Archive for March, 2007

Sewing Machines

I have way too many sewing machines, most of them given to me by other people.  My first machine was an old 1920 Singer that had belonged to my grandmother.  My Dad fixed it up for me when I went away to college.  The old wooden case had a disfiguring blister on the surface veneer, so my Dad spray painted the case metallic purple (this was in the mod sixties) and stuck those flower power stick ons over the surface to hide the flaw.  I used that machine for years and years.  It sewed forward and that is about it.  When my husband was in the army, we were stationed in Indiana and my poor machine died on me, so we took it to a department store downtown, and they installed a new motor.  It had a really great buttonholer attachment, which has fallen apart over the years.  Next, I got an inexpensive Kenmore machine, which would still work if I hadn’t lost the pedal somewhere.  I still have the machine and keep hoping the pedal will turn up sometime, though it has been walkabout for 15 years now.  About this time, my mother-in-law, who had been sewing on a machine from the 1880’s all her life, decided to get a new machine and gave me the old treadle machine.  I never sewed on it, but I like having it.  It has a leather belt to turn the wheel, and I think it is a White.  It is not easy to jump over 100 years in technology, and my MIL nearly had a breakdown trying to work the new machine, but she kept at it and is still making lovely things. When my husband’s grandmother died, the family gave me her sewing machine, almost a twin to the old Singer, except that the case is much more dignified.

 I saved my money for years and got myself a computer Elna machine.  I have had it for 10 years but am still a little scared of it.  It does the fancy stitch thing very well, but doesn’t make buttonholes worth a darn.  I was at a sewing machine store one day a few years later, and they often would sell old machines that had been traded in for new ones.  I bought an Elna SU, sort of a Carina from about the 1960’s, telling myself that it was for the girls to sew on.  I have been doing most of my day to day sewing on this gem of a machine.  It works with cams, which is kind of fun, and makes great buttonholes easily.  

My sister-in-law used to sew a lot, but decided she didn’t want to anymore (!) so gave me her Husqvarna, an entry level machine.  I never turn down a sewing machine, so I stuck it in the sewing room and bided my time.  Eventually one of my daughters wanted it, so we packed it up and sent it off to her.

I don’t have a serger, and don’t know if I will ever want one.  I keep an open mind on the subject though, because I do love my toys.  I wouldn’t mind having one of those fancy embroidery sewing machines , and I can see myself buying way too many of the computer disks that go with them.   I certainly can’t afford one, but who knows what life has in store in the future? 

My favorite sewing supply, though, is my cone thread.  I got a catalog from Atlanta Thread & Supply Company (695 Red Oak Road, Stockbridge, GA, 30281), and started ordering the 6000 yard cones of dual duty thread.  It is very economical compared to the small spools, and the thrill of never running out of thread is fabulous.  I would love to have every color they offer, but am forced to get a color or two at a time.  My daughter goes to college in Atlanta, so when we were visiting one time, I called the company and asked if I could come and buy the thread and see the colors in person, but no, they are only mailorder and closed to the public.  Bummer.

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New Projects

I am about to start sewing some shirts and tunics for my daughter.  Today I got the pattern out and pressed it and am about to start the alterations.  This whole fashion for comfortable, pretty tunics reminds me of the kaftans that were in style when I was in high school.  My mother made me a purple one with red embroidered trimming img_0462.JPGand one of aqua and apple green striped denim with aqua trim. 

I seem to recall some green linen I have in the stash, so I am going to hunt it up and think about what kind of machine embroidered trim to put around the neckline and sleeves.  I enjoy sewing on linen, it is so crisp and easy to press.

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My mother was a great seamstress who made most of my clothes. I remember the year I was in the third grade and she made me four dresses. The one that I liked the best was gingham in the large checks with a white pique bib panel in the front which she embroidered with a row of lifesaver shapes in various bright colors down each side. I learned to sew from her and in school, and have been making my own clothes all of my adult life. I have taken classes in tailoring, but the truth is that I don’t like doing it, so I don’t. I usually make about 30 to 50 garments a year, and the items I enjoy sewing the most are shirts and blouses. I also enjoy making purses and totes.

For years I sewed dolls to sell at a Christmas boutique, but after about 15 years of that I burned out and haven’t made one since.

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Hello world!

Who knew that that random photo I took of a basket of silk in the quilt store in Healdsburg would make such a colorful header?

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