Singer Sewing Center

In 1930, Signer Sewing Company hired local architects Charles Favrot and Louis A. Livaudais to erect a Neoclassical style storefront at 934 Canal Street to house a flagship Singer Sewing Center. [1, 2]

In 1850, Isaac M. Singer invented the first practical sewing machine for general domestic use. This sewing machine was the “first to embody features allowing continuous and curved stitching, his machine employed an overhanging arm holding the needle bar over a horizontal table, thus making it possible to sew on any part of the work.” [3]  In 1855, Singer’s invention won first prize at the Paris World’s Fair. In 1885, Singer demonstrated the first workable electric sewing machine at the Philadelphia electric exhibition. In 1910, Singer began mass-producing domestic electric sewing machines. [4]

During the early twentieth century, the sewing machine increased the speed at which women could fabricate goods and clothing in the home. By 1951, according to SVP, the company that now owns the Signer brand, it is estimated that Signer Sewing Centers trained over 400,000 housewives to sew in one of the 600 Singer Sewing Centers located nationwide. [5] When visiting the Signer Sewing Center at 934 Canal Street, women could purchase sewing machines and notions, in addition to attending classes to educate themselves on how to use the machinery and additional sewing skills such as embroidering and quilting.

The Singer Sewing Center provided a space for women to gather and socialize. Here women could meet together to learn new skills and discuss personal matters and popular culture, in turn creating a culture all their own. Singer Sewing Centers advertised their store as a place women could go to learn hemstitching, picoting, and covering buttons, and come out “walking on air.” [6] According to a 1947 Life Magazine advertisement, Signer only sold their machines in their sewing centers, “never through department stores or other outlets,” further solidifying the sewing centers as a meeting place for women while ensuring Signer secured the greatest profit possible. [6] The Singer Center created a new culture all its own centered around homemakers and women who wanted to create things.

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934 Canal Street, New Orleans, LA