Hi, welcome to String Revolution. I'm Léan, I live in Dublin with my husband and two little boys, and I am a dangerous stringy subversive.
My job is to radiate my creative truth, and to help you radiate yours. I create, without exception, every day. I write here when I have something to say.

(learn more about me).

A Girl’s Best Friend

My 1953 Singer sewing machine

This is my beloved Singer sewing machine, in which I am well pleased.

I think it was my friend Caro who first told me that you can go to the Singer site and enter your machine’s serial number to find out where and when it was made.

Mine’s a 1953 model, it turns out, made at the Clydebank factory in Scotland.

I don’t know when my great-aunts bought it, but quite possibly all the way back then. I first met it in the early 1990s, after Auntie Nora had died and Auntie Josie was clearing out some of her things.

(Auntie Josie didn’t sew much – she played poker and collected silver spoons and served potato croquettes out of a genuine honest-to-goodness hostess trolley.)

The machine had sat idle in Auntie Nora’s bedroom for years by that point, maybe decades: her multiple sclerosis had robbed her of the ability to sew long before I knew her.

After a service, it was as good as new. It replaced the machine I had been using, another Singer, of the so-called “portable” variety – meaning that if you’ve been doing core strength training for six months or so you can heave it from one place to another, provided they’re not too far apart.

That had been the household machine, though. This one was mine.

I love its motor. Yes, I was fairly strongly imprinted with that original hand-cranked Singer, and it still thrills me (OK then, slightly) to have both hands free to hold my work while I run the machine with my foot.

Singer sewing machine belt, broken

I love its mechanical simplicity. I love that when the belt snapped (the day before we left for a fancy dress party in another country, naturally), all I needed to do was call into the shop for a new belt, bring it home and ease it onto the wheels.

I love its aesthetic. It’s so sleek – black and gold and steel, curvy, elegantly proportioned – a beautiful object in its own right.

I love its sturdiness. As far as I can tell, it’s made entirely of metal (bar the rubber belt that connects to the motor), and it has sewn easily through everything I’ve ever thrown at it.

I love its solid wooden table. It has a folding top, which rests on a fiercely pleasing support arm that pops out automatically, giving me plenty of space for my work.

I love its accessories – also metal – and the delightful instruction booklets that tell me in beautiful English how to use them.

Singer sewing machine, bobbin case

What I don’t love, alas, is that it does only straight stitches. No buttonholes (I can knock out a pretty good handmade buttonhole, but my goodness, they take a while). No zigzag. Nothing in the least bit fancy. You can’t even lower the feed dogs. It’s very sad.

The day the belt snapped, I simply didn’t have time to go to the shop and get a replacement there and then. So I finished off the boys’ fancy dress costumes in my dear friend Ailbhe‘s house (it was her daughter who was having the party), on her Janome.

I have to tell you now that for the first time in my long sewing life, my loyalty to my sweet Singer wavered.

There, on the mountain top, I surveyed the landscape below me – the vistas of raw-edge finishing, machine appliqué, embroidery stitches, free-motion quilting – and a little voice whispered, all this could be yours!


I’m not ready to give up my Singer. It knows too much, apart from anything else.

But I could do with something more portable, particularly if I ever want to go to quilting workshops and similar. Which I do.

So here we are: I’m saving up for a new sewing machine. New to me, I mean – I’d be perfectly happy with a reconditioned model.

The Revolutionary Horde: Good woman yourself. But how on earth are you going to earn its price?

Aha – glad you asked me that.

Fact is [cue angelic choirs] I have a few String Revolution products and services in the pipeline.

(In addition to my Zazzle shop, that is, which I barely ever mention in case anyone might think I wanted to make money, or anything.)

So yeah, keep an eye out for those.

I hope I don’t need to say – but I want to say anyway – that I will never put pressure on you to buy from me. The blog will remain free, and if my stuff isn’t your thing, or if you don’t have the spare cash, or if for any other reason you don’t find yourself in a purchasing frame of mind, be assured that I love you anyway. Your good wishes are at least as valuable to me as your hard-earned monies.

I do have your good wishes, don’t I? Yes? Excellent.

5 comments to A Girl’s Best Friend

  • When there is enough everyone-in-ireland time for you all to visit our house, you must help me get started with my sewing machine, cos I’m skeered of it.

  • Ailbhe

    My Janome which I got from my dear friend Jan when she went back to Canada without it, in spite of its bilingual instruction manual! Sewing machines are not bought, truly – they arrive.

  • You Singer is lovely! It reminds me of the Pfaff that will one day be mine. It’s a 1951 that my grandmother has bought to sew my dad’s diapers (seriously!), and has then be used to sew many of the clothes I wore as a kid. The company wanted to buy it back from her, and she said “no, when I won’t need it anymore, it will be my granddaughter’s.” She’s a sweetheart!

    I totally get that you’d like to get her a more versatile companion. I’m sending you my best wishes, and am looking forward to seeing your things out into the world. 🙂

  • I also had a hand-operated machine for years, when I finally replaced it with a modern Bernina the lady in the shop said she could tell my old one was a manual because I was in fact now allowed to use both hands to guide the fabric!

    My mum asked a number of her friends, including a Home Ec teacher for a recommendation and they recommended the Bernina. Assuming they are still making them in Switzerland and have not licensed it out to Shenzhen or similar.

    It does all sorts of things, although it needs a service as it’s puckering the fabric right now. I still have te hand machine but it doesnt like modern fabrics.

    Sorry for typos, cat keeps trying to sit on laptop.

  • Emma

    I saw what Ailbhe’s new baby was called. I’d say you are totally in the frame for a quilt, Lean 😉

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