Why I Only Sew Straight Lines
I’ve heard that my mom used to sew a lot of her own clothes, but I only remember seeing her old purple dress form gathering dust in the basement. (Until my sister-in-law brought it back to life and gave it a much nicer home.)
When Mom wanted to sew, she usually borrowed Grandma’s old black enameled sewing machine with the fancy gold swirls. It was pretty, but too heavy for a kid to carry. It was extremely convoluted to thread, too. I don’t recall her sewing a lot when I was little, but I clearly remember helping Mom fill bobbins and her making me thread the machine. Through this, around that, through the wire loop, down into the metal ring and finally into the needle itself.
On rare occasions when Grandma needed her machine, we’d borrow Aunt Freda’s slightly newer New Home sewing machine. It was just as heavy, just as tricky to thread, but wasn’t decorated with gold scrolls. I eventually inherited the powerhouse of a sewing machine and still use it to this day.
But I don’t sew clothes. I make pillows, quilts, simple curtains and one time I even made bedroom drapes. I used commercial pleating tapes, but they had incomplete instructions clearly written by someone for whom English was not a first – or possibly even second – language. A friend who’s an experienced sewer came over to help me figure out the pleats. She looked at Aunt Freda’s sewing machine — which only does straight line stitching; no zig-zags, no buttonholes, no zipper attachment, and no alternating stitch lengths unless you manually adjust the lever – and said, “Does it backstitch?”
Yes, it can backstitch. It’s electric, too!
(I’m not sure how old the sewing machine is, but on an episode of Mad Men, Betty’s sewing machine looked ultra modern compared to this one.)
Even if Aunt Freda’s very old New Home can’t compete with modern machines and their fancy stitches and special attachments, it’s the machine I’ll keep using until one of us dies. Sure, it’s next to impossible to find replacement bobbins (a worker at one place I checked exclaimed, “I’ve never seen a bobbin like that!”), but I’m not a seamstress. All I need to do is sew straight lines, and maybe a few gentle curves.
In a future post you’ll see why Old Reliable was out and running.
What old appliances or tools do you still use – and would you ever dream of replacing them?
Any guesses as to how old this New Home is? I honestly have no clue. (Apparently Aunt Freda didn’t believe in saving owner’s manuals.)