Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Stitch in Time Saves Nine

People have been sewing by hand for thousands of years, but it wasn't until the middle of the nineteenth century that Elias Howe received the first American patent for a process that used thread from two different sources. Isaac Singer, though, was the first to build a sewing machine that was successfully manufactured and sold to consumers. There was a time when a sewing machine was found in every woman's home. This is no longer the case. In fact, fewer and fewer people these days know how to sew, by hand or machine.

Singer model 27, drawing of treadle table
from instruction manual;
public domain image from
Wikimedia Commons
My first sewing machine looked somewhat like the picture on the left, but it had been converted to use electricity instead of the treadle! The bobbin was shuttle-shaped instead of round as used on later machines. It would only sew a straight stitch in one direction, but it served its purpose.

The sewing machine I have now is a Sears Kenmore model given to me as a wedding gift by my mother and my older sisters. They got a bargain because the model had been discontinued! I used it regularly for many years to sew everything from children's clothes to a wedding dress. It's in the garage now because I don't sew much anymore and just don't have space for it.

My mother loved to have the latest model sewing machine...she wanted it to have all the latest bells and whistles! She sewed clothes for me and my sister when we were young; much to my embarrassment, they were often made of matching fabric! One of my childhood dreams was to have a "store-bought" dress.

My Grandma Yawman was an accomplished seamstress, and I'm not sure whether she ever owned a sewing machine. One of my prize heirlooms is a skirt she made, entirely by hand, for my older sister is the mid-1950s. Made of blue and white printed cotton, it is in remarkable condition for its age. The seams are French seams, the buttonholes at the waistband are hand-worked. Beautiful needlework!

A stitch in time saves ask, nine what? Nine more stitches, of course.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock

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