How well her accoutrements have been kept and preserved; the hand-crafted box with multiple and varied attachments, all still accounted for and intact. The instruction booklet, published in 1896, is, as you would expect, slightly dog-eared and folded within a drawer. There are also numerous vintage boxes and tins filled with bakelite buttons, cards of press-studs and old hooks and eyes.
It is almost a time-capsule; a little museum all on its own. Aged packets of needles and wooden spools of thread sit all a-jumble in drawers, with scissors and spanner and awl.
I am transported to childhood moments each time I look into the room; watching my Mama's feet plying the treadle, while long small fingers pick and sort the treasures within her black tin button box.
I remember the year that I turned five, receiving a bulky package of dolly dresses for Christmas. Fully eight sets of clothes, complete with petticoats and knickers, bonnets and slips. Each matching set trimmed with narrow lace, some with pin tucks or frills. Pink, yellow, white, blue; miniature florals or delicate filmy fabrics. Such a gift no impish five-year-old ever deserved! Twelve days after Christmas my Mama had a heart attack in her well-tended garden and her treadle moved no more. My strongest memories of her were forged amid the tangle of the sewing-room floor. She was ever-resourceful; a true make-do-and-mend woman. Intensely practical, highly creative and productive. She would whip up a stuffed rag-doll and fashion a cardboard-box cradle while you visited for the day. She would cut thick rounds of white tank-loaf bread and smother them with slabs of yellow butter, and turn you into the wilds of the back garden to dig in the dirt or to run along the stone-lined paths.
Mama's old machine was eventually disposed of, along with many other pedestrian household contents. I think I have missed it ever since. How very blessed I feel to have welcomed Aunty Mickie's old Singer into the heart of my home. I wonder how many children were clothed by the threshing of her treadle; how many seams she seamed, how many rips were mended. Her stitches would have been fine and even; something to behold.
I will have her looked at by a man who knows about the workings of these things, and will anticipate threading her up for stitching again. But for now I am content to rest my eyes upon her ebony skin and happily remember.
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I am sure that the joy of creating was forged during my foundational years. Being fully immersed in imaginative play with scraps of fabric, making rubbishy dolls clothes from the hoard of remnants in the cupboard; playing with bits of lace and braid, ribbon and string. I loved cutting out with those incredibly fun pinking shears, making zig zags all along the edges. Cardboard boxes were made into cubby houses, paper was cut into shapes and stuck all over the place with glue. I was a texta-freak; they were so much more colourful and instantaneous compared to the boring old pencils with broken leads. It's the thing I most value about my childhood; materials supplied, permission granted, encouragement received. Go forth and make. How about you?
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