I’ve been listening to the eternal child within me and spending money (on ebay) on a new toy. Lots of blurb and photos to follow.
Here’s is my new toy! A tiny, hand-cranked Singer 20-10. I couldn’t resist this model, which is literally complete (only thing missing is the original screwdriver) in its wooden case, with clamp, fabric guide, needles and the original manual. You can read all about the history of Singer toy machines here singer sewing info. And click on links to see other brands. You can also find lots of fabulous information about vintage sewing machines if you visit Alex Askaroff on his website Sewalot
Basically, Singer started making toy machines which sewed a chain stitch, in 1910. The machine needs only an upper thread, and there is a very simple mechanism underneath, with a rotating hook, that catches the loop to make a neat chain stitch on the reverse side of fabric. Singer’s first toy machine was a black version, the Singer 20-1, with an oval base. This underwent a few minor modifcations. Then in 1950, Singer changed the shape of the base to a rectangle. Other companies copied Singer, with companies like Grain, Essex, Vulcan and the Japanese too, with their model “Lead”.
These machines didn’t have serial numbers, so it’s impossible to date them precisely. My little one was made in the Singer factory in Bonnières sur Seine, France – I know that for a fact because the clamp has the Simanco number with a B for Bonnières. It was made anytime from the 1950s to 1970. The Singer 20-10 came in black or tan, and a few other colours including blue, green, gold and red. I’m pretty sure mine is a gold version as it’s most definitely not tan.
Anyway, my 20-10 arrived in its little wooden case,
which has a compartment on one side for the machine, and a smaller compartment for clamp & accessories. While I gave the machine a very quick clean and oil, my husband gave the case some TLC. He noticed the wood looked very dark. We couldn’t decide whether it was blackened by the Singer cabinet makers, or if someone had rubbed it with shoe polish sometime in the past. We made an executive decision: to restore the case to its natural wood colour, which we could see underneath. Might have decreased its vintage value by doing that, but I think it looks so much prettier, and more like the Bentwood cases which were made for the adult-sized Singers of its generation.
I, in the meantime, had been sewing.
This is the reverse side of the stitching – a very neat chain stitch. And once I knew it sewed like a dream . . .
I went ahead and did a mini patchwork project! Here you can see the neat (and very regular) top stitching.
The stitches are slightly visible on the front, because the chain actually results in 2 threads for each stitch, but I might be able to make them less visible by twiddling with tension a little. I was just thrilled to bits that my little Singer 20-10 actually works, and makes such a regular stitch. It makes a lovely noise too.
To give you an idea of the size . . . here it is, with my other machines. First with my 1950 Elna Grasshopper, which is a very small (but heavy) portable machine
With my Silvercrest, a standard sized basic, modern machine.
And lastly, with my Juki, which is a beautiful, large beast.
Obviously, I won’t be doing any large sewing projects on my new toy, but I do think it’ll be fun to use it for some clothes making for my reborn dolls. One last photo for today, to show the machine from the other side. Such a pretty little thing!
And a big thank you to my lovely, ever patient, husband, who is always happy to see me happy, and allows me to roam, unsupervised, on ebay lol.