Thursday 1 September 2011

{insert name here} the Singer Sewing Machine

Hello Everybody,

Well, yesterday I promised that this week I would introduce you to my sewing machine, and here she is:

She's a 1933 No. 99 model Singer sewing machine that my Great Aunt gave me a couple of years back as she no longer uses it. My Mum has one just like it that I used to have a go on when I was younger. I'm afraid to admit it, but this little beauty has been left all alone in my dark (and probably slightly damp (!)) garage for at least 2 years. She comes with a little wooden cover but is heavier than she looks. From her serial number, I can tell you that she was made in Clydebank, Scotland - isn't the internet amazing? Not that that's a huge surprise, because I think that was the only place they were made in the UK!

After brushing off all the dust and cobwebs and admiring her for a good while, I had a look in the diddy little compartment on her right hand side, just under the wheel. In there I found a little green cardboard box with Singer written on it, and inside were some needles and random bits of metal. I expect these are all attachments, but I will need to investigate further.

Under the little box I was most delighted to find the original manual from 1933, in pretty good condition! I was really worried that I wouldn't know how to set her up and how to use her but the manual is beautifully illustrated and (relatively) straightforward to follow. 

At the back of the book, it tells you about all the attachments, which I believe were available to buy separately. I managed to work out what most of my metal bits and pieces are - various hemming devices, a buttonholer (or well at least I thought it was until I look at pictures on this blog, may need to do some further investigation) and a ruffler. Not sure what I'm going to ruffle, but I sure do wanna ruffle something!

She also can with a random piece of wood, which I eventually worked out was some sort of extension leaflet.

My Great Aunt has kept her in pretty good nick, as a quick polish with a a wet wipe and she was all shiny again. I love all the details, like the metal end plate.

So, after admiring her I decided I had better test her out. You should all bear in mind, that I can count the number of times I've used a sewing machine on one hand. I went to an all girls school and they banned needlework lessons when I was 12 (I went to a mixed junior school up to the age of 11 where we did a bit of hand sewing but not much else) as they thought they were sexist, so we hadn't even got past the health and safety lectures . I remember hunting in the 'rag cupboard' at school for scraps, but don't even remember turning a sewing machine on. As a result, I am completely useless. My Mum did try to teach me at some point, in all fairness, but aged 15 when asked to sit down with an antique sewing machine I was not particularly keen (to put it mildly). However, I decided it couldn't be that hard, I'm not a completely stupid person (no comments, please) so where's the harm in trying?

Armed with the ancient manual (and, thankfully, a diagram), I pulled the thread through, over and under almost endless springs, wires and eyelets. This bit is a lot easier said than done - it is very fiddly. I worked out how to move the foot thingy up and down and how to catch the thread with the bobbiny thing underneath. Good job there was already thread with the machine, because I'm not sure I have any!!! Sure, I have the odd bit for emergency repair work but no great collection (another fab excuse for a craft shopping outing methinks). So, I grabbed a scrap of old curtain lining and gave it a go. Here is a picture of my first wonky line, I figured I can only improve.

I think me and my machine need to do a bit of bonding!

So, there you have it - my first sewing machine adventure. Does anyone else own one of these machines? If so, I'd love to hear from you, if you have any advice? 

More importantly, this little girl needs a name - any suggestions? Do people name their machines? I tend to name everything, even the spiders in my house have names (yes I'm talking abut you, Eric!). What are your machines called?

Thistle Girl x


  1. That is just fabulous! I'll bet it works better than my *$&&% Janome, which tangles thread constantly!

    You might have a zipper foot in there ... a little metal foot thing to sew in zippers. You might want to google that, too. That's standard attachment for a serious sewer.

  2. What a beautiful machine! If only I had a Great Aunt to gift me something so pretty! I love using vintage crafting tools, it's nice to wonder about what might have been made with them before you owned it. Fab!