That time you became a stripper

7:02:00 PM

…of sewing machines.
how to strip paint off a sewing machine stripping a sewing machine
(you dirty birdies! Get yer minds outta the gutters. What did you think I meant? *chuckles*)

If you’ve been following along at all, I fixed my Singer 185k3 Christmas present that arrived smashed up. The only thing I didn’t/don’t have for it was/is a case or base. I’m working on that.

Then I dismantled it again. Like, really dismantled it. Like my zipper bags? (are you freaking out yet??)
machine parts storage idea for dismantling a sewing machine for painting

Okay, so admittedly, I was totally okay until it was time to disassemble the tension assembly. I have never done this before. And even looking at this photo again today to crop and watermark it I was having literal palpitations. I’m not kidding. Gaaaaah. Keep on chugging, Erin. You’ve committed, now -

singer 185 tension assembly

(time for a glass of wine here)

Set it in some Dollar Store baking trays…then…

Bathed it in stripper using Dollar Store paint brushes, let it sit for 24 hours at a time –

singer 185 sewing machine how to strip paint from a sewing machine

scraped, sanded, cleaned, bathed in stripper again -

stripping a singer 185, in progress

lather, rinse, repeat (please note by this point I have stopped putting pictures on social media as I am starting to get flamed over email for my decision to customize my little machine – true story – but meh – I have tough skin – I just don’t have the time nor energy to reply to all of the naysayers…plus, my thoughts are – this machine didn’t end up in a dump somewhere OR salvaged for scrap metal $$$, I am actually going to use it and it’s my prerogative on how or what I do to it. So there.)

At this point I’m going to tell you: THIS SUCKS. If you can ship your machine off to have someone do it all for you, and it costs like $500 to do it? PAY IT. This is hard on your body. It takes a long time, and a lot of patience (both of which, notably, I’m lacking in. I’ll admit it.)

I did a lot of research on the products to use in this project. A LOT. Like, for months. I listed them below with links to Amazon. Most people out there are using Citristrip (aff link) BUT everyone I came across doing this were stripping older machines – with no doubt older paint technology. This paint did NOT want to come off. I stuck with the Citristrip (aff link), but I’d recommend if you’re going to strip a 185 yourself? try something a little more, well, toxic. Something that’ll melt the paint off the first time. All of the other bloggers I researched were stripping 80 and 100 year old black Singers with the Citristrip and the paint came off like butter. Not so here. I had to really fight with it.

Stripping the paint from a Singer 185 sewing machine

There’s quite a bit of pitting on this machine now that the layers and layers of varnish are off; I’m seeing quite a bit of Bondo in my OCD Type A future. Oh well. Good thing I’m not in a rush.

The nooks and crannies are the toughest part to get at. They take the longest and are the hardest on my poor fingers -

stripping the paint from a singer 185 sewing machine for custom repaint

After all of the paint was scraped off, I hit the machine with a lot of elbow and shoulder grease with #150 dry sand paper then steel wool (#1, #0, then #00). Again, as a reference, see the Amazon affiliate links below the post for the products I used if need be.

A really important part of prepping the machine for paint is removing all of the oil and grease that it’s come into contact with over the years AND from my fingers and the stripper.

So, the final step before the Self-etching Primer (see below) is to wash it down according to the instructions on the bottle with Grease Remover until your cloth comes out nice and clean.

I am tired. This is the toughest part, I know. And it’s the part that takes the longest. I have worked on this machine every night for almost 2 weeks, cleaning it, dismantling, stripping, rewiring.

Probably a good thing it’s taking me so long to sand it down – I’m having some trouble deciding on the custom bed waterslide decal I want to put on it and I feel like I need to be really sure about the color I chose. Or maybe - the colors. Heheh. And that part is a surprise.

So. Stay tuned for the next step – primer and filler. Maybe some color. Hang in there.

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  1. Wow! You are patient - and stubborn. I would have given up long ago - in fact I never would have tackled such a project! Keep on keeping on. Wish you all the luck in the world. Can't wait to see the finished project.


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