Singer Vintage Night - March 2021

On the evening of Monday 15 March we were treated to a very special audio experience at our premises in Buick Street when eight Singer sewing machines of various vintage states of “performance” serenaded us with the sound of gears turning, levers lifting and beautiful stitches being sewn.

Our Vintage Singer Night was hosted by incomparable compère Gracie Matthews, who gave us some history of the Singer brand and its impact on home sewing over the last 170 years, an impact that can still be seen in Singer’s sewing machines and overlockers today.

Gracie also worked one-on-one with our workshop participants as they showcased their beautiful machines, discovered new tricks and skills, and in some instances disassembled and cleaned antique mechanisms for the first time. 

It was such an inspiring evening, and one of our participants Elle found it so motivating that she took her Singer 44k hand-crank machine home and got it back to working condition!

Elle’s machine will be 100 years old on March 23, a fact that we discovered by searching the ISMACS International database of serial numbers for the machine’s place and date of registration. A majority of the machines in attendance originated in Singer’s Edinburgh factory  - denoted by the “k” suffix in the model numbers - and were likely shipped directly to New Zealand during the interwar years, but we also hosted Singer machines that were made in Germany and Brazil later in the 20th century.

Even our staff members were inspired by the activity of Monday night: Fran woke up the next morning and immediately retrieved her great-grandmother’s 1936 knee-operated 99k machine from the shed. She was pleasantly surprised to discover that it only needed a clean and dust and was actually still working after all these years.

The evening was a huge success, a great result for the first of Gracie’s vintage workshops to take place outside of Auckland. We’re already looking forward to hosting another of these events in the future, so if you missed out this time be sure to secure a spot for the next event, by registering your interest here. As we sold out last time!

You can also see more of Gracie's work on the Clevedon Costumes and Vintage Apparel Facebook Page or if you'd like to know more about vintage machines, her email is

Until we meet again for another workshop, you can check out this informative blog post from Joanne at the Sewing Machine Blog, all about how to oil and clean your machine. This post is a great addition to the things we learnt in our vintage workshop and can help you extend the life of your machine even further! 


Peter Hogg

Peter Hogg

What a great evening you all had with Gracie, she is a nice knowledgeable person and a great motivator, so good to hear she will return another time. Being an ex Singer employee in sales and a technician, also a collector of vintage sewing machines for over 50 years, I would just like to correct a couple of small details in the write up. Singer’s main factory in Great Britain was not in Edinburgh but on the west coast of Scotland at Kilbowie on Clydebank, Glasgow; that is where the K comes from. Also, Elle’s lovely century old Singer looks like a Model 99K not 44K, as the 44 series are industrial models and have different features. Also you showed another slightly newer 99K model that is owned by Fran. It is very encouraging to hear of the increasing interest in your part of the country of vintage sewing machines and I hope that trend continues
Peter Hogg
Timaru, South Canterbury

Gracie Matthews

Gracie Matthews

Wonderful write up Sewing Depot! Look forward to the next one!

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