When I was small, my dad used to disappear up into the room in the roof of our suburban Silhillian home to use this sewing machine.
I’ve no idea where it came from, but one of my earliest memories is my dad making me a royal blue zip fronted tunic, which I wore on my first day at Greswold Infants School (even if I did hanker after a pleated skirt with shoulder straps like all the other girls had).
It also produced clothes for my Sindy doll – an orange satin evening gown with lace bodice trim was a particular favourite – and, less of a favourite (sorry mum!), a somewhat gaudy pair of dungarees for me. And, once my dad had taught a young me how to use the treadle, to thread up the machine and to wind fresh cotton onto the bobbins, I made a whole array of clothes – a black and white polka dot shift dress I wore one Sixth Form summer channelling Audrey Hepburn, two ball gowns for my first couple of years at St Andrews.
When dad moved to Herefordshire, the sewing machine moved in with me.
I’ve never known much about it, and as I am at long last contemplating passing it on to a new owner I thought I’d see what I could find out.
With Singer Manufacturing Company Ltd painted onto the top, emblazoned on a shield sporting shuttle and needles, and twice on the treadle base, it was clearly a Singer sewing machine, each of which has a unique serial number. My machine is F509343.
Googling Singer sewing machine series F led me to two excellent websites:
Here’s what I learned about F509343.
It’s a Singer 28K sewing machine, manufactured by the Singer Manufacturing Company Ltd at their Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland between January and June 1910, which makes it An Antique! Albeit one in a batch of 130,000.
The sewing machine is beautifully decorated with the “Victorian” (rectangular bed) decal. The faceplate is embossed with the “grapevine” pattern with two corner dots. The stitch plate is circular, nickel or chrome plated (I can’t tell which), covering the feed dogs with 2 split slide plates that run from front to back of the machine to cover the vibrating shuttle mechanism.
The sewing machine cabinet has an extension leaf table work surface, suspended drawers on either side and a small drawer in the middle for storing cotton reels, patterns, scissors, etc and my three spare bobbins, plus a cover – making it Extension Leaf Table Cabinet No. 126. Although now painted white, the woodwork is usually oak.
The sewing machine stands on an ornate cast iron base housing the treadle and flywheel that power the needle.
It’s really a piece of furniture in its own right, measuring:
- 100cm high, from the top of the cabinet cover to the floor
- 90cm wide, from the folded edge of the extension leaf on the left to the edge of the table by the wheel on the right
- 48cm deep, from one side of the front castor wheels to the other side of the rear ones.
Except that the Scots men and women who made my sewing machine would have been measuring in feet and inches, so let me try that again:
- 40 inches high
- 35 ½ inches wide
- 19 inches deep.
It’s a gorgeous piece of machinery.
Email me if you want it.
You’ll just need to collect it from the City of London.
I’ll even throw in a lesson on the basics.