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June 2017

Antique Sewing Machine – Singer 30K

antique sewing machineAre you lucky enough to own an antique sewing machine? Is it the Singer 30K? Lucky, lucky you…

Before we explore this iconic model, let’s take a look at the man who gave it his name – Isaac Merritt Singer (pictured left).

Born in 1811 in New York, Singer was an inventor, actor and businessman. (And a colourful character by all account as he is thought to have fathered at least 24 children with various wives and mistresses).

Singer is best known for making important improvements to the design of sewing machines and he founded the Singer Sewing Machine Company. His machines were popular because they were practical, suitable for home use and could be paid for in instalments.

Singer expanded into Europe, setting up a factory in Clydebank, Scotland in the 1880s which was controlled by the parent company. Singer became one of the first American-based multinational corporations. By 1885, Singer’s Kilbowie Factory was the largest one in the world. It could manufacture 8,000 sewing machines a week, employed 3,500 people and its machines were sent around the world.

singer 30k sewing machine

The factory was bombed and extensively damaged during the Clydebank blitz in 1941. The factory eventually closed in 1980.

The Singer 30K model is a chain stitch miniature sewing machine which was introduced in 1912, with the company commissioning 5,000 machines from the Kilbowie factory. Another 10,500 were commissioned between January and June 1913, but production then stopped. The antique sewing machine 30k has 75 component parts, all specifically designed for this model. It weighs about 5kg with its cast iron base and is 12 inches long. It takes the same needle as the Singer 24.

The machine is well engineered and solidly built, and it’s also bigger than the other miniature Singer model 20. The basic Singer 30K had a base that could be screwed or clamped to a table. For extra money, people could add an ornamental base to make the machine portable. These are very rare.

There is speculation that the Singer 30K was produced to temporarily fill a gap in production at Singer’s huge Clydebank factory. Singer already produced a chain stitch machine (the 24) so it seems peculiar that they chose to do another one.

singer 30k sewing machine

The factory switched to arms production during the First World War, so this too might have contributed to the cessation in production. Nowadays, the machines are rare – a real example of an antique sewing machine collector’s item

Antique Sewing Machines – the Singer 48K


singer 48k sewing machine

When it comes to antique sewing machines, a well-known example if the Singer 48K machine.

The 48k machine was only made at Singer’s Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland between the years 1900 and 1913. According to the company records, at least half a million machines were made, and at the time were priced at £4 12s 6d – roughly £460 in today’s money. It was Singer’s cheapest selling family sewing machine.

The 48K is a transverse shuttle model – the shuttle moves from left to right. Its other features include

  • A hybrid shuttle
  • A self-setting standard 15×1 needle and not the old round shanked, 12×1
  • An upper tension control sited right of the faceplate
  • A shuttle eject mechanism
  • Black hand wheels – this is probably because some countries taxed machinery import with plated parts, as they were thought of as luxury items.

Attractive Antique Sewing Machines

It is a very pretty-looking machine. Singer only decorated the 48K machines with the Ottoman Carnation ornamentation and the Ottoman Carnation with Indian Star decals. Why? The idea is that India was an emerging market at the start of the 20th Century, and the use of the Indian Star sticker was a deliberate attempt to stimulate the market.

What makes the Singer 48K something of a mystery when it comes to antique sewing machines is that it used technology which was outdated at the time. Other Singer models were better machines, and far more up to date. Why produce something like this?

singer 48k sewing machine

The theory goes that the machine was designed to compete with German-made, high-arm (the high arm allows free movement of the material) machines that had dominated the British market for many years.

Designed for Export?

Another theory is that it was intended for export to developing countries, but the majority of advertising materials (and there aren’t that many) relate to Singer 48K machines being sold in the UK. There are also adverts for it in New York and Russia, though!

Nowadays, the Singer 48K is a rare thing, which perhaps gives credence to the idea that 500,000 machines were not made. Some experts on antique sewing machines have disputed this number, claiming that a sewing machine that only shows up every six months on eBay is very rare. The primary production period seems to be 1902-05.

singer 48k sewing machine

It is thought that production of the machine might have stopped for various reasons. Number one that it just wasn’t that great a sewing machine. Another reason might be the start of the First World War and the drop in imports of German goods. There was no longer a need for a machine that competed with the German high-arm sewing machine.

Whatever – the machine is something of a mystery, and that makes it very exciting indeed!

Sewing4Everyone sells refurbished and antique sewing machines. Check out our range to find out more.




Antique Sewing Machines – the Bonita

More commonly known under the name Moldacot, the Bonita sewing machine slots neatly into the antique sewing machines category.

Have you heard of it? Probably not, unless you’re a super sewing machine geek (and there’s nothing wrong with those fine folks, we answer to the name of sewing machine geek with pride).

Sometimes described as a “mechanical marvel”, the Moldacot was patented in December 1885. The company was formed by Albert Moll and John Cottam in London – can you see where the name comes from? – and the machine (a small pocket sewing machine) was introduced in July 1886.

Antique Sewing Machines – Sales

The company did not make it themselves, but subcontracted instead to manufacturers in Birmingham, Manchester and Germany. The company also sold its product in the colonial countries – Australia and New Zealand.

The UK version was, at the time of production, the smallest sewing machine designed specifically for making tacking adjustments during fittings. How did it work? As you can see from the picture, the machine has a clamp which secured it to a table. Then, the needle bar pushes down and there is a spring return.

Some 60,000 machines were produced in total altogether (although the company had made rather more ambitious projections what they could sell), and even these did not sell well. The company lost £50,000 in two years – a small fortune in those days.

Failed to Sell

Why were the sales so bad? Unfortunately, the machine design hadn’t been fully developed, and it just didn’t work well. Luckily for its creators, Moll and Cottam, when it initially came out, the machine received favourable reviews. The two men sold their interests in the company not long afterwards so they could pursue other business interests. It soon became clear that the machine was…er, c**p and it failed to sell in the expected numbers.

The company eventually became the United Sewing Machine Co., but it went into liquidation not long afterwards.

Where does the ‘Bonita’ name come from? Some of the machines were renamed Bonita (beautiful) in what sounds like a shrewd re-branding exercise. Nothing like changing a name to pretend something is new and improved, huh?

IMG_4565A Collector’s Dream

As with many rare things, the scarcity of the machine makes it much sought after nowadays. Collectors love it – and not just people who like to add a sewing machine or two to their homes. If you’re into Victoriana or you’re an engineering enthusiast, you probably covet the Moldacot too.

There are lots of stories and legends surrounding the Moldacot, its production and the company behind it, helping to add to the antique sewing machines mythology.

Sewing4Everyone stocks a wide range of used and refurbished sewing machines. Check our shop to find your perfectly priced used model.



Heavy Duty Sewing Machine – Corset Making

heavy duty sewing machineAre you interested in making your own corsets – you might need a heavy duty sewing machine, depending on the material.

Corset wearing and making is something that has exploded in popularity. It’s partly thanks to the likes of the Kardashians, who have been pictured wearing them. (We wouldn’t recommend wearing one during a workout, however!) There’s also been a trend in certain figures – the super-curvy hourglass with an exaggerated hip to waist ratio, which most women don’t have.

Corsets can just look lovely for occasional wear, though. If you make your own, you get to create a customised product that will fit your dimensions. When you wear a corset, a made-to-measure version will be the most comfortable. And believe us, you want your corset to be comfortable…

Leather corsets can give you that cool steampunk look. You will definitely need a heavy duty sewing machine if you are going to work with leather, though.

Here are some tips for making your own corsets:

  • Use a basic pattern if you haven’t made one before, as corsets are complicated. A good design should be adjustable so you can fit it to your own measurements
  • Be honest when you are taking your measurements! We know this sounds silly, but precise measurements will give you the best results for your corset. A great pattern will suggest multiple places to measure. Good designs also allow about two inches at the back for lacing it up.
  • Corset Coutil is intended specifically for corsets. You need a sturdy fabric as corsets undergo a lot of tension. Leather is sometimes used too. Brocade is nice too, especially if your corset is going to be on show.
  • An underbust corset offers more comfort and is easier to make than an over bust corset.
  • Spiral steel flats are the best choice for the corset boning. If you plan to use your corset for waist training (i.e. reducing the size of your waist over a period of time), your corset needs to have about 16 bones.
  • You can use craft glue to tip the bones, so there are no rough edges.
  • You will need about five metres of lace for your corset. Cable cord is a good choice because the lacing needs to be sturdy.

There is lots of information about making your own corsets online. Check out these guides (WikiHow, Instructables) if you’d like to make your own. It’s a fun project to do, and you might find your skills in high demand if you can master the art!

Sewing4Everyone sells pre-used and refurbished sewing machines, including the heavy duty sewing machine. See our semi-industrial sewing machines here.

Celebrity Sewing Fans

pre-owned sewing machineHave you bought a pre-owned sewing machine and are poised to enter hobby world? You’re in good company.

Possibly the UK’s most famous DIY-er is Kirsty Allsopp, who has spent the last few years encouraging all of us to learn how to sew, knit and make our own furniture for our homes, but she’s not the only one with a passion for the home-made.

Another famous sewing fan is the American actress, Katherine Heigl. According to her official website, sewing is her new passion thanks to the photo-sharing site, Pinterest. Katherine’s mother sewed, but it hadn’t seemed like a cool hobby at the time.

However, when Katherine and her sister started following Pinterest accounts, this sparked the interest. Katherine decided to make baby clothes for her two daughters, and her mum bought her a sewing machine. She describes her hobby as “therapeutic”.

(We like to think it might have been a pre-owned sewing machine!)

Here are some others who can’t resist the call of the needle and thread…

Dannii Minogue’s famous older sister sometimes passed on her clothes. Dannii wanted to personalise them, so used her sewing skills to do so. Sweet, and environmentally friendly at the same time!

Julia Roberts took up sewing as a hobby to give her a ‘thinking’ hobby as she got older. Apparently, she’s a dab hand at cushions.

There’s a terrific picture of the actor Paul Newman sitting on a bed hand-sewing what looks like a jacket. Added cool comes from the Siamese cat stood next to him, who may or may not be criticising his skills.

While on the European leg of her ‘Femme Fatale’ tour, the singer Brittany Spears posted a picture on Twitter of her getting sewing lessons in Sweden from the wardrobe team. Handy, really. Especially when you are the mother of sons. Boys have a tendency to rip and destroy clothing, don’t they?

[Incidentally, if you have just bought yourself a pre-owned sewing machine, you might want to follow Brittany’s example and get some lessons before your start.]

Eva Longoria makes her own kid’s Hallowe’en costumes, which is kind of cool when you think how much easier it would be for her to buy something.

Betsy_Ross_sewingWe’ll finish with Betsy Ross, the woman linked with the American flag. The story is likely a myth, but it goes that Betsy, a seamstress living in the 18th Century, made the flag in 1776. She was visited by George Washington and asked to make up a flag for the new nation. Washington and the Continental Congress had come up with a design, but Betsy amended it so the cloth could be folded and cut out with a single snip.

Would you like a pre-owned sewing machine, perfect for starting your sewing hobby or even a business? Contact us on (01782) 943667 to discuss your needs.


Vintage Sewing Machine: Sewing Terminology


Have you just bought yourself a vintage sewing machine? Good job! Now the start of a fantastic hobby can begin – the art of sewing.

First of all, like any other hobby or interest, sewing has its own language and learning what everything means will help you make the most of your vintage sewing machine.

Let’s get started…

FABRIC GRAIN – this refers for the way the fibre pieces weave or knit together to create the fabric. If you look closely at a piece of material, you will see this. (Leather and fleece don’t have a grain because they aren’t woven together.)

‘RIGHT’/’WRONG’ SIDES OF FABRIC – most materials will have sides that are meant to be seen and not meant to be seen. Usually, this is easy to tell. The ‘right’ side will be more vibrant and colourful, especially if it is a print.

PLACE ‘RIGHT’ SIDES TOGETHER – this is an instruction you will often see in patterns. It means that you put the sides of the fabric you want to be seen and sew together.

SELVEDGE – this means the self-finished edge of the fabric. A selvedge keeps the fabric from fraying or unravelling.

STITCHES AND SEAMS – a stitch is a loop of thread created by a needle pulling it through the fabric. A seam is a line of stitches that either holds two pieces of fabric together, or it can be used as a decorative line of stitches.

BACKSTITCH – this is when you sew backwards over your stitches and it stops the ends of your thread from unravelling. If you backstitch too much, you will create an untidy lump of thread so it’s best to do it a little at a time.

BASTING STITCH – a set of long stitches that is usually employed to hold something together temporarily. You might use it to keep together two pieces of material while you sew those two to something else. You can baste stitch by hand, or use your vintage sewing machine to do so, setting the machine to its longest stitch.

TOPSTITCH – this is when you sew along the top, or ‘right’ side of your fabric. It helps to give a more professional look, and it is usually runs parallel to a seam or the edge of the material.

SEAM ALLOWANCE – this is the distance between the edge of the fabric and the line that has been sewn. Pattern creators always include a seam allowance so that your finished item matches the intended measurements.

HEM – the edge of the fabric, which is folded under and sewn to hide the material’s raw edge, and stop it unravelling.

INTERFACING – material attached to the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric to help strengthen or stiffen the material. This is sometimes done around armholes or necklines.

Sewing4Everyone sells vintage sewing machines, refurbished sewing machines and heavy-duty machines for domestic and commercial use. Our machines are high-quality, premium items, and we know you’ll love the model you buy! Check out our range here.


Learning to Use Your Pre-Owned Sewing Machine

File:Young Woman Learning to Sew 1936.gifHave you just bought yourself a pre-owned sewing machine? Congratulations – welcome to the wonderful world of sewing.

The chances are that you might not have been taught sewing. There are classes that will teach you the basics and beyond, but if time, money and opportunity is limited, then there is always YouTube! Ah, what we would do without YouTube?! For skills such as sewing, visual learning is often easier than following written instructions.

Sewing4Everyone has its own favourites on YouTube. Here’s our roundup of who they are and where you can find them…

YouTube Examples

Let’s start at the very beginning… As you might expect, Good Housekeeping’s channel features a lot of sewing videos, and there’s a great 25-minute film called, Learn How To Sew, Easy Sewing Class For Beginners. Gretchen Hirsch promises to make you feel confident and comfortable at the wheel.

Threads offers garment sewing instructions and in-depth information tailored to suit the beginner and the advanced sewer. There are insider secrets, designer techniques for adapting your patterns to suit your body, fitting, tailoring and more. For the most part, the videos are fairly short – for the most part under five minutes.

How to Use a Sewing Machine + Sewing Tips is another great place to start if you’ve just bought your pre-owned sewing machine by Crafty Amy is a super easy to watch and follow video. Sit in front of your machine and listen along. This covers a lot of the basics.

There are lots of different options on Sewing TV (and it’s British too), so you should find something to help. The videos are well-produced, concise and waffle-free. Start with the Sewing for Beginners Basic Techniques Part 1. There are guides to pattern cutting, how to work with Lycra, and sewing jeans and tee shirts.

Desperate to create something easy, that will also give you a sense of achievement? Try Anita by Design’s Circle Skirt. You can make yourself a beautiful skirt – or a few of them. Why not? Anita’s instructions make them easy to create. You might run up one for every season of the year! In the first lesson, Anita teaches you to take your waist measurement, read the pattern envelope, buy the fabric and pre-treat it. Subsequent lessons teach you everything else.

Pre-owned Sewing Machine Tips:

  • Familiarise yourself with the terminology. It’s a lot easier to follow a video if you know what they are talking about.
  • Watch the video a couple of times so you can take in the instructions properly.
  • Keep a notepad handy, so you can jot things down.

Sewing4Everyone sells pre-owned sewing machines, as well as vintage models, heavy duty sewing machines and more. Check out our range to get started on your sewing journey.


Why More and More People Want to Sew

vintage sewing machine

Craft fairs are more popular than ever.

Thinking about buying a vintage sewing machine? Why? Our shops are full of clothes, but more people than ever are choosing to sew at home.

Once upon a time, sewing was a skill that most girls were taught. Certainly, young women would be expected to sew in the home – from creating their own clothes and outfits for their family on a vintage sewing machine handed down from their mothers to making cushion covers, curtains and carrying out small mending jobs.

Then, there was an about-turn in the 70s and 80s, as sewing was regarded with suspicion because it seemed too gender-specific. Modern women didn’t want to learn to sew. They wanted to learn what men were being taught, or skills that seemed less ‘feminine’. Groups that had favoured and fostered traditional skills such as sewing and knitting (the Women’s Institute, for example) were thought of as the preserve of older women.

A New Hobby and A Vintage Sewing Machine

A cultural shift took place in the noughties. Sewing and knitting were ‘sexed’ up. Debbie Stoller’s Stich and B***h reinvented knitting for another generation, turning it into a fresh, new hobby. The Women’s Institute started to attract younger members, who wanted to make their own stuff.

Numerous celebrities were pictured knitting as they waited between takes while filming (knitting, unlike smoking, is a good thing to do with your hands), and shows such as Kirstie Allsopp’s Homemade Home came on the scene. Home-made was officially cool once more.

Other aspects that play into people’s desire to sew are sustainability and provenance. Yes, our shops are full of clothes, but where do they come from and who are they made by? Made in China and transported here? Modern consumers have more knowledge than ever at their fingertips. The new sewers know that if they can use a vintage sewing machine and create their own clothing, they will do far less damage to faraway communities and the environment.

Craft Fairs

If ever there was proof of the popularity of sewing and crafts in general, look at the number of fairs and events that take place across the UK every year. From cross-stitch to quilt-making, there are any number of shows taking place. In the next few months, for example, you can visit the Abingdon Vintage and Antiques Fair, the Sew and Beads Quilt and Craft Fair in West Sussex or the Handmaiden Craft Fair in Essex.

Social media has played its part too. Sites such as Instagram and Pinterest are ideal places to showcase your home-made clothes and terrific skills. It’s terrifically satisfying to put up a picture of something you have sewn yourself and receive numerous ‘likes’, pins or comments expressing admiration. There’s nothing like a little external validation to cheer us up.

We think even more people will choose sewing at home as a hobby in the future. The home-made trend isn’t going to go away.

We specialise in the sales of pre-owned, heavy-duty and vintage sewing machines for domestic and industrial use. Contact us on (01782) 943667 to discuss your requirements.



The Advantages of Creating Your Own Clothes

refurbished sewing machine

Have you jumped on the sewing bandwagon, or are you the happy new owner of a refurbished sewing machine, and keen to start to start your sewing journey?

There are lots of reasons why making your own clothes offer advantages…

Ethically sound. Sure, pre-made clothing is cheap, but cheap clothing has its own price. While clothing has decreased in price, the human and environmental costs have soared. People making cheap fashions often work in horrible conditions and for poverty wages, while the environment is affected because cheap clothing uses more resources and toxic chemicals.

Personalised. Even if you use patterns, the materials you choose for your outfit will be different. You’ll be wearing something no-one else has. The seams, buttons, zips and stitching will be uniquely yours. If you have an eye for great material, you’ll create eye-catching outfits people will envy.

Old school, vintage sewing machines. There is something hugely satisfying about the old-fashioned nature of making your own clothes. Double that effect by running up garments on a refurbished sewing machine.

old scissors various threads and sewing tools on wooden table

It’s a terrific hobby. Creating your own clothes can take up as much or as little time as you can afford. You might embark on this hobby and discover you LOVE it. Sewing something takes in many different elements. First, you must plan it either creating your own sewing pattern or buying one. Then, there are the materials to be chosen and bought. You’ll learn to lay out and cut, tack and sew, using different stitches to suit.

Find new friends. You’ll discover that lots of people share your hobby, and they all love getting together to swap skills and learn from each other. From craft fairs to weekly meet-ups, sewing events are now widespread. Want to find a group near you? Check out the sewing directory.

It’s something to do with your kids. As we mentioned above, sewing involves lots of different skills. Simple projects for kids, though, could include taking up trousers and skirts or making pillow cases or cushion covers. Remember, sewing isn’t gender specific. Little boys will enjoy it just as much as little girls. And it doesn’t need to be an expensive hobby. Buy one of our refurbished machines, and you’ll be getting a great piece of kit for minimal expense.

Satisfaction. We reckon this is a number one reason why so many people love making their own clothes. A home-made skirt, pair of trousers or dress feels much more precious than anything you can buy.

Sewing4Everyone specialises in used and vintage sewing machines (including the refurbished sewing machine option) for home and commercial use – quality equipment at cost-effective prices. Check out our range and start your own home-made clothes sewing journey today.

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