Saturday, February 5, 2011

Rest in Peace, Sewing Machine

I think guys get all dewy-eyed if a vintage car really, truly dies.  If you are one of them, you may understand the following.

I purchased a Japanese sewing machine that uses Singer parts in 1961, while I was pregnant.  It cost a whole $135, with tax.  I took it home and began a serious relationship that spanned half a century.  It was made of cast iron and weighed a ton, but sold as "portable".  Yeah, right.  If you put a handle on an elephant, does that make it portable?

It made maternity clothes, little girl's school dresses and nighties, Barbie clothes, Troll clothes, dollhouse accessories. 

I gave sewing lessons on it to young girls.  I have mended all sorts of things for those  who are not sewing-literate.  I even mended a torn Spinnaker sail for a beloved sail boat.

It made haut couture designs from Vogue in the '60's.  While most of the West Coast went to tie dies, I made Christian Dior and other Paris Original series.  Those Vogue patterns were masterpieces.

It made curtains, bedspreads, pillow covers, duvet covers. 

It made four (I think) wedding dresses.  One of them in the heat of central California, working with sweaty hands on white silk, covering it up at night to keep the cats off it.

It has made many, many kimonos for friends, relatives, and neighbors, and flannel shirts for men and women.  I've lost count how many.

At some point my daughters reached the age where home-made though couturier design clothes only brought them grief from schoolmates who could afford store-bought jeans, t-shirts, etc.   Elegance went down the drain.  If they didn't have it Macy's, Magnin's or Nordstrom, the noses turned up in disdain.  There are times when peer pressure does nothing to further civilisation.

It has hemmed napkins and table cloths from Irish linen,

It has done detailed applique on silk and suede wall hangings.  It has changed some designs when it took off with a mind of its own occasionally.

It has outlasted husbands, and traveled to five states.

I just finished a Montana scene, mountains/plowed fields, an old shed, silver thread barbed wire, and a plum tree covered with dupioni silk leaves and plums.  After I finished the last leaf and the last plum, suddenly the motor just went to sleep.  No matter how I beg and plead, it has gone to its reward.

I have years and years of memories with this machine, much as guys remember the girls who populated their first car. 

More expensive machines have already been tried.  They may have their advantages, but they will never measure up to the 1961 model. 

In the sculpture garden of Israel's Holocaust Museum, I saw a huge tower made of old, old sewing machines fitted together.  I wonder if I could send them my old friend.