I grew up around a variety of sewing machines with my Grandmother a professional tailor and my father in the fabric industry. My grandmother had a singer treadle machine which we liked to play with when we weren’t diving into her huge remnants bags and dressing up. I proudly thought that Singer machines were Scottish having taken their name from a local Clyde based town but I later learned they were in fact American and the Singer site was actually their third factory in Scotland.
Opening in 1884 it employed 5,000 workers and was the largest sewing machine factory in the world. I love facts that the building used around 20 Million bricks and if laid out and to end would stretch from Clydebank across the bed of the Atlantic and take you out past further New York! Portable sewing machines made such a difference in woman’s lives as I remember my Grandmother telling me – that was probably as a human on average sews 40 stitches a minutes where a machine can stitch 900! It also gave women an outlet in selling clothes and doing repairs.
We have an old treadle machine rusting away in my parents garden which flips over to form a table but the majority of my Singer experience was with a Singer Genie produced in the 1970’s with it’s floral pattern and ever so cute carry case. It wasn’t until I moved to the States (and sadly my baggage allowance didn’t quite stretch to bringing a sewing machine) and started using a Brother did I realize just how VERY temperamental the Genie is!
Although we are hooked up to electricity on the bus Dan lived for many years off Grid and it’s always good to reduce our consumption so I began looking at diagrams of how to convert electric machines into treadle human powered ones – but my head began to ache very quickly!
Then Dan suggested hooking it up to Solar Panel which has been sitting soaking up this very warm Carolinian spring. I plugged the machine cord into the inverter which plugs into the battery attached to the solar panel and within minutes I was off grid and stitching away!