My Crafting Adventures: Sewing

My mother is an incredible seamstress. When I was a child, we were so poor, she would make our clothes. At the time, it was the most horrifically embarrassing thing that could have ever happened to me. In retrospect, she was so talented.

 

She had this cast iron, mint green, industrial sewing machine from the 70s. It weighed around 40 pounds. It was loud and terrifying. When she would turn it on, the machine would somehow interfere with our rabbit ear television reception. Even though I am talking about it in the past tense, she still has it and uses it.

 

It’s as loud as a fucking jet, too!

 

I hesitate to think what was going on with that machine. I am actually pretty convinced that the machine was involved in some kind of nuclear waste disposal. That cast iron body was protecting us all from radiation sickness. Or mutations that would give us amazing superpowers. Hmm….

 

Anyway, in sixth grade I took a home economics class. It was a required elective. I wouldn’t have been caught dead in some bullshit ‘womens’ class. But I did want to learn to sew. And my mother’s machine was too intimidating. The ones at school were newer white plastic and comparatively whisper quiet.

 

 

 

And it only weighed 10 lbs. What a wuss!

 

Unfortunately, they were still powerful enough to pierce my thumb on my right hand.

 

I think I was never meant to have the tip of that thumb. You may remember that I cut off my thumb in a car door. But that same year, before I cut it off, I once stapled it with one of my dad’s industrial staple guns. I was playing with it, fascinated with how it opened and closed. And the extra staple storage, and bam! I stapled my finger.

 

Believe me when I say, this hurts.

 

Once I cut off the tip of my thumb, I had a lot of scar tissue built up. I don’t really have much feeling in that fingertip anymore, so sewing it in class didn’t hurt. But it was disturbing. Even more so for the other girls in the class that didn’t know I had no feeling in my thumb. Or the teacher that was overwhelmed by the amount of blood.

 

I was able to get out of finishing that stupid stuffed rabbit, though.

 

I never wanted to have anything to do with sewing and sewing machines for a long time after that. I was scared. If I had so little feeling in my finger that I could accidentally sew it, what else could I mistakenly do? I needed my other fingers. And my hand. I stayed away from fast moving needles for a while.

 

 

That little eye hole is what really does the damage.

But then, I went to this quilt show. There was a raffle for various prizes. And that’s when I saw it. The most beautiful sewing machine ever. It was an old Singer hand crank from the early 1900s. I knew I had to own that machine.

 

I think I spent about $20 on raffle tickets for that machine. But I didn’t win.

 

At the end of the show, I was exhausted (this was during my heart surgery phase) and hanging around the raffle table, trying to catch a glimpse of the bitch that got MY machine. But instead this sweet old guy came over. He had donated the machine and wanted to talk to the raffle winner too.

 

Instead he and I got to talking. He had dozens of machines. He took me back to his table that I had somehow walked past several times. And I fell in love for the second time that day. With another machine.

 

I wound up buying it for myself for Christmas that year. It is a hand crank Singer from 1919 and was in Europe for WWI. It is the most beautiful sewing machine in the world. It is silent and every piece and part to this thing is gorgeous and sleek and sexy. It is all polished wood and gold gilt and brass bobbins.

 

So beautiful!

 

I am still not much of a seamstress. I can’t read a pattern if my life depended on it. But I can do tailoring. Sewing buttons. Normal things. I can also sew my own invented creations, but I will admit, I have not explored much of that. Someday, I intend to spend a bit more time making freaky creatures out of plush fabrics.

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34 thoughts on “My Crafting Adventures: Sewing

  1. That little mint job is a collector’s item, if it is model 211. The Singer Featherweight is coveted by quilters for it’s portability and reliance. My mom had one, the standard black version. It too interfered with the TV reception! Just like your mom, she sewed most of our clothing and a great deal of upholstery, too. She tried to teach me to sew. Hated it. Me and the machine did not see eye to eye, speaking of needles.

    Love your hand crank machine. They are indestructible and also industrial strength. When I was married to the sewing machine mechanic, one of our customer’s was looking for spare parts. He used his machine on his sail boat to patch the sails.

    • The guy I bought it from said it would sew anything to anything if I could find the right needle. I immediately envisioned leather cuffs and sewing a VW bug to the side of a mountain. I can’t explain how my mind works.

      Plus my machine is zombie apocalypse proof. No electricity required.

  2. How pretty! I can’t sew as well as I would like, but I’ve still never sewed myself. I have one of those older machines (not as old or as beautiful as yours) in a cabinet and the cabinet is currently covered in beads, wire, and other half-worked projects.

  3. Wow – no more sharp things for you lady! that is a beautiful machine, though. I have a Huskervana that my husband bought me to replace my 1970’s Singer that was my Grandmothers but I am afraid of it. I am super impressed that you can do buttons

    • I actually do them by hand like a pioneer on this machine because I dont have the attachment. But they are not that scary. They get a bad rap. Then again, I am freakishly good at crafting, so I don’t know. Huskervana’s are fancy! I bet you have a newfangled setting that does buttons for you.

  4. Oh how I wish I could sew! I took the same class (were you the one in the corner of the room bleeding to death?), and made a doll and a sun dress. They both came out ok but only because the teacher did most of it. I am so intimidated by sewing machines. My mother-in-law is super crafty (knits, quilts, makes baskets) and I feel very inferior next to her. But, can she speak and swear in Spanish like me? No! So…I win.

  5. My mother was/is a seamstress as well. She still has the huge industrial machines in her granny flat at home.

    She refuses to let me near a sewing machine and literally shreaks down the phone at me if I mention that I want to learn.

    And you’re brushes with sewing machines sounds like mine lol I overlocked my finger to a dress once when I wanted to “help” mum with a dress she was making for a friend.

  6. I also took a home “ick” sewing class — I made some stretchy jeans that did not fit right and a quite beautiful see-through, gauzy blouse with French seams (you can imagine how that went over in my Mormon community).

    I also sewed across my fingernail once — and I stapled two fingers together another time. Maybe those types of things are just a rite of passage for people like us 🙂

  7. ooohhhh the mint green is amazing! I love that regardless of the fact you were terrified of your mom’s, and you had a bad experience with one in school, you still coveted one of your own. 🙂

    I want to go on the list for one of your creepy sewn creature creations.

  8. Oh, I love that mint machine. I learned to sew on a 1928 Singer sewing machine, but it was black. I would love to have that old machine now. Any machine at all. I used to make quilts, sewing the tops by machine, but hand quilting them. Don’t really have room for that any more, but I do miss it. I made all of my kids clothes, as well as my own, and once made a suit for my now ex. It looked great until he tried to button it and discovered the buttons were on the wrong side for a man. I must have had an ulterior motive there, ya think?

  9. Your machine is identical to my mother’s. Apparently the machine is bequeathed to me in her will. It’s just a pity that my nieces got hold of it, lost all the bits, needles and bobbins, and it’s rusted out. I’ll still get it though.

  10. Pingback: The Time I Ruined Christmas | Cursitivity

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