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RoseBertin


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Member Since: 05/18/2011


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Re: This IS Your Grandmother's Sewing Machine

My grandmother's first sewing machine was a Singer foot treadle with wooden drawers. The machine was covered with a wooden box when not in use. She paid a nickel a week for it. She was unsure if it was ever paid off; she just kept giving the man a nickel when he came to her door each week.

This machine came with a velvet-lined wooden box with many attachments. The box "unrolled" to lay flat; the two ends of the box unfolded into triangles. Some of these are available on ebay.com if you want to see one. The machine booklet showed how to use the ruffler, tucker, binders in several sizes and hemmer feet to turn over the edge of the fabric and stitch it. These attachments are wonderful and make certain tasks quicker and easier. There was also a gathering foot which shirred the fabric for imitation smocking; and an edge-stitcher which held trims or lace in position to sew them together right on the edge.

With a sewing machine, she made many clothes, curtains, gifts and mended clothes for the family. The Singer Company published an Art Book showing all types of hand embroidery which could be done with the simple type of sewing machine available at the time. The machines had no fancy stitches and some didn't even run in reverse. But by slowly and carefully moving the fabric it was possible to use the machine as an "electric needle" which moved much faster than hand embroidery. Copies of the Singer Instructions for Art Embroidery are still available. Up until the late forties or early fifties, women who didn't have a machine with zigzag stitch or a buttonhole attachment still sewed buttonholes by hand.

We also had unusual accessories for sewing. A spool holder was like a ferris wheel made of plastic. You could turn the wheel to find the thread you wanted.

My grandmother also had a sewing table. It was a small multi-drawered piece of walnut with some inlay decoration and two side compartments to store larger items such as knitting needles. The shallow drawers were great to organize sewing items which tend to be small.

Another unusual item is a large blunt-ended brass needle with designs embossed on it. It's a surprise to see the decoration of such a tiny object. I use it to sew sweaters together with yarn.