Universal Sewing Machines Ltd was formed in early 1954 and by April was selling "shop soiled" Tailor-Bird machines. In the following year it advertised for Tailor-Bird machines "working or not" presumably to refurbish.

Around 1957 the company redesigned the Tailor-Bird with manufacturing being undertaked at the company's factory, offices and showroom 27 - 33 Hurst Street, Birmingham where some 300 employees produced 35,000 machines a year.

In May 1962 it was announced that due to demand and lack of suitable premises in Birmingham it was outsourcing production of sewing machines to a company in Manchester although the showroom and offices remained in Birmingham.

This Universal machine is badged SL features the same basic layout of the Tailor Bird including the same walking foot mechanism, slide plates and almost identical shuttle but has a electric motor and foot pedal.

In 1960 the company further refined the design in the Sewmaid which has more angular castings, simple bobbin winder and uses a plastic shuttle.

See also Tailor Bird Sewing Machine Co.


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 Universal SL

Universal SL Serial No. E4035.

This machine was probably made c1958.

The body is cast aluminium with Universal cast into the Arm and Unisomac British Made on the pillar. The castings are quite rough and are overpainted silver giving a quite stylish effect.

The 1/15th HP electric motor made by the company is mounted to the rear of the pillar. It drives a large flywheel and is controlled by a neat metal foot-pedal.

The machine has two prongs and thumb catch which hold it into the thin plywood base. The cover is hardboard with a thick decorative card outer and reinforced at the corners. It's held in place with two latches.

Universal Foot Pedal

The machines heritage can be clearly seen the Slide plates and style of bobbin winder are classic Tailor Bird features.

Universal Slide Plates
Universal Bobbin Winder.jpg
Universal Sewing Machine