There is some thing interesting about the past that grabs us all. The most intriguing thing for me at the moment are vintage sewing machines. Most specifically Singer sewing machines.
I had the wonderful pleasure to spend the afternoons after school with my great-grandmother, Hattie Catherine Robinson Benson. She was a true influence on my life. Granny, as she was affectionately called, loved beautiful roses bushes and had a notion for coffee. Mind you, when my sister and I begin spending our afternoons with her she was 86. My great-aunts would come home after work. However, those times of just Granny, my sister, and I were special.
Granny had already stopped sewing and I never had the opportunity to see her vintage Singer sewing machine. However, my (great) aunts and Dad talked often about a simple, functional Singer sewing machine that Granny used. On the vintage Singer, many clothing items were made, items mended, and general functional things were made. It was an old tradition to sew each family member a quilt. My sister and I still have our quilts that are now over 30 years old. My Dad’s quilt is 60 years old. It’s amazing that a few blocks of cloth can make you feel so close to someone! My (great) aunt, Lula Mae, made so many things and carried on the tradition Granny began so long ago on the vintage Singer. My sister and I had the prettiest handmade dresses. Auntie Lu took my baby pillow, covered it in solid purple (my favorite color) fabric, and stitched my name on it. I still have that pillow! She and my Aunt Eather worked for Jantzen. They made blue jeans, swimsuits, and other items. I remember going to Jantzen in Seneca and being amazed at all the sewing machines and the plethora of manufactured items in the retail store. All of the sewing knowledge wrapped into my aunts is amazing. There wasn’t anything my aunts couldn’t sew. I think back now to the vintage Singer they used to learned to sew. The evenings after working in the field and coming in to make items that sustained the family. There are so many things I take for granted now that weren’t “luxuries” for my Granny and my aunts.
To honor my Granny on her birthday (April 1899), I took the plunge into vintage sewing machines. The sweetest part is the sewing machine is a vintage Singer. VINTAGE SINGER!! So why specifically a Singer…my (great) aunts learned to sew on a Singer sewing machine. Oh the joy and excitement of owning a small piece of history. Not just American history, but the history of how my (great) aunts learned to sew.
Meet Lula!! She’s a 1936 Singer 99-13. Her born on date was June 17, 1936. In June 1936, Granny was 37 years old! I’m turning 36 this year so this Singer is the perfect blend of dates between myself, my aunts, and Granny. Read more about how to date a Singer sewing machine here.
This particular 99-13 is an electric portable sewing machine with foot pedal. The case is the suitcase style. The 99-13 uses the standard 15×1 needle that is flat fitted to the right and is threaded from left to right. The feed dogs do not drop so a cover plate is necessary for embroidery, darning, buttonholer, or zigzag accessories. She uses low-shank, screw-on sewing feet. Something important to note, the new Singer 66 bobbins do not fit this machine. You can not purchase additional bobbins from a big box store like Jo-Ann’s. I purchased my additional bobbins here. This particular 99-13 has the screw knob to adjust stitch length. There is definitely a slight learning curve! There is no back-tacking (reverse) feature; however, turn the fabric around stitch and turn back front and stitch. The coolest part is that the 99-13 can sew through anything!! From delicates to denim and leather! Read more about Singer sewing machine history here. There is an awesome Vintage Sewing Machine group on Facebook.
I think Granny would be proud!!! I know my aunts are already!
Here’s the exciting news, you will see my first project sewn on Lula later this week!! Here’s a sneak peek! Happy Sewing!!