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Published 22 February 2017

An exhibition telling the story of the sewing machine is open at Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery.

A Stitch in Time – the Story of the Sewing Machine, will open from Saturday  18 February to 13 May. Visitors can see a selection of key sewing machines from West Dunbartonshire’s Recognised Collection of National Significance, alongside a series of beautiful dresses and accessories – Including some on loan for the first time from Glasgow Museums.

This fascinating exhibition explores the history of the sewing machine from its invention in the mid-19th century, to its various uses in all manners of manufacturing: from dresses and boots to feather boas.

The exhibition also showcases rare examples of early sewing machines by various manufacturers, including the Singer Number One – the Singer Manufacturing Company’s first commercial sewing machine. The Clydebank example is a rare, complete Singer Number One sewing machine. It will be exhibited alongside two Lancashire type sewing machines – the only known examples of the first British made sewing machines.

Visitors will also see a display of Victorian and Edwardian costumes, including some on loan for the first time from Glasgow Museums. Also on display for the first time are two outfits from West Dunbartonshire’s own textile collection, both of which have recently undergone conservation work enabled in large part through the generosity of The Costume Society’s inaugural Elizabeth Hammond Award.

The story of the sewing machine is one that has long been interlinked with West Dunbartonshire, and Clydebank in particular. Over the years, millions of sewing machines were built by tens of thousands of people at the Singer Manufacturing Company’s Clydebank Factory. In turn, Clyde-built ships transported sewing machines all around the world. Between ships and sewing machines, West Dunbartonshire played a major role in driving the global economic and social changes brought about by the invention of the sewing machine. It’s a story that still resonates today.

Councillor Michelle McGinty, Convener of Educational Services, said: “The Council is delighted to host this collection that showcases an important period in the history that very much impacted upon West Dunbartonshire. I would encourage people to come along and see first-hand the amazing machines that helped create some beautiful garments. This exhibition promises to be a fascinating historic journey for our residents.  I would like to thank everyone involved in staging this exhibition and especially the generous support of Museums Galleries Scotland and The Costume Society.”

Councillor John Mooney, Depute Convener of Educational Services, said: “It really is remarkable to see how far technology developed during the 19th century, to allow for the creation of such beautiful fashions. This stunning exhibition brings together a wealth of history which I know will be appreciated by many generations of families in the area. Those who have a strong connection to the Singer Sewing Machine factory in Clydebank will have the opportunity to discover more about the history of the sewing machine, and Singer’s connection with Scotland. My mother worked there for many years, and I used to volunteer in the sewing machine archive. I would encourage people to come along and enjoy the variety of garments and sewing machines on display.”

Visitors can see the A Stitch in Time exhibition at Clydebank Museum and Art Gallery, Clydebank Town Hall, from 18 February until 13 May 2017, Monday to Saturday 10am – 4.30pm. Admission is free.