Once upon a time, there was a sewing machine…

On my 15th birthday, my parents gave me a sewing machine. I had finally started sewing for myself since my sister quit doing it–I had climbed trees one too many times in something she had made for me.

Growing up in the 70’s in a conservative Christian community that required dresses below the knee meant that we had to sew everything we wore. (You remember the dresses of the 70’s? Yeah…) So began a journey with this machine that has stretched over several decades and hundreds, if not more, items of clothing.

Here is my machine. I don’t remember now what those pieces of tape on either side of the needle were for. I hadn’t even noticed them until I put the photo up, but I must have used them for spacing on something.

My 15th birthday present...

It is a Singer 301A, and as near as I can find out, was made between 1952 and 1958. (No, I am NOT that old..it was obviously used when they gave it to me!) I think they paid $40 for it, which included the original case and buttonholer and several attachments. It was a high class machine when new, selling for anywhere from $2-300, which in the early 50’s was a lot of money! It has been prized ever since by quilters, since it is a workhorse and goes and goes. Mine sure has.

When I was 16, I made the choir outfits for our small boarding academy choir in West Virginia.

I had some help with parts, but did most of the actual sewing of the boys shirts and vests and the girls blouses and vests. Back in good ole’ double knit days…The shirts had flat-felled seams and everything. My machine made a bunch of button holes that week.

Here is a shot of our summer choir outfits. Gingham of various colors for the girls and light shirts and dark ties for the guys. I didn’t make all of these, but made mine and helped with others who didn’t know much about sewing yet.

Our winter outfits were corderoy jumpers in various colors.

Here is another shot of our dresses from that era. I made mine.

 My sister and I made outfits for our family for my high school graduation, I used my machine and she used hers.

I know that quality is bad—I had to pull it off facebook, since my xp computer is still down and my scanner does not communicate with Windows 7. (I hate changing operating systems….)

Moving through my life, we come 6 years to the wedding dress. Here I am sewing it, wearing a blouse that I made.

Not sure if I look tired because I was, or if the camera just caught me with my eyes half open. But here was the final result. (The advantage of having bridesmaids who had grown up sewing, I didn’t have to make their dresses–I just bought the fabric!)

Again, my little machine came through. As time went on, I sewed less and less. Having little boys meant that I sewed a few things for them, but not a lot. Indian outfits when they were small, polar fleece jumpsuits for frosty nights, and frontier outfits for a homeschool American history event. Curtains and drapes and pillows for the house as well.

Over the last 15 years, I have made a couple dresses for family weddings, and that is about it. Cody used it one day to make a webbing harness for his tree to tree zip line.

In all this time, I never had to take it to the shop for anything. I oiled it, replaced needles, and that was it. And now I am using it daily as part of the sleeve process–it never quits.

Enter my serger. New in the last few years, only used regularly for 3 months, tops. And it is in the shop. Skipping stitches. And yes, I know that the singer cannot do what my serger does, and it is much more complex and with 4 layers of fleece I am really giving it a workout, but c’mon! I guess I can sound old and say “They just don’t make things like they used to!” Or I can just be thankful for my old faithful “Slant-o-matic”. I guess that is appropriate this week, especially…

Hope you find something this week to say thanks for–old or new, I am sure there is something/someone in your life that is always there for you.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Linda, aka sleevemom


About Linda

I am a learner. A teacher. A questioner. A lover of nature and of the big picture of life. Why and how and what if are questions that I constantly ask, since I am too lazy to do things the hard way and too out-of-the-box to do them the way they have always been done! I love growing things, building things and helping people define and reach their goals.
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4 Responses to Once upon a time, there was a sewing machine…

  1. Mother says:

    If this comment is a repeat, forgive me…I’m still learning how to do this. Somewhere, I put a comment, but then in backing up, I think I lost it. I’ll try to redo it.

    Yeah, that’s my Linda….she’s equally as familiar with big bad equipment and small sewing machines. I’m glad you put another blog, Linda…I haven’t had anything as interesting as your blogs since your last one! When people inquire about sewing talents, I tell them I taught my girls how to sew, then they started sewing for me. Was it you or Loni that made the coat just like “…….’s” with a hood, by laying it down on some fabric and cutting it out. You both were/are so good. Don’t know where I got such special talented kids. Love, Mother

  2. Linda Granato says:

    love this bit of your history! It’s awesome to get to see some of the things you’ve done and here about the sewing machine that just keeps on going. Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

  3. Steph Brown says:

    Loved this post, really enjoyed the pics and Stan and I are really greatful and give thanks to God that He put you and your family in our lives.


  4. Pingback: To sew or not to sew, that is the question… | The Next Half

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