The Sewing Machine

By Natalie Fergie

3 secrets. 27 notebooks. 4 generations. 1 blog. Millions of stitches.

Fiction | History
116% funded
267 supporters

Publication date: TBC

book cover
You made The Sewing Machine a reality. It's available in all good book stores now.
162 pledges

Ebook Only

E-book edition. DRM free, in three formats: PDF, mobi and epub

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10 pledges

Super Patron (Early Bird Discount)

Special Early Bird price. Ebook edition and your name in list of Super Patrons in the front of the ebook

Only 10 available

25 pledges

Super Patron

Ebook edition and your name in list of Super Patrons in the front of the ebook

12 pledges


A set of 10 cards (five designs) plus everything at the Super Patron.

15 pledges

Hand Dyed Embroidery Threads

A selection of embroidery threads, hand dyed by Natalie in colours inspired by the novel, plus everything at Super Patron level.

22 pledges

Hand Dyed Yarn – 1 Skein

A 100g skein of 100% merino DK yarn hand dyed by the author in a colour inspired by the novel. Plus everything at Super Patron level.

21 pledges

Hand Dyed Yarn – 2 Skeins

Two matching 100g skeins of 100% merino DK yarn hand dyed by the author in a colour inspired by the novel. Plus everything at Super Patron level.

1 pledge

Threads & Yarn

Embroidery threads and two 100g skeins of 100% merino DK yarn, hand dyed by Natalie in a colour inspired by the novel. Plus everything at Super Patron level.

1 pledge

Book Group

Natalie will visit your book group to talk about the book. Plus up to 10 copies of the ebook and your names in the front.

Within driving distance of Edinburgh

1 pledge


A personal dedication from the author in the front and the ebook edition.

Only one available

1 pledge

Hand-made Quilt

A one-off, cotton quilt hand-made by the author – double bed sized. Made on her vintage sewing machine. Natural unbleached cotton batting as the thicker middle layer. Plus everything at the Super Patron level.

Only two available

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The star of this novel is a vintage sewing machine.

Millions of these efficient black workhorses were made in Clydebank and then shipped all over the world to be used by our grandmothers and great-grandmothers.

The novel is book-ended by Jean, in 1911 and Fred in 2016. Their interleaved family histories are revealed through narrative, notebooks and blogposts.

Jean works at the Singer factory and she is about to go on strike, along with more than ten thousand other workers.

It changes her life.

In an act of defiance, she leaves a message hidden in a sewing machine, where it will be found by the first owner.

More than a hundred years later, thirty-something Fred, a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing, inherits his grandfather’s flat. In order to capitalise on his good fortune he decides to sell as much of the contents as he can, including his grandmother’s old sewing machine. He is frustrated to discover that the mechanism is jammed and when he investigates, he finds a brown paper package hidden in the base. His family history is laid out before him in a sort of code, but he has to decipher it before he can unpick the secrets of four generations.

Like Jean, Fred's life is about to be turned upside down and he must find a way to survive the changes ahead.

This is a novel for anyone who goes to jumble sales, charity shops, American Yard Sales or Australian Op Shops. It’s for people who wonder who owned that old biscuit tin or the tatty cookbook with the writing in the margins, and who are intrigued by the stories these objects might tell.


Quick select rewards

162 pledges

Ebook Only

E-book edition. DRM free, in three formats: PDF, mobi and epub

Buy now
25 pledges

Super Patron

Ebook edition and your name in list of Super Patrons in the front of the ebook

  • Natalie Fergie avatar

    Natalie Fergie

    Natalie Fergie is a textile enthusiast, and has spent the last ten years running a one woman dyeing business, sending parcels of colourful and unique yarn and thread all over the world. Before this she had a 27 year career as nurse and latterly, as a Health Visitor.

    Natalie lives near Edinburgh with her husband, and a dog called Boris. Her sons have flown the nest.

    The Singer 99k which was the inspiration for novel has had at least four previous owners, possibly more. It was bought for £20 from someone who lived in Clydebank, just a stone’s throw from the site of the factory where it was made a hundred years earlier.

    It’s quite possible that there are another eight sewing machines in her house.

    She blogs at and tweets as @theyarnyard

  • Tuesday, 21st March 1911

    ‘There is going to be a strike!’

    Jean heard the words as they flowed around her, nudging at the edges of her mind. She tried to put them aside. From across the workroom, the foreman watched her. Every so often he took the pencil stub from behind his ear, an action out of kilter with his recent promotion, and made a mark in his new notebook. Until a few weeks ago he had been one of them, and she wondered if he had realised how things would change when he took on the new job.

    The long workspace resembled a schoolroom for a hundred and twenty pupils with individual tables arranged in groups of eight. She didn’t know why it was called the Testing Flat, any more than the reason why the needle making workshop was called the Needle Flat - it had always been that way.

    To many of the women in the workshop, the foreman was still the little boy with the sticking out ears who once lived at the poorest end of town. He was the child to whom they had given thick slices of bread when they saw him playing with their sons in the street, the lad who always smelled of stale pee. They weren’t bothered in the slightest about his new position, but he wasn’t part of the group any more.

    He cleared his throat and spoke decisively, as he had been instructed.

  • Natalie Fergie has written 1 private update. You can pledge to get access to them all.

    6th November 2017 We have sold HOW many books???

    Hello again,

    I have very exciting news.

    As you know, The Sewing Machine was published on 17th April this year. As an author, I had a vague idea about how the book was selling, but a lot of that was based on hopes and dreams, cautiously tempered with a healthy dollop of common sense. Authors not knowing how things are going is pretty normal across the publishing world, as far as I know. 


    1st August 2017 Please Vote in #NotTheBookerPrize


    I am delighted and chuffed and honoured that we, Team Sewing Machine, have been included in The Guardian's Not The Booker Prize Long List which was published on Monday.  A hundred and fifty books are on it, and one of them is The Sewing Machine.  The list was created from nominations from the public, so if one of those nominations came from you, THANK YOU!

    You know what I am going to say…

    21st April 2017 Photos, reviews, book launch and a road trip


    We are published!

    I'm not using the royal 'we', I mean all of us in Team Sewing Machine. WE DID IT, and you are all part of it. Your names are in the front and back of the book and although many of us have not met, I feel as though I know you.

    The book is getting some great reviews on Goodreads here.

    And it has some lovely amazon reviews as well.


    The paperbacks are now "in…

    29th March 2017 We did it!

    On Tuesday, the imaginary PRINT button was pushed and my book, OUR book, yours and mine, went into production. 

    Today you should get an email with several download links to suit whichever device you want to read it on. 

    Scrumple up the weekend To Do list, bribe the children, order a takeaway and find somewhere comfortable to sit... there is a book to be read.

    When it actually happened, I…

    17th February 2017 Final proofs


    I'm pleased to be able to say that we are almost there. 

    The first round of proofs have been done, and I'm just waiting for the the final page proof copy. At this stage it's really a case of:

    'Has my name been spelled correctly?'


    'Is there a full stop at the end of the book?'

    The cover is being finalised as I speak and I hope to be able to show it to you very soon.

    Fot those…

    9th December 2016 The final stage...

    Exciting times!

    I apologise for being quiet here in the shed, and can assure you it's because I've been working very hard to make this book the best it can possibly be.

    The manuscript has been through the copy-edit stage, and has been returned to Unbound this morning to be proofread. The end is tantalisingly in sight.

    I've done the acknowledgements - a surprisingly stressful experience. When…

    21st October 2016 The developmental edit is finished

    This is a quick blogpost to let you know that the developmental edit is now finished and the manuscript has been sent off for copy editing. `

    The cover is being designed as I write, and there are other secret and exciting things happening which I can't tell you about yet. Maddening, isn't it?'

    We have closed off the yarn and thread options now and I have a list of the names of everyone who …

    3rd October 2016 Not judging a book by the cover.

    Hello again. 

    It seems as though this stage of book publishing is like waiting for the proverbial bus. Nothing seems to happen for ages and then all the buses arrive at the same time.

    My second structural edit is back and there are only minor changes to make. I've been doing a full read-through, which takes longer than you might think because I'm reading it out loud. Yes, Boris the Labrador…

    28th August 2016 As Adele would sing...


    After spending several weeks structually editing the manuscript of The Sewing Machine, which involved more investment in the Post It note division of 3M than I would have thought possible, I have typed THE END and sent it back to Celine to look at for a second time. 

    Editing is a weird business. 

    You write a story.

    You read it.

    You realise that bits of it are ALL WRONG.


    7th July 2016 The editing continues...

    Hello again everyone, and a warm welcome to my new supporters - Maureen Wilkins, Sakthi Norton, Riccardo Sartori, Pamela Hilton and Janet Lees. 

    Things have been a bit quiet around here on the blog, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening with the book. 

    In the middle of May I sent the manuscript off to the person who is doing the Structural Edit and then I went on holiday for two weeks,…

    11th May 2016 Manuscript sent for editing!

    I'm really chuffed to tell you that Celine Kelly is going to be editing my book.

    Celine has worked at Penguin and Headline and has edited novels by Marian Keyes, Jane Green and Jane Fallon, who have between them sold more than 35 million books. 

    As you can imagine, I'm a bit star struck!

    The novel has been read again, several times - I realised only last week that I had somehow called one character…

    21st April 2016 100% and counting

    I'm delighted to be able to say that we have done it, you and me, and a hundred and seventy other people. 

    We have coaxed, shuffled and in the final hour, wheeeeeeee'd this book over the funding finish line, like a child on a bike with legs stuck out on either side as they barrel down the most exciting hill EVER.

    It took 33 days from the time it went live on the Unbound website, to move it from…

    31st March 2016 Chapter excerpt - meet Fred.

    Hello again.

    Today I thought I'd introduce you to Fred. As a contemporary character, he has a very different voice in the novel. 

    The story of the sewing machine and the secrets it holds are woven between the past and the present. As the reader, sometimes you will discover things before Fred does, and you'll be sitting there saying "Come on, why can't you see what's going on?".

    On other occasions…

    24th March 2016 Books are better than chocolate!

    Hello again.

    As I write this, above the gubbins which says "Write a new blog post", there is a green disc which shows me that we have raised more than half of the pledges needed to make this book into a published novel.

    You can probably see it too.  

    In among the slivers which make up the dark green wedge are pledges by Unbounders, by friends and family, and by people I have only met online…

    18th March 2016 Welcome to the Shed

    A shed is a wonderful thing - a place to shelter from the wettest of rain, or somewhere to sit and muse about the world quietly. We won't mention the weeding.

    So, slip your wellies off and put them on the newspaper beside the door and draw up a chair or flop down on that sofa over there. I’ll put the kettle on for tea or coffee.

    This book was launched just ten hours ago on Unbound, and I can…

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  • Gregory Boone
    Gregory Boone asked:

    Is there a non Ebook edition??

    Unbound replied:

    Hi Gregory, Thanks for getting in touch and for your interest in The Sewing Machine! At the moment this is only available as an ebook, but we're in discussion with a printer about publishing the book in paperback. There's nothing set in stone at the moment, but please do watch this space for news on the paperback. Best wishes, Caitlin - Community Manager

    john kyle
    john kyle asked:

    Hello Natalie, Your book sounds perfect for my lovely wife, but she is old school, paper-only. Will there be a pledge or an option to buy an actual book rather than an electronic copy? One Love, John from Bellingen, Australia

    Unbound replied:

    Hi John, Thanks for getting in touch and for your interest in The Sewing Machine! At the moment this is only available as an ebook, but we're in discussion with a printer about publishing the book in paperback. There's nothing set in stone at the moment, but please do watch this space for news on the paperback. Best wishes, Caitlin - Community Manager

    Sarah Inman
    Sarah Inman asked:

    I believe I made a pledge with the Cards option. do you know when these will be available and sent out please? thank you

    Natalie Fergie
    Natalie Fergie replied:

    The cards will go out later this week, and the other pledges soon after that. Thank you!

    Sarah Inman
    Sarah Inman asked:

    Its me again, I'm sorry but I cant find the link to digital edition that I made a pledge to. could you let me have instructions please?

    Unbound replied:

    Hi Sarah, This article should help with downloading the ebook: I hope you enjoy the book! Best wishes, Unbound Support