This New Home Ruby sewing machine is the greatest birthday gift I have ever been given. One day I got a text from my cousin who had ended up with our great-grandmother’s sewing machine. She wanted to know if I wanted the machine, she was sure it didn’t work but since I collected them it would make a nice addition. Of course, I jumped right on the offer and we headed out to get the machine.
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New Home Sewing Machine Company History
The history of the New Home Sewing Machine Company is muddled with key players coming, going, and creating other sewing machine companies along the way. There’s a great write-up on the men behind New Home on ISMACS. I’m just going to give a small timeline below.
- 1860 – Thomas H. White, William L. Grout, W.P. Barker started manufacturing sewing machines under The New England name
- 1861 – Grout leaves to start his own company, Stephen French joins White and Barker
- 1862 – White, Barker, and French moved to a new manufacturing facility in Orange, MA. The first sewing machine made was called “New England Family Sewing Machine. Barker would leave shortly after and form a new company with AJ Clark called “The Pride of The West” and later “New England Machine”.
- 1866 – White leaves French to move to Ohio and start The White Sewing Machine Company
- 1867 – Barker, Clark, French, and John Wheeler Wilson formed a stock company, Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company
- 1870 – French creates Home Shuttle and Home sewing machines
- 1872 – French sells his portion of the company
- 1877 – The New Home is introduced to the market
- 1878 – Grout returns to the company
- 1881 – Barker is awarded the patent for the sewing machine clutch
- 1882 – Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company is reorganized as New Home Sewing Machine Company
- 1893 – The Climax is manufactured and The Ruby, a smaller version of the Climax machine.
- 1927 – New Home is moved to New York City
- 1930 – Company is sold to The Free Sewing Machine Company
New Home Ruby Sewing Machine
I first wrote this article, just focusing on my great-grandma and her story, so I didn’t focus on the history of the Ruby sewing machine in general. When I first was researching this machine I remember reading about these machines being sold in company stores. It made perfect sense to me because my grandfather was a coal miner. As I started to flush out this post to add more about the machine’s history I couldn’t find that original source.
The New Home Ruby sewing machine appears to have been introduced in 1893 based on the ISMACS history linked above and this historical society entry. It is a 3/4 sized sewing machine making it similar in size to a Singer 28. This machine was made into the 1920s, a 1920s warranty card is on the Smithsonian website.
There are two version of the Ruby, R1 and R2. The R1 is the treadle version while the R2 is the electric version. The R2’s bed plate is also different from the R1.
Manual, Bobbin, Needles
If you are in need of a manual for your Ruby sewing machine you can download it from the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian has a lot of entries for New Home sewing machines but a lot of those entries have not be digitized.
This sewing machine takes a shuttle bobbin and it needs to be for New Home sewing machines. New Home used their own shuttle so a Singer shuttle will not work. Your best bet in today’s market is to use Ebay or Etsy to find replacement bobbins and shuttles.
New Home sewing machines used 20×1 needles which are no longer made. There are some places you can order a pack of older needles but one place is selling them for $2 per needle. Yes, you read that correctly two dollars a needle or $50 for a pack of 25. Instead of buying those use 15×1, universal size, needles and “cheat them”.
Cheating 15×1 Needles
When we say cheat your needle what we mean is don’t push it all of the way up in the shaft. If you lower a 15×1 needle about the width of a dime it will work perfectly in a machine that uses 20×1 needles. We use this trick on both our New Home Sewing machine and our National sewing machines with no issues.
My New Home Ruby Sewing Machine
This machine was used a lot! There are places where there is no longer paint. I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of thread that has passed through the guides or the fabric that went across the bed. She sewed for herself and her own family. She also sewed for others, my great grandfather passed in 1933 she was a widow for 34 years. Her youngest child at that time was 10 and her oldest at home was my grandma, she was 22. My grandma didn’t get married until 1940. She had over twenty grandchildren and great grandchildren by the time of her death.
Where great grandma’s had wore the paint away.
Bed medallion where the paint wore away from the fabric
This machine and all those chips set in motion so much of my life. My great grandmother taught my grandmother how to sew but more importantly she instilled a love of sewing. That love of sewing was passed along to my mom. My mom spent a large chunk of her adult life sewing for a living. Both my grandma and mom passed along not only the skill of sewing but the love of it to me. I might have been a little reluctant to accept that I do love to sew but it was still there.
My Ruby Sewing Machine In Action
My husband describes the sound she makes as “She’s about to throw a rod.” But she makes some of the prettiest stitches out of all of our machines.
There aren’t words to describe how happy I am to be the caretaker of this machine.
Here’s proof that she works. Taking her first stitches in 2015, almost 50 years after my great grandmother died.