When I was a teen, my mother found an antique Singer treadle sewing machine and converted it to a vanity for me. The little side drawers were perfect for storing all my new cosmetics, and, while I sat and primped, I loved to rest my feet on the treadle and rock it slightly back and forth. The sewing machine itself was gone, but I could still appreciate the Industrial Era beauty of the casing.
I'm not sure what happened to that vanity, but I'm pretty sure that it didn't end up in a garage sale in Sayville, Long Island. What did turn up and landed in my living room was a sadly dilapidated Singer treadle from the early 1900s. The veneer was water-stained and peeling, the metal stand rusting, and the machine appeared to be beyond repair. What I wouldn't give to have a glimpse of the life that century-plus Singer had lived.
My husband had picked up the machine from his cousin, who was holding a spring cleaning sale. He and my sister-in-law were tickled pink with themselves that they had found such a perfect present for me. I didn't have the heart to tell them that this machine was long past a useful life in every sense, so I just threw a pretty cloth over it, and kept in it my living room as a side table.
I was having a family piece refurbished and when it was returned to my home in gleaming condition and set up in my living room, my eyes settled on the sad sewing machine. I asked the man who had done such a splendid job on the family piece if anything could be done for the Singer treadle. He wondered about my interest in sewing and mentioned that his wife was a fashion design professor. It turned out that his wife and I had worked on a magazine story together. I had known him for two years and would never have guessed at that connection but for the machine. Small sewing world indeed.
He took the machine and returned it two months later. Not only did he restore the wooden case and metal stand to its former beauty (or better), he had also gotten the machine into working condition! I still keep it in my living room as a side table, no longer sad and hidden, but unveiled in its full glory and ready to stitch in a minute. And that talented man and his wife have become good friends.
I just love that something thought to be long past its usefulness was not only restored to be beautiful and useful again, but also served to cement friendships through a chance encounter. Yes, I do need that magical treadle machine!
For whatever machine you have and love, check out the marvelous Stitch Winter 2012 patterns, now in the Sew Daily Shop.
What stories does your sewing machine have to tell? I would love to know!