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Singer Sewing Machines


This Singer sewing machine belongs to my mother, Dorothy Kannianen. I learned to sew on another of her Singer treadle machines, and I loved it! The machine folds down into this cabinet, and the top can be used as a table.

It's hard to know who to say invented the first sewing machine. I guess it depends on what you call the definition of a sewing machine . . . but the first working machine was said to be invented by an Englishman Thomas Saint in 1790. Through the years, different patents were issued for sewing machines, but little proof that they ever existed other than on paper. Most had only one source of thread. The bobbin idea came later.

In 1850, Orson Phelps, under the license of John A. Lerow, invented and manufactured a sewing machine. Unfortunately, it was not practical.

Isaac Merritt Singer examined this machine, and realized the problems. In eleven days he came up with a better working machine. He also is credited for inventing the foot treadle idea, instead of the hand cranks that others had used up to now.

In 1853, he manufactured the first Singer sewing machines. They were made in New York and sold for $100. (Yikes, sounds like a lot for back then!)

Orson Phelps sued Isaac Singer over the patent rights. (I can see his point--those boys should have worked together somehow. Maybe come up with a Phenger or something.) Orson did win, and got quite a bit of money out of the deal.

Singer was rich, and a good marketer, and by 1860 the company quickly became the largest manufacturer of sewing machines in the world. Their company is based in La Vergne, Tennessee (near Nashville.) The first major production factory was in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1863.

This red "S" design is the popular Singer emblem that was used for their advertising for many decades.

Below is Mom's machine. I love the fancy gold design, but it looks like the Singer name wore off.

Darling little pull-out drawers in the front of the machine.

Cute little storage drawers. And nice wooden 'beadwork' along the edges for trim.

This shows the back of this machine. The rounded wooden barrel contains the machine once it's folded back into the cabinet.

These pictures show the treadle on the floor. Your feet rock the oblong treadle back and forth to turn the wheel of the machine--to sew. This rocking is a peaceful feeling, and the control you have over each stitch is superior to electric sewing machines that kind of have a mind of their own. You can also turn the wheel by hand to get the perfect stitch.

The two pictures below were taken at the Lakeside Community Living Center in New Town, North Dakota. Two similar Singer machines on display at their center.

In 1952, Singer invented the first zigzag machine.

Today I watched a sewing show on TV. The woman set her machine to outlining a design with the satin stitch. She said she can go do other things while it worked--it would beep her watch through a blue tooth signal if the thread broke or any problems. Quite a difference from the first sewing machines! I think Isaac would be pleased.

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