Friday, 11 September 2009

VINTAGE: Singer Sewing Machine

Growing up, this old sewing machine lived in the bottom of my Gran's wardrobe. Hidden under empty bags and scarf's this Singer sewing machine rarely saw the light of day the older my gran got. When it did come out from the deepthest depths, we use to work together on her kitchen table, sewing curtains or taking up hems. With my Gran's death (I blogged about her illness the other week - saddly things took a turn for the worse) the machine has now passed into my hands, while I remember the golden drawings on the machines side the silver engraving on the face plate, I've always remembered this as a beautiful working machine.

With a few alterations from my grandad expanding the box upon which the plate box is embedded, its sunken little holder comes with two working and original bobbins and bobbin case and replacement needles, yet its case if it ever had one is long since missing. With a quick dust and a bit of oil in the right places, its near enough looking and most importantly running, like new. Once converted from its original treadle workings, its now electronically powered although the balance wheel needs a spin every now and again to get it turning.

Starting in 1851, the Singer Manufacturing Company (this name is painted in gold paint upon the top of my machine) was launched in New York following the patent of Singer's first locksmith machine. By 1890, Singer could claim to be holding an 80% share of all global sewing machine sales, employing thousands of workers. Using it's serial number embedded upon a small plate upon the box plate a good search on the Singer Company's website reveals this machine to be part of the Y-Series produced at the Kilbowie factory, Scotland in 1934.

For an old girl reaching her 75th birthday this year, she still sews like a dream, her plating still engraved and shining. While she may only have one stitch and one speed I'm proud to be her new owner. And she will be used, rather then hiding her away in the loft or sitting her aside to gather dust, she will be a working machine and an object of beauty, with a task in hand already of patchwork cushion covers.

Also as a weird coincidence one of my mams old books hidden away in the bookcase is the Big Book of Needlecraft published only a year after my Singer rolled off the production line. Now they have to be kept together, they complement each other, the book narrating the change from treadle to electric, naming the machines key parts, its oiling points and common sewing mishaps.

All ideas of anything else to sew are always welcome ...


  1. Oh how interesting. I have an old Singer, but it's been stored for a while now. I kinda want to take a look at it now!

  2. Starting with patchwork? Pillow covers, then bags - I never thought I needed a cloth bag until I was given one. Add pockets, zippers, buttons, Velcro, or magnet closures.
    Practice curved shapes with patchwork, then make clothes.

  3. I have one of those! it is the hand crank model, but it was never converted to electric, which was very handy when I was living in a place that had no leccy! lol. It's a beautiful thing and still sews like a dream, I suppose then things were really made to last :)

  4. Yeah Kinkajou I was thinking today how I bet no sewing machine brought today would still be working as effectively in another 75 years!