Sunday, March 1, 2015

Singer Sewing Machines

Update: The plant was served by the New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois Railroad, which was bought by the Wabash in 1926.

 My sister has my aunt's Singer sewing machine that was built in 1967. It is very heavy because it is made with metal --- no plastic.

Then my Mom remembered that she had the machine of another aunt in her sewing cabinet which she uses as a desk

This machine was bought soon after World War II when metal could be used for domestic purposes again. She thought it was in 1947, but according to the copyrights in the instruction manual, it was 1950. The copyrights were 1915, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 31, 32, 33, 35, 36, 37, 38, 40, 41, 47, and 50. You can clearly see that Singer quit making sewing machines during World War II.

It came with quite a few accessories. My wife enjoyed reading the instructions for the accessories because it reminded her what was in fashion after the war.

And then the day after I discovered these two machines, I came across a reference to NJI&I. This is a railroad built by Singer to serve the industries by their plant in South Bend, IN in 1905. It stood for New Jersey, Indiana and Illinois Railroad, the three states in which Singer had plants. Singer built a plant in South Bend in 1868 because Studebaker had established the town as a manufacturing center and because it was surrounded by oak and walnut hardwood trees. This plant made their cabinets. By 1905 it was producing 10,000 cabinets per day. During World War II "Singer was contracted to make wooden airplane parts, ammunition crates, and wooden buoys. Whatever could be made from wood instead of aluminum, which was in short supply, was crafted in factories like Singer. By 1944 the plant even built more than 500 gas tanks for the war effort.... After the war, Singer could not cope with union demands or competition from the growing consumer market. In short, more women were buying their clothes than making them." (SubStreet)

James Holzmeier posted Singer History
Update: James' comment:
This has some photos & description of the New Jersey, Indiana & Illinois (NJI&I) railroad roundhouse in South Bend, Indiana. The NJI&I was a Wabash RR subsidiary serving primarily the Singer Mfg. Co. in South Bend.
Jason Gordan shared
This would be back when a sewing machine was its own piece of furniture and before electric motors were used. This treadle pedal allowed one to use your feet to power the machine. The picture below provides more context. The flywheel on the side would help a lot.

Eric Zerkle comment on the posting
John F. Metzger shared
[A view of a treadle machine cabinet from the back. This illustrates why Singer opened a plant in South Bend to make cabinets from hardwoods.]

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