May 2008


I’ve been running ads in the Sew Beautiful Magazine with Martha Pullen in their Sew Beautiful Marketplace and/or Licensed Teaching sections.

This fine publication comes out six times a year and features articles relating to heirloom sewing. One of the nice aspects of this magazine is that they include patterns for their feature articles.

Some of their patterns are more complex than others and may be intimidating to the new sewer. I am a licensed Martha Pullen teacher and here at me, myself and I, we can offer you help in bringing these patterns to fruition.

Martha Pullen and I at a licensing class photo op.

Once upon a time…

Well, that’s how some fairy tales begin, but this is a different type of story. Possibly even a love story!

My husband’s grandmother used to sew. Back in the 1930’s many people did their own sewing – either to make complete clothing items or to do their own alterations. And Al’s grandmother was no exception. In fact, having come to the US from the region now generally known as Slovakia, she was probably even more inclined to do so.

The first thing she and her husband did after buying her house, was to invest in a state of the art sewing machine. Of course, back in 1930, this meant a Singer brand machine. Electricity, being a somewhat new-fangled idea at that time, was not universally available. In fact, the country was still in the process of adopting the alternating current standard pushed by George Westinghouse over the direct current approach pushed by Thomas Edison. As a side note – in 1924, at least part of Troy ran on DC. To offer a sewing machine that most people in the US could use, Singer was selling treadle operated machines – foot power!

But, as with so many things, Grandma’s sewing talents were not passed along to her children. The world had changed and by the 50’s and 60’s fewer people were making their own clothing and more professionals began offering tailoring services for alterations. And so, none of Grandma’s children learned how to sew and the Singer treadle operated machine sat as a decorative item. Eventually it passed along to my husband’s mother where it continued to serve in a decorative capacity. My husband’s father did, however, continue to maintain the machine keeping it in operating condition and looking wonderful.

On trips to my mother-in-law’s I would always manage to sneak a few peeks at the machine… Eying it from afar… Wondering how it would be to try it out…

And here is where this turns into a love story. Al’s mother, observant as ever, noticed my interest in the machine. Behind the scenes, she talked with her husband. And with her siblings, Grandma’s other non-sewing children. All of them know about my passion for sewing. And together, they made the incredible decision that Grandma’s machine should come to live with me!

I was stunned! This was truly a gift from the heart! The entire family was behind this gift, knowing that the machine was being passed along to someone who appreciated it and its history.

My father-in-law carefully dismantled it for transport and my husband re-assembled it here at my shop. So – just what does a 1930’s vintage Singer treadle machine look like? Take a look!

Welcome to the family!

This story will continue. The machine works but I have much to learn! It came with many more accessory feet than a current machine. But it also, happily, came with the instruction book. From that I now know this as a Singer #66, “Oscillating hook for family use” machine.

I do have some projects lined up for it so be sure to keep coming back to see how this love story “unfolds”.

The American Sewing Guild (ASG) is a non-profit organization for people who sew!

Locally, the Albany chapter promotes sewing in the communities of Clifton Park, Colonie, Guilderland and Schenectady.

The Clifton Park group meets on the first Thursday of the month at 10am. In Colonie, the group meets on the second Thursday of the month at 6:45pm. In Guilderland they meet on the third Thursday of the month at 1pm. The Schenectady group gathers on the second Tuesday of the month at 10am.

For more information you can visit their website.