How to Restore a Vintage White Rotary Sewing Machine

By Alex Said
A multi-function sewing machine needs maintenance.

A White rotary sewing machine was first produced in 1858 by Thomas White, the founder of the White Sewing Machine Company. Production of this sewing machine lasted until 1946. The machine was the first produced by the White company with a rotary shaped disk wheel. That is how it got its name. Some of these machines have survived, but not in the condition they once were. With some sewing machine oil you can restore a White rotary machine and bring back its beauty and luster.

Take photos of the sewing machine from the side, front and top. The photos will help you once you have dismantled the machine and need to reassemble it.

Locate the screws on the top, bottom and sides of the rotary sewing machine. Use a flat-end screwdriver and unscrew the screws to dismantle the removable parts of the machine. The removable parts include the friction cap, stitch regulators, shift lever and hand hole cover.

Fill a shallow dish with sewing machine oil. Place the parts you removed from the sewing machine into the oil for two hours.

Move the needle clamp up and remove the bobbin plate. This will reveal the feed dogs and the various inner workings. Take a cloth and pour a dime size amount of sewing machine oil on it. Use this cloth to clean the feed dogs of the machine.

Take the same cloth used in Step 4 and add another dime size amount of sewing machine oil on it. Use this cloth to rub the arm of the rotary sewing machine. Turn the disk wheel of the machine to allow the oil to get to the hard-to-reach areas of the machine.

Reassemble the rotary sewing machine.

Take a fleece cloth and add seven drops of metal polisher to it. Use this cloth to polish the arm of the sewing machine in a small circular motion using light pressure to give it a smooth and polished finish. Do not rub hard, because this can harm the detailing on the body of the machine.

Things Needed

  • Camera
  • Flat-end screwdriver
  • Shallow dish
  • Sewing machine oil
  • Cloth
  • Metal polisher
  • Fleece cloth

About the Author

Alex Said is a science writer whose work has been featured in several online databases as well as government brochures. Said holds a Bachelor of Science from University of Toronto.