in love with this machine, as soon as I saw it on ebay. The clean lines, the “atomic style” shape, unlike any other machine I’d seen before.

 I bid, I bought, and for under $100 (including interstate postage), she was mine.

The machine comes in its own little suitcase, decked out with leather straps inside to hold the pedal, the extension table and a cute little bakelite box of attachments. I spent a day cleaning her (the suitcase was full of rat droppings), and enlisted my husband’s help with the mechanical and lubrication side of things. With the machine up and running, I’ve now had time to “play”, and have even made my first project on her – a gored linen skirt.

If, like me, “Fridor” is a name you haven’t yet encountered in the world of sewing machines, you’re not alone. There aren’t many to be had in Australia, and I think I was lucky to get this one. It was designed in Switzerland, and manufactured in Holland.

Like driving a European car, there are many features that I found to be the opposite of what I’m used to in Australia. To switch the light on, it must be flicked up (not down), the stitch length lever goes up for forward, and down for reverse, and the needle threads left to right (not front to back). I’m prepared to live with these little idiosyncrasies, however, because the machine has so many design features that I love. 

Removing the motor cover reveals that there are TWO belts driving the machine; probably the reason that the machine never seems to “stall”. The extension table is HUGE compared to other machines, giving a nice flat work area. The bobbin winder is on the side of the machine, and is simple to use. 

The motor is quiet, and runs smoothly. It’s a seriously good - looking machine – even the foot pedal is attractive!
Dropping the feed-dogs is as simple as flicking a lever.

For a simple, straight-stitching machine, it has quite an array of extra feet. So far, I’ve tested the narrow hemming foot (lovely results), 

but I have to say that the spring-loaded darning foot is my absolute favourite. It’s going to make free-motion quilting a real delight!

My machine has quite a few bumps and scratches, and the wooden base definitely needs repainting. The dilemma is this: do I leave her as is, and keep her “pure”, or do I strip her down, and re-paint with a glossy new coat of enamel in a fabulous colour…..peach? pink?……what about turquoise?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. Lynda! Another gem!! She's awesome! I'm so jealous... :)

  2. What a cool looking machine! I've never heard of the company either. Thanks for the post, and have fun with her!

  3. Gorgeous machine. Maybe even older than 1950's. Love the creamy color!

    1. ours is a color of green that I can't quite describe.. Lighter than avocado, but not quite lime. That machine never quit.

  4. LOVE it! Lynda, if you're not going to resell it I say you jazz it up and paint it! How fun! Can't wait to see what you do. The pictures you took are fantastic. Good luck.

  5. Amazing! Form AND function...it's lovely.

  6. As a former antique dealer.....The decision is always yours but if you want to retain the value DO NOT paint of change the color. If you can use it with having material snag on the machine, just leave it. To restore it to original condition would require it to be totally taken apart to be powder coating with a baked on finish. It's a very cool looking machine!

    1. I love it as it is, and I think you would loose some of the unique look that is so special. It sounds like a dream to sew with. Thanks for sharing.

  7. Jantiki, I was toying with the idea of getting it professionally spray painted with automotive paint (I have a friend who restores cars). It's so tempting....

  8. That's a lovely looking machine! Not a brand I've ever heard of (I'm in the UK) so certainly unusual, at least outside its country of origin. I've also never seen a machine with the round hand wheel either.

    The repainting issue is really up to you. If you intend to keep the machine and use it, then I say paint it! It will make you love working with it all the more. I have a 1950s Frister and Rossmann hand crank that I intend to paint red at some point. And if you have a professional car painter on hand for it, even better. As long as it gets a good few coats and a lacquer finish you should have no worries.

    True, repainting will make it lose value as an antique object, but may well add value to someone who intends to actually use it and love it.

    You might find these interesting:

    Someone who repainted their own, with step-by-step photos:


    A company that sells repainted Featherweights for a pretty massive price tag:



  9. Thanks, Ginny. I'll check it out.

  10. I like the Fridor. I have to go to ebay...

  11. I got a Fridor last weak. Nice design and strong motor - 140 Watt.