Thursday, March 14, 2013
Close to Nowhere
My mother’s sewing machine
I learned to sew by osmosis. I cannot remember not watching my mother sew on her old treadle Singer sewing machine that she’d had electrified.
The summer before I was in sixth grade she let me make some of my blouses. I think I made three, all sleeveless, that buttoned up the back. I’m guessing she did the buttonholes because her sewing machine did not do anything but sew straight and backwards. And I certainly did not do handstitched buttonholes!
Growing up I wore mostly homemade clothes. I hated it! I wanted to wear what everyone else was wearing. Three Sisters store in downtown Memphis, Tenn., was “the” shop. But all my clothes came from Mama’s sewing machine -- and the fabric usually came from TG&Y or Ben Franklin -- both “five and dime” stores down the street from where we lived.
Even after I married, I sewed on Mama’s sewing machine. Pop’s Aunt Joyce worked at the Sears Crosstown drapery department and she’d bring lots of fabric home and she loved to share. (She brought home leftover fabric from making the drapes, etc. at Graceland. Everyone in the family had at least a pillow made out of that!)
I made my first maternity clothes in Mama’s living room and messed one of the tops up royally! And instead of asking her what I’d done wrong, I chopped the bottom off to make it work. Naturally it didn’t and I had to run up to TG&Y to buy more fabric. I asked Mama for help too. Seems like I’d sewn the sides together instead of the front pieces.
I bought my first sewing machine when Dana was a baby. It made sewing a lot easier when I could sew at home while the baby slept!
I’ve had many machines since that first used White so many years ago. In fact today, I have six working machines.
That doesn’t include my mother’s Singer, although, after many years of sitting in a shed, I do have it now.
When Mama passed away, my oldest sister took possession of the Singer and it vanished from sight for a while (my sister Peggy did not care for sewing).
A few months before she passed away, Peggy asked me if I wanted Mama’s Singer. I nearly broke my neck getting the sewing machine and cabinet out of the paint shed it had been stored in and into my car.
It was covered in dirt dauber nests and filth. I all but cried. Mama would have.
Last week sometime, Dana stole my mother’s sewing machine from its cabinet in my sewing room.
She’s been learning to clean and repair old Singers as she has her great-grandmother’s Singer. (To be continued...)
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