Monday, March 26, 2007

What's Your Sewing Rig?

Was not sure of what to write about tonight. I do have the tummy and two paws done on a chocolate and black Mocha Hedgie of Love, but that's not very exciting. The real Hedgie Excitement comes when you attach the eyes and nose. Then the personality shines through for the first time.

Then I found inspiration in the comments over at Holly's blog. Holly's sewn up what I would deem a small metric buttload of sewn blankies for her Cyrano's Creature Comforts Drive. Kate asked about sewing machines in comments. Turns out she is looking for sewing machine info.

Yes this is a knitting blog, and I consider myself more of a knitter these days. But that was not always the case.

Just to warn everyone in advance this post will more then likely not help anyone select a new machine.

(Insert Wayne and Garth like hand waving and weird noise making to show going back in time.)

Elementary School Sewing
For many years I considered myself to be quite the stitcher. My Mom taught me to sew back in elementary school, about the same time I learned to knit. I belonged to the local 4-H club, the domestic one, not the raising animals one.

My first project was a sundress. It was in a pale pink Swiss dot with shoulder ties and two little blue and pink mice patches on the front yoke. I spent a ton of time on the hand stitched hem. I wore the sundress to the Wanye County Fair 4-H Judging and successfully answered all of the judges questions. She was very complimentary of my hem. I won a blue ribbon for my efforts.

I entered two years in a row, receiving blue ribbons each year. The third year was when Mom first got sick. I don't remember if I went to the fair that year or not. Can't quite remember if I did 4-H after that. We moved north to the Cleveland a few years later. 4-H was not quite as popular up north.

I still have the little pink sundress. I'm saving it for Evelyn.

Middle School Sewing
My middle school offered a rotation of sewing, cooking, metal shop and wood shop. I loved metal and wood shop. Never got to take cooking for some unknown reason. Ended up taking sewing twice. Sewing class was great fun since I already knew how to sew and could use class time to work on projects.

High School Sewing
One last sewing class, my Senior year. Really did not learn anything new but did get to sew during class time. Tried to sit in on a FHA meeting. But it was during my English Comp class. I had a battle ax of an English teacher that year. Class time learning how to write footnotes far surpassed any FHA meeting nonsense. No way was I ever going to get out of her class.

Have I mentioned that FHA stood for Future Home Makers of America? Later to be renamed FCCLA? Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America. I went on to get a B.S. In Family and Consumer Sciences and an M.S. and teaching certification in Family and Consumer Sciences Education. But that's another story for another time.

The wry twist is that in all of my years of schooling I never wrote a footnote outside of that Senior English Comp class. It was APA and parenthetical citations all the way.

Enough with the footnotes. I was talking stitching.

College Sewing
I spent my Freshman year of college working in the costume shop at Wittenberg University. The Costume Designer Debbie was one of those fabulous empowering, slightly crunchy, artistic types. She was wonderful. Both she and her husband were artists. She worked in color and fabric, he in metal, and marble. Wittenberg proved to not be the best fit for me so I transferred to Baldwin Wallace.

That summer I secured a job as a Stitcher with the now defunct Berea Summer Theater. You don't sew costumes you build them. I was not a sewer or seamstress I was a Stitcher. Over the course of five summers I stitched and improved my craft. I also came to realize that I did not want to do costume design. The theater is a wonderful place, just not for me.

I graduated from B-W, worked for awhile and then went on to Ohio State for a master's degree. I pretty much stopped sewing. At this point I was knitting again, and knee deep in Hats.

The Part Where I actually talk about Sewing Machines.

I've sewn on a number of machines over the years. I first learned on a classic, old school Singer. It was black with silver filigree. It lived in a brown wood stand. No reverse on the Singer, you had to hand tie your seams. I want to say it was my Paternal Grandmother's.

Then in 1977 Papa bought Mom a White as a present for graduating from Nursing school. The White was sleek and shiny compared to the Singer. Not only did it backtrack it did button holes!

I did most of my sewing on the White up until college. I can' not remember what we had in the Wittenberg Costume shop but I do remember what we used at BW. Industrial Singers. Oh boy! Lots of power, a huge foot pedal, a giant light and god help you if you get a finger stuck under the needle while you were sewing. We also had 'Bernie' the Bernina and a Pfaff.

I recently got out the White to work on a lap quilt with some MOM'S Club buddies. My White was the oldest machine there by about oh 25 years. It's incredibly heavy and loud compared to the newer machines, but I still love it dearly. I have many fond memories of sewing with Mom on that machine.

Maybe someday I'll get to sew with Evelyn or Henry.

In the meantime I knit and my White lives in the closet along with the other sewing tools that I've accumulated over the years. It does not come out very often but when it does I'm grateful to have my own machine, my Mom's machine.


Kate said...

thanks for the info! I love hearing crafty stories. All my love of sewing/quilting/knitting comes from the women on my dad's side of the family. My mom is a huge history buff and would rather watch the history channel, meanwhile, growing up she always sent me to play with paint or polymer clay. I grew up sewing with my grandmother and still have the quilt we made together - needless to say, I can identify the quilting I did vs. what she did. But I have fond memories of it all!

Cortney said...

My first piece of sewing was also for 4-H and also went to the Wayne County fair! (Best county fair ever, by the way...the Lerch's doughnuts alone are reason enough to attend.)

Unfortunately, unlike you I can no longer remember what I made, but I do remember that it was my Grandma who helped/taught me. Where did you live in Wayne county?

Karen said...


What wonderful memories! It's so cool you still have the quilt you made with your Grandmother. You should post about it sometime. It's so fun how skills are passed down from generation to generation.

Good luck finding a machine. If you are going to do quilting I can reccomend a quilting foot for your machine. My girlfriend who quilts has one, it has a little lip or do dad or what not thing on the side that helps you keep exactly a 1/4 inch seam allowance. If I were to start quilting I would look into one.

Hope your defense goes well.

Karen said...


I think I remember Lerch's Donuts. We used to always eat in The Grange. Wayne County does have a great fair, I've experienced none better.

I want to say I belonged to the Milton Shamrocks 4/H Club. I went to Sterling Elementary back in the late 70's to mid 80's.

Email me. We may know some people in common.