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sewing machines

Singer 15K – The Longest Manufactured Machine

singer 15k sewing machine

singer 15k sewing machine

Love vintage sewing machines? The Singer 15K is an exceptional example of a second-hand sewing machine that’s super-durable and as veritable workhorse of a machine!

The Singer 15K was made for the longest part of Singer’s history, and it’s still made in some parts of India and China today. What made it so special?

According to Singer Sewing Info, the company first started production of an oscillating shuttle, high-arm improved sewing machine in 1879. It was for domestic and light industrial tasks and was mainly fitted with treadle tables or cabinets, though some were supplied as hand crank machines. A few of the earlier models had a fiddle-shaped base.

In 1895, the company mechanically altered the machine and its appearance changed – voila, the Singer 15K, which became the most successful sewing machine design ever. It remained in production for more than 100 years. The original models were the common treadle or cabinet versions, or hand crank. Later Singer 15Ks were either electric or hand crank.

The tension assembly was built into the faceplate above the presser, instead of at the front of the machine, making them distinctive. They also heralded a new needle design which was flat on one side, and this became the standard needle that most future Singer machines (and other makes) used.

Another feature was that the new Singer 15K machines were faster and quieter than the models that had gone before. But their power shouldn’t be underestimated. In this YouTube video, the sewing enthusiast and expert Alex Askaroff shows how the machine can sew through a tin can.

The Singer 15K also included a walking foot attachment, which made it ideal for tough to sew materials. There was a separate removable bobbin case to house flat-sided bobbins, which could also be adjusted to lower thread tension.

In the 1930s, Singer 15K machines built at the factory in Clydebank were usually finished with RAF decals (stickers), designed by a William Hopper of Dumbarton who worked there. The design was a bird with its wings out full-span within a diamond pattern, which was placed on the base of the machine. RAF decals were also used in its corners.

If you’d like a fully functional Singer 15K sewing machine, why not check out what we offer here at Sewing4Everyone? Our fully refurbished models can sew fine to extra-heavy materials, and the machines will give you years of steady service.

 

 

Singer 201K – An Iconic Machine

Do you love vintage sewing machines – the Singer 201K is one of those iconic models that sewing enthusiasts rave about.

The 201 series comprised of full-size sewing machines mainly made in the USA and UK. They were first introduced in the 1930s and production continued until 1961. Experts often view the Singer 201K as the finest domestic sewing machine ever made, and the models that exist today still work perfectly well – sewing and hemming in the same way they did all those years ago.

The 201 was the most expensive model – according to singersewinginfo.co.uk, the electric model cost £28-11s-6d in 1947. In 1950, for example, the average salary in the UK was just over £100, so the sewing machine cost most than your average worker would earn in three months.

However, Singer was famous for something other than sewing machines, and that was hire purchase. Tailors or seamstresses could buy the machine and pay for it over some years while they made their living from the sewing they did.

The Singer 201K would have been used as a hand machine or treadle for domestic work, but professionals could use it with a motor attached so that the machine could produce more than 1,100 stitches per minute.

Singer produced lots of attachments too – buttonholers, blind stitchers, zig-zag attachments. Professionals liked the large ‘harp’ space, as this made it easy to work with bulky fabrics. It was also an easy machine to use. Needle insertion and threading differed from other models. With the 201K, you had to insert the needle with the flat side facing to the left and then threaded from right to left.

Some of the 201 models (201D) were made in Germany, but the factory was closed at the end of the Second World War, while the 201P models were assembled in Australia from parts made in Singer’s Clydebank factory and bases and cases produced locally.

One of the fascinating facts about the 201K, as noted by sewing enthusiast Alex Askaroff, is that Singer presented the model to the then Princess Elizabeth to mark her wedding in 1947. A Pathe newsreel of the time shows the presents for the royal event, and there is a Singer 201K displayed next to the jewellery and other gifts given to the couple.

As Alex says, a smart piece of marketing on the part of the Singer, as the folks watching at the time must have thought to themselves the Singer 201K was a machine fit for a princess!

We love the Singer 201K, and if you want one for yourself, why not check out one of our fully refurbished models here?

National Sewing Month – September

refurbished sewing machineIf you’ve just bought one of our refurbished sewing machines, why not join in with National Sewing Month?

The celebration of all things needle and thread is an American initiative promoted by the Sewing & Craft Alliance in partnership with the American Sewing Guild. It began in 1982 when the then President Ronald Reagan declared September as the sewing month “in recognition of the importance of home sewing to our nation”.

The organisers say it presents the perfect opportunity to indulge a passion for sewing or introduce yourself to the craft if you’re a newbie – or the recent purchaser of one of our refurbished sewing machines! Free sewing projects and guidelines for sewing, craft and applique and embroidery articles are available on the Sewing & Craft Alliance website (www.sewing.org)

Sewing, the organisers reckon, is creative, therapeutic and calming, and its effects can be celebrated all year.

Ways to get involved include:

  • Teaching a member of your family or a friend to sew
  • Volunteering your time at a voluntary organisation to teach sewing
  • Sew more often – find a new project, start making your own clothes or do some repairs that you have been putting off
  • Sign up for some sewing classes
  • Create your own sewing group or circle – it’s much easier to learn (and fun to do) if you have company.

You can’t accuse sewing of not moving with the time, as free projects for September include a sew your own Kindle cover and a 1 in a Minion quilt.

Themes for past years have included Go Green, Sew Green, which encouraged people to use organically-grown fabrics and to re-use, re-make and restyle. Here at Sewing4Everyone, we definitely encourage reusing and refurbished sewing machines, so fabric scraps used for contrasting pockets or applique work well here, as does snipping buttons from old jackets to use on a new suit.

Sewing isn’t just fun, though. It can be a terrific way to save money. Hemming skirts and trousers, replacing buttons or zips, and repairing rips and tears are a better way to budget than buying new items (and then adding to landfill). And it’s always wonderful to create or recreate something through sewing. The results can be dramatic, and that can be with just a few hours spent on your refurbished sewing machine.

We hope you find some way to celebrate National Sewing Month!

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

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