Time for credit to be given

So, my Mom offered me my Grandmother's sewing machine. And, we picked it up while we were there. My parents said it was in really bad shape, but I have to confess that it's in the best shape of about all of my vintage machines. After a great deal of dusting and cleaning and killing spiders, I present to you


Now, Mary is not my grandmother's name. Mary is my Mom's name, and soon, you'll understand why I named this machine after her instead of my grandmother. That's what Way Back Wednesday is for. Telling a story.

This one starts in 1957. My Mom had her first job. She was working for the phone company, and I think she was a switchboard operator. Sorry, I forgot to verify that fact when I heard this story. Anyway, my grandmother convinced my Mom to trade in my grandmother's treadle sewing machine as the downpayment on a new electrified machine. My Mom would make the payments, and when she married and moved out, the machine would be hers.

My parents married and when it was time for my Mom to move to their new home, my grandmother said she couldn't take the machine. And, it was my grandmother's from then on. But, I think my Mom deserves the credit because she made the payments and I'm pretty sure she picked it out. And, she was under the false assumption that it was going to be hers one day. Before she was tricked by my very tricky grandmother.

She's a model 15-91 with all the modern features and the attachments from my 1954 featherweight fit her perfectly. I found an owner's manual on the net and printed it out and disassembled, cleaned and reassembled the tension and the bobbin assembly. Thank goodness the motor just needed routine maintenance and I won't have to replace it.
She's been oiled and lubricated and the loose veneer has all been glued back down. Don't you just love that "modern" cabinet? See the worn spot where my grandmother rested her arm?
The serial number dates to 1956, the year before my Mom bought her. I was worried when I was working on her that there was something wrong with the motor. But, the lubricant was really old and as soon as I cleaned that out and added fresh and cleaned the carbon rods, she worked like a clock. Just a light purring sound. Even the lightbulb still works. She had my grandmother's last bobbin still inside with a lavender thread. I thought about unwinding it and continuing to use it, but hey, I think that's one rusty bobbin I don't really need and I already had others that fit. That bobbin can be saved in my jar of old spools of thread as a memory to the last user of the machine.

We disassembled her and Rob wrapped her in plastic like a mummy and sealed her up with duct tape in case we encountered rain on the way home. No rain, and despite cleaning it up before we sealed it, every piece I unwrapped, spiders crawled out of. Thankfully, I got very few bites and only from tiny spiders. But, a good oiling seems to have taken care of most of that.

I used her to make the gathers in that bedskirt I've been planning for Sydney since Christmas. I have one more section to gather and then I can start putting it all together. Maybe even this weekend. Maybe.

There's still some work on the cabinet. I'd like to lightly sand it and reapply a fresh coat of polyurethane, but not sure when I'll get to that. My next project is finding a place for her in my very crowded sewing room. There are at least 7 other machines in there and I might lose a chair or table to get her in. But, I'll find her a place, even if I have to hang her from the ceiling.

Take care and have a great Wednesday. We'll see ya round the net.


Elizabeth said...

I loved your post today. All those great memories made me smile. I'm so glad you were able to get the machine all cleaned and working! Mary is beautiful.

xo -E

Tammy said...

Oh Mary is a lovely machine. I hope you will link this post to vintage Thursdays.

Sadly grandmothers are sometimes fickle. I have concluded that most of us, including me do not have the fairy tale family. In Jan. 1989, my maternal grandmother promised me her Singer treadle in writing. In 2009, one of her daughters suggested to her that the treadle was worth $5000. So good old granny decided she can't give it me because she has five daughters, 18 grandchildren and only one sewing machine. In my sewing machine collecting adventures, I have owned four treadles, the most I paid was $80 and the least was $20. I'm sorry that your mom was cheated out of her sewing machine, as well as delighted you brought it home!

Becky said...

I love Mary's story! She'll be fabulous to work with, I'm sure!

jmcpherson said...

I'm new to your blog. I learned of it when Bonnie posted your thankyou to her. I've been reading it ever since. I would love to see pics of your sewing room as well as the bedskirt. It is nice to "meet" you.

Vesuviusmama said...

What a special treasure! And how lucky that it is in such great and useable shape. Thanks for sharing the story. I am pleased (and I'm sure your mom would be, too) that you named her Mary after your mom.

Coloradolady said...

Mary is a beauty. My aunt is going to give the one that belonged to her mom...and it is in immaculate condition I am told. Hopefully, in October we can make the trip to Mississippi to get it!!

Loved the story too, so glad you were able to have it and enjoy it like she is meant to be enjoyed!!!

We're headed to Austin this weekend with a Load of my daughters things to put in storage, she moves in her Apt. Sept. 11. No rest for the weary...hopefully on one of these trips down there in the future, we can meet for lunch!!!

vivian said...

the story makes your machine special. Hope you have many happy hours with Mary!!

Shirleymac said...

I love your wayback Wednesday posts. Same thing happened to me with my first car. I paid the payments and my mom kept the car. I didn't worry too much cause I'd lived there a couple of years rent free so she deserved it. I absolutely love the mark made by your grandmother resting her arm on the table. You aren't going to sand that down are you? Guess it wouldn't mean anything to anyone else but I get sentimental that way.

Cynthia L. said...

I have my mother's aqua blue Singer sewing machine. She bought it when my father was stationed in Vietnam. She hated sewing and quit when he came home! No one else in my family sewed with a machine. My mother's mother had a small sewing cabinet, but it passed to my Aunt, then my cousin. Perhaps it will make it to me or my daughter one day, my cousin has a boy and I don't think he is the type to care about sewing stuff. I always think it is special to have things that belonged to family, especially things that have good stories like yours.

By the way, did your mother ever get a sewing machine of her own?

lw said...

Mary is beautiful, and I'm sure she feels better without all of the spiders. I understand the "where do I put her?" dilemma. I've got six sewing machines now in an 8 by 10 foot sewing room.

One of my coworkers asked me if I wanted his mother's sewing machine, which he describes as a traveling Singer, with a case about "so big" with hand gestures that can only describe a Featherweight. I let him know that those are worth a couple hundred $$ and more if they're in good condition, but he wants it to go to someone who will use it. (-: Yea!!

Pauline said...

Lane, please look at it this way: The story is 57 years old. Memories dull in time. One main player is no longer here. Circumstances do change. Look at all the changes today, people's financial circumstances change and some promises made are impossible to fullfill. Perhaps your grandmother lost an income and HAD to sew for a living, perhaps she thought the machine really was hers, a gift from a loving daughter. Now I'm a firm believer that your word is your bond and when you give your word, you must keep it. (I'm Texan too!) But who knows what the last word or thought was? People do disappoint us. It's not just "tricky granmothers". I have a grandaughter who has sorely disappointed me for not keeping her word. People are people. Don't judge, you may not know the full story.