Friday, 5 June 2015

The Turn of the Singer

At the moment I'm waiting for some sewing books and fabric to arrive in the post, so while I'm in a bit of a sewing lull, I thought it'd be a nice idea to take the opportunity to look at the antique sewing machine I'm using in more detail. I wouldn't be sewing much without it, after all!

Rose, as I've been calling my machine, is a Singer 28k from 1908, and in pretty near to perfect condition, as you can see.

When I was given the Singer, my first thought was along the lines of 'oh my gosh, it's perfect, it's really old, wrap it in cotton wool, I'm going to break it'. Not so. The Singer is a beautiful machine, I can't mention this enough...but it is also very capable, well made and nigh on unbreakable.

I am a beginner, I'm right at the early stages of having a go and realising I'm doing something wrong 9 times out of 10. My machine has been wonderful. Every time I've got thread wrapped around itself, it's been easy to pull it out, sort it, then start again. If the thread tension is too tight or loose, it's one dial to turn, and it's sorted.

It only does one basic stitch, so I'm not confronted with tens of dials and too many choices (I am rubbish at making decisions, as will soon become apparent). Now, I've seen this mentioned as a draw back of having an antique or vintage machine, but seriously, everything I've made or wanted to make so far has needed one simple straight stitch, which is exactly what this machine does. For a beginner, it's perfect.

Not to mention the fact that with a handcrank machine, you regulate your own speed. When I studied textiles at school, I was given the nickname of 'speedy' by my teacher. I see a foot pedal and I jam my foot on it at top speed. Not the best idea for sewing in a nice, straight, calm line (or for the one attempt I had at trying to learn to drive, incidentally). A handcrank machine goes at the speed of your arm; I find it instantly relaxing, and so far I seem to automatically go slowly and steadily with my arm.

The funny thing is, I'm not sure how I thought I could break it. The machine is 107 years old (again, I can't mention this enough), so obviously it's built to last. It didn't get this far by being breakable. The only sign of damage on my machine is to the bobbin winding wheel, from over-use. It's worn down to an oval and will need replacing at some point, when I'm a bit more experienced with these things.

Even the decals are all still here, albeit slightly faded or chipped in some cases. But to me, the wear and ageing is what makes each machine unique. I love so many of the details on this machine, and every time I get it out of the box, I smile.

Everyone I've spoken to has said that it's much better for it to be used for what it was made to do, than to sit in the attic gathering dust. Now that it's out of the attic, it's never going back. If anyone has an old machine that they're not sure about, or has seen one somewhere and thought they might like it, I say go for it! Use it, you'll love it.

And if anyone has any questions on vintage or antique Singer sewing machines, I'll do my best to answer, or to offer a link to a video or blog who has answered the query. I'm only a beginner, after all. :)