With all of our sewing experience and knowledge about all things related to sewing machines and sewing machine companies, we were amazed to discover a National sewing machine.
We had never seen or heard of this company before, but as it turned out, we really are very familiar with National products.
The National Sewing Machine Company was established in the 19th century. Until 1954, National manufactured sewing machines for private label distributors like Sears, Wanamakers and Macy’s.
Finding this machine with the actual National brand name emblazoned on it was a real treat.
This particular machine is a true rarity. Nearly every other sewing machine manufactured by National bears a private label. This one, however, bears the National label.
That feature, alone, makes this machine a collectors’ item. This reviewer is very familiar with Kenmore sewing machines and worked on one extensively during the 1960 and 70s.
We have even seen and worked on a sewing machine bearing the Macy’s label when visiting a family member in New York.
The National Sewing Machine Company was established by Barnabas Eldridge in the late 1800s merging with the FT June company which was already producing the Jennie June sewing machine, a clone of the Singer sewing machines that were gaining popularity at the time.
Eldridge was not as enamored with the sewing machine as he was with keeping up with whatever was popular at the time, and ventured into many different manufacturing endeavors, but the sewing machine remained one of his priorities.
After Eldridge died in 1911, the National Sewing Machine Company pushed on, competing against Singer, by producing private label sewing machines for department stores, but was never able to make a significant impact on the market.
The company plugged along until 1953, when it ceased operation and was bought out by the company that produced New Home sewing machines at the time. That company now produces sewing machines under the Janome brand name.
At A Glance
The colorful face plate, large numbers and dials and easy to identify stitch guide are not only inviting to children, but to home sewers of all ages and at all skill levels.
The National B8450 that we reviewed did not have an owner’s manual; nor were we able to locate one on the internet.
From own personal experience with sewing machines of all ages, we estimate that this particular machine was made sometime between the end of World War II and 1953, when the production at the National Sewing Machine Company stopped.
Even without an owner’s manual, identifying the machine’s features was incredibly easy. This is one of the simplest to understand sewing machines we have encountered in quite a while.
The colorful large print dials and decals are ideal for sewers who may be facing some vision challenges. The color coded system is also easy for a beginner to follow while learning to operate a sewing machine.
The free arm is magnificent for working with sleeves, pants hems and other small sewing projects.
Overall, however, the work space is larger than most machines of the era and the extra large space beneath makes it possible for work on very large projects with ease.
The National B450 has an easy to use knob that allows the user to drop the feed dogs when necessary to sew on a button, darn or perform freehand embroidery or quilting tasks.
It also has an oversized conveniently located reverse stitch lever to facilitate locking seams and other tasks.
The color coded adjustable stitch length and width controls are clearly identified and just as easy to learn to operate as the other components of this machine.
Those components include an easy to follow guide for sewing simple rectangular button holes and 10 unique stitches.
A young child would be very comfortable identifying a stitch or setting the stitch length and width.
Learning to sew is a fun activity for any child, especially if they are truly interested in sewing. Learning to sew on a machine as colorful as the National B450 is a real treat!
We are tempted to wonder if there ever was another sewing machine so child-friendly. This reviewer’s very first sewing machine was a gift that was received at the age of eight.
Even that one, although it was made for a child, was not nearly as inviting as this one. It was a dull green.
Imagine how much more fun we would have had if our first sewing machine had pastel pink, blue, yellow and green guides.
Working on the National B450
Anyone with just a little bit of experience on a sewing machine will be able to thread the National B450 and wind the bobbin in no time at all.
The threading process is as basic as it could possibly be, and the bobbin pin is located on the very top of the machine.
Even without a manual, threading and winding and loading the bobbin would be no challenge at all for anyone who has ever performed those tasks.
The tension adjustment is located directly above the needle, and is as easy to read as every other dial on the National B450.
The color coded dials couldn’t be more user-friendly. Selecting a stitch design and setting the stitch length and width could not be easier.
The easy to read seam guide is clearly etched on the needle plate.
Converting the work space to access the free arm is literally a snap.
The large work space literally snaps off when the user is ready to use the free arm and snaps back into place just as easily.
Sewing on the National B450 is a breeze. The stitches are clean and sharp. The sewing speed is approximately 1,000 stitches per minute.
For this review, we sampled several different stitch types – straight, zigzag and decorative. We were very pleased with each and every result.
In fact, the only thing we were not totally thrilled about is the fact that there is no built in thread cutter; so it is important for anyone using the National B450 to always remember to have a pair of small scissors handy to snip threads as they sew.
The foot pedal has a light touch. This is a delight since some sewing machines of the same vintage have foot pedals that require a little more pressure than this one. Some foot pedals even tempt you to almost stand up on them before they engage.
- Natural fibers/cotton-linen-wool
- Fine fabrics/silk-satin-taffeta/velvet
- Synthetic fabrics/blends-rayon-polyester
- Extra thick fabrics or multiple layers
The National B450 has a detachable cable that connects the power cord and foot pedal to the machine.
The biggest drawback to having a sewing machine manufactured by a company that is no longer in business is that getting hold of original parts and accessories is impossible.
The National B450 that we reviewed is for sale at the Pfaff Sewing Center, a shop that specializes in sewing machine repair, refurbishing and sales located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Wayne Duke and his staff reported that the machine was brought in for consignment sale by someone who had inherited it, but did not sew.
They reported that it came with the detachable work space and a molded plastic carrying case only and added that it was in good condition when it was dropped off, requiring only a thorough cleaning, lubrication and a new belt.
|After each use||Monthly*||Once Each Year**||As Needed|
|Clean race hook and feed dogs|
|Wipe head with soft dry cloth|
|Wipe head with soft damp cloth|
|Service by sewing machine repair professional|
Tying Off The Loose Ends
For a sewing machine that most home sewers have never seen or even heard of, the National B450 is a great little machine. It’s sturdy and hard working.
This is a great machine for youngsters to learn the basics of sewing as well as the basics of how a sewing machine works.
The colorful guides will hold any child’s interest while he or she goes through the steps of learning how to thread a sewing machine, how to wind a bobbin, how to select and set stitches, how to adjust stitch length and width and how to take care of a sewing machine.
We regret that there are not more sewing machines like this one around.
Sewing classes designed for youngsters in elementary and middle school could certainly benefit from a roomful of machines as colorful and easy to use as the National B450.
The sheer simplicity of this machine makes it great for senior citizens as well. Its large, easy to read dials and icons make sewing easy.
It is especially good for older people with cognitive challenges because it is so reminiscent of the machines they worked on when they were younger and more agile.
Whether the National B450 is used solely for mending or to make a brand spanking new wardrobe, it is a reliable sewing machine that can be depended upon to do the job with professional looking results.
As with most other refurbished sewing machines, the B450 has very few moving parts, meaning that there are fewer parts that could break or malfunction.
Anyone interested in purchasing this machine, however, should be clear on the fact that since the manufacturer is no longer in business, finding replacement parts is virtually impossible.
The best thing even the best sewing machine repair professional can do is find a part that is close enough to be compatible with the original parts.
This is not a new phenomenon, however, since many sewing machine manufacturers who are still up and running no longer provide parts for their older models.
The one we reviewed was available for a mere $50… not because of performance issues, but because of the replacement parts problem.
Our only hesitation in recommending the National B450 is the fact that finding replacement parts is a challenge. If, however, you are willing to take the chance, do not hesitate to buy this machine if you come across it.
There are, no doubt, lots of other things you can do with an investment of $50 that will not give you half as much pleasure.
- Needs lots of help – able to sew a straight seam but unfamiliar with most sewing techniques; needs assistance and instruction on basic sewing techniques.
- Competent – can make different clothing items without assistance or guidance, but not good enough to sew intricate projects or to sew without a pattern.
- Expert – can sew anything without instruction or assistance; possesses an expansive knowledge of sewing techniques and terminology.
- Ideal for sewers of all ages and skill levels
- Easy to use dials
- Easy to understand on board stitch selection
- No manufacturer support
- No owners’ manual available
- Difficult to find replacement parts