Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Sewing Machine Stories


One of my favorite blogger friends, Penny, posted yesterday about getting out her sewing machine after it had been in storage for a long time and making a project. Click here for a picture of her machine. Penny's machine was a gift to her from her husband the first Christmas she was married. I'm sure she has memories of sewing on that machine for her children and while the children were playing or sleeping nearby. She can pull out quilts and other projects that bring back memories.

It got me to thinking about the stories and memories associated with sewing machines.

One recent story involves my daughter. Her grandmother died in a car accident in the year 2000. Her belongings had been sitting in her house until recently when the house was being cleaned out. My daughter was given her grandmother's Kenmore sewing machine. She was very excited about it, even though she hasn't sewn very much. Just the fact that the machine belonged to her grandmother was special to her and she had some curtains she wanted to hem that were too long for the windows in her new house.

No one knew if the machine would even work as it had been stored in an old house all these years. She took the machine, which is mounted in a cabinet, home "as is". When she opened it up the machine was still threaded from the last time her grandmother sewed! It was almost like her grandmother was there helping her, because she didn't really know how to thread the machine or anything.

I would love to help my daughter learn how to operate this machine and work on some projects with her. She would like to make some curtains which would be a great beginner's project. I plan to spend my next day off (Martin Luther King's Day) with her and so maybe this is something we can pursue.

I own my grandmother's old sewing machine too. It is an old treadle sewing machine. It would need extensive work to be operational. The cabinet it is in is in very bad condition and the machine is rusty. This machine is very, very old. My guess would be it was from the 20s or 30s. Some day I would like to have the machine and its cabinet refurbished. It is stored in my garage right now, but would make a beautiful piece of furniture if it was redone. When the machine is closed up there is a wooden panel that goes across the front with beautiful wood carvings in it.

My current sewing machine is a lot like Penny's, just a little older. It's a Singer Fashion Mate that originally was used in a high school home economics class. The machines were all sold and my sister in law was a teacher who was able to get it for me. I think the first thing I sewed on it was a baby quilt, bumper pads for a cradle, and cradle sheets for my daughter, before she was born. I also made a little pink seer sucker outfit she wore to her first birthday party.

I'm sure if my machine could talk it could tell lots of stories of its days in the high school class room. The cabinet it is in has a name carved on it, "Norwood". Don't know who Norwood is or was, but I bet he'd find it funny that his name is on a sewing machine cabinet in my house after all these years.

Do you have any sewing machine stories or memories?


Pen Pen said...

What a wonderful post! I think the first thing I sewed on my machine was a blue and white checked quilt. I didn't know about cutting strips, etc. so I cut each block by hand, for a nine patch quilt! I loved that quilt, which has now seen its better days. I've made lots of crib sheets, curtains, a few quilts, crafts, and a few little girl clothes on my machine. Yes, it has many wonderful memories. I hope Lori enjoys her grandmother's machine as much as we love ours! Your grandmother's machine is a treasure. I hope you get it restored one day.

Blue Sky said...

You already told my story! :) I got very emotional (and still do just typing this) when I opened that sewing machine and saw that Grandma had already threaded it for me - who knows how many years ago! I'm sure she never thought that I'd be opening it up in 2007 and thinking about her.

Mom2fur said...

Both sewing machines are wonderful, and the older one is truly an heirloom. My mother has had the same machine for as long as I can remember...just a simple Singer that must be from the 50s, but it still works. Sometimes, the more simple something is, the better it is. I had a Janome machine when my kids were little that ran about $3,000. Believe me, I used it a lot and got my money's worth. But then the computer inside it 'died,' and the cost of fixing it wasn't in my budget. I now have a simpler machine--no computer inside. Frankly, as long as a machine has a buttonhole option on top of straight stitches, that's enough for me. I don't need 179 stitches, LOL!

Anonymous said...

How fun to think about the stories associated with our sewing machines! For years I had my mother's old Singer "Touch & Sew" -- I had learned to sew on that machine and made many clothes for myself and for my little girls as they were growing up. After having to take it for repairs several times, the repairman finally pronounced it dead -- a very sad day.

Now I have a Viking/Husqvarna machine which I love. It sits on an old sewing machine cabinet that still houses a Singer treadle machine that I bought at an antique store. I also have an antique portable "New Home" sewing machine that was converted from a treadle to electric. It only does straight stitching -- no zigzag -- but I have made curtains and done mending with it (years ago). I haven't used this one in years, but I don't want to part with it.

These wonderful machines have assisted me in many a creative effort and I am grateful for them. Thanks for sharing! Ruth

Mrs. Mordecai said...

If you or your daughter would like to contact me through the e-mail address on my blog, I have my grandmother's old Kenmore, too, I think from the early 60s, complete with manuals. Contact me if you would like me to scan them in and send them.

Carol said...

I love this post. I still remember my grandmother's Singer sewing machine. It was quite old and in a wooden cabinet. I remember the hum of that machine and even the smell. My daddy still has that old machine.

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