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Wednesday, 24 February 2016

It would have been rude not to bring the vintage Singer home


I took my older two girls out for half term haircuts last week. With time to kill before our appointment slot, we popped into a charity shop to keep warm. The place in question has a bit of a reputation amongst locals for being the bees knees of charity shops and we were not disappointed.

As I was aimlessly gazing round the shop, my daughters both let out a squeal of excitement. They had spotted a beauty of a sewing machine. I have warped/trained them well, and I don't mind admitting to you that I felt a little proud of them for their reaction. I became a lot more interested once I opened up the side compartment and discovered a box full of attachments and the original instruction manual. Excited squeals all round.


Having done a little research, I now know the machine we bought is a Singer 185K. These were made in Scotland between 1958-63. Although the version I have is a simple hand crank, it would appear these were frequently supplied with electric motors. I have yet to sit in peace and get it working (note to self - don't try and thread up a new to you sewing machine when surrounded by a gaggle of excitable small people, keen to get their hands on the crank). I will let you know in a later post how I get on with all those feet and finding out what they can do - I may save the pleasure of playing with the feet for the next time my mum comes to visit.

This machine is a lot more sophisticated than the black and gold hand crank Singer my mum bought me when I was little. That one still works like a dream - albeit very basic - and is, I think more beautiful to look at with its iconic design. They were first produced in 1911, known as the 99K, and, I think mine is a very early one, given that the only way to adjust stitch length on mine is with a screw (and later versions had scales to indicate the stitch length you are selecting).

As if to make me feel fully justified in welcoming a second vintage Singer into the house, we spent a pretty glorious afternoon making more mice clothes. After failing to get the 185K threaded up (under the pressure of a young audience, who can blame me), we reverted to the 99K and my beginner friendly electric machines. The nice thing about the hand crank is that I can take my eyes off even the youngest big girl (currently aged 6), knowing she is confident to use it, and, that she won't sew through her fingers. This was just as well, as I needed to give my attention to helping each of them in turn to try out shirring on my other machines, so they could make little dresses for their toys.

latest fashion for mice
A word of blindingly obvious advice about sewing with children - only ever agree to do it if you yourself feel in your most patient of moods!

In this house, I also need to either make sure the toddler is having a sleep, or, accept that she will need a healthy dose of cake or TV (or both) to keep her happy and out of the way. Sometimes, I get to wangle a one to one sewing session with one of them, but it usually happens in a more chaotic, three all trying to get my help at once sort of a way. They are getting better at doing things for themselves, and, learning to wait their turn. I am also learning not to have fixed ideas about what they make and how they make it. The box of scraps is an exciting sight to them - it feels nice to be able to let them have their pick of what they fancy, because this is something I remember enjoying so much when I was little. It is fascinating watching them try and create the thing that is in their head. And, tricky managing emotions when things don't work out the way they wanted. But, we get there in the end - and on this occasion, without any tears. Phew.

With half term over, my sewing time will hopefully return to finishing something pour moi. More of that next time!

6 comments:

  1. I do wonder what life these older machines had. My grandma had one and made loads of clothes for me and my 2 sisters. Glad the young ones are growing up with a mix of the new and old. Well done you K xXx

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it is funny to stop and think how many things must have been made on those old machines. I sometimes wonder that about houses - we live in a Victorian house, and I occasionally find my mind wandering and thinking about what sort of things have happened in the house and to the people who have lived here before us.

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  2. I hear you on needing to be in a good mood! My eldest always asks at the most inopportune moments! Enjoy getting to know your new machine.

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    1. Yep - a good and patient mood. Still haven't felt inclined to spend the time properly getting to know the machine! It'll happen eventually, I'm sure, and it isn't going anywhere, is it?

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  3. Oh you lucky duck... what a find! I learnt to sew on my Mum's old singer which looked rather similar but did have the oh so modern addition of a foot pedal! Sounds like a lovely time sewing with your little ones-and yes, I am picturing a sweetly productive scene with all getting along with each other and listening intently to mother's wise words...

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    1. Ha! IF ONLY they listened intently to my wise words (assuming I ever have any to say!). I can live in hope... Happy times, though.

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