Grandma’s Sewing Machine

Daily prompt: What’s the oldest thing you own? (Toys, clothing, twinkies, Grecian urns: anything’s fair game.) Recount its history — from the object’s point of view.

I’m a New Home sewing machine, purchased by my owner in April 1937.  She wrote down the date of purchase in my user manual, which sits inside the door, in the catch all bin used for extra needles, bobbins, and other sewing notions.  I am operated by a knee peddle, something not seen much, if at all, in today’s machines.  My cabinet has a dark brown finish, and I’m quite heavy since I’m an all metal machine.  By the way, what is plastic?

Back in the day, I was state of the art, not sure if I was top of the line.  I do one stitch, straight stitch. I’m painted black with some gold logo/seal. By current standards, I’m not very safe for little kids to sew on, as the arm that moves the thread up and down is open, exposed, tot that one could easily get hit by it while sitting and sewing., but I gather this part is now covered up.

I helped my owner, who was almost 30 when she got me, make many things.  Dresses, aprons, potholders, quilts, curtains, and so much more.  I was a busy machine, owned by a farmer’s wife.  I’m pretty sure I’m the only machine she ever owned after she got me.  I was also used to teach her two daughter’s how to sew.  Her oldest daughter eventually did quite a bit of sewing and quilting.  I don’t know about her youngest. I know she must have done some sewing as I think she did own her own sewing machine eventually.

We worked together for many, many years, over 60 years!  The frequency of my use declined.  And then, my owner left. I’m not sure what happened, one day she was there, and the next she was gone.  She never did come back.  I sat in the middle room waiting to be used again, but no one ever did give me much notice.  The only person that came there religiously was her other daughter –  she even made notes as to the dates she came in a book in the kitchen.

I now sit in the lower level of my original owner’s granddaughter.   Before coming to this house, I was sitting in my owner’s daughter’s house for several years.  This lady finally decided she wanted me a couple years ago when she started quilting.  She had me rewired so I didn’t spark, and has since tried me out a few times.  I think she finds me rather noisy, though, because she hasn’t used me much.  Maybe she gets confused with moving the wheel clockwise instead of counterclockwise to move the needle.  Perhaps it’s the rotary bobbin that throws her off, it is rather different from all bobbins of today.  I know she tried to find a foot that she could try free motion quilting on me, but was unable to locate this item, even on something called a web-site, Ebay? I know I’m not the oldest thing she owns, as when she first brought me home, she sat me next to my owner’s cedar chest, something that was already there at the farmhouse when I was purchased.

My owner’s granddaughter seems to be in love with this other machine, a Brother PQ1500.  She uses it all the time, not daily, but when she does sit down there, she can be there for hours on end for many days in a row.  Then, she finishes a project and often takes a long break.

Recently, she set me up to show a young girl of about 11 what an antique sewing machine looked like, and how I sounded.  The little girl was kind of amazed by my simple features.

Maybe someday, I’ll be put to good use again.  That’s the thing,  you see, as long as I am oiled properly, I could still work for another 80 years, or perhaps even longer.

But, there’s this new thing now called upgrading, which means that many times, those of us that can still do the work but don’t have as many fancy features, get set aside, put away, or even sold.

Will I ever get to help make a quilt, curtains or aprons ever again? I sure hope so.

Antique Antics


3 thoughts on “Grandma’s Sewing Machine”

  1. What a lovely piece! My mother’s sewing machine is only a little younger than yours, she bought it in 1948, and she sewed often and prolifically until a few years ago. She and I made my wedding dress together on it! Hers, too, had a straight stitch, and I remember way back when I was in college (in the 70’s, on, my!) using her machine and flipping a lever to backstitch. My mother let out a squeak — “How did you do that?” In 25 years or so she hadn’t known it would backstitch!

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