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The Sewing Machine

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  7,706 ratings  ·  703 reviews
It is 1911, and Jean is about to join the mass strike at the Singer factory. For her, nothing will be the same again.

Decades later, in Edinburgh, Connie sews coded moments of her life into a notebook, as her mother did before her.

More than 100 years after his grandmother’s sewing machine was made, Fred discovers a treasure trove of documents. His family history is laid out
ebook, 320 pages
Published April 17th 2017 by Unbound
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Popular Answered Questions
Natalie Fergie Thank you.
I'm not planning a sequel, but I am writing a second book where there are connections between some people, if that makes sense?
Thank you.
I'm not planning a sequel, but I am writing a second book where there are connections between some people, if that makes sense?
Kathy McNally In this book there are constant changes of location, time and characters. Did this make it more or less enjoyable for you? Would you have preferred it…moreIn this book there are constant changes of location, time and characters. Did this make it more or less enjoyable for you? Would you have preferred it if the author had started at the beginning, gone on to the end and then stopped? (less)

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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Apr 16, 2018 rated it liked it
Secrets are hidden in the fabric and creases of the old hospital. They turn up on a daily basis, but their importance is not always recognised by those who discover them.

Decades separate these four characters, but they are all tied together by a sewing machine:
• Clydebank, 1911: Jean (18yo) is a sewing machine tester at the local Singer Factory. The workers are about to strike and she's forced to choose between her father who demands compliance and her rebellious boyfriend who's encouraging
Joanne Robertson
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The first thing I did when I finished The Sewing Machine was to call my mum to tell her she HAD to buy this book. The second thing I did was to sit and wonder how on earth I was going to write a review that would manage to convey just how much this book affected me and how I would ever find the words to convince others to buy and read this stunning book! It is currently now sitting at the top of my favourite reads for 2017.

Everything about this book worked for me! I always find that the setting
Kelly Lacey
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The cover of the book is instantly appealing. I could connect with the title, The Sewing Machine and relate to it to my childhood. When my mother and I would visit John Lewis department store on a Saturday, to pick out material for my Cabbage Patch Dolls new dress. Which my mum then made on her Singer Sewing Machine. So that was instantly appealing, then to read that Edinburgh played a part too, well that sold it completely to me. As that’s my home city.

The book is like a warm blanket on a nippy
I absolutely loved this book, start to finish.

I noticed some reviewers noted that the book "jumps around" timewise, and that is true, but I found it integral to the story. It is a deftly weaved story that spans many decades, and slowly ties families together through an antique sewing machine (in the present).

It is 1911, and employees at the Singer factory in Kilbowie, Scotland are ready to strike for equality, better pay, and better working conditions. Donald is at the lead in trying to get the
"The sewing machine has provided work in manufacture, eased work in the home and facilitated work when there was none to be had."

A well researched historical novel that alternates between several timelines.

1911 Clydebank, Scotland where we meet an eighteen year old Jean who works as a sewing machine tester at the Singer Factory. At that time, the Singer Factory was all powerful and employed thousands of workers.  It even had its own railway station and its own trains. Jean lives with her dominee
Focusing on the lives of three characters – Jean, Connie and Fred – along with the people close to them, The Sewing Machine transports the reader from 1911 to the modern day.  In telling the stories of the various characters, the author provides a wealth of domestic detail relevant to the specific period giving a real feeling of authenticity.  On the other hand, at times the narrative skips over significant periods of and momentous events in their lives, with the gaps only filled towards the end ...more
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was little I remember standing by my mom’s side watching her sew me and my sister new clothes. When I was about 10 we went to an auction and my mom bought this old Singer sewing machine, wood with little drawers on the side, I thought it was for decoration, but this was a machine for me to learn on. I am not sure what ever happened to this old machine, I am sure it was sold again on an auction. Many years later my husband would by me a new Singer, and that is what I quilt on today. But it ...more
Linda Lpp
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Am loving this book. Reminders of the Singer sewing machine in our family from the late 1940's into 2005. My Mother lovingly spending "her don't bother I'm sewing" time , as she sewed dresses for her five daughters.

Interesting story spanning different generations. I admit about 2/3 of the way through for some reason I started to get confused as to who some of the characters were. Is this the grandmother or the mother or..(you get the idea). I'm not really fascinated with family trees, so perhaps
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I first heard about this book when the author contacted me back in December last year to ask if I might be interested in reading her forthcoming novel. I was really intrigued by the idea of the story - following a sewing machine and its owners over the years - and the fact that it was set partly in Leith and other areas of Edinburgh sold it to me. I am so glad I said I would read it as I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The idea of following the story of an object throughout its life is one that really app
Mairead Hearne (
3 secrets. 27 notebooks. 4 generations. 1 blog. Millions of stitches.

The Sewing Machine is the debut novel from Natalie Fergie, a book that spans generations from the 1911 mass strike at The Singer Factory in Clydebank, Scotland to more than 100 years later to 2016 in Leith.

Natalie Fergie takes the reader on a journey with a sewing machine and it’s impact on the generations that followed.

The Sewing Machine is a book with a big heart.

Following the story of Jean, we are taken back to a time in
Paula Sealey
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
This was an enjoyable enough read following the journey of a Singer sewing machine through three different eras and the tribulations of the machines owners. For me however, there were far too many leaps back and forth between characters and timelines which made it difficult to keep up with the plot and become fully immersed in the story. There is lots of period detail, including events surrounding a strike at the Singer sewing machine factory and these additions were really interesting. The conc ...more
I purchased this book primarily because it had a vintage Singer on the cover. . . as an owner and user of many Featherweight machines (even painted ladies!), I really wanted to LOVE this book.

It moved from story to story from time to time and jumped to a such a dizzying degree I had to keep going back to figure out who was who and what the action was. Basically, it became an exercise, and was more about genealogy lines meeting eventually, with the common element being that beautiful old sewing
Shona Kinsella
Apr 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: unbounders
Although I have read in this genre, it's not my go-to but this book has moved the genre higher up my list.

The first thing that struck me is the prose. Well-written throughout and at times beautiful, I enjoyed the craftsmanship and envy the skill.

The story is charming with tense and touching scenes in equal measure. Read it with the tissues handy! I was very impressed with how deftly the author wove the strands of so many lives together in a tapestry only fully revealed at the end.

I am in awe
This was such a fabulous book that had me shouting at the characters when I was only 12 pages in. It’s always a really good sign to me if I’m interacting with characters in this way, because it means I can identify with them and the story.

This was a wonderful historical fiction book with multiple timelines, full of characters who all are connected somehow. I loved the weaving together, (or should that be sewing together?) of their stories through the years, with short chapters that made me race
virginia king
Great first attempt

Although I very much enjoyed the characters and their individual stories, I found the whole tying up process of the families very baffling, particularly the last chapter, by which time, I no longer cared!! However, I suggest the author DOES give up her day job, as I think she has the makings of a good storyteller.
Amy Bruno
I am a sucker for books with multiple story-lines, so when I was approached to review The Sewing Machine I immediately jumped at the chance. In my opinion, it takes a lot of talent to weave these story-lines together and when done right it can create a powerful impact. And dang, did Natalie Fergie get it right! The Sewing Machine was easy to get lost in, with great characters, and an endearing mystery. It was charming and lovely, and I adored it!

"The sewing machine has provided work in manufact
Tina Woodbury
Aug 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Natalia Fergie has stitched a lovely story that stretches more than a century!

This story is told from the perspective of a few different characters, jumping from one decade to another. All of their storylines are interesting, but I was especially drawn to Fred. He was quite the character! He thought he had his life all figured out until the passing of his Granda, when the dominoes started to fall and he needed to re-evaluate everything.

I found it very interesting to follow the sewing machine’s j
Deanne Patterson
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
I requested this because I remember my grandmother sewing all the time on her Singer sewing machine when I was a child. My grandfather even made her a wooden sewing machine table for it. This book takes place in three time frames 1911, 1954 and 2016. Don't be put off and not read it though because of this. The time frames all eventually come together in the end. Sometimes families do unconventional things that for that time period seem alright to do but are questioned by later generations. This ...more
Tracy Shephard
May 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
From the start you just know The Sewing Machine is going to be a little treasure.

Set in three timeline 1911, 1954 and 2016, getting to know each of the characters was just amazing. Each timeline is written perfectly for the era. the strike in the factory and the consequences of that which affects Jean, the brilliance of the 1950's NHS where the Sister would make tea in china cups to deliver bad news and the modernity 2011.

Jean, Connie and Fred each have a history to the Singer sewing machine tha
Oct 24, 2018 rated it liked it
I would have given this book four stars or maybe even five were it not for the dang triple timeline, as the action hopped back and forth among three generations, all of whom use the same sewing machine. Just as I felt I was getting to know one character and being very interested in his or her life, I turned the page and was catapulted into another time and place. I know this is a literary device that some authors use to great effect, but in this case it was just confusing.

On the plus side, as a
Alyssia Cooke
A slow and gentle read that flits between multiple characters surrounding the same old sewing machine. From 1911 with the original owner of this sewing machine, to the modern day and following several linked families and tales.

It is an enjoyable read but the time switching and character switching was difficult to keep track of and I often found myself confused about which timeline or character I was in and how they linked together. It all did become clear in the last sections and everything line
Kelly Furniss
Jul 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
The most wonderful tale is told of the owners, both men and women of a Singer sewing machine which links two generations of families as it changes hands. We follow it from the production line to restored in the current day.
The book explores the changes of Scottish social history in over one hundred years and I really enjoyed the depth of historical detail and learnt a lot whilst it still remained a cosy read with some gentle moments. A story told well with great research and a book I enjoyed ver
Dec 23, 2017 rated it liked it
The Sewing Machine by Natalie Fergie has the description: One Sewing Machine. Two Families. Three secrets. Four generations.

The author was a career nurse turned fabric dyer and textile enthusiast. She was inspired to write this novel by a Singer 99K found near the Singer sewing factory where it was made, which she purchased for 20 pounds.

The Sewing Machine was crowd funded by subscription and published through Unbound. Readers can pledge for a book at

I thought it would be interestin
Alex (ReadingBetweenTheNotes)
This was a really enjoyable historical fiction! Fergie has a nice writing style, not too flowery but captivating enough to sweep you up into another period in time. I found it difficult to put the book down, constantly telling myself "just one more chapter".

There are a LOT of characters to get to grips with in this story and I will admit to being confused at times as to how everyone was linked. This is in part due to the incorrect assumptions I made from reading the blurb, as well as the fact th
Bonnye Reed
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
GNA This novel takes us from 21 March, 1911 through the year 2016 in a rather unique way. We follow the lives of three generations of an English family as it is reflected in the use made of a manual hand cranked Singer sewing machine, from it's manufacture in Clydebank, England and into 2016. We are there for the first ever large scale strike by workers attempting to vote in a Union at their workplace at Singer Sewing Machines. Jean and her husband Donald are forced out of their manufacturing jo ...more
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
My mum bought me this book as I love seeing & she’d enjoyed the book. It wouldn’t have been something I’d pick for myself. We’re a family of sewers, with sewing machines having been passed through the family, including an old singer. I often wonder about the many items what have previously been made on the machines. This book filled me with nostalgia and a longing for my departed grandparents. I really enjoyed the different timelines and the challenges each time period brought to the characters. ...more
Rachel England-Brassy
Review to follow
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I've read in ages! I look forward to more from this author! ...more
Aug 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I am a sucker for the working class struggle, especially for the period of early nineteen hundreds. Situated in Scotland, embroidered with a sewist's jargon and finished up with a heart warming double knot, this is a book tailored for me. A very visual message from our ancestors, will read again. ...more
Carie Harling
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing

It's been ages since I posted a book review (yet another reason I wish there were 48 hours in a day), so you have to know that, if I post one, the book is way worth sharing.

The Sewing Machine has all of the things that I love in a story: multiple story lines, multiple generations, and enough intrigue to keep me turning the pages. Natalie has done all of this, and more, in The Sewing Machine, and that's where the whole wonderful story starts... with a sewing machine.
Add to all of that handcraftin
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