Here she is, and we don’t know her name yet. I got a new to me, Singer 31-15 Treadle Sewing Machine from 1926. She needs to be cleaned up, cleaned out and the cabinet cleaned, but everything works as is right now even without the polish.
I bought it from a lady in Grand Rapids, MI who bought it from her husband’s uncle in the 1950’s when she first got married. She told me that she took tailor and sewing classes and used it for years. Her husband’s uncle bought it new from Singer in 1926 and he had a tailor shop on Plainfield in Grand Rapids making suits. She belongs to me now.
I always wanted to learn to sew as a child but even though my family did sew, it did not make sense to me. I remember taking one class with my mother and grandmother at the local high school and we had to make a blouse that had buttons down the front, a ruffled removable placket for the front, collar, cuffs, and was fitted. I found it next to impossible. I wasn’t able to sew straight lines, had to rip and tear out and redo so many times the end result was holes in the fabric everywhere….and worse yet it caused me to hate sewing and be terrified of sewing machines. The machines went too fast and no amount of ridicule from my family made it any better for me.
Fast forward about 35 years and I am stuck with many of my designs with my weaving of wearable art into too boxy of shapes and need something more fitted and tailored. I decided to get a treadle sewing machine so that I can learn to sew slower speed and get past this childhood fear.
I remember that patterns did not make sense to me, cutting them out was hard on my hands even as a child, how they went together made zero sense and the instructions were even more gibberish to me. None of these things were taught to me. None of this was explained. I was made to feel horrible, useless and stupid because I couldn’t “get” it.
I have decided that I don’t need patterns, don’t need electricity and don’t need speed. I can learn to sew without all that my own way and be able to design what I want and how I want. I can sew my hand spun, hand woven and felted fabrics together, put them on a backing, make quilts, bags and other assorted things without patterns if I so desire. I may decide in time to give some simple patterns a try again, but this time I know I will succeed because my husband, Charlie does understand patterns and used to help his Mam make dresses on her treadle sewing machine. He also has something I have never encountered before…..patience with my mind blocks that don’t make any logical sense. So I know that he can teach me what I can’t figure out myself without giving me another complex for the next 35 years of my life.