Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

Mother's Old-Fashioned Sewing Machine

In the olden days, many housewives made their (and their children's) clothing. If they lived in the country and didn't have adequate transportation to go fabric-shopping in the city, by necessity, they were forced to sew. Or if they simply wanted to save money - this was more of a reason to sew at home than avoiding going to town.

My mother had a machine that didn't run by electricity, as did my grandmother. As a matter of fact, I'm not sure that electricity sewing machine were on the market. Today, I can't imagine a sewing machine that's not powered by electricity, but then, and even though my grandmother had electricity, her sewing machine was operated manually. They made a lot of noise, like an old car engine on its last leg, but they worked proficiently.

When I did some research, I realized that Mother's machine was probably a Singer. That is the only name (in sewing machines) that I can think of - at least for that era. The machine was made into a table-like structure with a top (case) part that looked like an old-fashioned dresser. The bottom had the pedal that had to be pumped up and down by foot. To my knowledge, the machine worked as well as my machine does today. My Mother made me and my sisters clothes' - not a lot, perhaps, but some.

Actually, I don't have a mental picture of any clothing from my childhood (except the 2-piece suit I made by hand in school craft class). But I know my mother did make some of our clothes. Had she not, I think we would have come up a little short on the clothing line.

I guess every country home had a sewing machine, because ladies made their bed sheets, pillow cases, curtains, table cloths, chair covers, aprons, dresses, underwear, sleep-wear, bonnets, and other practical household items and clothing.

I was old enough to sew, but sewing just never appealed to me. Even when I was forced to take Home Economics and learn to sew, I still didn't like it. But, I guess if I had been a grown woman during the '50s, I would have had to learn to sew or either wear only hand-me-down clothing.

I can tag on to this that my grandmother also sewed our much-needed undergarments. I especially liked that she made undershirts for wintertime. In the winter, I was always cold, so those warm, cotton underpants and tops came in handy. Thanks, Grandma...Thanks, Mom! And thanks Mr. or Ms. Singer for your wonderful sewing machine.