A Craftsman Bungalow

A Craftsman Bungalow

Thursday, June 26, 2008

My “New” Sewing Machine
I don’t know how many sewing machines the average woman owns during a lifetime these days.....I've heard it's three. I’m sure it used to be one. I bought my first machine when I was a junior in high school in 1968. It was a Singer Touch & Sew, one of Singer’s top of the line models that year. The price was $350, an equivalent of about $2,150 today. I was 17 years old, and making about $1.60 an hour working as a filing clerk in the medical records department of a hospital, so $350 was a fortune to me. Back then, credit was not easy to get like it is now. The Singer Company itself provided the financing, and I was given a book of payment coupons. I paid $17 a month for that sewing machine for what seemed like an eternity, but was probably only a couple of years.
I used it primarily to make and repair my own school clothes and that of my friends. A couple of years later I had the misfortune of hooking up with a slacker boyfriend who pawned my sewing machine for a few dollars. (In the meantime, I was still making the $17 monthly payments to Singer.) Just when I thought I’d never see it again one of my friends called and asked to borrow it to make curtains for her house. When I told her what had happened she offered to get it out of hawk, and that’s how I got my little machine back again! Over the next twenty years or so I sewed everything imaginable, including my husband’s dress and polo shirts and even blue jeans. When Chris and Annie were born I made everything they wore during most of their early childhood, but what they probably remember best are the Care Bears, Popples, cloth dolls, Halloween costumes, and their bedroom quilts. These items were made with the utmost love and care, knowing that they would be enjoyed as much as any child could enjoy something.

In the early 90s I decided to replace my sewing machine with a new one, and I gave away my little Touch & Sew. Machines had advanced, and sergers were available for home sewing too, so I added a serger to my inventory. By the end of the 90s, patterns and fabric had become so expensive that it was no longer cost effective to make clothing because foreign made imports were so cheap. The kids had outgrown stuffed animals, so I settled in to making quilts exclusively. In 2006 I replaced my serger and sewing machine again with new models. Thus, I was up to 5 machines by now, more than the average.

Though my new machines are powerful and well made, I began to reflect on what my original machine had meant to me. The more I thought about it, the more I really wished that I had never given it away. A few years ago I’m sure I would never have easily found one, but a few minutes spent looking on the Internet yielded satisfactory results. I found a Touch & Sew nearly like the one I bought in 1968, so I bought it. It's my "new" sewing machine!! Will I sew on it? Probably. Will it be as good as my current machine? Maybe not. But as I sit down and sew something, I’ll be filled with the memories created over years of using that sturdy little Singer. And I’ll be happy.

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