Wow, this sent me down a memory rabbit hole.
Mom augmented Dad’s income by sewing. Her Singer sewing machine was in constant use in the kitchen. As a boy, I hated the sound and that of the Electrolux vacuum cleaner because both caused video interference on TV screen I was glued to (motor electrical noise). They also made it harder to hear the program, haha. The model below is nearly identical to hers which is still in my sister’s garage.
I learned how to machine-sew in 6th grade Home Economics class; made a bookbag out of an orange bath towel. Mom later worked in the local fabric store and I helped out during periodic inventories.
After WWII, my uncle opened a store in his home where he sold and repaired Pfaff sewing machines until he was in his early 90’s.
In high school, I got a part-time job sewing nylon products using industrial machines, both straight-stitch and box-stitchers. The repetitious acts of assembling components, feeding material and trimming thread helped me improve my fine motor skills.
While in the military, I bought my own machine to sew uniform insignia for me and friends. Later with family, it was merit badges, costumes and simple patching of clothes.
Great memories and an excellent set of skills gained. I have always had a knack for, and an interest in, things mechanical. Even to this day, I marvel at the complexity and reliability of these wonderful machines.
Thanks to both of you for reviving my memories of my mother’s machine and her skills in using it. She had an adjustable manikin on which to pin and drape her creations.
She became very adept and made tailored coats for herself. She sewed some outfits for my sisters and me until we became teenagers and then wanted all the latest. I too have memories of her Singer machine often in the background buzzing along. When I was close to giving birth to my second child, she stayed with us and I finally got a bit more serious about learning to sew other than just repairs, and off to the store we went to buy patterns and material. My rudimentary skills were revived when my grandsons were born and I made many pants and matching vests for them.
My mother also used an electric Singer but preferred the old foot powered Singer machine!
Mom had a treadle Singer as well that she used for various projects.
I hope you both kept those treadle machines, haha. Electricity may be in short supply soon, who knows.
@nperpetuity , Yeah, we had bags of “Simplicity” patterns at home. Mom even made Barbie doll clothes to sell at the Christmas Boutique.
Very good point and I think perhaps my surviving sister may have it, although she lives a couple of thousand miles away. I’ll keep a lookout from now on at yard sales for another!
Now that’s a memory, hand sown Barbie doll clothes, those were the best. We also used the toe end of old socks for doll clothes.
My uncle Don worked for Denver Saddle Company. Family lore says he sewed the saddle that John Wayne sat on in the movie True Grit. He also made little purses for the girls.
My dad was a tailor and a darn good one. His tailor shop was right next door to the house. Always had properly tailored and pressed clothes growing up. I often get upset at my younger self for not paying much attention to this trade as I was growing up. Good tailors are hard to find, especially in today’s world. He had a table mounted Singer that we just abandoned after my parents died. So many things that you don’t appreciate until you get older.
I wouldn’t be without mine. I can quite see why Narnia’s Mrs Beaver didn’t want to leave her’s behind.
My Mother-in-law was an excellent seamstress. She had the full body mannequin she used all the time. She would make matching bed spreads with matching the curtains, lampshades, pillows, towels… My favorite was looking at her barbie doll clothes sewn with such detail. Too bad I didn’t have interest because she would have been an excellent teacher. It appears “sewing” is a lost home skill that many of our households have lost.
I sew. My most challenging big project was window coverings for a loft office. . . took miles of fabric . . .French pinched pleat draperies. When I have time I am doing sketches for a line of sun- helmets …they will be made of a safari shell which I want to import from Panama and then cover with colored fabrics and custom lace trims. The final touch…monograms. Lace trimmed combat helmets for ladies who combine sensitivity with strength. They will go with a suit, shorts and jeans.
A friend who just moved to the Yukon asked us to give away her old Singer sewing machine. You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to find a taker! (so few people left who are interested in this craft)
Have you checked local antique shops or vintage stores? Not as gratifying perhaps as finding a perfect match yourselves, but maybe it would be a boon to someone looking for exactly that machine while browsing a local shop?
My mother was an expert seamstress and had an old sewing machine from the 50s… I’m sad no one uses them any more, because she made many of her own dress clothes, and mine as well, and they were all very nice.
That was such an interesting video about the invention of the modern sewing machine. I wish I had kept my portable Singer. The maternal side of my family sewed a lot of the family clothes. My grandmother had a treadle machine, my mother had an electric, and I had a (heavy!) portable. I sewed many of my own clothes, loved beautiful fabrics, and the patterns were inexpensive and could be used many times. Eventually, patterns became too expensive and casual clothes became so cheap at the stores that it wasn’t worth the time to cut out and sew everyday clothes. Plus, I had moved so often that eventually I donated the old heavy tabletop Singer, supplies, and fabrics to a women’s community center. More than just sewing clothes, I had a very artistic cousin who designed beautiful works of art with handmade fabrics and threads. (And that reminds me of The Red Dress project.) Good memories
I agree: I got a beautiful Bernina for my daughter, she has never used it. A sewing machine is an essential item. Years ago I got a job at a top London fashion house wearing a dress I made - it was not off the peg but an original and made the right impression. A sewing machine is so versatile and useful, well worth taking time to become proficient.
Another dying skill is that of the cobbler. Several years ago, I found myself in a unique situation–my favorite of dress pair shoes had developed a hole one of the leather soles. Of course, I ignored it for a while but after a few splashes in our rainy parking lot it was time for a remedy.
Fortunately, we had a cobbler shop down nearby and a week later I had them back. The store reminded me of my youth in the 60’s where, instead of the inert smell of businesses today, one’s location could be immediately pinpointed by a familiar and comfortingly pleasant aroma.
I could see the towering industrial sewing machine in the back and it has since crossed my mind that cobblery (and all the tools) would be a valuable skill to have in a grid-down situation. Everyone needs shoes and repair of them could be great barter.
NPerpetuity: Thanks for the suggestion about a vintage store, we’ll add that to our “bag” of ideas of finding a taker for this wonderful tool.
We’ve already got two sewing machines, including my Mom’s old Singer, otherwise I’d be inclined to keep it. I’ve asked friends, and none are interested in sewing. I’ve asked the local sewing shops (that run sewing classes), and even the local repairman! If it isn’t raining, I plan to take it to a craft show, and put it in front of our car with a big FREE sign, and see how long until someone takes it!
@Freefall – Thank you for this thread – the film you shared is interesting and inspiring.
Someone will find the Singer. I agree with @sharick suggestions of treadle machine and shoe cobbling skills being very practical ways to stay clothed and shod in a world w/o electricity. Perhaps weaving and knitting too should be on the survival list of skills?
@Freefall thank you for the inspirational video post!