Wednesday, February 2, 2011


When I was in the 3rd Grade, we lived in Colorado. Third graders studied state history, so each class celebrated the Native American unit by having an Indian Pow-Wow. We wove bracelets and headbands out of yarn, and studied the culture and customs of the Native Americans. We made dioramas of Mesa Verde. We memorized the poem, Buffalo Dusk by Carl Sandberg, which I still know to this day:

Buffalo Dusk

by Carl Sandburg

The buffaloes are gone.

And those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
Those who saw the buffaloes by thousands and how they pawed the prairie sod into dust with their hoofs, their great heads down pawing on in a great pageant of dusk,
Those who saw the buffaloes are gone.
And the buffaloes are gone

Each student was responsible for coming up with a costume for the Pow-Wow. They had a morning and an afternoon performance, and we looked forward to it for weeks. My mom and I had gone to the material store and bought a pattern, material and trim for a little sheath dress that she was going to sew for me. The day arrived for our Indian Pow-Wow, and I bounded down the stairs and inquired after my costume. Questions and answers were quickly exchanged, "Are you sure it's today? Really? It's today?!" My mom had forgotten that today was the Pow- Wow, and my costume wasn't even started! Tears were shed, and apologies were poured out. I cry now thinking how busy my mom was with a newborn, and several other young children at home with her, not to mention the four she had in school. She was so busy! I now know what it's like to have to remember a million things and to have something important sneak up and slip your mind. You feel terrible. I'm sure she felt terrible, and that makes me feel terrible. As a young child though, all I felt was devastated and embarrassed that I would be showing up for my Pow-Wow without a costume.

I got into my neighbor's car and felt sick all the way to school, then cried to my teacher about what had happened. Being the teacher she was, she had a spare costume and let me wear it for the morning performance. After lunch, I returned back to my classroom, and the office secretary knocked on the door and handed my teacher a paper grocery bag with my name on it in my mom's familiar and beautiful handwriting. My teacher delivered it to my desk with a smile. I'll never forget the feeling I felt when I opened that bag and saw the most beautiful costume I've ever seen folded neatly at the bottom. It had fringe on the arms and the skirt with a zig-zag trim of striped ribbon, and it fit perfectly.

Even at that young age, I realized the sacrifice my mom surely had to make to produce that costume in a matter of hours. I'm sure my siblings were crying or having meltdowns. I'm sure my mom missed breakfast and lunch and sewed and prayed her heart out that she would make it in time. She did make it in time, and I'll always remember it as one of the greatest acts of service and love I've ever received.

When we went home for Thanksgiving, my mom told me that she had three sewing machines and wondered if I wanted to have one to learn how to sew. One of my greatest regrets is never taking my mom up on her countless offers to teach me to sew! She told me about all three, but I knew which one I wanted. I wanted THE Singer sewing machine.

This sewing machine has sewed curtains and bedspreads and Halloween costumes. It's hemmed skirts and church pants, and even helped to create one of my Laurel projects - a wool jumper that was worn once and only once. :) Most importantly, it's sewed an Indian Pow-Wow costume for a 3rd grader. It's old and weighs easily 30 lbs. It smells like Grandma's house - I think it used to be hers, if I'm not mistaken. It's been a busy machine, and it's still stitching!

My friend Marie', who is an amazing seamstress, has been so kind in helping me learn the ropes of my new machine. It's been a looong time since my Jr. High Home Ec. class. My needle kept breaking, and I feared I would have to shell out some serious money to get the bobbin cassette fixed. It was 50$ just to have them take a look at it! I wasn't even sure if they still carry parts for this kind of machine! She took a look at it and discovered that duct tape and a little adjustment was all it needed. Thanks, Marie'!

I found the owner's manual online. It's fun to look at the pictures.

"a new world of sewing enjoyment."

Isn't this awesome? They had a Singer Service Car!

And sew...

My first project was fittingly a project for my daughter. Boo's precious Zee Zee has been loved to pieces and all of the silky trim had dissolved over the years.

I bought some trim, pinned it in place, and sewed and sewed and sewed!

Probably more pins than needed, but I needed all the guides I could get!

Besides, Boo had a great time being my "pin-puller".

I reinforced the most precious piece - the tag which gets twisted and untwisted.

It was great practice for me to get the feel of the pedal and learn how to sew in a straight line! It's not perfect. I can see 10 mistakes right now, but it didn't have to be perfect. It felt so great to try something new. I'm so excited to learn on this wonderful machine!


Lin said...

Awesome sewing machine! And great job on Zee Zee.

Not sure how you did the corners (I used to just fudge it) but I'll have to pass along a tutorial I found for mitered corners. It's easier than you'd think and it opens up all sorts of blanket possibilities.

Amy said...

Lin - I totally fudged the corners. Please do send me a tutorial. I'd love to learn for next time! Thanks.

Mary said...

oh I'm so jealous! What a beautiful machine! I love mine and all, but those classic sewing machines are so pretty! And way to go on that sewing project! Thats way better than what I could even dare to pull off!

Tim said...

I remember being in high school chemistry class learning about moles (the scientific measurement unit). Our teacher challenged us to make a "mole" of our own. Mom broke out the sewing machine and basically made a plush, mole stuffed animal. It was amazing! Everyone in class was ooing and aweing. My teacher of course, knew that I couldn't possibly have done it, but was nonetheless impressed.

Sarah said...

Way to go on getting the machine, fixing the machine, researching the machine, and sewing a straight stitch on the machine!! You'll be pro before you know it. :)

Dianna said...

What a great story! Your mom is amazing and now I know why you are so amazing too. My mom is also a master seamstress, but I have not found my sewing mojo yet in this life. Maybe someday. Good work!

Catherine said...

Oh that's a great story about the pow wow outfit! I've never heard that before. Now I know why you wanted the picture! Gosh I cant figure out why that ones not on there.

Liz said...

Good job!

Cara and Steve said...

That's "sew" exciting! I'm glad that you finally took up the art of sewing! I know that you are really a crafty person at heart and I'm excited to see all of the projects you tackle. That's too funny to see the old instruction manual... I'm suprised you were able to find it! It's amazing how long those older machines can run for. The new machines I think are made to break after 10 years, however, mine says it has a 25 yr warranty so it better last til then :) Nice job on sewing the trim on Boo's zee zee! I use lots of pins too :)

Plowgian Page said...

Cara I was going to say "sew" exciting but you beat me too it. How about "sew" glad you have a sewing machine now! I love that it's vintage. The fact it stood the test of time for so many years says something about a quality product. My little Quilt and Craft is falling apart. I think it's burning up. Looking forward to seeing and hearing more of your sewing adventures.