Monday, March 5, 2012

A Sewing Lesson to Remember

Today I had my first sewing lesson ever.  My mom taught me how to sew on the same sewing machine that her mom used to teach her how to sew.  On the surface it may have seemed like an ordinary sewing lesson, but I was really moved by the generational thing.  I'm so impressed by my late grandmother's sewing skills, and I'm so happy my mom had an interest in learning to sew when she was young.  And I was just plain tickled that my mom could teach me, and on this machine:

My grandmother bought this sewing machine 60 years ago for $500.  I did some quick research and a little math to determined that $500 in 1950's money is nearly $5,000 in 2012.  Wow.

The machine is almost completely manually operated compared to today's standards.  No automatic threader, no drop and sew bobbin, manual adjustments for tension and stitch length and width and -- get this -- discs you switch out to change stitch types.  Instead of a foot pedal, you press your knee against a pedal that comes down from the desk it's mounted on.

I almost laughed at the manual -- it says it's automatic.  I asked my mom what about it is automatic and her smiling answer was classic Mom: It uses electricity.  I laughed at myself.

It came with the desk it's mounted on.  I looked in the drawers to see all of my grandmother's tools and notions.  I sewed with my grandmother's pins, which my mom kept in their original yellowed plastic container.  And I felt this strong connection to my grandmother, who I was so fond of.  She passed when I was just 16.  I knew when she passed that we hadn't spent enough time together and wished we could have had more of it.  She was a really awesome lady.

I'm grateful for this simple sewing lesson for so many reasons.  I hope someday that I have a daughter I can one day pass my sewing skills down to, knowing that they started in earnest with my grandmother.  If we do end up lucky enough to have a daughter, her middle name will be after my grandmother, Kathryn.


  1. Wow, my grandma just gave me her sewing machine because they are moving to Florida - it's from about the same time and is also an "automatic". And it's in the same type of cabinet with drawers full of stuff. My grandma is still here, but hearing how she used to sew her own clothes so she had enough money for hats was fascinating and I loved going through all of the drawers and thinking about here.
    Have fun with it! Can't wait to see what you make.

  2. I have my Great Grandmother's sewing machine. Singer again, but not electric. Its all done by turning the side wheel. I have a modern one now, but I did use my G-Grandmother's to make some of the curtains for the house when we moved in. I know exactly what you mean about feeling connected to the previous generations. I know I feel grateful for the experience.

  3. I'm so glad that you were able to have this experience, I think that staying connected to those who came before us is so important and special.....

  4. My Mother had a sewing machine like this, cheers Marie

  5. How wonderful, this looks very similar to my grandmothers sewing machine, as well as one my mother had, with which all of my early grade school clothing was sewn. How wonderful that you are learning on such a great machine, I love these old machines, simple and sturdy, and I love that they used to come in such lovely sewing cabinets. Have a wonderful time sewing! :)

  6. My MIL bought me a machine similar to this one for $10 at a garage sale. She cleaned it up and made sure it works. For the sewing that I know how to do, it works perfectly (that would be straight-line and nothing fancy!). It also has all the attachments, most of which I have no idea how to use! They knew how to make things last back in the day!


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