Me and My Singer Sewing Machine

Image: My Singer Sewing Machine.

I’ve been looking in second hand stores for a set of small curtains to cover the shelves in the bathroom. Our bathroom is very small, and traditional drawers and doors would take up too much space to open. So curtains over the shelves would make the bathroom look a lot neater, while not using up valuable space. Problem is, I haven’t been able to find some curtains that would look good in our bathroom.

So, I decided to make a set of curtains from some old fabric that I had. Curtains are easy to make, and I’ve done quite a bit of sewing over the years, so this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I even have my old electric sewing machine. However, using it will probably mean having to run the gen set for awhile. And then there’s the old Singer sewing machine …

When I was very young, my family used to live on a cattle ranch in Lillooet. The old ranch house was furnished when my father bought it, and much of this furniture ended up travelling with our family on our various moves after we left the ranch. Amongst this furniture was an old Singer sewing machine in a beautiful wood case. My Mom liked to use it as a small side table, and often one or more plants ended up living on it.

In my early teens, I started to take a bit of an interest in sewing. My Mom liked to quilt, and her mother (my grandmother) had given her an expensive electric sewing machine that could do all kinds of fancy stitches. Mom would busy herself making quilt squares on her sewing machine, and I really wanted to learn how to do them too. But things didn’t quite happen like I wanted. I was too young to use a fancy, expensive electric sewing machine; however, Mom remembered the old Singer sewing machine hiding under her plant pots. It was an old treadle machine, in surprisingly good shape. The old leather belt which connected the treadle to the sewing machine was broken, but my Dad quickly devised a new belt out of some springy cutain wire, and with a little oiling, the old machine was up and running. As it turned out, I never did get to use my Mon’s fancy electric sewing machine. That old Singer and I developed a bit of a relationship, and I ened up sewing many projects on it, including a beautiful satin gown for my grade 12 graduation.

When I left my parent’s home to go to university, the old Singer sewing machine stayed with them. I didn’t have any place to keep it, and besides, Mom didn’t want to give up her plant table. I did tell them, however, that if they ever thought to get rid of it, I wanted first dibs.

Time passed, and I never forgot that old machine. Every so often, I would remind my parents that if they got tired of using it as a plant stand, they could always give the machine to me. Mom never had any use for it as a sewing machine, and it was always sad to know that it was hidden away under a bunch of greenery.

A few years ago, my father passed away. Their house was too much for my Mom to look after, so it had to be sold. My Mom needed to do some serious down-sizing, as she would now be living on a one bedroom apartment, rather than a three bedroom house with yard, garden, work shops, and garage. In all of the chaos that ensued, I inherited the old Singer sewing machine and took it home with me. Little did I know at the time that in a couple of years I would be living off-grid, and a treadle sewing machine would be a perfect compliment to our much simpler life!

So back to the curtain project … I dusted off the old machine, gave it a good oiling, and it ran just like it used to … after almost 30 years of being a plant stand! You’ve got to give those old Singer sewing machines credit – they were really built to last. A couple of hours later, and I had my set of curtains made for the bathroom. I didn’t need a drop of gasoline to do it, either.

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