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Talking it over: the old sewing machine

Last week my daughter, Tammy, asked me for a favor. Usually when she says “Mom?” with that question mark on the end, it means I get to spend some extended time with my granddaughters while she does various things. This time the favor did not involve babysitting.

Instead she asked me to sew her a new curtain or more specifically, a valance for her kitchen window. She (along with some help from me) did some painting in her house recently and was now finding things to decorate the walls. She could not find the perfect curtain but instead found fabric that would blend in well.

I used to sew a lot but my machine hasn’t seen the light of day for quite some time now. In fact, I believe the last time I had it out was a couple years ago when Tammy made a curtain for her daughter’s room. At the time I was happy that I had made certain  Tammy knew how to do the basics on a sewing machine and had even sewn some great outfits for her 4-H sewing projects.

This would be the first time in several years that I would be running the machine. My first thought was to wonder if it would even work any more. I bought the machine 40 years ago when my husband worked at Fingerhut here in Morris. For about the first 20 years of owning it, I really did sew a lot. I made clothes, quilts, dolls, doll clothes, blankets and even curtains in the past. However, when Tammy no longer needed it for her 4-H projects, the machine was tucked into its cabinet and became a TV stand.

This weekend my husband removed the TV and helped me set the sewing machine up in the kitchen. I threaded the needle and bobbin before giving it a start. Those first few seconds I had to hold my breath as the moving parts ground to a start and slowly, my first stitches appeared. I was pleased to see that even after years of neglect, the trusty machine was still in working order.

The curtain didn’t turn out too bad for my first sewing project after so many years. As I watched the machine sew up the seams and finish the hems with my guidance, I had to think back to my first experiences with sewing. How Carole Johnson, my home economics teacher, patiently taught a room full of young girls how to sew.

Our first project, a straight a-line dress, all made with the same pattern but only out of different fabrics. There was a lot of ripping out seams, bleeding fingers and under-the-tongue swearing, but we managed to finish our creations. I don’t think I saw very many actually wear them, but we did get them done.

I admit that a good share of the projects I created on the sewing machine, did not see much wear. I was either so sick of it by the time I got it done, or it just never turned out the way the pattern made it look. I eventually decided that it was much better to just buy the garment already made and know what you are getting right away.

However, I have to say that the curtains didn’t turn out too bad. The stitching is not perfectly straight but the hems are completely tucked in and will hold up to a lot of washing. The best part was that my daughter was able to find the look she wanted that blended with her decor.

Now I have to wonder what the next project will be and how to answer when I hear “Mom?”