Sew Much More

August 19, 2008

1939 Electric White Rotary Machine

Filed under: sewing projects — by michellew @ 2:06 pm

***Update 12/2013:   Here’s a link to the manual for this machine! It seems that when searching for more info on the 1939 Electric White Rotary Machine in google, many are directed to my blog. But I know very little about the machine, as I only used it once.  So I’ve posted a link to the manual that another user posted to his site.  Hope this helps those looking for more information on their machines!  Happy Sewing!***

While we were in Vermont my mother-in-law asked if I’d make her some curtains for the guest room (the room we stay in).  So I spent some time sewing over vacation, pretty fun.  But I’ve never sewn on a machine quite like this.  This machine was Bob’s grandma’s that she apparently received in December 1939 (this was written in the handbook of course!)  I was super sceptical that the machine would still be working but plugged it in and it worked!  I had to follow the handbook to learn how to thread it and to wind the bobbin.  The strangest thing was that the needle was threaded left to right (the eye being sideways) instead of front to back.  Something to get used to for sure.  I had to replace the needle to get the machine sewing, but that was the only thing I did to it and it did wonderfully.  It didn’t have a foot pedal but a leg pedal instead.  I kind of like that better than a foot pedal actually.  I had fun doing these curtains for her and fun figuring out the machine.  How cool that it still works! Its inside this beautiful end table type piece of furniture.  I should have taken a picture of that too, oh well.  Check out this machine and of course the finished product.





  1. Thank you, Michelle. I think it was so cool for you to use Grandma’s machine. I took it for the furniture and look what came out of it!!!

    Comment by Mom — August 19, 2008 @ 4:03 pm |Reply

  2. Hi,
    We recently bought a machine just like this at a tag sale. It has no manual and we are Singer people so can’t figure it out. As you mention, lots of it seems to be backwards.
    Would it be possible for you to make a copy of the owner’s manual?
    Would gladly send you some $$ for same.
    Scanned copies as jpegs or pdfs sent as mail attachments would be great.
    Hope to hear from you.
    Best Regards,

    Comment by David Howe — November 21, 2008 @ 5:47 pm |Reply

  3. My mother has this same machine. I remember her sewing our clothes on it as I was growing up, and then many costumes for my brother’s plays. We just passed it down to my daughter who is 10 and a budding fashion designer ;-). It’s amazing that these machines are so well made.

    Comment by Susan A — December 25, 2008 @ 2:14 pm |Reply

  4. Hello,

    I just obtained the same model, and of course I have no manual or idea what model I now own. Could you tell me what you have, please? Is it a Series 41 or 43? There are manuals for sale online and I’d like to know which one to order.

    Thank you!

    Comment by E — March 15, 2009 @ 2:26 pm |Reply

  5. I have a sewing machine just like this one and am having trouble getting the bobbin in right it keep hanging up i was wondering if u had any advice?

    Comment by jessica blair — March 31, 2009 @ 9:19 am |Reply

  6. Dear Michelle,

    I have a machine that looks like the one in your picture. I’m having trouble getting the bobbin to wind. If I can determine that the machines are the same would you be willing to sell me a copy of the handbook?

    Thank you,

    Pam Wrye

    Comment by Pam Wrye — November 1, 2009 @ 9:19 am |Reply

  7. What size needle did you use?? I have one of these – exactly as yours! But my universal needles are too short.

    Comment by webmonkey — November 10, 2009 @ 1:08 pm |Reply

    • I’m also looking for needles. Mine is 1 9/16th” but the ones online do not give the length. If you find any could you be so kind as to let me know? Thanks.

      Comment by Charlotte Hendershot — November 17, 2013 @ 5:09 pm |Reply

  8. Hello,

    I, too, have gotten a White Rotary Electric Sewing machine. However, I discover that the “intruction book” is for the model number 43 and model number 41. How do I know which one I have and can anyone tell me the value of this sewing machine?

    Comment by Ann — December 10, 2009 @ 12:10 am |Reply

  9. Thanks for all the comments and questions. Unfortunately this machine doesn’t belong to me but to my in-laws. And its currently in their summer home up in Vermont. Which means I won’t be able to get access to the handbook till the springtime. Maybe eventually I’ll scan it in and post it for you all! But not anytime soon.

    As far as needle size…I’m not sure…there was a picture of the one to use in the handbook and I took that with me to the store.

    I remember winding the bobbin being tricky but I’m sorry it was so long ago that I don’t recall how to do it.

    Comment by michellew — December 19, 2009 @ 7:22 pm |Reply

  10. My boyfriend came across the same sewing machine you have for free at a yard sale, we are curious what this machine is worth. We did plug in and it does work and has many accessories in original containers. And original cabinet (looks like to us) has no 10 stamped inside. The number on machine is #43-172374. Thanks for your time..

    Comment by Eva — February 27, 2010 @ 1:11 pm |Reply

  11. Bonjour,

    J’ai acheté hier, cette belle machine à coudre de marque White, modèle 43 pour l’antiquité. Elle est propre mes amis, c’est terrible. J’ai l’aiguille dorée après et tous ls morceaux, ainsi que le manuel d’instructions. Je peux vous aider si vous avez besoin de quoi que ce soit mais j’ai aussi besoin d’aide…VOULEZ-VOUS ME DIRE S’IL Y A UNE COURROIE OU STRAPPE QUI VA LÀ DESSUS POUR FAIRE TOURNER LE TOUT????? C’EST LA SEULE CHOSE QUI ME MANQUE. S.V.P., J’apprécierais une réponse.

    Carmelle, le 9 juillet 2010, carmellecote@videotron.c

    Comment by Carmelle — July 9, 2010 @ 5:06 pm |Reply

  12. The model 41 and 43 of the White Rotary Sewing machines use the same manual. You can download it for FREE from the Singer sewing machine website. You can search for the appropriate manual, or you can call them and ask which manual you need. I downloaded book 13 and that seems to be the one.

    I just recently received my Grandmother’s machine, the needles that were in her sewing box were marked #14.

    Eva – your machine is a model 43

    These machines aren’t worth a whole lot of money and generally sell for anywhere from a dollar up to under $100, but if they’re working they sew much better than just about any modern machine and will tackle jobs many modern machines would just cry over. I ran 8 layers of denim through my machine last night and it ran through it beautifully.

    Hope this helps some.

    Comment by Katharine — November 11, 2010 @ 10:17 am |Reply

  13. Thanks so much – I was gifted one of these machines years ago – I kept it because I love to sew, and loved the cabinet, but never actually used it. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I guess I’m appreciating “old” things – so I opened her up. Couldn’t get the bobbin thread to pull up for the life of me. Took everything apart, cleaned and oiled (will have to get some vaseline for the grease box LOL) and back together – and nothing. Until I read your post about the needle going left to right. One quick quarter turn of the needle – and wham – perfectly even stitches, both top and bottom. Love it !

    Comment by Deb Sarhan — March 15, 2011 @ 2:59 pm |Reply

  14. Oh, and mine not only came with the instruction book, but also a book on hmestitching and picoting attachments – if anyone needs it !

    Comment by Deb Sarhan — March 15, 2011 @ 3:01 pm |Reply

    • Hi Deb,
      I have this machine and have the manual but nothing about attachments. I would love to have a copy. I hope to be able to find such attachments as well. Mine only came with a few extra bobbins, but I am so grateful to have it anyway. Love sewing on it! I hope to do some quilting.

      Comment by Sandy Holder — May 24, 2011 @ 12:13 am |Reply

    • Deb, I would be interested in your book on the attachments!

      Comment by Maggie Bradshaw — August 26, 2011 @ 11:28 pm |Reply

    • Hi Deb,
      Your book on the attachments for the White Rotary Sewing Machine #43 can you tell me where to get a copy?

      Thanks, Lucindia

      Comment by Lucindia Shelton — January 17, 2015 @ 3:29 pm |Reply

  15. I have the exact same one the cabinet and everything. All attachments too. I love sewing with it. But….my take up lever snapped off when it toppled over after the cat jumped on the table lid. I was almost in tears. I have been searching for the lever with no avail. Any ideas where I might be able to purchase one. Even the sewing machine repair man couldn’t find one anywhere.
    😦 mel

    Comment by mellissa — October 29, 2011 @ 1:19 pm |Reply

    • I found several parts for my model 43 on Good luck.

      Comment by Sheryl McLeroy — September 19, 2016 @ 4:14 am |Reply

  16. j’en ai une à vendre en

    parfaite condition avec livre d’instruction et fonctionnel

    Comment by magnan jocelyn — June 18, 2012 @ 9:26 pm |Reply

  17. hi I have a White Rotary sewing machine in the the table and can’t figure it out to lift the machine out. Can you help me out! thanks

    Comment by Rose Mary — June 26, 2012 @ 10:29 pm |Reply

  18. I have the same machine. It was my grandmothers. I am having a problem with it and don’t have a manual. I’m wandering if a part for threading may have broken during transporting it from storage. I don’t have photos to see if that is the case. It is the metal hook on top connected to the little acorn shaped knob. The bobbin is tangling. I thought that may be why. Previously it sewed so nicely. Any suggestions? Thanks, Valon

    Comment by Valon Bishop — September 16, 2012 @ 1:17 pm |Reply

  19. I clicked on the link and to my dismay it didn’t work…deep sigh….If there is a working link for the manual that someone could share with me I would be so so so appreciative!!!! thank you

    Comment by Rose Martin — November 27, 2012 @ 5:58 pm |Reply

  20. hello can someone please tell me what model is my white sewing machine? the number plate says 43-212861 . also wondering if i can have a link to the manual?

    Comment by rin — September 12, 2013 @ 12:16 pm |Reply

  21. h and where can i buy needles for it?ow does the tread go on this machine?

    Comment by Mildred Turpin Mcdonald — October 2, 2013 @ 4:06 pm |Reply

  22. I will post the download address for the manual here. It’s on my website at: Enjoy and save yourself the money for a manual. You can buy a copy of my first novel but it isn’t necessary. Enjoy and have dinner on me (cost of buying a manual). 🙂

    Comment by mikeatencio — October 27, 2013 @ 8:45 pm |Reply

    • I can’t get the manual you posted can you give me a hand

      Comment by Raul — May 8, 2016 @ 10:07 am |Reply

  23. I’ve got a White Rotary Electric sewing machine and I believe it’s Model 41. I saw Model 43 being threaded on YouTube and the chrome plate is different so I’m assuming it’s 41. I have the instruction booklet. What I’m looking for is what kind of needle to buy for this machine. It has a picture but on line they do not tell you the length which I need 1 9/16th. Can anyone help?

    Comment by Charlotte Hendershot — November 17, 2013 @ 5:07 pm |Reply

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  28. I just bought one of these at a second hand store today; I’m googling around for directions how to clean it and make sure it’s good before using. I like how it’s built, and I like the cabinet it’s in. I’m glad to read it is a good machine. The woman at the store seemed to think it was rusty, but that looks like it’s just the brown finish to me.

    Comment by Fawn Spencer — March 10, 2016 @ 1:45 pm |Reply

  29. I have this same machine with lots of attachments. I just love sewing with it and it has forced me to up my sewing game and properly finish seams. No zigzagging!

    Comment by Sarah Chude — April 4, 2016 @ 9:39 pm |Reply

  30. I just bought this machine Model #43. While cleaning it, everything was coated in dust and grime, the tension I loosened the tension assembly that’s on the left side. I cant get the back the way it should be. Any help would be appreciated. If you know where I can get another assembly that would be great. Thanks.

    Comment by Sheryl McLeroy — August 23, 2016 @ 6:14 am |Reply

  31. Where’s the on n off switch

    Comment by Trilla melancon — September 19, 2016 @ 1:09 am |Reply

  32. Do you still have it? And would you like to sell it? If so, how much would you want?

    Comment by Patrick — May 3, 2017 @ 2:56 am |Reply

  33. Thank you! I’ve been trying to make my “new” White Rotary sew and once I read your post, I realized I didn’t have my needle turned so I could thread it left to right. I turned the needle and it sews now!

    Comment by Jued — November 18, 2017 @ 5:27 pm |Reply

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