70. Sew what?

It is true confession time.

Apple fabric

Very cute designer fabric purchased on Etsy because I saw it on the internet and couldn’t find it in any stores.

If you are an alert reader (I know this is redundant — ALL you readers are alert!) you will remember way back in post #29 (This is now post # 70!) I talked about failure and the humility it brings when one attempts a project and is found lacking. At the end of the post, I bragged that my next project would be making shelf liners from Very Cute apple fabric and how I wouldn’t fail at that, because I KNEW how to sew…

That was October 9, 2012. As of June 19, 2013 there were still no shelf liners made out of Very Cute apple fabric.

There are several reasons explanations rationalizations excuses for this.

Actually, there is only one: I couldn’t find my sewing machine.

Right, you say, “How can one lose a sewing machine?”

In my city house, I have been blessed to have not only a library, but a small room upstairs that is totally mine. For crafts, sewing, storage (and I have a lot of craft stuff to store…). Even in the best of times the room was messy. In the worst of times, well….

Last year, the only time I set foot in the room was to find something I was pretty sure I had in there somewhere. I don’t remember even making Christmas cards, an annual event that usually gets the room in some sort of cleaned-up shape.

Yes, it was time to sort out the clutter and the rubble from the diamonds.

No, I didn’t find any diamonds, but I did find some old rubble that made me smile…

And underneath a pair of old curtains, 2 pillows, an iron, assorted papers, fabric, a bag of photos, and a box of assorted envelopes, was this:

White Treadle Sewing Machine.

A White sewing machine from the White Sewing Machine Company in Cleveland Ohio; the patent date is Nov. 26, 1888. A good guess is that it is a model VS III, manufactured in the 1890s. The web site Treadle On helped me to identify it.

Yes this is my only sewing machine, and it isn’t my first either — the first was a Singer model acquired in the mid-seventies for free by the side of the road. It worked for years until the leather belt broke. This one has a metal belt — think of a miniature slinky — and seems indestructible.
White treadle sewing machine, ca 1890.
A few years ago I bought my daughter a new sewing machine for a present and considered buying one for myself. But they all seemed so … well… fast! In fact, that was the sales lady’s pitch to me. “Look at how fast this sews!” she said proudly. She tromped on the presser foot and the whine of the machine sounded like a jet engine taking off. My old treadle has a gentle rocking sound; it goes as slow or as fast as I make it go. It is in sync with me and that’s how I like it.
I’ve made curtains, tablecloths, pillow covers, skirts, quilt tops, pajamas, purses, and prom dresses with this old machine.
Apple designer fabric by Robert Kaufman
And now I’m wondering if it has a place in the cottage. There’s no extra room for a sewing machine and the accoutrements that have to go with it — an ironing board, a cutting table, and storage for all those projects that might get finished some day…
Such as shelf liners from Very Cute apple fabric.


One down, three more to sew…

21 thoughts on “70. Sew what?

  1. Loved this whole post! Lovely antique sewing machine, I like the old things you find in a sewing room. I still have some old patterns of my Mom’s and have a lot of wooden spools of thread, still trying to figure out what craft project they can be used for. My grandbabies liked stacking them! Oh, if you would like to come over and visit my posts, I have one you could add your sewing to our list of crafts. (“Crafting a Life” on my blog!)


  2. Is there a safe (dry) corner on the deck/verandah? or a corner in a spare bedroom that would do till you can find that beautiful sewing machine a permanent home? Please… I don’t want to read that you’ve had to part with it. There’s something very comforting about the sound of the treadle machines wirring away. Remnant of a childhood sound perhaps, wet days standing on a chair, turning slowly while mum pins a hem up…. hmmm


    • There is definitely comfort associated with the sound! That’s why I just couldn’t replace it. As I’m rocking the treadle up and down, I feel a connection with all the other ladies who sat sewing, when sewing was a necessity, as well as an art, as well as a skill… I love the memory of your mum pinning up your hem. I remember the same thing — mom with pins in her mouth! Yikes…
      Thanks for visiting!


    • Well I hope so! I’m hoping I can just throw them in the washer. I was just tired of fighting with those plastic-y, rubbery mat things. The downside is you have to wait a long time for them to manage to appear in your cupboards!


    • Nancy! You’re reading from your hospital bed! I’m honored. And I hope you get out of there fast — those hospital people need to quicken the tempo for you! love and prayers, as always…


  3. I think you need to find a place for it in the cottage. Its just too cool to recycle!


    • That’s another reason why I was thinking of a new one — something smaller that you can put away in a closet. But I just don’t think I can part with it. We’ll find a space somewhere…


  4. I love that machine (I learned to sew on it, and what a prom dress you made me!!), and of course the vintage-ness is lovely. I’ll take it if you have to get rid of it :) And, I’m sorry to say that despite the fondness I have for it, I have to recommend a new machine. Mine IS like a jet engine control center, but that makes it all so (sew?) much easier.


    • Yes, but you’re a modern contemporary YOUNG woman… The older I get, the slower I like things to be!
      That prom dress was the best hand sewn item I ever made — I wanted to use a photo of you in it, but I would have had to find it, scan it, and xxx out your date. :-)


  5. Your sewing machine is so pretty! I’ve never used one like that, but you’re right, the new machines are sometimes crazy fast. I’m not a great sewer, but I have sewn a few things on a new (ish) machine and sometimes the sewing machine works faster than my brain. :-)

    Love your green clock in your kitchen and especially that green door. So fun! Thanks for leaving me the link. I enjoyed looking through some of your photos.


  6. Being the wife of a retired military man, I’ve had to prioritize what made the move with us from one home to another. It’s not easy, is it? Your apple shelf liners are darling!!! I do not have the gift of sewing or straight lines. I’m glad you do. :) I enjoyed your post today.


  7. I just loved your stories, and your sewing machine is beautiful! What fun it must be to sew on it. My Dad has a sewing machine (he is an upholsterer) he bought in 1967. He just got it repaired and it runs beautifully. I enjoy sewing on it whenever I get a chance. He has two others but this one is his favorite because it sews so smoothly. I think your sewing machine just might add a bit of character and history to your cottage :)


  8. I absolutely love your sewing machine. I’ve always wanted to try a treadle machine.

    My machine is an old electric Singer machine from the early 1950s that once belonged to my mother. It is so easy to use. I used to have a more modern machine, but it was very temperamental so I got rid of it.


    • I AGREE! Those modern machines are temperamental! So when you finally get around to sitting down to sew, you have to mess around with the bobbin that won’t sew right, and the length of the stitch, and all that extra stuff! My grandma had an old electric Singer that she pressed sideways with her knee to make it sew. I’m thinking that was in the early sixties, but it probably wasn’t new then. Is yours a portable, or is it a piece of furniture?
      Nanny was always easy going with very few rules for her grandkids, but one of her requirements was that I had to learn to sew by hand before I could use her machine. I hated hand sewing then, and I still hate it now. (Maybe that was her way of keeping me away from her machine…)


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