vintage-sewing-machine-brotherpams office remodelHunka hunka. Meet my new boyfriend: A Brother Charger 651 — Made in Japan, 35 pounds of serious vintage steel, in the most lovely shade of robin’s egg blue.  Actually, I have had this puppy for a while now. I bought it from Denise, who has a *thing* for saving vintage sewing machines, and had it tucked in the corner while I continued to work on setting up my work space in my big fat crazy crafty epic office remodel. The idea behind the remodel was to make my home office space more comfortable for working now that the blog is fulltime enterprise… but also to design it to accommodate my collage work. Did you know that you can sew on paper? That’s what I bought the vintage Brother for, although I might also try it to zig zag felted wool squares together into a blanked, like Crispina ffrench does. In my spare time.

Wanna see the new work triangle? Clicky through:

vintage brother charger 651 sewing machineThe sewing machine sits on a triangular Herman Miller office table that I bought at my Eco Building Bargains in Springfield, Mass. The table is on three legs with rollers. When I need to power up the vintage Brother to use it, it’s super easy to pull the table out so I can use its entire work space.

vintage brother sewing machineBack to the sewing machine: I need to find a manual.

You can see lots of photos from the rest of my office/art space here.  The entire room is just 10′ x 14′ — cozy — and easy to get my hands on everything. I am loving it! I still have more to do before the space is declared “done” — and mind you, I DO declare spaces “complete.” It’s getting close!

  1. RetroSandie says:

    Hi Pam! That is the exact same sewing machine that I used to use and my daughter has now. Believe it or not, it was my FIRST sewing machine, bought by my MIL so I could make clothes for my baby son and myself and to make men’s ties to sell!!! I got it in 1971. So, you have a good one that should give you years more service!!!! Happy stitching!!

  2. tammyCA says:

    My mom got a Brother machine in the ’60s I believe from the saving Green Stamps. She didn’t sew but my future SIL was a whiz and she sewed us clothes, costumes & reupholstered furniture using that machine.
    Sometimes, I think I want to find a cool vintage machine, but I once had a Kenmore from the ’70s and I had so many problems with it…I donated it a few years back and got a little Singer that hasn’t given me any trouble. Also, have inherited an antique black sewing machine that looks pretty scary to sew on (we once had an antique one that I used but it wasn’t safe with no protection around the needle so I remember that worry…but, of so pretty on its wood table with cast iron peddle).
    I do sew on paper, too! When I need a quick birthday card I just take some fabric scraps and sew them onto cardstock…instant nifty card!

    1. Donna says:

      I just bought one of these machines this evening and no manual. Would love to have a copy if you still have. I’m so anxious to use it.

  3. June Cahill says:

    @lynda: I have an old Elna too – it was my Moms – probably from the 50s – weighs a TON and when I was little I always thought it looked like a big green grasshopper. My Mom bought me a Singer after I was married (mid-80s) however, I ‘knew’ the Elna so well, and never adjusted to the Singer. I just used the machine last week and it still works like a champ! I just saw an episode of “Call the Midwife” – Chummy is making a dress for herself and using one of those old black machines from the 20s – she calls it the “Old Work Horse” – I feel the same about my Elna – I love it, “Giddi-up!!!”:)

    1. Kathleen says:

      I see the post concerning the Brother 651 sewing machine is from February so you may already have the manual (I see it costs $10 to download the PDF from the link provided) – but if you don’t, I have it. I am not a sewer but acquired this sewing machine when my mother passed away years ago. Recently I thought perhaps I should buy a newer machine because if I do start sewing more than just quick mends, I thought I would need something to sew through a layer of leather or a few layers of denim and wanted a free-arm style. But anyway, I decided to try and find out more about the Brother 651 machine and found this website. Although my machine is a bit dirty, it runs rather well – any of my problems with it are most likely operator errors. I am willing to scan the instruction manual and post it.

  4. Chutti says:

    Your brother is a winner! I got one very similar to this for about $12 at a thrift store 10 yrs ago. I’ve got several vintage machines, but this one is the most low-key, ready to rumble one.

    Hubs has his mom’s mid-1920’s White console. It will do upholstery layers of leather, denim, etc. like a Mack truck. But no zig zag for knits.

    I long after my Mom’s early 1970’s Elna with the stitch cams. I bought one just like it, but it wasn’t cared for, and I could never make it as smooth and easy as hers, so sold it. Hers is the only machine I’ve ever been able to just sit and go.

    FYI- great way to start tuning up yer old machine is to take it to a gas station and turn the air on it…..blow out all the crap, then oil it up nice agin.

    You found a good one!

    that is a link to a free generic manual that might work well for that machine. I too restore old sewing machines. I have some wonderful pieces from the mid century. If you get too ‘late’ they are made with plastic parts and are not as well made. I wish I could show pictures of some of them. But here are a couple links:
    and one I think is very cool looking: I know now that it is from 1953.

  6. Wayne S. says:

    WOW Pam-Fantastic find! Looks so similar to the one my mother left me [I,too, live in ‘time capsule home’.] My mother always said ‘don’t ever use it unless it’s been oiled’-just like a car.It even has the same color carrying case, too! I guess any sewing machine repair place can show you where to oil the proper wear cams. Sorrily, I dont know how to copy or upload the manual for this, for I Have It for our very similar machine-no scanner. But hopefully you’ll get an exact manual!
    P.S. Office really looks fun to be in-Wyne S.

  7. Debbie says:

    I have this machine! It was my first ever machine from my parents. I gave it to my sister 25 years ago to upgrade to one with more features. She could never get the threading of either the bobbin or machine done correctly. I moved a long distance from home when I married. When I visited her….I had no problem getting it to sew. Anyway she recently gave it back to me and I am thrilled!!! I changed the cord to the pedal and oiled and cleaned it ….and it hums away. I am getting ready to decoupage the cover to it.

  8. modupe says:


    Please I need help in getting the manual for a brother sewing machine that I bought off someone, it’s an older model, and I was hoping to be able to download the manual through brother website, but I can’t seem to get the model online from any of brother websites. It’s brother De Luxe ZL-B970, please could you suggest how I can get the manual downloaded? Looking forward to your response.

    Thank you.

  9. Mark says:

    I bought a Charger 661 made in Korea. Nice machine, but I prefer a walking foot with a more powerful motor. I am using a size 15 bobbin, but it seems a bit small, and the shaft hole a bit big. Normally, I would not care, but the thread keeps binding whenever I load a new bobbin.

    What size do you use?

    My next machine will probably be a Sailrite zigzag walking foot, unless I settle down and do not have to be mobile. Then I will go to craigslist and buy a Consew 206RB or similar.

  10. Barb Chewning says:

    I received a vintage brother machine from my 100 yr old grandma with no manual. Then, my 2-yr old twisted off the tension knob & parts to it, and I have been searching online furiously for help. I did contact Brother @— I now know that I had a “400” model and they were able to provide me with an owner’s manual via an email attachment. I would be glad to know how you made out with the search! Barb

  11. Melanie says:

    Manuals can be found for this, just type in model and brand, I have a Brother Charger 651 but the one I have and all the ones I’ve seen are pink and brown?

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