Saturday 23 March 2013

Machines for Africa from Duncan

Duncan testing a Singer 99K, watched by Beth and Megan.  Laura, foreground, is trying out a Singer 15K

Many of you will remember me mentioning Duncan a while ago - he has been following the blog since the early days and absolutely loves rescuing neglected machines and cleaning them up.

After reading about the Dress-a-Girl dressmaking day at the sewing café he got in touch with Louise, the co-ordinator for the charity in this country.  Duncan had a number of sewing machines that he wanted to donate, and asked Louise if she knew of a suitable charity.  Louise put him in touch with Mark and Megan, who have set up a project in Uganda.  They looked into the feasibility of shipping the machines to Uganda, and decided they would gladly take them.

So last week Duncan drove half the length of the country with his car stuffed full of machines to deliver them to Mark and Megan.  I spent a happy afternoon trying out machines with Duncan, Mark and Megan, and their friends Beth, Ellie and Laura.

Ellie and Beth doing their first ever sewing with hand machines

Mark took plenty of pictures, which he has put on the website for the charity Hope for Life Katanga  This is the picture I particularly love - Ellie and Beth trying out the Singer 99Ks.  The concentration on their faces!  Beth had used a vintage electric machine with a knee bar in the past.  Ellie told us she was hopeless with sewing machines, but once she got going there was no stopping her - look at her wheel, it's a blur!

We all had a fantastic time together - gallons of tea to keep us going, and lots of enthusiasm all round.  Let's all hope and pray that these machines make a real difference to people's lives in Katanga.

Thanks again Duncan, and good luck to Mark and Megan with their project in Uganda!

Welcome to two new followers today, Lorraine Jenkins and Erin Davis - thank you for joining!


  1. great initiative donating the machines!
    i sew with vintage machine too and i love it and until now was pretty sure i'm one of the few

    1. Hello Aida,

      Take heart, you are not alone! Lots of people love sewing with their vintage machines.


  2. Dear Muv, What a day we all had. I would just like to say a very big thank you to yourself, you saved the day. I just taken on to much. Very late from work Friday late night with my dad in Oxford. Awake at 4 (for some reason) and then on to Bristol. Fatigue was not the word for it. I had it all sorted out in my head how it would go but my brain was just porridge for most of the day. So when you took the lead and gave a superb master class I was more than happy. I was chuffed to bits when you said with the first machine (27/28) "what a beautiful movement it's got". That was the machine I took totally to pieces. (will send photo's). If you find when you remove cover plate on the needle bar/presser foot on one of the older machines that part of the machine has been glued, it has. Part of the machine had broken and cracked but the screw was holding well. So a little more help to keep it going. I think it was the one with the odd shuttle plates.
    The girls were great and you could see the determination in there eyes and by the end of the day were cast iron converts. From a shaky start to going like the clappers by the end of the day. By now they should be well on the way to being teachers of on how to use the machines (all 14 of them) I think this charity has done so much in a vary short space of time and I for one will be giving my full support to them. There will be a few more twist's to the tail so watch this space. Would I do it all again. You bet.
    Thanks for the 99. If it is ok with you I would like to use it in a local care home as my wife's mother is there. The lady's and gent's have very little to do and were from the "make mend and do" generation and I am sure that they would have all had sewing machine's at some time. So I think I will take down the the 4 I have. The mighty Gritzner, the silky smooth Pfaff,the Manc Jones and the 99 (with 2 flakes please). Get them all going again. Could be a lot of fun.
    Thanks' again Muv your knowledge on sewing machines is endless and please forgive my comment on war time machines (a bit sharp). You can always tell a Northerner but you can't tell him much. Duncan.x

    1. Hello Duncan,

      I hope you are now completely recovered from your trip - it was a long haul for you.

      Wasn't it a pleasure seeing how the girls took to the machines!

      I would be more than delighted for you to pass on the 99K to the old people's home. I'm sure it will bring memories back for many of them, and someone there will get great pleasure from using it.

      Thanks again, Duncan. It was such a great day!




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