One of the things I most enjoy about my job is tracking down the "correct" accessories for the sewing machines we sell.
Which makes me a bit of a snob when it comes to sewing machine accessories. If I'm selling a vintage Singer machine, I really want all of the attachments to have the "Singer" or "Simanco" mark.
But is that really necessary? There are a lot of vintage attachments out there with the "Greist Manufacturing Company" mark. Are they somehow inferior? Does the "Singer" mark automatically make an attachment better?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Obviously it matters if you are assembling a collector quality set of attachments for your Singer machine. But if functionality is your goal, then Greist attachments may be a viable alternative. Because vintage Greist attachments are sometimes nearly identical to Singer attachments.
You guessed it...time for a history lesson!
Greist Manufacturing Company was founded by John M. Greist, an inventor who was employed by Singer to design sewing machine attachments. Greist is the inventor behind the iconic "Puzzle Box" attachments kit for Singer treadle machines. The patent was filed in 1889 by Greist but assigned to Singer. Greist Manufacturing Company went on to produce sewing machine attachments for many different sewing machine makers, including Morse and White.
Greist also manufactured attachments for Singer. I haven't been able to determine how many Singer-marked attachments were made by Greist's factory, but Singer clearly outsourced buttonholers to Greist in the late 1950's and early 1960's. A side by side comparison (Singer at left, Greist at right) confirms it:
As you can see, the box design and presentation are identical and the buttonholers themselves are similar in shape and size.
A closer look reveals that the only difference is the shape and color of the plastic cover.
Singer (top) and Greist instructions.
When it came to the instruction booklet, the source of the Singer buttonholer is even more obvious. Again, the books are identical, right down to the illustration in the Singer (pink) book clearly show the Greist-shaped cover!
So the next time you see a sewing machine attachment marked "Greist" don't be too quick to dismiss it. Greist produced quaility products and had a long history of partnership with Singer. So if it fits your machine, go ahead and use it!
Happy Sewing! Barbara OldSewinGear...dedicated to helping you get the most out of your old sewing gear.
OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.