Issac Merritt Singer started the I.M. Singer & Co. in 1849. In the last 170+ years, the Singer Corporation has undergone a lot of changes and has made a lot of sewing machines. The list of Singer sewing machine models by year is only the sewing machines sold for domestic use. Singer also made, and continues to make, industrial sewing machines. We focused on sewing machines produced for the domestic market.
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Table of Contents
- Why I Put the List Together
- How The List Was Compiled
- The First Singer Sewing Machine
- Class 15 Sewing Machines
- Where Was My Singer Sewing Machine Made
- Models List
If you are looking for our posts about specific Singer sewing machine models or repairing Singer sewing machines you’ll want to check out our Singer Sewing Machine page. That has all of our links to specific models in our vintage sewing machine herd. It also has information on how to look up your Singer sewing machine’s age based on the serial number.
Why Put Together A List Of All Singer Sewing Machine Models By Year?
I use ISMACS and Singer Sewing Info a lot, they are wonderful resources for vintage Singer sewing machine information. Neither have their model lists by year but by model number and neither have the same machines on both lists. I wanted a complete list of Singer sewing machine models by year and I couldn’t really ask either of those resources to put in the hours of work that I was capable of doing.
How Was The List of Singer Sewing Machines Compiled?
Good question! I started by going to ISMACS Comprehensive Singer Sewing Machine Model List. Then I used the search feature to find machines marked as domestic machines. I went through each section adding the machines to the list based on the years listed. Once I had all of those machines on the list by dates I used the ISMACS Singer Sewing Machine Serial Number Database to fill in the blanks. Then I used Singer Sewing Info Page. They have a great list of machines, I added missing machines to either the dated information page or to the unknown page. My last step was to head over to singer.com and search for the manuals to get more dates and more models.
Singer Sewing Machine History
Since those first machines didn’t have serial numbers they are not on the list below. These Singer sewing machines were test models. In 1851, the company’s name would change to the Singer Sewing Machine Company and Edward Clark would join the company. Isaac Singer is credited with making the first practical domestic sewing machine in 1853. Elias Howe won a patent suit against Singer in 1854. They would eventually come to a patent-sharing agreement along with Grover and Baker, and Wheeler and Wilson, and Singer would debut his machines at the World’s Fair in 1855.
Singer Sewing Machines – The First Sewing Machine
The problem was those first sewing machines were EXPENSIVE, Singer was attempting to sell them for $100. At $3,800 in today’s money, they were too expensive for the average consumer. Borrowing the idea of interchangeable parts that Eli Whitney and Samuel Colt used in their firearms, Singer was able to reduce to price to $10, $308 in today’s money, for the Turtleback machine while still increasing the profit margin.
In 1856, Clark would introduce the installment plan that Singer was famous for, creating the first American installment plan. Edward Clark left Singer for some time because he believe Isaac to be a roadblock to growth. Clark would become the company president in 1875, when Isaac Singer died, until 1882 when he retired. Clark commissioned The Dakota in New York but did not live to see it completed.
I fully understand why Clark thought Singer was a roadblock to the company’s success. Isaac was a little more worried about procreating instead of focusing on the sewing machine business. His personal life section on Wikipedia doesn’t even fit on my laptop’s screen. He fathered 24 children that he claimed, he was arrested for bigamy that caused him to flee to London, and he had secret families. Fathering 24 children in 36 years does take one’s attention away from business matters I’m guessing.
Singer Sewing Machine Company Class 15 Sewing Machine
In 1879, the Singer Sewing Machine Company introduced model 15-1. The Singer class 15 machine technology is still used today. The Universal Needles purchased is a 15×1 and the universal bobbins used in most machines are class 15. Those Class 15 machines would also help rebuild the Japanese economy after World War II.
Where Was My Singer Sewing Machine Made?
There were factories all over the world. Some of the factories have distinction marks for the sewing machines produced. Those distinctions are listed under the location.
New York, NY
Singer’s original manufacturing facility in New York was 1,250 square feet. In 1858 they would expand to multiple locations in New York.
Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland
Singer would expand to Kilbowie, Clydebank, Scotland in 1867. It was the world’s largest sewing machine factory at almost a million square feet and would remain in operation until 1980. The Kilbowie plant produced munitions during World War II. Machines made in Kilbowie, Scotland have a K behind the model name, i.e. 15K. The Kilbowie factory has a very storied history. There is a great historical account of the factory on West Dunbarton’s historical site.
By Unknown author – Public Domain, Link
Elizabethport, N.J. would become the home of the USA-based production in 1872. The Kilbowie plant would lose its title of the world’s largest sewing factory to Elizabethport’s 2.6 million square feet facility. Elizabeth port would take over some of Kilbowie’s production during World War II. The factory would close in 1982.
Singer sewing machines would be made in Elizabethport, NJ for 109 years.
In 1882 Singer would open a factory near Vienna, Austria. There is little information known about this factory. If you do have information please reach out to Singer Sewing Info so they can add it to their history section and me.
That same year a small factory was opened in Montreal, Quebec. Due to the small size of the plant, it is believed they only assembled machines whose parts were made in Elizabethport. It would close in 1906.
Singer would expand into Podolsk, Russia with the first factory ready in 1904. This factory complex was intended to supply Russia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, and Slovenia, known as the Balkans. As well as, Japan, China, and modern-day Iran. The plans and equipment were supplied by the Elizabethport factory.
It started by producing bases for heads that were made in Kilbowie and Elizabethport. In 1905, the rest of the factory complex was completed and the first head was produced. If not for World War I, it is believed that by 1914 the Podolsk factory would have been producing the same amount of machines as the USA. The factory would start producing munitions for the war.
In 1917, Singer would pass the ownership to the government for a small leasing fee to keep the factory open but in November 1918 the plant was state-controlled. The Russian government would update the factory with machinery taken from the Wittenberge plant. The plant fell into decline in the 70s due to overproduction and outdated models being produced. Semi-Tech was able to purchase the factory in 1994, Semi-Tech also owned the Singer brand at the time. It was finally closed in 2000. In 2011 the city of Podolsk celebrated the 230th anniversary of the town by erecting a full-size bronze sculpture of a Singer sewing machine and treadle table mounted on a red granite pedestal in front of the local museum.
The factory in Wittenberge, Prussia would start producing sewing machines in 1904 as well. There isn’t a lot of concrete information about the Wittenberge factory since all documentation was lost during WWII.
There is an online source of serial numbers but it appears to be a “what might have been” list and isn’t rooted in evidence. Others have run with this list but since both ISMACS and Singer Sewing information has discredited the list I will not share it here. We do know that the Wittenberge factory used the letter C for their serial numbers.
The Wittenberge factory produced lots of industrial machines as well as the domestic 15, 66, 201, and 206. These machines used the D after the model number. Wittenberge would become part of Germany at the end of the war in 1943 but it wouldn’t be until 1946 that the president of Singer would announce that they had lost the factory and that the machinery had been taken to Russia.
In 1905, Singer purchased formal rival Wheeler and Wilson and took over their factory in Bridgeport, CT. When the sewing machine market declined it was closed in 1964. Machines made in Bridgeport have a W after the model number and they use W with 6 or 7 digits in the serial number.
The success of the Montreal plant led Singer to open a larger facility in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, AKA St. Johns, in 1906. The factory was started in 1904 and cost $1,000,000. The Elizabethport factory would issue the serial numbers for the St. Johns factory until 1924. St. Johns also finished machines from the Kilbowie factory. These machines will have Kibowie serial numbers. In 1924, St. Johns would start issuing its own serial numbers. The machines would also get the J behind the model number at this time. The serial numbers would use JA, JB, JC, etc followed by 6 digits. The St. Johns Singer factory would close in 1986.
Monza, Italy would be the next location in Singer’s expansion across the globe. Singer would purchase the Societa Anonima Meccanica Lombarda factory in 1934. The factory had been producing airplanes in the 1920s so it wasn’t open to producing Singer sewing machines until 1935. The machines made in Monza had the letter M after the model number and used MA, MB, MC followed by six digits in the serial number. In 1968 production would move to Concorezzo. The factory always struggled to stay solvent since it was making the same models as the factory in Brazil at this time. By 1973 it was discovered it was costing 6.5 times more to produce machines at the Concorezzo plant than at the Brazilian plant. It would close in 1982.
Singer would open a factory in Bonnières, France in 1935. It would remain in operation until 1986. The machines made in Bonnières have a B behind their model number and use SA and SB serial numbers.
The Anderson, S.C. plant would open in 1950 where models 301, 401, and 500 series machines were made until 1963. Machines made in Anderson would have an A behind the model number, i.e. 301A.
The Singer factory in Germany would open in 1954. This factory had previously been used by the Haid-und-Neu company in Karlsruhe, Germany since 1893. The machines built in this factory had the G suffix in the model name, i.e. 215G. The serial numbers have PA, PB, PC, etc, and have 6 digits following.
That same year Singer bought 50% of the Pine Sewing Machine Company in Japan. The other half was owned by Japan Steel works, which is still in business today. Singer paid to have the factory retooled but was unsure about the quality of machines that were going to be produced so the first machines were badged “Merrit”. Once they were assured that the quality met Singer’s standards the Singer name was put on the machines. Machines produced at the Utsunomiya factory used U after the model number and TA, TB, TC, etc followed by 6 digits.
An interesting note about the Pine Sewing Machine Company. It was founded in the early 1920s but used the trade name Janome. The founding partners would eventually split with one taking the Pine company name and the other taking the Janome name. What a completely different sewing machine landscape we would have today if Singer had purchased Janome instead of Pine.
Singer Sewing Company would expand to South America in 1955 opening a factory in Campinas, Brazil. The machines made in Campinas have an R in the serial number i.e. RA, RB, RC, etc. In 1997, a new factory would be built in Juazeiro do Norte capable of producing 250,000 machines and was expanded in 2005 to increase production to 650,000 machines a year.
Penrith, Australia would get a Singer sewing machine factory in 1959. Much of the equipment in the Penrith factory would come from the old Wheeler and Wilson factory in Bridgeport, CT. It would initially produce aluminum body 201 machines with parts shipped in from Kilbowie. It would also produce 227, 327, and 328 models though there’s little known about these machines. The machines produced in Penrith would use the letter P after the model number and use VA, VB, VC, etc followed by 6 digits for its serial numbers.
In 1963 Singer opened a factory in Taichung, Taiwan. There’s very little information available in English about this factory. We do know that it uses ND, NE, and NF followed by six digits for the serial numbers.
Singer Sewing Machine Models By Year
This is an almost complete list of Singer sewing machine models by year. I say this is almost complete because there is another chart below this one with models that I couldn’t date. I’m also pretty sure I don’t have all of the 1990s and 2000s models listed. These are all of the machines that I found in my research that had a date given, either on ISMACS, Singer Sewing Information, or the manual. There were a few manuals that did not include dates and there’s a group on machines listed on either ISMACS or Singer Sewing that didn’t have a manual on Singer’s website.
The * is the copyright date of the manual. The *date* was listed as the era the machines were made. The dates with the asterisk should be viewed as the general era that the machine was made during.
Machines that were listed based on the manual may have multiple machines in the model column. All of these Singer sewing machine models use the same manual and there was little showing the difference between each model.
You should be able to print this list for your personal records. If you are a Google Drive user you can click here to add it to your drive. You will also be able to go to Tools, Notifications, Edit Notifications, to be alerted each time I update the list of Singer sewing machine models. You can also use Pinterest to pin this blog post for future reference or bookmark it in your web browser. I have reached out to Singer to see if they are willing to provide any more information about the gaps in the list. If you would like a PDF of the current list there is a sign-up for my newsletter below, signing up will get you the PDF. The PDF is updated each time I update the list.
Current List of Singer Sewing Machine Models
List last updated 5/31/2023 – Currently 429 entries. Some entries do have multiple models due to using the manuals for dating purposes. It is my assumption that the newer machines that use the same manual are similar to the older machine class machines, i.e. class 66 machines were all basically the same machine but the number that followed changed something about the machine. An example of this would be 66-1 is a treadle sewing machine while the 66-18 has an external motor and back tack.
Missing Singer Sewing Machine Models
These are the models listed that I couldn’t place on the date chart. If you have a manual with a date or a sales receipt with a date please email me, melissa at quiltingroomwithmel.com. I would love to delete this section.
Frequently Asked Questions About Singer Sewing Machines
I want to cover some questions that we get asked about Singer sewing machines.
Do I have to use Singer brand needles?
I don’t know when or where this myth comes from but I include it in every post I write about Singer sewing machines so I can dispel it. As long as you are using the correct needle, i.e. 15×1 or 206×1, your machine doesn’t care who makes it. Schmetz makes great needles and they are easy to find. Your sewing machine won’t know that the needle isn’t made by Singer. Also, Singer doesn’t sell anything but 15×1 needles and as you can see in the list they have machines that take different needles.
What about bobbins? Do I have to use Singer brand bobbins?
Nope! It’s the same as the needles as long as you are using bobbins made for your sewing machine you are good. There is one thing I will say I have found that machines that were shipped with metal bobbins don’t like the plastic ones and vice versa. I have had great luck with the reproduction bobbins from SewingMachinesPlus.
How much is my Singer sewing machine worth?
I’ll give you $20 for it. I’m joking, well kind of. The value of vintage sewing machines is fairly small. If I sold all 200 sewing machines in my collection I’d be lucky to get $20,000 for the entire collection. A more realistic value in my area would be $10,000.
There are so many variables that go into the resell value of the machine such as area, condition, and accessories are included. Your best option is to watch places like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist in your area and see what machines are selling for. You can ask for $500,000 for that Singer 27 but it’s not going to sell for that. Asking in any of the various vintage sewing machine groups is only going to get you what someone paid for theirs with no context. There are plenty of people who will say that they got their Featherweight for $50 or less but realistically 221s sell for $300-$600. The 222, free arm Featherweight, does go for a lot more but those are unicorns in the vintage sewing machine world.
Which Singer sewing machine model is the best?
I actually answered that question in my Singer Sewing Machine vs Brother Sewing Machine post.
How do I tell when my Singer sewing machine was made?
Guess what? I have an entire post on how to tell when your Singer sewing machine was made. It shows you how to find your serial number and how to look up the machine’s age based on that number. Just a reminder the dates given are when the serial number was allocated. It wasn’t necessarily made on that date.