I’ve never quite understood the fascination of old sewing machines, why would you want an antiquated machine when the newer electric ones are all ‘bells & whistles’.
Then a few weeks ago an old Singer machine popped up on my screen for sale locally, it so reminded me of my late Mum’s old Singer and the memories came flooding back. This was advertised for a snip at £15 so I made a quick enquiry if it was still available. I was second in the queue, now I wanted it more than ever! A little later in the day I got a message from the seller that the first person didn’t turn up to collect and to ‘come round now…it’s yours’. Oh wow…how exciting.
We collected the machine, and without even looking at it, the vendor’s hubby placed the heavy machine into the back of my car. It had a beautiful oak veneered lid so what was underneath I was yet to find out.
On arrival at home we released the little key that was tied to the handle with a little white ribbon and placed it in the lock…turned the key to release the lid and lifted it up carefully to find this beauty in all it’s glory.
Unfortunately when I tried to stitch it just made holes in the fabric and wasn’t forming stitches, but was pretty confident that could be resolved…it was also understandably very stiff and clunky…but a good oiling would do the trick.
I messaged the young vendor to thank her (as she was busy on the phone on collection) and asked if she knew the history. She had bought it in an antique shop a few years back in Scotland because it was ‘pretty’. Her intention was to do it up, but when her little ones arrived it got stored away in a cupboard. She was told it was 1950s era.
I excitedly messaged my sewing buddy and she hoiked out some 50’s patterns that she has handed down in her treasure box…such an elegant era, don’t you think?
On the front of the machine is a brass plaque with a serial number, so we googled it and was pretty surprised to find out it was made in 1916…so this was no longer vintage but an antique…..wow.
I looked into the history of Singer sewing machines a little more deeply to discover that Isaac Merritt Singer (great name!) didn’t actually invent the Singer but patented it in 1851. He was born in America and moved to the UK where he died in Devon aged 63. He had 5 wives and many mistresses and fathered 24 children! There’s a pun there somewhere!
With the first opportunity I started to oil and clean it…the oil did the trick and loosened up the mechanism. The stitching problem was solved by turning the needle sideways and not facing as in the new machines.
I then stripped all the shiny pieces off and placed them carefully in a box ready to polish them up with Brasso and soft wire wool.
This machine had survived 2 world wars and as I cleaned it my thoughts went to those who stitched away, making do and mending, while the spouses were away at war fighting for their lives and country.
A few hours later it was as good as new…
I now get it!
Who wouldn’t want to own a little bit of history.