We think of pioneer women hand sewing all their clothing and bedding, but in 1851 Isaac Merritt Singer patented a sewing machine practical for home use. This changed everyone's sewing habits, and the time it took to make items. Not everyone could afford the first machines, but over time the price went down so more families could add one to their home.
The Singer company sold around 800 machines in 1853, but by 1876, they had sold over two million. I wonder how many machines were heading west in covered wagons to Kansas and beyond in the 1860-1870's.
It made me think of the sewing machines I’ve used in the past, and those that my ancestors used. As a youngster, I spent many hours sewing scrapes on my paternal grandmother's sewing machine, which looked like the illustration above.
I learned how to sew clothing on a 1940's model black Singer sewing machine. When my parents were first married, Dad brought a sick newborn calf into their farmhouse and told Mom if it lived, Mom could have the money from its eventual sale to buy whatever she wanted. She nursed the calf back to health and bought a sewing machine.
A few decades later Mom upgraded to a Singer Model 337. It was fun to do all kinds of “fancy” stitching on pillowcases and tea towels. We made almost all of our clothes on this machine through my school years.
Currently I use a Singer Graduate Model 714 I bought when our high school sold their sewing machines to buy new ones for the Home Ec. classroom. I googled it on the internet and it popped up as a “Vintage Sewing Machine” on Ebay—reminding me it was almost forty years ago when I bought it. Even though it is now considered old—it still works fine—so I’m happy with it.
I have my maternal great grandmother's sewing machine and I can imagine all the clothing she made for her eight children. Unfortunately, it's missing a few pieces so I can't use it, but I display it for the memories it provides.
Thanks for stopping by to enjoy today's Sweethearts of the West Blog.