Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mom's Sewing Machine

While I was at my mom's last week, I took a good look at her sewing machine.  Mom's machine is a Kenmore with a built-in cabinet, circa about 1963 or '64 - she doesn't remember exactly when she got it, but it was either just before or just after I was born.  The top of the table opens out, and then you swing the sewing machine up from underneath.  Mom told me she and my dad paid $150 for this machine back then - a lot of money for a young couple!  But she felt it had paid for itself many times over the years.


I have so many wonderful memories of this machine.  My first sewing machine experience was in my 7th grade Home Ec. class, but I liked it so much that I continued to sew on this machine afterwards, with Mom's help.  Throughout junior high and high school, and on into college, I sewed my own clothes on this machine. Later when Mom and my brother got me my own sewing machine as a gift, they got me a Kenmore.  It was so easy to use because everything was in the same place and worked the same as Mom's machine.  However, Mom's machine is ALL metal - it takes some muscle to lift it up out of that cabinet!


We had fun looking at the stitch cams and the attachments.  This machine uses round "cams" for the different decorative zigzag stitches.  There's a different stitch for the front and back of the cam.  I'm not really sure how these work but the edges are like cogs, and each one is different - like a key.


I only ever used the plain zigzag, which is in the machine (you can see it in the second photo).  But Mom said she did use a couple of these more decorative stitches.

Another thing I never used was the fancy attachments that came with the machine - in fact, I'm not sure I ever knew she had them!  And even if I did know, back then I wouldn't have known what they were used for.  I was really impressed with the assortment of feet that came with the machine - some of these I don't even have on my newer machines, but wish I did!  I took pictures of all of them:

Not only a narrow hem foot, but:

1/4" hem foot,

3/8" hem foot,

5/8" hem foot and

7/8" hem foot!  Jealous!!


Bias binding attacher!

Gathering foot.

Straight stitch foot.

Edgestitcher.  Not sure how this one works!

Ruffler!!

Quilting guide.

One attachment I did use was the buttonholer.  I like this one because it has such great grip on the back:


I used the zipper foot a lot too, but forgot to take a picture of it.  I much prefer the Kenmore zipper foot to the ones that come with the Janome.

All the cams and presser feet fit neatly into a little box for storage:


Along with the instruction manual:


And the manual is full of cute illustrations and chatty text, a la 1960s:

Fun with attachments!

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was dump out the coffee can where Mom kept all her old buttons and look at each one.  Getting out her sewing machine and all its pieces was the grown-up equivalent!

Did any of you grow up with an adult who sewed?  Do you have fond memories or stories about the machine you grew up with or learned on?

26 comments:

  1. Nice! I have my mum's old Singer and it has that table too. It's currently in the corner with tons of junk on it in our office. My mum made us stuff and that Singer made all my prom dresses.

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    1. My mom made us lots of stuff too, and she helped me make my junior prom dress. I have a picture of it somewhere - one of these days I'll dig it out!

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    2. Please dig out that dress!!!

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    3. The actual dress is long gone, but it was this pattern:

      http://www.pinterest.com/pin/166633254932509903/

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  2. That edge stitcher looks scary! :)

    What a GREAT score for you!!!

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    1. Well, it's not mine YET ;-) Yes, that edgestitcher kind of blows my mind - it looks so different from the one I have!

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    2. Oh darn it! Well hopefully in the distant future you can give it a loving home :)

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    3. VERY distant, I hope! I could take it now if I wanted to, but I have no room in this house for it :-(

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  3. My mom sewed for me a lot when I was a child. I have memories of the dress made from Winnie the Pooh fabric that I wore until it became a shirt (age 4-5), a smiley face bikini that I found mortifying (age 10-11), and a rose-colored velour bathrobe with and embroidered "L" on the pocket just like Laverne (age 12-13 - probably the last thing my mom made for me). The bathrobe still fits! We didn't work well together as teacher and student, but when I learned to sew at age 40, I figured the DNA had come from her!

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    1. That's an interesting point - I don't remember if my mom and I worked together well as teacher and student! But she taught me a bunch of my favorite things, so I guess I listened at least a little!

      Also: smiley face bikini! LOL!

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  4. I love this story! And those attachments are beautiful. It's like the metal was bent to create the 7/8" hem foot. And that ruffler - I don't even understand it :-)

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    1. Aren't they gorgeous? All the hemming feet are just blown-up versions of the narrow hem foot. I'm seriously considering getting the (fairly expensive) set for my Janome . . .

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  5. That's so cool, to still have your first sewing machine around. I first sewed on a treadle machine :)

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    1. Wow, a treadle machine! I'm not sure I'd have had the patience for that!

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  6. all those attachments! i've looked for a wider rolled hem foot, and they're either super expensive or non-existent... very jealous of those! my mom sewed quite a bit when i was little. i wasn't all that interested in learning how, but somehow i absorbed enough knowledge to pick it up as an adult. i'm glad i had her example, otherwise i may not be sewing today!

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    1. Some day I want to hear the story of how you started sewing. You're so expert and such an inspiration!

      Distinctive makes a set of hemming feet like the ones above that work with low shank machines. It's $50 for the whole set plus the interface attachment you need. It's been in my Amazon wishlist for over a year, and this experience made me feel like I need to pull the trigger and buy it.

      http://www.amazon.com/Distinctive-Rolled-Hemmer-EdgeStitcher-Package/dp/B0035UU8VI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1385046797&sr=8-1&keywords=distinctive+rolled+hem+foot+set

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  7. My mum had a burgundy Husqvarna Viking 6570 - such a memorable looking machine. If I had the space I would try to get one off ebay!

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    1. Those Husqvarnas are supposed to be excellent machines, I think! And burgundy - so stylish!

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  8. Oh yes I have hugely fond memories of the Singer I learnt on. Mum got rid of it about 30 years ago and I mourn a little everyday... It was a gorgeous blue metal machine in a wooden base, but that's all I remember. And I remember using that machine vividly. Then I received a Singer Featherweight 221K for my 40th this year and I am in heaven. It has most of the feet you showed and one of my summer sewing promises is to use each one. So hopefully I'll have some wisdom to impart on them soon! Gorgeous old machines, I love you!

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    1. I hope you do have some wisdom to impart! Once I looked closer at the set I'm thinking of buying, I saw that it included every one of these feet except the ruffler and quilting guide. That edgestitcher is so puzzling!!

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  9. Your mom's machine is awesome. I bet it still works better than most new machines out there and the fact that it has all those attachments is just bonus. No one in my family sewed, but my grandma was a knitter (although I thought that was very lame at the time) and my mom owned a small kids clothes factory where the workers made everything using knitting machines (again, back then I thought it was so boring!). Funny enough, mom used to crochet when I was too young to remember, but now that she has a second grandson, she has picked it up again after all these years.

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    1. I think it's been about 5 years since she sewed anything, but at that point it was still working great.

      I never knew that about your mom having a company! Cool!

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  10. I learnt to sew on a Kenmore at home too (can't remember what we used at school). I have it in my sewing room as my Mother was going to get rid of it! It's a 70s model. My Mother and I made my prom dress on it. I have no idea why she let me pick a slippy fabric and a pattern that had a boned bodice but she just acted like it was fine, we followed the instructions and it all came out fine in the end!

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    1. That's interesting, as I think of Kenmore as an American brand.

      That attitude can be really helpful! I've found that if I don't know something is supposed to be scary, I can just get on with it and do it!

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  11. Sew (sic) funny! My Mom and I were just talking (well, disagreeing) about our old machine, and here it is! Same machine, same parts, even same experience! Crazy. You must be our sewing doppelganger!

    Thanks!

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    1. So, SEW funny! Kenmore Sewing Twins, unite!

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