I took my older two girls out for half term haircuts last week. With time to kill before our appointment slot, we popped into a charity shop to keep warm. The place in question has a bit of a reputation amongst locals for being the bees knees of charity shops and we were not disappointed.
As I was aimlessly gazing round the shop, my daughters both let out a squeal of excitement. They had spotted a beauty of a sewing machine. I have warped/trained them well, and I don't mind admitting to you that I felt a little proud of them for their reaction. I became a lot more interested once I opened up the side compartment and discovered a box full of attachments and the original instruction manual. Excited squeals all round.
Having done a little research, I now know the machine we bought is a Singer 185K. These were made in Scotland between 1958-63. Although the version I have is a simple hand crank, it would appear these were frequently supplied with electric motors. I have yet to sit in peace and get it working (note to self - don't try and thread up a new to you sewing machine when surrounded by a gaggle of excitable small people, keen to get their hands on the crank). I will let you know in a later post how I get on with all those feet and finding out what they can do - I may save the pleasure of playing with the feet for the next time my mum comes to visit.
This machine is a lot more sophisticated than the black and gold hand crank Singer my mum bought me when I was little. That one still works like a dream - albeit very basic - and is, I think more beautiful to look at with its iconic design. They were first produced in 1911, known as the 99K, and, I think mine is a very early one, given that the only way to adjust stitch length on mine is with a screw (and later versions had scales to indicate the stitch length you are selecting).
As if to make me feel fully justified in welcoming a second vintage Singer into the house, we spent a pretty glorious afternoon making more mice clothes. After failing to get the 185K threaded up (under the pressure of a young audience, who can blame me), we reverted to the 99K and my beginner friendly electric machines. The nice thing about the hand crank is that I can take my eyes off even the youngest big girl (currently aged 6), knowing she is confident to use it, and, that she won't sew through her fingers. This was just as well, as I needed to give my attention to helping each of them in turn to try out shirring on my other machines, so they could make little dresses for their toys.
|latest fashion for mice|
In this house, I also need to either make sure the toddler is having a sleep, or, accept that she will need a healthy dose of cake or TV (or both) to keep her happy and out of the way. Sometimes, I get to wangle a one to one sewing session with one of them, but it usually happens in a more chaotic, three all trying to get my help at once sort of a way. They are getting better at doing things for themselves, and, learning to wait their turn. I am also learning not to have fixed ideas about what they make and how they make it. The box of scraps is an exciting sight to them - it feels nice to be able to let them have their pick of what they fancy, because this is something I remember enjoying so much when I was little. It is fascinating watching them try and create the thing that is in their head. And, tricky managing emotions when things don't work out the way they wanted. But, we get there in the end - and on this occasion, without any tears. Phew.
With half term over, my sewing time will hopefully return to finishing something pour moi. More of that next time!