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Tag Archives: Textile


When Mr. Singer developed a “small” sewing machine that every homemaker could use, he opened up a world of creativity and ingenuity that had not existed in this medium before.  Prior to his “domestication” of the sewing machine, people either bought clothing made by professional tailors and seamstresses, or labored for hours hand-stitching their own garments.  The small sewing machine  (not so small by our standards, but at least it would fit in a corner of a room) quickly made even stitches, and garments could be crafted in a day or two.  It wasn’t long before the “rage” became buying or making high quality “machine-made” clothing rather than the inferior handmade item. Mom paid her way through college by “taking in” sewing, and sewing for the drama department.  When I was a child, Mom had a “White Bros.” sewing machine, and my grandmother’s “Singer” worked with a mechanical foot-operated treadle. Early childhood memories include playing on the floor in my parents’ bedroom (where Mom kept her machine).  Littered with scraps of thread and material, the floor in the sewing corner was the best place to sit and have conversations with Mom, who made all my clothes until I left for college.  I learned to sew as a child, and by the time I reached high school I graduated from doll clothes to school clothes.   In the last ten years I have gone back to making clothes and accessories. The sewing machine has become one of my most treasured possessions.  Its utilitarian value coupled with warm childhood memories, insures that sewing will remain a hobby for years to come.  I am grateful for my sewing machine.

When I was a small child, I remember going to an occassional quilting bee with Mom.  As the women quilted, we kids played, not really paying too much attention to what the women were doing.  But I remember the products of these “bees.”  We had quilts in our home.  I loved them because they were made with remnants and scraps of material that Mom used in the clothing she made for the family.  (I never owned a store-bought garment until I went to college!)  We knew what shirt or dress contributed to each patch of the quilt.  Grandmamma was a quilter, too, and I loved to snuggle under one when we visited the farm on a cold winter day.  We always had scads of quilts around the house.  The quilt pictured here, sad to say, is store-bought.  I don’t have any quilts from my youth anymore.  Over time the material wears thin and the batting begins to push out at the seams, and then through the threadbare material itself.  But this only tends to happen when quilts are used on a regular basis, as we did.  This quilt hangs on a wall and collects dust.  It just isn’t the same.  Quilting bees were times when women gathered and chatted and worked together to create artfully crafted utilitarian masterpieces for daily use.  I miss having handmade quilts around the house.  I am grateful for quilts, and the memories of a bygone era.

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