I’m sewing!

sewing-machineIt was several months ago that I excitedly took possession of an old hand-me-down sewing machine. After “test driving” it with some scraps of paper and finding it working perfectly, it sat for all this time waiting for me to find a project. That opportunity presented itself recently when I purchased a pair of pants that needed to be hemmed – usually I would send these to my mother, an excellent seamstress, but this time I decided to do it myself.

I also happened to finally get around to a thrift store expedition, from which I brought home 3 men’s flannel shirts ($5.99 each) to turn into cloth wipes. I cut them up into squares, not bothering to measure since I don’t really know what size I like best anyway, and because I am impatient, and because I wanted to use as much of the fabric as I could. 

scrapsreadyFor the last few days I have been happily sewing away whenever I get the chance, even treating myself to an old movie (The Apartment, 1960, staring a very young and beautiful Shirley McLean) one evening. The flood of memories this brought back was really lovely – my mother sewed throughout my whole childhood, and I had forgotten how many evenings were spent with her sewing while watching a movie on TV. Not only were the memories happy ones, but it felt extra special to be passing this scene on to my own children.

I had a few glitches to overcome. First, the bobbin winder didn’t work because the rubber ring that rubs against the main wheel had dried up and broken off. Determined not to be put off I wrapped a rubber band around it. I have to remove the cover plate and hold onto a few parts, but I can wind my bobbins and that’s all that matters!

I also had a frustrating first attempt when the stitches kept getting all tangled up. If I hadn’t used it when I first brought it home I’d have worried it was broken. After trying all sorts of variations on thread and bobbin tension I resorted to Googling the subject. Sure enough the advice was to check the needle to make sure it was inserted correctly. I double-checked and, even though I’d read the instructions, I’d still managed to put it in the wrong way! With another problem solved, I happily proceeded.

Since then I’ve broken a few needles but was finally able to head out yesterday and get some replacements (thank goodness the standard needle size hasn’t changed in the last 40 years!). The pants were successfully hemmed and I’m almost finished with my wipes. I used a wide zig-zag stitch and polyester thread since they will be washed frequently. Here’s a sneak preview:


I’m very happy to have learned another skill in the repertoire of self-sufficiency. I doubt I will take this hobby much farther than doing little projects like this one – I am far too impatient to properly measure things. (knitting a test gauge is usually done under self-imposed duress!). But it is still a very useful tool and, combined with the warm memories it provides of my own childhood, a priceless addition to my home.

Categories: being green, Homemaking, learning, simple living | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “I’m sewing!

  1. Good for you! I’ve been thinking of getting a sewing machine for years but (1) I keep thinking I don’t have time to learn something new and (2) I don’t want to buy a new one and don’t know if I could figure out how to use a used one. I did see a used one at the thrift store the other day. Maybe I’ll go take a peek to see if it’s still there.

  2. ruralaspirations

    Having a used one is actually easy, IMO. For example, when the bobbin winder wasn’t working, it was easy to undo the 3 screws, lift off the top plate, and immediately see what the problem was. If I’d had a fancy electronic model I’m sure it wouldn’t have been so easy to understand (and thus, fix).

  3. Hey, neat! We’ve been considering getting a sewing machine too. I’ve got a couple pair of old flannel pj pants that I want to turn into rice-filled warmy bags and glasses cleaning rags. We have a Sears gift certificate so I may end up getting a modest new machine, but it would be good to check out thrift stores first. Your memories of your mom sewing when you were young sound very nice 🙂

    P.S. – how is the flooding where you are, are you keeping dry enough?

  4. RedFern

    Here’s hoping you enjoy your wipes. I’ve been using them on and on for several months and I like ’em. I usually fall of the wagon when we have company because I have to share a bathroom with our guests. Also, we live in an apartment and have a common laundry area i.e. it’s not possible to just run a quick load of laundry without serious, strategic planning. (Our laundry room gets a lot of use!) Now that you have your own machine you can also consider making your own pads for your monthly. Flannel pads for the monthly are soooo comforting. There’s a pattern over at the Hillbilly Housewife (hillbillyhousewife.com). Take care!

  5. I’ve just learned to sew in the last few months, too, and it’s so much fun! I’ll get to cloth wipes eventually, I’m sure.

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