The Singer …

It was the late 1950’s and many thought mum (Kathleen Mary Allan Crout) rather odd. Why was Kathleen selling her sparkling “new fangled” electric sewing machine and replacing it with an old “treadlie”? …

“A method in her madness”, as they say.  Kathleen’s four children were growing and determined that they all learn to sew (including the three boys) a treadle machine was a necessity.  More manageable and far less dangerous, with the possibility of little fingers being pierced by sharp needles greatly reduced. 

Our sewing lessons began with an unthreaded machine and lined writing paper. Steadily following the lines, a smooth continuous movement, starting, stopping, lifting “the foot”, turning and repeating were the skills to be perfected … without drawing blood.

Next step:  filling the bobbin, inserting the spool, threading the machine, threading the needle, slowly lowering the needle and pulling the bottom thread up through the feeding hole, then triumpantly sliding the bottom plate shut … ahhh… such an achievement, such a delight!

The actual sewing almost paled into insignificance compared with the joy of mastering the required skills.

During our teenage years “stovepipe” jeans became the trend and two of my brothers became adept at “pegging” jeans… i.e. running another seam up the inside leg so they wrapped snugly around growing legs. “The boys” soon became famous for their “pegging skills” and it was not surprising, when wandering out through the lobby to the toilet, to come across one, or two, unknown hairy legged youths hanging around the sewing machine whilst one of my “bros” treadled busily away. A sight etched in my memory forever, probably only surpassed by that of my youngest brother lying in the bath, clad in his jeans to shrink them to the required degree of snugness, and dad nearly having an attack of apoplexy.

How I loved that sewing machine with it’s wrought iron treadle, oak cabinet, carving on the six drawers and a central drawer that tipped forward… along with precious memories.

When mum and dad sold the family home, and began getting rid of many of their belongings, I was living interstate and unable to lay claim to that beautiful machine.  My sister in law became the beneficiary and I’ve always had to avert my eyes when visiting.

Fossicking through “bits and bobs” last night I laughed out loud.  Missed out on the Singer, but have the “Instruction Book”.  Story of my life, it would seem … but laughing still, ‘cos just holding that little book in my hand brings all those childhood memories flooding back … far more precious than all the “Singers” in the world.

© Copyright 2012. Catherine Crout-Habel.  Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Familly

2 thoughts on “The Singer …

  1. What a great story Catherine -you brought the experience of learning to sew to life. Wonderful that your brothers were also able to learn. I can’t say my memories of learning are fantastic though I sewed for decades. Apparently I frightened daughter #2 off for life, trying to get her to sew, Oh well. I still have my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine but have forgone the workings and use it as a bedroom table.

  2. Thanks Pauline… It sure is great to know when someone has enjoyed a story. My mum was before her time … How wonderful that you still have your Grandmother’s “treadlie”!!! ~~~ I was going to bid on one on E-bay but the logistics of getting it to SOz was over-taxing my brain… 😉

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