Mini-machines for mini-housewives

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Mini sewing machine

To sell machines to middle- and working-class buyers, Singer invented both smaller payments - and smaller machines. First of all, it introduced the system of installment sales. It allowed the machines to be paid for over two years in monthly payments. In Poland, for example, at a total price of 250 zlotys for a hand-powered sewing machine, the installments were around ten zlotys (approximately two US dollars) per month. Significantly, this method of sales was known in Poland as the "American system."

In the late 1920s, Singer introduced a further incentive to buy machines, this time addressed to the youngest potential customers: special savings accounts for young girls. In Poland, once a girl had paid 45 zlotys into such an account, she could receive a smaller machine for sewing doll clothes. Such machines actually offered virtually the same capabilities as the full-size product. Similar ‘mini-machines for mini-payment’ schemes ran in countries throughout Europe such as France and Finland.

The company also organized courses in mechanical embroidery to encourage local women to use machines instead of hand-sewing. A special adapter for embroidering cost the equivalent of only four dollars.

How to cite this page


Slawomir Lotysz, 'Mini-machines for mini-housewives', Inventing Europe,


  1. "Rynek maszyn do szycia." Gazeta Handlowa, January 23, 1929.

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New ways of making a living with a Singer sewing machine

Sewing machines are powerful things. As they spread around the world in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, they allowed women - and men - to produce clothes rapidly, often copying the high fashions of the upper classes. The American company Singer made perhaps the largest impact, not through any technological innovation, but through local sales and marketing campaigns. Users across Europe began to use Singer sewing machines to make a living, in a number of ways.

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