Monday, 25 March 2013

The Singer Dating Game - I'm Hopeless At It!

It's easy enough to do, the link to the Singer Sewing Machine database is HERE
It used to include the place of manufacture as well, but they seem to have streamlined it.There are other sites which still have the older database from Singer, and will tell you the model number of your machine and where it was manufactured - ismacs.

You'll find the serial number on a small rectangle plate at the base of the throat of the machine, directly beneath the oval brass Singer badge.

I'm hopeless because I've dated my Singers several times over the years, and I end up forgetting where I've written it down, or I've just assumed I would remember each date - wrong! I now have the list in the drawer of one of the Treadles, and I can look back here, if I've forgotten again lol.

Here's some pics of my sewing machines, just the big Singers. I have a couple of others but I'll leave them for another time.  Each one has a story....

Dated 1930

This was my first....
It must be well over 10 years since I acquired this. The treadles come and go in popularity, according to trends and fashion, but at that stage they were in every country and craft magazine you picked up.
My Nan had one, and I fondly remember having a sew on it, so the love affair began.

This one was found by my Husband's Boss's lovely Wife, who knew I was after one. She spotted it at a garage sale for $200 and quickly rang my Husband's mobile to let me know. The next day we were able to pick it up. Thank you Desley, I always tell this story to those who admire it.
It needed a little work. I've never stripped a Singer (put one together from different bits perhaps, but never stripped the finish). I think that's sacrilegious!  The worn marks on the timber and decals remind me of the countless clothes sewn on it by treadle or hand power, 80 years ago. If only they could speak!

We sought advice and found Restor-A-Finish for the Timber. I still rave about that stuff today, having restored my 2nd treadle with it as well.
We resprayed the base as it was very rusty, and I spent hours cleaning off the grime on the machine with not much else than water, a little sunlight soap and eventually my Enjo cloth. The decal on this one is called Lotus, and it's probably one of the most common designs, this side of the world. If you're wondering, I do have a belt for this one, but took it off when my children were smaller so we didn't get mangled fingers.

Dated 1914

This one was my 3rd, (the 2nd wasn't a Singer but another story).
Luckily I started collecting them before they became terribly popular and expensive.
We found it up at the Salvos at Red Hill (the main Depo). It was sitting out the front, with it's lid on. I opened it up and it was very worn and old and clunky, but it was a handcrank! They had $50 on it but I said nope and walked away. I had just started collecting, had just found another a week before (the no 2),  and couldn't really justify spending more money on machines so soon after the last!

We got into the car, drove up the road, and it was DH who said, "$50 it was probably worth it!"
What he really meant was - you are going to change your mind when we get home and I'm going to have to drive all the way back here, then it will be gone, and then I'll have to deal with THAT fallout - stop nodding everyone, I knew he was right so....

I went back and bought her, and I love her now. She has the "Victorian" decal and when I looked up the serial number, she was quite old. She also has, scratched across the base plate, the owner's full name. So Gladys your machine is safe with me, and she will be 100 years old next year.

Dated 1936

Years later I found this one on Ebay. I knew never to look at machines on Ebay outside of Brisbane, as these things weigh a ton, and the postage would cost way more than the machine is worth.
But this one was just too cute, it's 3/4 the size of a standard machine and it's classed as a portable (still weighs a ton). It was used for girls' sewing classes in schools. Just like we had our little Elna Lotus in Home Ec, this model was theirs in the 1930's...and electric too!

Well it must have been a slow night because I won the bid, around $40 I think, YAY! And it was in Melbourne -  not so YAY!
No I wasn't that dumb and impulsive, I had organised a little plan beforehand to get it up here, if I'd won, and it ended up costing me next to nothing to have it shipped. See the hole on the right side of the base? That's the hole for the knee lever which came with it. I was lucky, often they're missing. It was a forerunner to the foot pedal, you would operate the machine with your knee, via the curved metal lever.

Dated 1907

This is by far my favourite. 
You can read all about her restoration at these posts -
Singer Treadle Project

Treadle Progress

Treadle is finished

Briefly she came like this....

The machine inside, is a beautiful 1907 Singer with Tiffany/Gingerbread decals 
(I could bore you all with the model numbers of the machines, but I'm a visual girl not a technical one).

The gold and mother-of pearl colour is still prevalent in the design. Often the colour is cleaned out by well meaning owners and all you're left with is silver!
I had a spare Treadle table at home, minus the machine, it has a very ordinary budget base, but I knew I could use it to display this beautiful machine in my craft room. She is the eldest coming up to 106 years old and still runs as freely as the day she was made.

Thanks for visiting - Jen.
You may also like
The White Dresser Project


  1. Wow Jen, My nan had one of these as well with the old flip table top to conceal the machine... incredible (such beautiful old looking machines they are) ...

  2. They are lovely aren't they, but no more treadles for me, no more room! I'm only allowed toy machines now :-)

  3. A wonderful post, Jen. The machines look wonderful after your hard work. I have my mum's Singer which she bought when she left the army in 1945. There is one problem...I don't seem to have the key to unlock the wooden the machine has not seen the light of day for 35 years or so :-(

  4. Oh Maria that is a tragedy! We'll have to get it open for you, I'll talk to you more on FB :-)

  5. Such an amazing collection you have, beautiful.

  6. Thanks Simmone, they are part of the family now - Jen.


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.