Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Ode To The Sewing Machine



Evolutionary processes of mechanical items
hold great fascination for me. I am especially intrigued with the sewing machine. I have sewn on many different manifestations of this amazing device over the last 4 decades, all of which have offered the same basic function of permanently connecting fabric to fabric.

My first experience with a sewing machine was on my mother's home machine. I no longer remember the brand but it was a nice all-metal sage green machine which could be folded down into the lovely wood cabinet. I played with it enough to figure out I would like to learn to sew which led me to my next machine which was a portable unit at the Singer Sewing Center where I took lessons. That one was a shiny white number with plastic bobbins and a plastic housing if I recall correctly.

A year later I was in junior high and was sewing in home ec class on a machine nearly identical to what I had used during my lessons. It was during that time that I figured out I was pretty good at the craft but wished the machines could sew faster. They poked along much too slow for me.

We moved the following summer and I found myself in a new school district, and another home ec class where I was sewing on the same generic, white, too-slow-for-my-liking sewing machines. But I continued to hone my sewing skills making everything from slippers to aprons to wearables.

Then when I was 14 my parents went out to run errands one day and came home with a very unexpected gift for me! A brand new Sears Kenmore portable machine. Complete with a buttonholer and a cam system for executing machine embroidery. I was floored! It was totally unexpected but very appreciated. My mother's old machine did not make the move with us so I hadn't been doing any sewing at home. What is incredible about that machine is that I still use it! It was made for longevity with its all metal housing and bobbin system. I have replaced the motor 3 times through the years but it keeps on working. Now I mainly use it for the buttonhole feature but it has been a reliable workhorse for many decades.

My next step in my journey with the sewing machine was taken in the late 80's. I took a job in a tailor shop and was introduced to the industrial sewing machine. Finally! A machine that would sew fast enough for me! *At top speed it ran at 3000 stitches a minute!* 'My' machine at the shop was a Columbia Union Special. The industrial machines are made for HEAVY use, with all metal parts and gearings as well as a 3/4 horsepower motor. They will sew through just about everything and I put it to the test at that job. I liked the machine so much I bought an identical one to sew with at home. I put a lot of miles on it before replacing with a similar model Juki machine. It has been a wonderful machine and I plan to use this one until either the machine or I wear out, which ever comes first.

As I have had the opportunity to use a number of different machines through the years I have witnessed a small slice of sewing machine evolution but the beginnings of that evolution goes back a long way. The first patents for sewing machines were given in the 1830's but the quest to invent a machine that could successfully and quickly stitch had been going on for several years prior. Those first machines were spare and primitive. The ancient machine above was my grandmother's. I do not know when she got it but it is the only sewing machine I ever saw at her house. I never saw it in use but I would go look at it in her attic while visiting as I thought it was beautiful in a sculptural sort of fashion. I am so happy to have ended up with it. I am also happy that I don't have to sew with it. I would much rather sit at my high-speed, super-stitch, 3/4 horsepower motored wonder machine any day than to sit and gently rock the treadle back and forth on Grandma's antique number. I doubt I would be creating my original handmade clothing and accessories for my website MLOriginals.com if it were so. Some say "Speed kills" but I say in this case, "It gets me where I'm goin'!" :)

Want to see what I have been making on my wonder machine? Drop by my website and pay a visit. I design and create casual, comfortable, one of a kind ladies clothing and accessories. Everything is "Unique! Like You!!"


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