Sunday, 11 March 2018

New sewing machine!

Well, new to me.

I’m just back from my annual trip to Somerset. Sadly the atrocious weather last weekend meant that I only managed to get down there in time to see the final show of the Majma dance festival, but I’ve still had a fun week, and made an exciting purchase.

Driving from the M5 to Glastonbury I passed several signs for an antiques fair at Shepton Mallet, taking place this weekend. Vintage Gal has posted about some of her fabulous finds at these fairs, so I was thrilled to discover that I could actually go to one.

There were only a few textile-related stalls, but I did still manage to find a couple of 1970s Style patterns, some vintage metal lace and two lots of hat veiling, and some lovely sparkly buttons.

Not exactly a wasted trip, then!

And then just as I was about to leave, on one of the outdoor stalls, looking a bit sorry for itself and getting damp in the rain, I found this.

Ooh!

It was the case which caught my attention; I saw vintage film footage of these being moulded at last year's Plywood exhibition at the V&A. When I opened the case I found that the machine already had both a needle and a bobbin in place, so to the bemusement of the seller I threaded it up with a spare bobbin, and tried sewing round the edge of my handkerchief! It worked, I’ve wanted a hand-cranked machine for a while, and it clearly needed someone to rescue it from damp and neglect. . .

More ooh!

It’s quite worn in places and is clearly older than my mum’s 1953 Singer: it is plainer, and the section for the bobbins etc. has a wooden lid instead of a metal one. I guessed at 1930s because I assumed that not many were made in the 1940s - I think that the Clydebank Singer factory went over to war work. Armed with the serial number, I went online to investigate, and found this helpful site.

The all-important (and wonkily stamped) serial number

I was, quite simply, stunned. My 'new' machine was made in 1917! No wonder it looks a bit worse for wear. And it’s still in working order (although to be fair there’s not a lot to go wrong). Clearly Singer had never heard of the concept of built-in obsolescence.

Essentially it’s the same model as the 1953 version; which is useful as this one doesn’t have an instruction booklet.

Mum's (now my) machine in its case

There does seem to be a wealth of information about 99K Singers online though, so I can give it a thorough clean and tidy up. And then, of course, I want to make something with it.

Although the 99K was designed to be 'portable', this really just means 'not attached to a treadle mechanism'. One thing it is not, is light. Casually swinging the case while strolling along, à la Kate Winslet in The Dressmaker, is not going to happen!

Erm, no (image © Universal)

While writing this post I realised that I now own four sewing machines. Some people might regard this as excessive. I am not one of these people. I am just unreasonably excited!

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the memory my Mum had a 1953 Singer with the green case I learnt how to sew on this one I think the tricky bits were mush easier with a hand machine

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    1. You're welcome Jean. I learned to sew on Mum's Singer as well. It had been converted to electric, but that was far too fast for me at first. Initially I used the machine with a clothes peg clamped onto the wheel as a 'handle'!

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  2. Oh no, I only realised the antiques fair was on midway through Sunday. It would've been lovely to see you. Well done for rescuing that beautiful Singer, what a find! I used to have one, which was probably from the 1930s, and one in its original table, but had to sell them when I was really broke. I will definitely replace the hand crank one at some point as its such a lovely thing to own. Enjoy yours! xx

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    1. Thank you Cate. I'm really looking forward to making up one of my older patterns as it would have been done! xx

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  3. Looking forward to hearing/reading the next instalment! And I'm so glad you mentioned the ease with which Kate Winslett saunters into town carrying a great piece of cast iron in a plywood box in one hand and a very full suitcase in the other. Oh - and a handbag.

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    1. Thank you Kate. I certainly didn't carry this machine from the stall to the car park with anything like the same élan!

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  4. Pretty sure that in that movie the sewing machine was not really in the case, just a prop cos I used to have an electric one and it was definitely a two hand job to pick up and carry!

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    1. Quite. If that was a real machine then Kate Winslet must have muscles like Popeye!

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