Kilbowie… Birth Of A Sewing Machine.

Singer 28k – 1900

At the turn of the last century, the largest sewing machine factory in the world was Singer’s facility at Kilbowie Clydebank, which was completed in 1885 after a smaller factory in Glasgow (doing mostly assembly work from imported parts) was closed down.

It had a million square feet of space and employed 7000 workers, and even then they could not meet production demands and customers were put on wait lists. This was when they were producing 13,000 machines a week and still unable to meet demands. In 1905 they expanded their buildings to be 6 stories tall to provide more workspace.

By 1943 the factory would have produced thirty six million machines.

This old 28K was made in Kilbowie (that is what the K stands for) and in checking, this rather large run of machines totalled almost 100,000. The models Singer offered in 1900 were not as expansive as they were a few decades later and the 28K was an immensely popular model, accounting for a high percentage of Singer’s sales.

The 28K was the 3/4 sized version of the 27 and was most often offered in a wooden case with a handcrank, while the 27 was most often fitted to a treadle.

I made a new handle for the handcrank on the wood lathe as after 122 years and a good bit of use, it had failed, the machine turns still over as smooth as silk and makes a beautiful stitch.

Not rare, no museum piece by any measure but a solidly made precision tool that has lasted for generations.

Birth of A Sewing machine was filmed at the Kilbowie factory in 1934, it is a wonderful (silent) film.

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