Did your mum or gran have a Singer sewing machine? Just about every woman had one at one point in our history, my mum had a treadle machine but I have no idea what happened to it when she downsized. The photo above is of the hand cranked machine which I bought newly overhauled from a Singer sewing machine shop when I lived in Braintree in Essex.
To me, she’s a thing of beauty and although I now have a much more modern Toyota electric machine I still pull my beloved old Singer out whenever I’m sewing small things, like the bunting or tote bags. The most recent thing I made on her was a wee padded sleeping bag to protect my Kindle.
I use my modern machine for sewing big things like curtains because it would be a real pain hand cranking such long seams, but I actually prefer my vintage machine as she runs silently and smoothly and has a far nicer stitch, it looks like perfect hand stitched backstitch, and any modern machines I’ve used just don’t have such a neat stitch. If you look closely you can see that I have a wee gadget affixed to the machine base, to the right hand of the needle, it’s an adjustable seam guide, so it’s easy to keep the material straight against it.
These old ones are great to let kids loose on because there’s no fear of them running the needle up their fingers, believe me that has happened often enough with electric machines as they can be quite difficult to control, speed wise, they can be scarily fast.
Where can I find such a thing I hear you say? Aye, there’s the rub – because in the past, house clearers have had no respect for these machines at all and millions of them must have been scrapped or just left to rust away over the years. The upshot of that is that they’re difficult to get a hold of now, so if you your mum/granny still has one I advise you to get your name on it before someone else nabs it or the house clearers junk it.
Although Singer is an American firm they had the biggest sewing machine factory in the world at Clydebank, Scotland, just about 10 miles away from where I grew up. In fact it was so big, the nearest railway station to it was actually called Singer – and it still is. Sadly the factory is long gone, it closed down completely in 1980, they had been on that site for almost 100 years but previous to that they had a factory in Glasgow in the 1860s. You can read more about it here.
If you want to see some seriously gorgeous sewing machines have a look here.