Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Apple of My Eye


I’ve pondered this before-that no matter what our chosen craft is, or our artistic passion-what allows us to express our creative vision is possible in part (a big part) because of the tools we use.  Painters need paints and canvas, for example.  Writers need computers-or typewriters-or even pen and paper.  And  I need a sewing machine.  (I suppose I could get by with a needle and thread if I had to, but I’d rather not.)  And not only are the tools themselves important, but our choice of tools, too.

I prefer using a vintage sewing machine over a modern machine.  I own two vintage beauties-both made by Singer.  One is a  full sized model from 1950.   The other-the machine pictured here, is a diminutive “portable”  Singer Featherweight, made in 1946.  I know my choice of stitches is limited to back and forth.  And I know that I have to do without the bells and whistles (very nice bells and whistles, too) that a new machine may have. 


A case in point is shown in this picture of my 1946 Singer Featherweight.  There are no fabric guide markings next to the needle-so I have to use a very unglamorous  piece of tape. (It makes me  wonder what seamstresses did in the old days?)

But no matter.   I don’t mind. 

Scroll Work

Just look at that decorative detail on my Featherweight’s face plate.   They certainly had the right idea in the past- that everyday objects could be beautiful as well as useful. 

Then too, I like the idea that my two vintage sewing machines have so much history behind them.  It’s fun to imagine who owned them before I did, and what those previous owners might have sewn.  Prom dresses perhaps?  Or baby clothes?  I like to think that my Featherweight was given as a wedding gift to a new bride.  Her sweetheart was home from the war, and they were beginning a new life together. 

 Balance Wheel  

Whatever their stories-my vintage machines infuse my work with a spirit that no modern machine ever possibly could. 

Is there a certain “tool of the trade” that inspires you when you work?   I’d love to know:)


  1. That is a gorgeous machine! I wish I knew how to sew better - I'm limited to embroidery right now, and even that has been scarce lately. My mom tried to teach me how to sew and I also took home ec in high school, but I'm afraid none of it stuck. Though the thought of making my own cute clothes holds a distinct appeal, especially some '40s sundresses!

    I guess the tool of my trade is modern - my trusty laptop. But I did put a vintage typewriter on my business cards. :-)

  2. They are beauties and this post isn't the first time I've yearned to take up sewing. Maybe when the kids are a bit older. I really love our camera. I have wanted to read the manual for a long time now. These kids need me though!

  3. My grandmother had an old Singer sewing machine, with the foot pedals ... do yours have those too?

    A tool that really helps my writing, besides the computer, is the camera. Looking through the lens gives me different perspectives on so many subjects, that I then bring to the page, or to the blog :)

  4. They are beauties! I have a vintage in the basement from my great grandmother, but since i don't sew I've never used it.

  5. Melissa-my mom tried to teach me when I was 11, and I wasn't the best student. For some reason I kept at it though-and now I love it (most of the time!)
    Your business cards sound so cute!!

    Kim-when Amy was little I managed to make her one outfit! You are right-your kids need you now, but you can learn to sew later. Photography is another art form I love too. I love my digital camera-but I have an old manual Pentax film camera that I love too.

    Joanne-my grandmother had a machine like that. Her electric sewing machine gave out during the war and the only replacement my grandfather could get for her was an old non electric one.
    The view from behind the lens does add a different perspective, doesn't it? Amy blows me away with what she sees through the lens-she has some serious talent when it comes to photography.

    Lisa-those machines are beauties, aren't they! Maybe some day you can take your great grandmother's machine out and play around with it. I like the sounds the old machines make when they run too-sort of like a well tuned VW!

  6. Hi Valerie!

    I've just given you the Stylish Blogger Award :) Although I may not comment often, I always enjoy reading your terrific posts! I also love your Etsy shop ;)

    Here are the rules for accepting the Stylish Blogger Award:
    -Link to the person who gave you the award.
    -Share 7 facts about yourself.
    -Pass the Stylish Blogger Award on to 7 of your favorite bloggers.

    That is a beautiful sewing machine - I can see why it inspires you! I'm a novice when it comes to sewing, but I do a lot of crochet and find that I feel a tangible connection to crocheters-past when using my vintage steel and bone crochet hooks.

    Enjoy your weekend!
    Miss CherryBubbles (aka Andrea)

  7. Thanks Andrea!
    That's neat about your vintage crochet hooks-I know exactly what you mean about feeling that tangible connection to others who have used the things you use now. A lot of my kitchen stuff is vintage-and I feel that the reason my rhubarb crisp is so good is because of the vintage mixing bowl I use-it must have been previously owned by a very capable cook!