Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Of shoes and sewing machines

As I sewed on a mitered corner border this morning, a thought occurred to me: I always kick off my shoe on my pedal foot when I sew. It's much easier to feel the pedal and to modulate the speed. Navigating the mitered corner, starting and stopping on a pencil mark, I realized that I get much more control on the pedal in my stocking feet.

I honestly can't remember when it started, but I think I have been sewing sans shoe for years and years. Not at first, though. My first sewing machine was a Free Westinghouse Model ALB in a cabinet with a knee lever speed control. I inherited it from my grandmother. It now resides at my Mom's house. She had one exactly like it, so now there's two. One downstairs, one upstairs, but she doesn't use either. Her workhorse machine is a White that Dad bought her for anniversary at least thirty five years ago. It sits upstairs in her sewing room, on a huge wooden partner desk from Mom and Dad's business. She also has a Singer that she bought for herself because it was small and light and easy to bring out and put away for quick jobs, that she keeps downstairs.

I used that Free Westinghouse from the time I was six or seven. It was made in the 50's and only sewed a straight stitch, but it was absolutely bulletproof. Every stitch of my clothes through high school and part of college was made on it. I bought a White machine with a zig-zag stitch after I started working, and wore it out making clothes and quilts. I'm sure the Free Westinghouse is still going strong. It was built like a tank.

The knee control was one of two things I grew to dislike about my old machine, though. That, and the fact that it was in a narrow cabinet, so when you pulled up a chair you weren't sitting in front of the needle, but in the center of the sewing machine head. That's a thing I'm a stickler for. I sit to the left of center of the machine so I am directly in front of the needle. Makes it easier to see what you're doing.

To be absolutely honest, you also have to be skinny skinny skinny to use that old sewing machine because the cabinet is so narrow. Sitting crammed in that little spot between the two front legs became, shall we say, tight?

1 comment:

QuiltingFitzy said...

I kick off my right shoe to drive. I have done this since I was 16! I think we just "feel" the pedal better (and yes, I sew without a shoe too-but I never have shoes on in the house either!)