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1877 when the last patent ended. These sewing machine pioneers continued to improve on their ideas and designs. In 1885, Singer patented the ‘Singer Vibrating Shuttle’ which used Allen B. Wilson’s idea for a vibrating shuttle, and was a better lock stitcher than the oscillating shuttles of the time. Millions of these machines, perhaps the world’s first really


practical sewing machine


for domestic use, were produced until superseded by rotary shuttle machines in the 20th century. Sewing machines continued to be made to approximately the same design well into the 1900’s, becoming more and more lavishly decorated.


13 | ukhandmade | Autumn 2012


In 1889, the first electric machines were developed by the ‘Singer Sewing Co’ and introduced to the market.The power unit was originally attached to the outside of the machines but over time, has been absorbed into the casing. As more homes became connected to electricity, the machines gained popularity. In my own collection, I have 3 machines from the 1950’s which still have the power unit on the outside of the machine.


I feel privileged to own a 1909 Singer hand crank with a shuttle. It’s fascinating to watch the shuttle glide back and forth, and it’s a connection to the sewing machine


designers of the 1800’s who have enabled so many people around the world to create with fabric. In today’s world of computers and technology, sewing machines have kept pace. The more expensive machines have computers on board and, as well as sewing perfect stitches, look as though they could make you a cup of tea too! Underneath the modern gizmos and technology, the original designs and ideas of Singer, Howe, Wilson and Wheeler still power the machine. Without those pioneers of design, we wouldn’t have the gorgeous machines we now cherish!


SINGER® sewing machines were


first manufactured in 1851. The serial numbers on SINGER® sewing machines manufactured prior to 1900 are numbers only. After 1900, the machine serial numbers have a single or two-letter prefix. To date your vintage SINGER® sewing machine, visit: http://www.singerco.com/ support/machine-serial-numbers


Images courtesy of Bebe Bradley.


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