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Sew old skool

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I have been sewing since I got my first second hand machine for my eleventh birthday. I got into it immediately, once my aunty passed on her know-how. I felt such achievement whipping up easy pencil cases and cushion covers. I never excelled at sewing in school though – I found the projects inane (why get teens to sew a picture of a house?? Rather than a boob tube?) So I spent most of the class hand stitching my fingers together.

Still, on the quiet, I kept at it through my teenage years, mixing up typical clubbing (er, I’m gonna be honest with you here: slightly chavvy) attire with the odd home made number. I have ZERO skill – I simply can’t get my head around patterns, but get by with my fair share of stitching a line/ trying it on/ unpicking/ stitching another line…

I left that original sewing machine at my In Law’s home in NZ, they are kindly looking after it for me. So for our last 5 years here we have been on the hunt for the perfect one – ending  up with a bit of a collection. (Even though since motherhood my sewing has mostly been ornamental – cards out of vintage  kids books and the like- or 5 minute jobs – like whimsical lace flapper bands.)

I began with this beautiful old singer on the top shelf- my mum gave it to me for my birthday, it was a bargain £15 from the Oxfam in West Wickham. I can’t seem to find out how old it is. There is no pedal, only a hand wheel, so quite old- possibly early 1900s? It came with a beauty bundle of little bits and peices and a stunning wooden box.

Just days after being given this my husband saw a similar wooden coffer by a wheelie bin on the street. He bought it home and we had some fun trying to gently break into this locked box. Once we did we discovered an almost identical but just much less loved machine. There he is on the bottom shelf.

Whilst they look incredible, they are a bit slow to work with! For my next birthday Tim found me this beautiful retro Singer on Gumtree:

Like most electric Singers it is an absolute DREAM to work with. We have much fun, this old machine and I. However, it doesn’t do Zig Zag. I use Zig Zag stitch quite a bit so I do miss it. When we came across a machine in a charity shop called the ZIG ZAG O MATIC, we did have a bit of a laugh and pounced on it immediately. (Read all about that adventure here – it was my first Magpie Monday link up. Ah, fond memories!)

It ran well for a while but then started playing up, getting all clunky and it quickly got relegated to the bench.

And our fifth and final machine is also tucked under there, keeping Zig Zag company. He was another discarded box on the street, hauled home and broken into. We borrowed the motor from Zig Zag to get him whirring again and now he is a happy little mite.

Ramona loves fishing out the reels of cotton from their jars, popping them on every sticking out thing she can. She turns their wheels, fiddles their dials. Learns a lesson about not playing with sharp things every time the needle pokes her. (BAHA, jokes, we have removed those, promise.)

We are a loving rehab for old sewing machines. I think they are beautiful, filling little corners of my home with their history. I love imagining the stories they’d tell – the hands working their wheels, the hundreds of  fabric, fashions of the day, they would have had fed through them, who they first belonged to and who eventually forgot them.

Meanwhile, my quest continues. My dream machine is retro enough to look beautiful on our side board but new enough to work smoothly and have zig zag. Can you keep your eyes peeled for me?! Or if you’d like to do a swap, let me know…!

Linking up with the magical Liz and Magpie Monday – celebrating all things secondhand.

Out with the new, in with the old…

We bought a phone from the Oxfam Shop in Streatham (the charity shops in Streatham are plenty and bountiful and well worth a visit- especially the Oxfam, our massive beauty sofa was THIRTY MEASLY QUID! ) and as we excitedly unplugged the digital, roving phone someone had given us and plugged in the peach, spirally corded retro one, our housemate said “This house is basically going backward in time….” Never a truer word said. In fact, it could be our school motto.  Replacing new with old, one possession at a time. 

This tin was 50p from a charity shop in Bournemouth, not like “oh that was 50p” meaning a general bargain, £7 or so, but actually 50p and I got a pair. Serious score.

Below, sitting on an old school bench we got from junk man Terry in Peckham, is the sewing machine Tim found a couple of weeks ago by a bin- someone had biffed it out because the key was missing. One screw driver later and Voila! And these are the beautiful old tennis rackets we have been collecting so we can have a game of doubles. Anyone? (Although our tennis fanatic acquaintance at the park tells us this will be bad for our “game” (bahaha). We are probably a leetle bit far away from him on the skills scale- he  is so obsessed with tennis hero Federa that he actually named his little boy Roger – no, really- while I have played tennis maybe twice, ever?)

Once on a trip to deepest Wales we got on this tiny vintage local bus, smaller than a van, filled with ancient people. We sat there in awe thinking “Gosh, this is all so old. We LOVE it!” and then at the next stop two middle aged Londoners got on- the only other tourists we had seen in days. After taking her ticket, one of them turned to face the passengers. As she took it all in, she opened her mouth and in the thickest of cockney accents she bellowed “COR, look at this bladdy bus!!! It’s like a MUSEUM!!!!”

We live in hope that one day this will happen to us in our very own dear home. Yeah. Then we could like, sell tickets and gifts.