It seems to be a tradition on sewing blogs to start by telling your sewing story. In fact, I’m not starting but starting over and repurposing my 7-year-old travel blog as a sewing blog. It’s fitting as I’m also starting over with sewing.
My sewing story probably begins when I’m 5 years old. But I don’t remember any of that. My mother, who has been sewing as long as I can remember, says that I sewed things as a child. Why would she lie? I probably did. My mother and grandmother are both excellent sewists. Not that I noticed when I was young. I thought everyone’s mother made all their Halloween costumes. It was only in high school that I saw a plastic Batman costume at Target and was brought nearly to tears for children that have to wear those. (I’m still getting a little choked up about it.)
Mom tells me that my grandmother, who we all called Nana, used her Singer 401A machine to sew sailboat sails when their family lived on a boat. Nana gave this machine to mom in the 80s when she purchased a new Bernina from her favorite sewing shop in Snohomish, Washington. Mom inherited the Bernina in the 90s from Nana and the Singer has sat unused in the upstairs attic pretty much since then.
So back to my story: I had been thinking about picking up sewing again and had looked into taking a class in Berkeley. I did some googling on sewing machines and ran across a post that urged new sewists to find a heavy steel vintage sewing machine rather than buy a new, cheap model. This struck me as good advice because I had bought a new, cheap sewing machine at Target 10 years earlier. That piece of junk frustrated me so much I think I threw it in the trash and didn’t think of sewing again for 10 years!
Not a day after I read this I was browsing my favorite local thrift shop, Pick of the Litter in Santa Rosa, and I spotted a 70s model Husquavarna Viking that looked to be in great condition. I bought it for $40.
A week later my husband and I were driving up to Washington to visit my parents. I brought the Viking with me. We all crowded around as I plugged it in and tried to stitch something. Smoke started pouring out of it! A friend of my parents, Dean, was there, who used to have a sewing machine repair business. You’d think this would have a happy ending, but it doesn’t. Dean said it was dead and needed a new motor. And that probably wouldn’t fix it.
There may still be a happy ending: Mom told me to take home Nana’s Singer and start sewing with that. So I loaded the broken machine and the working machine into the car and drove them both back to Northern California.