That Book Made Me Do It!

Hello everyone!

Remember my last post when I gushed about a book I’d just finished reading? I left you all with a bit of a cliff hanger didn’t I? I told you the book made me do something I should have done years ago but I didn’t spill the beans last time. Well, I’ve now got some nice photos to show you. The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie MADE ME buy a Singer 99K.


In fact, I hadn’t even finished the book before I’d made my purchase. It’s the same model as the one I learned to sew on with my lovely teacher Miss Fox. I was only ten years old at the time and I’ve wanted a hand cranked Singer ever since.


This one was made in 1944 so it isn’t a very old one. There were hundreds of thousands of this type manufactured and mine was one of a batch of 5000. The decals are quite good for their age except for one large chip which is about the size of a thumb print.


I believe this particular decals pattern is called Filigree. There’s loads of information about old Singers on this site if you’re interested and this site has lots of information about many makes of machines, including all the serial numbers and dates of manufacture of Singers.


The underneath and inside were very clean but the outside was grubby when it arrived. I love the little button you need to press to make the bobbin pop up. It’s just below the screw in the photo.


It was all set up for sewing two layers of leather when it arrived. The leather needle supplied with a short length of very strong thick thread meant I could test sew straight from the box. I’ll mainly be using this machine for patchwork so I was a bit worried about changing the tension so radically at first. Sometimes it’s better to leave a happy machine alone isn’t it? It didn’t take long to work out how to operate the tension dial. On later models the dial has numbers. Here, you just have to guess and check by sewing a test piece. As you can see, it’s now sewing two layers of patchwork cotton beautifully.


I’ve actually had all the tension mechanism apart because I like to see what’s inside and how things work. There’s not much to it. My screwdrivers have had a good little workout this last week 😉 Not because there was anything wrong. Just because I like to get into the gubbins and learn about what’s going on under the bonnet.

The face plate is really pretty I think.


The next one shows the brand plate. Just above that (the silver knob that’s sticking out) is the stitch length selector. It works in the same way as the tension. Turning it clockwise increases the stitch length, anti-clockwise shortens stitches. There’s no reverse on this model. Later models have reverse stitching and also numbers to indicate stitch length.


Here’s a bird’s eye view.


Here’s the back.


This is the bent wood box that does lock but I wouldn’t risk carrying the machine by the handle just in case.


As you can see, someone has taped over the box in the past which has stripped the varnish. How could they do that?!! Also, there’s some damage to the front right that I’m in the process of repairing. The lid wasn’t fastened to the machine when it arrived and it appears the machine had fallen forward in transit, forcing the hand wheel to push outwards, splitting the box. That made me mad. Wrapping the machine in bubbles before putting it in the wooden box would have prevented this. What’s done is done. I’ll give it some TLC. This is how it was when it arrived. So sad.


It’s not a rare or valuable machine but it’s mine and I’ll treasure it 🙂 Have you ever been compelled to do something after reading a book?

At the back of the book I mentioned earlier there’s a link to a fantastic film of original footage from the Singer factory. It’s about 70 minutes duration and I was absolutely glued to the screen from start to finish. After the first few minutes you’ll see the different stages of manufacture of the old Singer machines. It’s worth watching if you’re at all interested in these old gems.

You’ll need to search for “Birth of a Sewing Machine” once you get to the landing page here:

If you do find time to watch, I’d love to know what you thought of it.

On that note, I’m off. I’ve got sewing to do.

Leave a comment


  1. That is a treasure indeed – I am glad that you went ahead and got it!

    The only thing books have made me do is travel. 🙂

    As a young girl, I adored Willa Cather’s novels, and always wanted to go to Nebraska. One time Mom and I were traveling to Colorado, and we decided that it was foolish to fly over the top of everything we always wanted to see but never had. Then we decided driving all that way would be tedious, so we took the train, and it was great! We got to sit in a comfortable stateroom and watch America roll by. I was sad to see that per the schedule, it would be night when we went through Nebraska, coming and going. However, the train gods were kind to me, and we were so far behind schedule on the way home that we saw a whole lot of Nebraska. It didn’t look exactly like Willa Cather’s Nebraska, but it was pretty good. 🙂

  2. What a lovely machine! I love old machines… it’s just that I don’t have enough room to keep them plus my love of old quilts over rides the sewing machine as I can’t have both.😁

    • I think we can have both but everything can’t be out on show all of the time. Getting this one has made me want to have a go on my Mean Green Sewing Machine again. That’s the one in my blog header.

  3. witchylin

     /  March 9, 2018

    She is a real beauty. Can’t wait to meet her for real.:-)

  4. magpiesue

     /  March 9, 2018

    So pretty! I would simply enjoy looking at her, never mind sewing on her!

  5. claire93

     /  March 9, 2018

    I think it’s rather magical, that the book brought back so many happy sewing memories for you, and set you on the road to buying a vintage 99K. Sounds, and looks, like this machine is a right beauty, despite a few signs of cosmetic wear & tear . . . stitches look wonderfully regular.

    And, as you know, I watched the Singer film after you pointed out the link and found it fascinating.

    • I don’t think it has done as much sewing as most of the oldies because the decals are very good. I dread to think how it got the huge chip! I loved the film and I know I’ll watch it many times.

  6. She’s a beauty! She looks a lot like my mother’s old Singer (I have no idea what happened to that machine, only that one day my father bought my mother an electric machine and I never saw the old one again.) Reading books brought me to Australia for a visit. As you know, I loved it so much I came back for good!

    • I imagine many of the old hand cranks will have been traded in for newer electric models. I know it’s easy to add an electric motor to the 99K but I wanted this one because it hasn’t been messed with. I’m pleased you found Australia. Sounds like you’ve settled in well 🙂

  7. I love these old machines.

  8. I just ordered the book on my Kindle and I cannot wait to read it.
    Your Singer is certainly beautiful.
    I remember my mom had one in one of those dome cases.
    I do not know when she got rid of it.
    My sister has offered me the old Singer and foot peddle table that used to belong to my aunt.
    I do not have room for it, but we want to keep it in the family. So, I guess I need to do some rearranging.

    • I do hope you enjoy the book 🙂 Please find a place for the old treadle machine. It needs someone like you to look after it properly, especially if it still works.

  9. Denby

     /  March 12, 2018

    It looks great, I’m sure you’ll have fun with it and the stitches look perfect. As I read your blog though I was thinking “took it all to bits” now who does that remind me of!! You never mentioned the hoover!!

  10. A new but old sewing machine 🙂 What´s wrong with the new ones?? Anyway, Congratulation to the new one (but old) 🙂 !!!!!


I really enjoy reading your comments. Have a lovely day :-)

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