27 September 2011

tools of the trade // my singer story

my vintage singer story

Brought up surrounded by Singer sewing machines, the name to me is pseudonymous with sewing. So when my mom recently brought to my attention Singer's 160th Anniversary celebration project 'Share Your Singer Story', I was curious to access their database and discover my vintage Singer's history. I also thought it would be rather fun to add my personal Singer story to their growing anthology of tales from other Singer owners and users.

Being in the possession of two manuals (one dated 1916, the other 1928) I have long been curious about exactly how old my machine is. Having already tried a few times over the years with varying results and so-called 'accuracy', I was keen to at least unearth this part of the tale.

I was therefore pleased to have confirmed that my particular machine was manufactured in Clydebank, Scotland in 1929 when my paternal grandmother, who was first to own it, was 24 years old. Considering that this was the same year as the beginning of the Great Depression, her purchase was incredibly timely and I like to think that she had seen the many benefits of being able to sew and mend her own clothing, especially with the arrival of the 'thru'pence' patterns from Simplicity two years earlier.

1929 vintage singer
I am not at all certain for how long she actually used her Singer but it went with her into married life. Eventually it was handed to me when I was eight years old with the intention of learning to sew by creating clothes for my dolls. And sew dolls' clothes we most definitely did! As well as ones for myself and other things for a time, until other interests and events took over. But I always kept it.

Then in 2007 with the purchase of my first Blythe doll and the promise to myself that I would sew all the clothes I needed for this new dolly hobby of mine, out came my trusty Singer again, and we haven't looked back.

When I tell people that I sew on a vintage Singer (and a manual hand-turned one at that), they often marvel at it considering all the fancy things that modern machines are able to do. Sometimes I do envy them, as it would be nice to try out some free-motion stitching, or zig-zags or button-holes once in a while, but for tiny dolls' clothes that require tight turns and short seams, this manual Singer is just right for the control it allows.

Before leaving England in 2009 I sent this fine old lady for a full service and tune up - probably the first and only one she had ever had in her long and industrious lifetime. Though I may indeed move on to a newer model at some point, I have the sincerest heartfelt wish that this lady keeps going for another 80 years.

1929 vintage singer