When it comes to Singer, even avid sewing-machine collectors tend not to mince their words. “They were not great innovators,” says Harry Berzack, who owns about 500 sewing machines of various makes and models. But one thing everyone agrees on was Singer’s unprecedented ability to get its machines into the hands of customers. “They were unbelievable marketers,” Berzack says.
That may be why collectors of antique and vintage sewing machines have so much fun collecting Singers—there are a lot of models to choose from. One of the earliest was the Turtleback from 1856, which was only in production for a few years but paved the way for Singer’s New Family machine, which was introduced in the 1860s before being renamed the Singer Model 12. The machine came in hand-crank and treadle versions, and featured decorative gold details on its jet-black body.
An Improved Family machine followed in 1879. This machine is considered a breakthrough because of its oscillating shuttle, but the next year an even more significant development occurred—Singer put an Edison electric motor in one of its machines, a foreshadowing of things to come.
By 1890, Singer had a staggering 80 percent of the world sewing-machine market, and by 1891, that early Edison prototype was being offered to the public. Other models from this era (there were 40 at the turn of the century) include the Singer 48 K, which was manufactured at the company’s plant in Kilbowie, Scotland (the factory would be renamed Clydebank).
The Singer 66 is also of this vintage. It was introduced in 1900 (its portable cousin, the 99, arrived around 1920) and remained in production until the 1950s, which makes this probably the most ubiquitous Singer model available. Another Singer machine that’s popular with collectors (as well as seamstresses and tailors, for that matter) is the Featherweight, which was introduced in 1933 at the Chicago World’s Fair.
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Oxfam International's Winnie Byanyima puts social justice firstThe Globe and Mail (subscription), July 31st
Her mother, an orphan who was raised by French-Canadian nuns from Chicoutimi, Que., was a women's rights activist and supported the family by making clothes on a Singer sewing machine, growing food and running a hardware store. Gertrude was an ...Read more
When nature calls: Lightning and cobbler and bears, oh my!Florida Times-Union, July 31st
I thought of a Singer sewing machine that Granny operated by rocking the ornate foot treadle; my wife and I still have it, along with her well-worn rocker, my grandfather's gun cabinet and an oxen yoke from his days as a 'Bama sharecropper. Some day, I...Read more
Downpour sends Whaling Days revelers running for shelterCentral Kitsap Reporter, July 31st
Charles Whitmer of Bremerton won the Sound Sewing and Vacuum Singer sewing-embroidery machine. • Irene Torella of Bremerton won $1,000 cash from Kitsap Credit Union. • Tim Putansuu of Silverdale won the Amish Touch $1,000 shopping spree...Read more
Model Daphne Selfe's book, THE WAY WE WORE: A LIFE IN CLOTHESDaily Mail, July 30th
Daphne's earliest memories are of jelly-and-ice-cream children's parties in Muswell Hill, North London, wearing itchy, frilly, organdie dresses made by her mother on a Singer sewing machine and embellished with swansdown feathers and matching bolero ...Read more
93-year-old woman makes dozens of doll clothes for exhibitRichmond Times-Dispatch, July 28th
Martha Newell, 93, started making clothes for dolls seven years ago. The clothes fit American Girl brand dolls. She said that she won't sell the outfits. She would rather give the doll clothes to girls who love to play with dolls just to make them...Read more
Police suspect arson in Harrisburg fireabc27, July 27th
“We had a 1940 radio, we had a 1940 China closet, we had a 1900 Singer sewing machine that we're just holding onto,” Dibbon said. “That's memories. All that's gone.” Several neighbors said they heard explosions as the fire began at around 5 a.m...Read more
Great British Sewing Bee judge Patrick Grant meets aspiring Yeovil fashion ...Western Gazette, July 24th
Emily Plumb, who is studying for a degree in fashion design, enjoyed the money-can't buy prize as a guest of Singer Sewing Machines for a sewing session with Savile Row tailor and television personality Patrick Grant. The informal half-day sewing...Read more
How Singer Won the Sewing Machine WarSmithsonian, July 14th
The Singer sewing machine revolutionized the way the world created and repaired its fabric, and transformed not only the textile industry, but also global business itself. But a closer look at the Singer patent model, which is on display as part of the...Read more