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.
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. . .
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 not many were made in the 1940s - the Clydebank Singer factory mostly 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!