Thursday, 27 September 2012

Finders Keepers

A Toy Singer Sewing Machine & String Art

This isn't the prettiest little machine I own, but I think
it is my favourite. I love it because it's an authentic toy Singer Machine made in Great Britain, and it depicts the era it came from. From the 1950s (from what I can tell) it is all metal and has that beautiful retro shape like it's bigger counterparts of the time. It's a handcrank, a good indication of it's age, and still operates and sews smoothly.

I found it on Ebay a long time ago before they were terribly collectable.
They were still sort after then, but for this particular machine on that particular night, there weren't too many bidders and miraculously I won the bid!
I can't remember exactly how much I paid but I think it was around $30, then there was the postage from down South, as these little things weigh a ton. If I remember it wasn't as much as I was dreading and it still made the purchase very reasonable, or so I'd like to remember :-).

My other find which I'd forgotten about, until I went looking through some old patterns, is this book -

Remember String Art?
In the 1970's it was all the rage, and as a child I would  loooove making these. We always made them with chipboard painted black, and with nails hammered in to make the "spine" of the design, then on with the string to make the swooping curves and designs in different colours. Then up it went proudly displayed on the Lounge room wall.
I would always want to make designs, exactly like the ones I could draw on my Spirograph, but of course that was well beyond my ability.

The book is dated 1973 and is an interesting little introduction to the art form, and has a few patterns, ending with some inspiring pics like this -

But thankfully everything old is new again, and String Art is EVERYWHERE. For years I've seen card making kits with String Art, really it never went away. Art Galleries around the world have always harboured some form of string art whether it be huge sculptures of wire, or free standing almost floating works made with the finest silk filaments.

So go Google the world of String Art, there are free patterns out there, and lots of inspiration.
With the lure of fabulously smooth craftwood now instead of chipboard, and gorgeous metallic threads I'm tempted to get the hammer out, but would I really hang it on my wall now? I'm not sure, but making some cards with it is definitely on my huge list of things to do - Jen.
This is for Corey -

Hi Corey, re your message I've never tried sewing on mine, only my lovely big handcranks, but I've just given it a go.
After you go 1, 2, 3 go up and thread into the arm that goes up and down (I'm sure that's it's official name lol) then down to the needle. These machines work in chain stitch and can be very temperamental so you might have to do a bit of fiddling to get it sewing.
 Just make sure when you place the thread through the tension dial, you get it sitting between the two metal discs, which controls the tension. You may have to adjust the tension by turning the dial, to make it a little looser/tighter if your thread breaks as you sew.
My needle was sitting with the eye to the side. I'm not sure if that's the way it's supposed to be as I don't have the manual, but I loosened the screw and put the needle facing front on, as most machines are, then threaded it from front to back.
I got mine sewing, as you can see in the photo but it wasn't anchoring properly on the bottom and soon jammed up, but mine is a bit rusty underneath and probably needs some WD40 or oiling. Or maybe the needle is supposed to sit side on, it's just trial and error.
I haven't looked online but you may be able to get a copy of the instruction manual.
Good luck, hope this helps a bit and let us know how you go - Jen.


  1. What a cute Singer machine! And a fabulous find on Ebay!!! If you do some string art, I want to see it :)

  2. Hi Jen,

    I have the same small machine and i'd love to use it, however I can't seem to figure out how to thread it properly. do you think you can help me out? my email is if you could find the time.

    Thank you!

  3. Hi Jen,

    I have the same small Singer machine and I would love to use it, however I can't seem to figure out how to thread it. I followed the 1 2 and 3 and through the needle but I don't know what to do after that. If you could find the time, do you think you can help me out? My email is .

  4. Hi Corey,
    I've posted a photo for you at the end of the post. These machines sew with a chain stitch so all the anchoring gets done underneath without a bobbin thread. They are temperamental to say the least. After you go 1,2,3 you go up into the arm that goes up and down when you sew, then into the needle...more info with the photo - Jen.

  5. I have a toy sewing machine like this, my mother sewed a lot and wanted me to learn, this was the first sewing machine that she gave me, because then gave me a real sewing machine, now I have 40 years old and still keep my toy sewing machine of Singer.

    1. I'm happy that you still have it Esmeralda. I remember having an old toy one, you had to clamp it to the table, but I can't remember what it looked like. I must have been very young, my Mother sewed too :-).

  6. I love your site! this machine is no toy...My grandmother taught me to sew on this machine. How I wish I still had this. Oh childhood, I miss you.

  7. I love your site! This machine is no toy, My grandmother taught me to sew on this machine. I wish I still had this. Oh I miss you.

    1. Thanks Collette. I also remember sewing on a little metal machine, when I was a child. I remember my mother anchoring it to the table with a clamp every time. I'm pretty sure it was a little Peter Pan, but I just can't remember it clearly. If only we kept all those wonderful things! :-)


I love reading your comments, and I'm very happy to help you with any questions about my patterns. The comments are moderated only to stop spam mail coming through, so your comment will be published as soon as I get a chance to check them - thanks Jen.