When I read through old letters between women there is a common pastime that is often mentioned…sewing. I was fortunate to have a Singer Model 27-4 passed down to me, and it currently serves as a unique piece of furniture in my home. The drawers have become a catch-all for decades, housing everything from 100-year-old spools of thread, to one of my son’s infant-sized diapers I can’t part with, and finally a cassette tape from the early ’90s entitled “Jessica’s Boogie Songs” (I shudder to think what is on that).
Through years of opening the drawers to throw in a random hair tie or pen, I never really noticed the owner’s manual that still lives in the drawer after 111 years. For this post, I decided to share some of it with you, as well as some images of artwork from the famous American portrait artist, John Singer Sargent, who was producing work during the time this machine was manufactured. By looking at his portraits of women (I chose all images from the year 1908 specifically), we can see the types of garments that would have been produced on the Singer Model 27-4.
First, images from the instruction manual:
If we look at an inflation calculator, we see it was not cheap to make repairs to your sewing machine in 1908. It appears to have cost $35 for a new feed dog, which in 2019 money would be over $900.
1908 Portraits by John Singer Sargent: