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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YOU Magazine: A designing womanWisconsin Rapids Tribune, November 24th
When most young girls were playing dress-up and coloring, a 4-year-old Renee Vandeberg was at her mother's old-school Singer sewing machine, pushing the knee pedal and making clothes for her Barbie doll. “I've been designing all my life,” says Renee, ...Read more
Hit a Different 'Target' This Black FridayBearing Arms, November 24th
I have been to exactly one Black Friday sale, years ago for an unreal sale on a top-of-the-line Singer sewing machine. It was 4am and some insane woman (in her pajamas) would not stop screaming at me at the top of her lungs in Sears that the box I...Read more
Salvatore D'Orio, owner of Pizza D'Oro in Bulls Head, dies at 88SILive.com, November 22nd
A designer and draftsman for Singer Sewing Machines, he designed many mechanisms for the company, including self-wind bobbins, family said. He also worked on aircraft guidance systems in Singer's Kearfott Division for the U.S. Department of Defense...Read more
The Dressmaker review – Kate Winslet is zestful in uneven black comedyThe Guardian, November 21st
The film opens as a western, with Winslet's dressmaker Tilly Dunnage arriving in lonely Dungatar, a Pale Rider sheriff here to clean up this godforsaken town, armed only with a Singer sewing machine. From here, it mutates into a small-town social...Read more
Karen Schwaller: The right way to sewAmes Tribune, November 20th
I recently came across a snippet from a Singer sewing manual from 1949. What a relief to find out there are things I can do to help myself make that time more enjoyable. It began by saying, “Prepare yourself mentally for sewing. Think about what you...Read more
1951 Singer sewing machine instrumental in The DressmakerInquirer.net, November 4th
Tilly arrives to her hometown alone and armed with a luggage and a Singer sewing machine, she begins to make space for her belongings and reconcile with her mother, ultimately, stitching the events from the townsfolk responsible on accusing her of...Read more
The Dressmaker: Why a film about a seamstress is so revolutionarySydney Morning Herald, November 1st
From the opening, as Tilly Dunnage (Kate Winslet) arrives back in her dusty hometown of Dungatar brandishing her Singer sewing machine like a lethal weapon, it wears its Western influences on its immaculately tailored sleeves (indeed, Moorhouse has ...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