Sewing Machines

I have these sewing machines.  I’m no seamstress.  Certainly I don’t have three sewing machines because I need them.  You guessed it… treasures.

Nana’s Singer & Mama’s Challenge

I grew up wearing a delightful assortment of clothes made by my mother, my Nana and my Grandma.  I spent hours of my childhood in fabric stores, touching the material and pouring through the pattern books.  It was just something we did all the time.

Grandma loved getting new machines with bells and whistles.  She was fast, and amazed us by sewing clothes for all her granddaughters, easily making a beautiful dress in one day.  My cousin has her sewing machine, and we all click “like, like, like” when she puts up a post about sewing with it.

Nana got a new machine once, but she never liked it.  It sat unused in the corner while the trusty old Singer came to the kitchen table time and again.  Once when I was back visiting from overseas I needed to sew on a quilt binding for a Christmas gift.  Nana assured me that I’d like the old one better… and she was right.  So easy to use, and it ran like a dream.  It’s the only time I’ve ever sewn with it, but I’m tickled at the memory.

Mama always had the same machine, and it’s the one I learned to sew on.  It’s the one that made my wedding gown and my sister’s.  Also our Maypole dresses.  When I was little, it seems like she was sewing all the time.  (When she wasn’t painting!)  And I always loved sitting right there, making things with the scraps.  I was carried away with making little patchwork pillows.  Got such a kick out of sewing those squares together.  More importantly, I learned that they lasted for years and years, whereas the sandals made from gluing and taping fabric scraps to poster board soles… not so much!  (But I sure appreciate my mom for letting me be creative!)

When I was little we watched “The Lucy Show”.  Not the ones with Ricky… but where she’s friends with Viv, and Mr. Mooney is her boss.  My mom and I had so much fun playing Lucy & Viv, and this was our game for hours on end while she sewed.

My nine year old niece is here visiting for a couple of weeks, and I decided she should make a patchwork pillow.  Yesterday I taught her how, and she and I and my mom had a delightful day cutting and ironing and sewing.  It was my niece’s very first sewing experience, and she was a natural.  Made a wonderful little pillow, and couldn’t wait to start cutting squares for the next one.  But the most fun of all was listening to Lizzie and Gammy slip right into a comedy routine.  They were a couple of – I think it was – Italians, working in shop.  It was a flamboyant conversation… I know that for sure.

Sure do love my sewing machines. One to use, and two to just make me smile when I see them.  Maybe my niece will take care of these precious machines some day.  I hope she’ll remember the very first day she ever sewed in her aunt’s red barn in Portales.


21 Responses to “Sewing Machines”

  1. Kim Mann says:

    Thank you for making wonderful memories for her!

  2. Sandy says:

    I have a little video clip of her sewing and pretending she’s the shop owner with this wonderful accent of some sort. She and her Gammy were really on a roll!

  3. Katie Howell says:

    I’m so excited for Lizzie! That trait wasn’t passed down to me since we all know what my mom thinks about sewing! Haha! Lizzie definitely has good sewing genes from both sides of her family!! Now she can start sewing baby clothes for Cora’s baby dolls!!! 🙂

  4. Kim Mann says:

    Oh, I have memories of sewing alright, but they are not good!! First of all, who can forget the hours of being held captive in the fabric stores. Remember the store “Jacquelines?????” Ring any bells to people? The classic story is coming up later, however. I would imagine Sandy could tell it much better than I!!

  5. Marcea Clive says:

    I, too learned to sew on an old Singer treadle sewing machine. It finally got electrified and we thought that was the greatest thing. Your Nana was right. The Singer is the best…………

  6. michelle pond says:

    What fun! Sewing is an art that should be revitalized.

  7. Sandy says:

    I loved it when the fabric stores had little toys for the kids to play with… knowing they were going to be held hostage there!

    As for the story of why Kim hates sewing… it can’t go on as a blog post because this blog is devoted to simple pleasures… and that day doesn’t fit the bill. Ha!

    It’s also the day we both gave up popcorn for a couple of decades!

  8. Sandy says:

    As for Lizzie sewing baby doll clothes, her Gammy would have to teach her that. It would involve patterns… and we all know I can’t handle patterns. Just leave me alone with my happy patchwork and I’m delighted!

  9. Jana says:

    You know I love sewing machines. I am up to four now myself. I am hoping to get a good sturdy baker’s rack to display them. I wonder what beautiful treasures were made on these great machines. In fact, I plan to spend some time on mine today. I am glad that you are passing on the skill. I would hate for it to become a lost art.

  10. Sandy says:

    Jana, it always makes me so happy to hear that you’re sewing! Especially love your quilts!!!

  11. Beverly Green says:

    Loved your sewing machine comments. I too have an old machine (1933 model) in a beautiful walnut cabinet. It belonged to my Mother in law.
    I sewed at home with my Mother on a portable singer (1937 model) and in 7th grade learned to sew on a tredle singer machine at school.
    Sewed for our oldest daughter until she was 10 and I couldn’t please her anymore so we sent her to sewing school. She still sews today on a singer her Dad gave her 38 years ago. The Stitches of time are often made on these old machines.

  12. Lori says:

    Thank you, Sandy! Your stories so often take me back to great memories with my grandparents. Recently you reminded me of sitting on that old hand cranked ice cream machine and today you have taken me back to all the fun I had pouring over the pattern books looking for just the perfect thing that Grandma would sew for me. Every time we visited her she would take me to the store to pick a pattern and some fabric. Most of the time, after I chose the pattern I liked (usually a dress or skirt), she would say, “oh… I can make you that one without the pattern, lets go on look at what kind of fabrics you like”. I remember her just grabbing a hold of that fabric when we got home and literally just cutting away at it or sometimes ripping it where she wanted it cut. By the end of the day, I had a beautiful hand sewn treasure! When I got older and joined 4-H she is the one who helped me sew my project – I made my homecoming dress! It is interesting to me that my grandma also painted (like your mom), and I never knew how much sewing your mom did! My grandma used to sew all her kids’ clothes and even the suits my grandpa wore. (Didn’t mean to write a novel today! Got so wrapped up in the memories!)

  13. Sandy says:

    I love to hear all the memories! Share on, everyone!

    My mom sewed both our wedding dresses and Maypole dresses without patterns! Just rolled that beautiful fabric out on the carpet and began cutting!

  14. Micah says:

    Grandma taught me to sew! I was always amazed that she knew just the right amout of fabric to buy without consulting the pattern. We would choose one fabric for the bodice and one for the skirt and she knew exactly what we needed. We would cut out the fabric on the dining room table with her best scissors. She kept them in a box. I would pin the patterns but she would never quite cut exactly on the pattern because she knew how to make it fit me best. I remember when a seamstress was making a dress for me for Chad and Rebeccas wedding she had to call Grandma and ask her how she could make it work! Grandma told her where to put the darts to take the gaps out of the waist! We spent hours sewing in her back room or hauling the sewing machine into the breakfast table to sew. I have Grandma’s “ripper” and I had many opportunities to use it when my stitching wasn’t up to par! I can’t even imagine the number of ribbons that I won with sewing projects because of her help! But, the real prize was not a ribbon or even the beautiful outfit that was made but the memories and time we shared together, It was OUR special time!

  15. Sandy says:

    Micah… happy tears.

  16. Kim says:

    I just now read the caption again on the sewing machine photo….”Challenge” on one of the machines. I guess I was just never up to it!!

    I love all of these stories, though, and I definitely can relate to them. I was the beneficiary of many beautiful outfits from the hand of my mother and grandmothers.

    On a more humorous note… I could not stand the feeling of having the patterns held up and measured against me, and the straight pins prickling all over whenever something had to be fitted!! Just the sound of patterns rustling gives me the heebie-jeebies!!!

  17. Marcea Clive says:

    Kim, I think maybe your story would be better than Sandy’s……Heebie-jeebies?????????? I love it. LOL

  18. Sandy says:

    Kim, you’re cracking me up. True… I didn’t like standing there for the pattern pinning either!

    Marcea, those heebie-jeebies were really at work one Christmas when Kim was trying to sew pot-holders for gifts. The flu had attacked, and a huge can of popcorn was delivered to our house. It all proved to be a very bad combination…

  19. Sharon Rountree says:

    I have my grandmother’s sewing machine. She made dresses for my sister and me for many years. I still have one of the dresses she made for me in my cedar chest. I have made my clothes and my children’s clothes for years. I even made a sports coat for my husband years ago. I have made formals and even a swimsuit.

    Right now, I have 3 sewing machines. My grandmother’s tredle machine, a 1968 machine I got new in 1968, and a new machine I got 20 years ago. I have bought a sewing machine for each of my daughters, but they never learned to sew. It’s sad that it is not taught
    in schools any more. It would save so much money.

  20. Sandy says:

    Makes me really happy to keep reading about sewing machines that belonged to grandmothers. Grand treasures indeed!

  21. Cheryl says:

    I’ve been sewing on my grandmother’s machine (I’ve never bought a machine…my first came from my great aunt, the second was my grandmother’s) since the 1970’s. It made many outfits for me and then for Brie. I now also have my mother’s old black Singer. That’s the machine I learned to sew on producing dresses, a corduroy pants suit for the Pensacola Fair, a homecoming suit and a shirt jacket for Rudy before we were married to list a few items. It also produced (by the hand of my mother!) my sister’s wedding dress. Somehow Brie and I never connected in this “learning to sew” department. However, she only likes homemade Halloween costumes (I made all of hers including one during her first year of college that I had to send to WY) so now when I ask how she will make her kids’ costumes she replies, “Grandmothers should make Halloween costumes!”

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