Singer is, undeniably, one of the most recognisable brand names in the world. Even outside of the sewing industry, if you ask someone if they’ve heard of Singer sewing machines, they’re likely to have at least a vague knowledge of them. Their presence has permeated into pop-culture and beyond but what made them such a heritage brand, and where did it all begin?
Whether it’s the iconic design of vintage Singer sewing machine models or the timeless marketing, you’ll have surely come across Singer in some shape or form. Its legendary status for class and quality has carried down the years to make it the instantly recognisable brand it is today.
What is the Origin of Singer Sewing Machine?
First established in 1851 as I.M. Singer & Co., the company was the brainchild of American actor, singer, and entrepreneur, Isaac M. Singer, and his associate, lawyer, Edward C. Clark. Although not the inventor of the sewing machine, Singer did identify how machines could become easier to use, and more reliable, and these improvements meant that professional seamstresses, hatters, and others working in textiles could dramatically reduce the number of hours garments would take to make. As such, by 1860 Singer was the largest manufacturer of sewing machines in the world.
When Were Singer Sewing Machines Invented
Despite the company not being founded until 1851, the same year that a patent for Singer sewing machines was granted, it could be argued that the machines were first invented the year earlier. At the time, Isaac Singer was working in a small Boston machine shop where he was working on a wood cutting machine that he designed, but orders for it were not forthcoming. In the same shop, sewing machines were constructed and Singer felt they could be bettered and went on to obtain a patent for an improved sewing machine that had a circular feed wheel, thread controller, and power transmitted by gear wheels and shafting.
What is the Oldest Singer Sewing Machine?
Thanks to their sturdiness and durability, many old Singer sewing machines can still be found all over the world, but the oldest of them all remains that original patent model from 1851. This remains as part of the National Museum of American History’s collection and is still in remarkably good condition considering Singer himself would have it transported to parties to show off how easy it was to use and how efficient it could be.
Singer Sewing Machines in the UK
By 1855, Singer was marketing their machines internationally, and that year won first prize at the Paris world’s fair. Now moving into Europe, the company decided there was enough demand for their machines across the United Kingdom to open a factory in Glasgow, Scotland by 1876, and by 1884 it was open and operational. From then until 1943, the factory produced around 36 million sewing machines and is considered such an important part of the area’s history that an archive about the factory is a recognised collection of national significance by Museums Galleries Scotland.
What are Old Singer Sewing Machines Worth?
Interest in vintage Singer Sewing machines remains strong today and they can be worth anything from $50 to $500 depending on the model and condition. Many can still be found online on various sites such as Etsy and eBay and sewing machine repairs for these older models are still popular. Some of the best vintage Singer machines can still outperform many newer sewing machines in certain tasks and we’ve collated a list of some of the best here.
Singer Goes Electric
In 1899, Singer demonstrated the first workable electric sewing machine at the Philadelphia electric exhibition and had begun mass producing them by 1910. This saw further improvements in reducing time in sewing garments and the machines continued to sell well to professional sewers as well as to those who sewed at home.
Whilst having introduced machines that uses electric motors, it wasn’t until 1975 that Singer brought out the first electronic sewing machine and, by 1978, Singer had introduced the first computer controlled sewing machine with the Touchtronic™ 2001.
Singer for the Future
Continuing to innovate, Singer introduced the world’s first sewing assistant app in 2017 so you can get tips and helpful advice on machines and projects wherever you are in the world. You can discover our great range of Singer sewing machines today, by clicking here, and find out for yourself why Singer have become such a beloved brand worldwide.