Ever wondered what the deal is with Singer antique sewing machines and the numbers? They refer to the patents. Isaac Singer got his first patent for a sewing machine, and that was Singer 1, and thus each new model was numbered accordingly.
The Singer 29K was originally made for industrial use and was favoured by cobblers and other sewers working with goods such as gloves and bags. The machine’s narrow arm and revolving foot could sew in any direction. It has no underneath feed, instead a foot that walks the work through the machine. The small container in the middle of the machine was for oil to lubricate the thread.
The machine can be used to stitch leather, canvas, blankets, fabrics and other material such as rubber. The recommended maximum thickness is about 3mm. Parts are easy enough to pick up too, and there are lots of films on YouTube showing you how to use the machine to best effect.
The Singer 29K was mainly manufactured in Singer’s Scottish factory in Clydebank. Singer initially set up a factory in Glasgow in the 1860s. The country was chosen as it has iron-making industries and cheap labour. The first factory was near Queen Street train station, but production soon outgrew the premises. Manufacturing was moved to Bridgeton, but again in time, the buildings didn’t meet the requirements.
In 1882, George McKenzie opened what was to become the largest Singer factory in the world at Kilbowie, Clydebank. Built above the plant’s middle wing was an iconic, huge clock tower – 200 feet tall, and with the name Singer clearly emblazoned on the front for all to see.
The completed factory covered almost a million square feet and employed some 7,000 employees, producing an average 13,000 sewing machines a week. As it was so productive, the US Singer company set up Singer Manufacturing Company Ltd as a UK-registered business. At its peak, the factory employed 16,000 people.
The factory closed in 1980, and the buildings were demolished in 1998.
The pre-1970s Singer sewing machines were built to last. They were easy to use and straightforward. The Singer 29K machine is still being used in leather workshops and cobblers all over the world – an example of just how amazing the antique sewing machines are.
Sewing4Everyone sells antique sewing machines, vintage sewing machines and refurbished models. We have a wide selection of machines available. If you’d like to discuss a machine in detail, please contact us on 01782 943667.