Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Mystery of the Missing Singer Skeleton Key

There's an old Singer machine in my mother's house, a beautiful treadle with a wooden cabinet. She's had it for years; it belonged to her stepmother, who bought it sometime in the early 30's, though we place it as a model from the late 1910's. When Granny Emma passed away, my mother was given the machine, as she was the one likeliest to use and/or appreciate it.

I remember it always being there in the house, though when I was younger, I didn't truly appreciate the beauty of it. Now I wish I could investigate it a little more closely -- there was so much I never discovered about it. I regret those incurious years!

Particularly because my mother just dropped this amazing fact in casual conversation: the cabinet has 2 rows of 3 drawers each, the bottom 2 of which are locked. The topmost drawers were able to be opened when my mother lifted the machine out and finagled the drawer open from the inside. They had a few used needles, a bobby pin, and a few bits and pieces of notion ends in it. Not much to see. But the drawers below have never been opened since Granny Emma's days.

In all her antique-shop travels, my mother has never found a key that fits this machine cabinet. Now that she's revealed this mystery to me, I am extremely curious! Is there anything in those drawers? Did Granny Emma tuck away something that no-one knows about? I guess I'll never know, well, unless we can find an old skeleton key that matches this machine. Has anyone else ever come across such a thing? Are there any secret key sources out there?

Knowing my step-grandmother, the drawers could either be empty and bland, her secrets kept forever; or, there could be fascinating little items tucked away at the back of a seldom-used drawer, revealing things about her life that I never knew. Which is it? This is a case for an intrepid girl detective. I'm going on a key hunt!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Weaving Sewing into Vacation Time

I have just had a few days vacation, and went away for a couple of them. During my quick getaway, I ended up seeing a lot of sewing related goodness by chance! We stopped in at the Bethune Memorial House in Gravenhurst, Ontario -- the spot where Norman Bethune was born -- and the house is set up in a period fashion. Imagine my surprise to see the sewing machine and sewing box set up in the dining room area:

There were also some beautiful textiles on display, look at that quilt, and crocheted spread, and lovely embroidered garments. You can't quite see the candlewicking on the pillows, but it was really nice.

There was also a quilt made by Chinese and Canadian quilters commemorating Bethune's activities but I forgot to take a picture of it! The blocks were made half in China and half in Canada, then quilted by a local group.Very pictorial style.

I also ended up doing some fabric store shopping, rather unintentionally. There was a Fabricland right beside one bookstore that we stopped at, so of course I had to go in. There was another next to a Tim Horton's that was a pit stop on the way home... I ended up coming home with 20 new Simplicity and New Look patterns (all being sold for 99¢, so I didn't hold back...) Most exciting, I finally found a Simplicity 1880 in my size! My local store was sold out of this one long ago.


Lots of fun on this holiday, as you can see. There was also some book shopping, museum going and sightseeing, of course, but I loved the bits of fabric and sewing history that got tucked into it all!

Monday, August 11, 2014

August's "Make a Garment a Month" Pick

After going crazy with sewing last month, it's a relief to pick just one...or maybe two...things for my "Make a Garment a Month" regular challenge. August's theme is to do a little stash busting, so I've chosen a dress that uses a little bit more fabric than a simple skirt or top.

The first is Simplicity 2177 -- I am going to make this one because my best friend just sent me a copy of this pattern that she picked up at a sale, just because. So of course I am going to make it! Also, I have the PERFECT fabric for it, a striped sheet that I bought at the Goodwill a month or two ago. The second? The green & grey colourway will also allow me to use the remainder of the grey fabric from my July skirt-making to make the matching jacket. At least that's the plan at present!

Friday, August 8, 2014

New Old Patterns

Sewing up so many patterns last month didn't stop me from buying new ones...well, new to me, anyhow. I took a little road trip to a nearby town this week, and hit 4 thrift shops and 2 used book stores... lucky for me, my husband is also an avid 2nd hand shopper, more focused on books though ;)

We had a great time, and I found some great books, as well as a few decor items and a cache of sewing patterns. I brought home a nice variety, along with a couple of sewing books -- even if I'm not actually sewing, I'm thinking about it!

Here's the haul --

The pattern I'm most interested in trying first is the Simplicity in the middle, with the yellow trim. It's Simplicity 5583, marked "Esprit". It has a jumper view but also a dress view. It really reminds me of something I owned in the early 90's but hopefully I can update it sufficiently!

The books are fun to look through -- though dated, there are some neat ideas -- I've already got some new tips from the Claire Schaeffer "High Fashion Secrets" book. Think my sewing vacation is over now; I've had a break but am ready to start something new again. 

How long do you usually go between projects?