There was an old Singer sewing machine in the attic at my parents place. In a little area we were allowed to play, this treasure awaited us. My brother and I were often to be found, hiding there. After some times, we managed to make it work and started sewing things. Clothes for my dolls, cushions, and all sorts of things including simple clothing items for costumes.
Such machine still works to this day, although it has been collecting dust for years, just waiting to get someone to have a renewed interest in it.
Later, as a teenager, I had the opportunity to learn how to sew. I rejected it with all my heart!
For me it was boring, something a housewife would do. Not for me! I was going to have a great career and buy expensive fashionable clothes!
And I did! For a while…
After a few years, I turned my life around. I would have probably died from a heart attack, or something like, that if I had continued the rat race. I got an opportunity to become independent and jumped on it.
It’s been 6 years! Yep yep hooray! And I’m doing great. I have a mostly stable income and a schedule which allows me to take care of my dad and do other things like sewing.
You can read how I first felt in love with my sewing machine here. It’s a cute story! 😉
I’ve mentioned this before, like 100 times already ;-), this year, I decided to not buy any clothes and instead learn to sew on my vintage Singer sewing machine. The idea was clearly to force myself to better define what I truly needed in terms of clothes.
If I really really want a new skirt for example, I have to make it. This forces me to reconsider if I just want it? Or if I really need it?!
It is also quite time consuming at the moment, because I’m not so good. So I just have to prioritize! Which means less clothes!
It’s all good exercise to define clear goals and needs.
The reason I’l telling you all this is because I think it’s an incredible exercise and one you should consider trying! Learn a new skill, force yourself to reconsider your priorities… Change perspective on life!
Fast fashion is killing the planet. Why not make a statement and learn how to sew your own clothes?!
OK, but why does it have to be on an old sewing machine?!
You may wonder why the exercise is best done on an old sewing machine?! That’s a fair question!
There are a couple reasons why I think it best to learn on an old machine. Read on…
Vintage sewing machines are cheaper
The first thing that comes to my mind is because you can find really cheap vintage sewing machines! Some people try to sell them for hundred of dollars or euros, but that is not what most are worth. I bought mine for 30 euros.
New machines are fairly expensive. Well over 100 Dollars or Euros and at that price they look like toys. You have to spend much more, for a decent one.
Vintage sewing machines are so much prettier!
Vintage machines are so pretty! In my opinion, new ones just can’t compete. So when you buy a vintage machine, it also works as a great decoration item and even a conversation starter. Everyone asks me about my machine, when they come to my place!
If you decide after a while that sewing is just not for you, you won’t necessarily have to throw the machine away. This means that even if you don’t sew your own clothes, you can still keep it and occasionally use it for smaller projects.
Vintage sewing machines were made to last
Vintage sewing machines are pretty much unbreakable. If something goes really wrong, you’ll be able to repair it easily. It most likely wouldn’t the case with a new one.
My machine is from 1923 which means it is almost 100 years old! It is seriously impressive, don’t you think? Most importantly it works like a charm.
There were so many machines made that, finding parts on eBay is very easy. You just have to know what you need and be cautious. You can read how things didn’t go so well for me with one of my purchase, but it turned out ok, at the end!
Vintage sewing machine are easy to use
Once you’ve understood how to thread a vintage machine properly, how to manage the thread tension and the length of stitch, you are good to go!
When sewing on a vintage sewing machine, you actually learn to sew because learning to use the machine is done in a blip. Unlike with new machines, you do not need to spend time trying to understand how to use all the commands, all the tricks and all the buttons! There are very few of them anyway!
Sewing on a vintage sewing machine teaches patience
You’ve seen the pictures of my machine. It is one where you have to turn manually the wheel. It’s easy to turn but obviously it doesn’t turn at lightning speed! Long straight lines on the side of a skirt or on long cardigan like the one I talk about in my 6 months report are killers! Literally… after a while the pain in my right shoulder would kill me! Well, at least, it forces me to take a break!!
If you go for a vintage treadle machine, maybe it will be a bit quicker than with one like mine and it won’t hurt as much, at least not your shoulder 😉 But I recall from my youth that treadle machines do make great leg workout!
Between the necessary breaks and the slower sewing, a vintage machine really teaches you patience.
Vintage machines are strong!
Light fabric, heavy fabric, too many folds, upholstery fabric, jeans… an old machine will take that all! I can’t guarantee it, but in my experience, old machines were far more capable of handling difficult heavy jobs than new ones!
You can sew anytime with a vintage machine
No electricity needed! Old machines are just super eco-friendly that way!
My machine is a “portable one” and since it’s not attached by a cord, I can put it anywhere I want, which I do, depending on where the light is best.
And as you’ll read below, old machine are also very quiet so you won’t disturb anyone in your house while sewing.
Sewing on a vintage sewing machine is like meditation
Sewing seems to be therapeutic to a lot of people but the noice of modern machine can ruin it all. Old machine takes the therapeutic effect to the next level!
The simple, steady clickety clack made by a vintage machine is so soothing. Don’t believe me… listen…
The beauty of vintage attachments
After a while, you’ll probably feel limited in what you can do with your machine and its simple stitches. You’ll watch youTube tutorials and see all the impressive things that new machines can do and start thinking you need to upgrade your tools.
But fear not, vintage machines had lots of different attachments which will still solve all your problems!
When I was young, I did not know about those attachments. But when I got my machine, some weird little tools were hiding, in its little drawer, and I discovered the world of vintage attachments!
I started experimenting with those, later bought a few additional ones and felt in love again!!
I’ll show you soon all you can do! Soonish, like with everything else!
Update: Here you will find everything you need to know about the Singer Zigzagger!
Sewing on a vintage machine makes you a rebel!!
I’m not the one saying it!
The other day, as I was browsing the web just to check I wasn’t going totally crazy, I came across an article, in Threadle magazine: The Joy of Sewing with a Treadle Sewing Machine. As you can read in the below extract, it’s quite a rebellious choice:
“Sewing on a treadle sewing machine makes a powerful statement about one’s position vis-à-vis contemporary culture…. Sewing our own clothes is an expression of what we value—craft, process, working with our hands—and what we reject—planned obsolescence, mindless consumerism, generic fashion. Sewing on a tool we power ourselves simply takes our rebellion one step further.“
I couldn’t agree more!
Beautiful yet efficient, eco-friendly, durable and cheap, a vintage sewing machine is an excellent choice if you decide to learn how to sew. With all the attachements and accessories you can find online, you will be able to handle all sorts of projects, even as you become more and more daring!
I hope I convinced you! So go ahead, be a rebel!!