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To Sew or Not To Sew

Category: My Crafty Side | Posted: Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:27 pm

That is no longer the question. I started sewing when I was 10, Mom showed me how to thread the old White brand sewing machine that had been her Mother's and off I went. She sewed clothes for herself and me and I had watched her often enough to know what else to do. The machine had a knee lever instead of a foot pedal so I didn't have to be able to reach the floor.
I laid my doll down on a piece of grey pre-pleated fabric that she had left over from making me a shirt, with a pencil drew around the doll to make a pattern for a skirt and blouse and soon my doll and I had matching outfits of grey pleated skirts with white blouses. And I was hooked on sewing, my doll had more clothes than I did before long.

From the 7th grade thru 12th grade I took Home Ec classes each year...half a year learning to sew and half the year learning furniture styles and cooking. Don't ask why we had to learn furniture styles, it was the late 1950's that is just what girls were supposed to learn. I only remember learning to make two things in 6 years of cooking classes .....mayonnaise and chicken aspic. Now ask me how many times I have made either item in the 43 years since I graduated from high school, besides the aspic was vile.
But during the sewing half of the year I not only made the required class project, usually a skirt and blouse or a dress, I also made 4 or 5 home projects. When each was complete I would wear it to school for the teacher to grade.

I also sewed my finger...not once but twice!! Once in the first year of sewing class, I pushed too hard while guiding the fabric under the presser foot, it slipped on top of the foot and the needle went in and out of my finger right next to the fingernail and literally stitched me to my project. Teacher cut the thread and sent me to the school nurse who called my Mom who took me to get a tetnus shot.

Second time I was sewing at home, got distracted for a split second and this time the needle went thru my fingernail, thru the bone and curved like a fish hook on the other side when it came out and hit the feed dogs. Daddy had to dismantle the machine and take me to the hospital emergency room where the doctor pulled it out. THAT one really hurt.

Over the last 51 years I have made clothes for me and my daughters, vests and shirts for Randy, various curtains, throw pillow covers, Halloween costumes, three formal Prom dresses for Lisa and the wedding dress for her first wedding. In 1986 I started making quilts.
I have had various sewing machines over the years, usually second hand ones but I was never without a sewing machine more than a couple of weeks since I had so much sewing to do. My latest and last sewing machine was a really nice, brand new Elna 6003 bought about 10 years, I spent thousands of hours sewing with it until I lost all interest in sewing about 5 years ago at which point it was packed away in it's carrying case to sit under my craft table until a couple of days ago when I put an ad for it on Craigslist.
Last night a lady and her husband came by to check it out, she fell in love with it and it became her Christmas present from her husband.

It was sort of a bittersweet moment when they carried Elna to their car. I knew she would have a good and useful life once again, the kind of life she was made for but at the same time I was kind of sad to see her go. Elna and I had some great times together and made some beautiful items.
So today starts the first time in my life, especially since I started sewing 51 years ago, that I am without a sewing machine on purpose and have no desire to have another one and boy does that feel strange.

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Frank wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 3:39 pm:

I'm curious to know why you gave it up Toni (besides the painful needle accidents)?


toni wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:01 pm:

I don't really understand either. Burned out I guess. I had already stopped making clothes since no one wanted homemade anymore, so I had been concentrating on making quilts for everyone in the family and some as gifts. I was sewing quilt tops for a local quilt shop and a designer in Kansas. I got the quilt finished for the historical society where my Mom lives in August 2002, made one more quilt top for the shop and finished the last sample for the designer in January 2003 and just couldn't make myself go back into the sewing room.

I had abandoned knitting when I started quilt making in 1986, so in Feb 2003 I went to a yarn store, bought yarn and knitting needles and went back to knitting. I have been slowly selling or giving away all my sewing accessories and fabrics since then.


toni wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 4:38 pm:

Oh, and I think I will be buying myself a flat screen monitor after the holidays with the money. :)


CritterPainter wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 5:19 pm:

There ya go, and I bet you can find something great to do with all that space too. Funny, I'm determined to relearn how to sew now that I have Grandmas '30s singer restored. Just can't find a motivation. Guess it's the availability of clothes that are cheaper to buy than make?


glendann wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 6:57 pm:

I always loved sewing and I have a new sewing machine .I have had it about 4 yrs now and never made anything with it.I decided I was going to give it a try when I get back home.I'm afraid my eyes are to bad to see the stitching.


Biita wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 7:03 pm:

Change is always hard, i think no matter what the change is. But maybe its just time to do something else that you enjoy an love now. Gardening maybe? or making teas or something that you grow?. I find once you are gifted at something creative no matter what it is, you just can't sit and do nothing. The creativity has to come out another way. You mentioned soaps an i think you said candles. Could be that is your new sewing.


Droopy wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:17 pm:

I think you did the right thing, toni. You've lost interest, and having the machine there might make you feel like this was something you ought to do. Now you can do something else, and something you enjoy too.


eileen wrote on Wed Dec 19, 2007 10:37 pm:

I cried when my old treadle sewing machine was sold by my mother. She said it took up too much space but I loved it. Now I have an electric sewing machine and I use it now and again but tend to sew things by hand mostly nowadays. Why? Well I trusted the old Singer but somehow can't put the same trust in the electric one. I love to sew and have just finished making two pairs of winter, lined curtains for the living room. Yes - I sewed them by hand!!!

I think you'll find a lot of pleaseure in your knitting Toni. There's nothing worse than hanging on to something you no longer want to use and I'm sure you'll love your new monitor as much as I love my flatscreen.


toni wrote on Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:44 pm:

Droopy, you're right, having the machine here was creating a guilt of sorts about not using it.

Knitting, candle and soap making and gardening were all things I wanted to do but sewing was all consuming especially when I was making quilts.
During a good portion of the year gardening is almost becoming just as all consuming as sewing was, guess that's why I look forward to real winter weather when I can work on other things too.


Alka Srivastava wrote on Fri Dec 21, 2007 10:33 pm:

Oh Gosh!!you are my hero Toni.
I decided a few months back that want to learn sewing and stitching(I can do some hemming and stitching on a button, but not like a whole dress). and I though how hard can it be. They have all these books and patterns.
So I got everything and labored long hours. Everything went well till I cam to the point where I was supposed to stitch on a piece of cloth to the neck after basting it.
Whatever i did, I could not figure out how that piece of cloth is supposed to get stitched on top of the neck so that it will look like the one that the model on that pattern packet is wearing.

And so I tell you-Hats off to any one who can stitch.

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