We all collect things. Some more than others, some for sentiment, some for monetary value, some…just because. I am one to collect for sentiment. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you should know by now what a sentimental sap I am. An emotional gush is always at the ready. That said, this post is über sentimental and emotional, and for good reason.
During our vacation in Barbados last June I asked my Auntie Pam (the oldest of my mother’s 9 brothers and sisters) to begin making arrangements to have two sewing machines shipped to me. Well it took 5 months for them to get here (dealing with US. Customs is not fun…), then another 2 months for me to get them cleaned and maybe even working again. It was all worth the wait!!!!
Allow me to introduce you to my collection…..
This is the machine featured in the post I wrote last month about wanting another hour with my grandmother and great-grandmother. In a way, Santa gave me my wish.
Granny Fowler’s sewing machine before…
Here it is after a week with a very talented “repair man” at Hartsdale Fabrics.
1939 Singer Sewing Machine manufactured in England. Just look at it….I didn’t even know that plate was silver.
Best part…it works!!! As Larry (the owner) wrote on the report, It Lives!! and sews beautifully.
I can spend time with her now (in a unique way) on her machine. Sewing to my hearts content. No I can’t do any “heavy” work on it but a little piece of all my quilts can now be sewn on it. A simple seam, a quilt block…a little something made together.
The base needs a little repair, which hubby is more than happy to do for me.
There is also a little mystery surrounding this machine. When Larry was showing me the work he’d done he pointed out the wear and tear on the hand crank. That type of corrosion he said usually happened when sewing machine were used on or near the ocean. When I told my mum we both thought that this machine may have been a gift from my great-grandfather (a mariner) to the woman he loved. But the dates don’t really work. Suffice it to say (without airing all the King family laundry) that the incurable romantic in me would like to believe that it passed through both their hands at some point. And now it rests in mine, maybe even Kira’s someday.
It keeps getting better. Here is the other machine that was shipped. It belonged to my mum’s Tanti Emlynn (not a real aunt but one of those women you grow up calling auntie, I had tons of them as a child). She is the talent behind my mother’s wedding dress and those of 3 other sisters (7 total).
Here it is before…
And after…I’m in love. My mother’s wedding dress was sewn on this beauty!! And now it’s mine
I tried finding the model number to date it but the numbers gave no results. I’ll keep digging. But I estimate it to about the 20s or 3os.
That is the little storage box set in the base, very handy.
and a bit dirty…Larry left it that way for me to clean but I think he must have known that I would leave it exactly as is. Another reminder.
Clearly it has no effect on the machine’s stitching ability. Another one I get to play with.
Now this one is dear to me in a completely different way. At the beginning of last June (a very busy month for me) I passed by some signs in my neighborhood for an estate sale. I thought why not. So my little one and I took a walk. As I walked around the house it was obvious that the woman who lived there had been a hoarder of sorts. Everything was everywhere, floor to ceiling packed. Thank God Kira didn’t mind still being carried in the Ergo on my back. As I entered a particularly crowded room I saw this case. There were some other people in the room too (no idea how we all fit) so I peeked in, closed the case headed out to pay. I had a few other things, old microscope, books, tea cups. Final cost $40…NICE!!!
1954 Singer Sewing Machine manufactured the US.
Now don’t ask me why but something made me go back into that room…Jack Pot! All the sewing attachments, threads, notions and even the original manual.
I have no idea who the woman was who owned this machine but it is clear that she took care of it and used it. It was a bit sad to watch people riffle through her things and even make “not so nice” comments about the state of the house. Having this machine makes me feel like I’ve been able to preserve even a small part of her dignity. By the way my buddy Larry cleaned this one up too and another success. It works like a charm.
The collection grows. This Singer, maufactured sometime in the 80s, was given to me by my Auntie Fay (my father’s sister) when I was about 18. I’d watched my mum sew (on a Sears Kenmore) for years and wanted one of my own. Wish granted. But I was young and had no discipline for it at all so it sat. It sat for 20 years until Kira was born and I asked my mum to make me a sling to carry my baby girl. She loved the machine and tried to show me again and again how to use it but again the timing was all wrong. A brand new babe to care for in a one bedroom apartment. Even if I’d wanted to there was no space or time. So it sat some more.
The collection continues. Not as “pretty” as the first three but I owe quite a debt to this baby. To put it simply I learned and fell in love with sewing on this machine. This is what I took to quilting class almost every Monday morning for months. It served me well and I learned some valuable lessons. And not just about sewing.
When I worked in a knitting store I was a complete snob toward anyone not using Addi Turbos or who wanted to knit “just a scarf” or (God forbid) only wanted to knit with acrylic yarn. I was rude and condescending. When I ran into a problem one day with my Brother machine and asked for help. I was told (my friend you know I’m over this event and only using the story to make a point) well, if you had a Bernina….
In the moment I was so upset but later had a “ton of bricks dropped on my head” realization. That’s how you’ve sounded you Den…I apologize to everyone. I’d purchased the Brother because I didn’t have much experience sewing and didn’t feel ready for a fancy machine. I also couldn’t really afford a Bernina. You have to work with what you’ve got and I had no respect for that. I more than do now.
So there they are, my beautiful sewing machine. Now I just have to find a great place to display them (They also need covers which will be sewn on its respective machine of course).. That may have to wait for a little while until I find a good space and Kira gets a bit older. The temptation to push buttons and turn handles is just too over whelming right now. In the meantime I can move and use them when I want to.
Methinks it is a token of healthy and gentle characteristics,
when women of high thoughts and accomplishments love to sew;
especially as they are never more at home with their own hearts than while so occupied.
~Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Marble Faun, 1859
I’m never more at home nor is my heart more happily occupied than when I am creating and now with such dear and inspiring company.