August 16, 2011The Beauty of Vintage Sewing – My 1950 Singer Sewing Experience
“They don’t make ’em like they used to” – as much as I don’t like to normally bust out cliches, this one really rings true in this case. While today’s sewing machines seem to favour function over form, mid-century machines favoured both. Your sewing machine cabinet was considered another piece of decor, that you’d want to match to your furniture. This Singer ad from 1950 shows the many choices you had in cabinets to coordinate with any type of mid-century decor.
I recently had the pleasure of sewing on a 1950 Singer lock-stitch sewing machine (this one belonged to my husband’s grandmother, however I frequently see machines of this vintage at garage sales and antique stores). This one is a portable (although I think they kind of used that term loosely back in the day – this sucker is HEAVY!), so no pretty cabinet to look at, but the machine itself is gorgeous to look at on it’s own:
I personally love all of the gold detailing on the machine, as well as the metalwork which has a real filigree look to it:
Did you know that it’s really easy to determine exactly what year vintage Singers are from? The machines all have a serial number – this machine’s was on the front, right side:
From there, there are many websites that have the information on how to date your Singer via serial number. This one has both the dating information and how to tell where it was manufactured – this is how I was able to tell that this one was manufactured in 1950, in Clydebank, Scotland.
After discerning that, I was ready to take this bad boy for a spin! On the right side of the machine, there was an accessory box, which had a pile of attachments, as well as the manual, so I had no troubles getting it threaded and ready to go.
Definitely a much more compact manual than what you would find today, but these machines didn’t have as many bells and whistles, so the manual’s still got everything you need to know.
Beautiful stitching! This machine sewed as well today as it did back in 1950.
How about you, readers? Do any of you remember your mothers or grandmothers sewing on vintage machines like these, or maybe you have one of your own? Also, stay tuned for part two, where I will showcase some of the many attachments for vintage Singers, and what you can do with them.
To see what I was working on, check out the latest installment of What We’re Working On, at Sew What? Fabrics!