Monday, February 7, 2011

Surrounded by memories and sewing machines

I have to admit that lately I have been a little obsessed with sewing machines.  Many years ago my Grandma Edith gave my mother her Kenmore 158.1913 sewing machine.  Or maybe the machine was given to me, I don't really recall.  Regardless, the machine is now mine and has a permanent place in my craft room and in my heart.  I would sooner chop off a limb than part with that machine.

Now mind you, I do not sew clothing or much of anything really, but I enjoy learning new things and learning about this machine has been lots of fun.  I retrieved it from my parent's house last year when I decided to make some curtains for my kitchen.  When I was hand-making gifts this Christmas, that was the first time in a while this Kenmore had graced the dining room table.  Actually this machine is even what fueled the process of getting a proper craft room.  This machine has managed to grab ahold of my heart and refused to let go.

I love this machine for more reasons than one.  But first, I have found from further research into the world of vintage Kenmore sewing machines, that I am quite lucky to have it in my possession.  New sewing machines aren't made with the same quality that Kenmore used when making this machine.  It's sturdy and strong and runs like a champ, even 35 years later.  Learning more and more about this machine everyday, I find myself purusing craigslist and ebay looking for parts and attachments and even machines of the same series.  Even last week I picked up my mom's old Kenmore 158.1345, a younger machine but just as awesome.

Awesomeness aside, let me tell you why I like my grandmother's old Kenmore more than anything.  My Grandma Edith was one of the most amazing women I have ever known.  She was strong and independent, kind, funny, and wise.  She was everything I wanted to be in a person and she had more love to share than anyone I have ever known.  When she passed away years ago, it was the first of the biggest heartache our family would endure, the second being the loss of my grandfather, her husband.

I have many memories of Grandma Edith and a few small mementos of our times together.  I don't usually hold a lot of attachment to physical things that belonged to my beloved family members, but this sewing machine, this is different.  When I pull out this machine I touch the same knobs and work the same needles as Grandma once worked.  I even have a box of her old threads and when I pick up that thread, I feel her.  I feel her love and her memory.

When I work with this machine, I imagine her sitting in front of it, stitching a blouse or hemming a skirt.  I see her embroidering gifts and mending holes.  I can imagine her in more vivid detail than I ever have.  Her memory is alive in this machine.  I have come to realize, my Kenmore is more than a sewing machine, it's a living breathing memory of an amazing woman and that is priceless.  Do you have something that brings back memories of someone you loved?


  1. What a great tribute to Grandma, Melissa. She would be so touched to know that her machine brings forward happy memories and that the love you shared still lives on. Funny how objects can bring back the warm loving feelings of the precious people we have lost. Mom

  2. What a great legacy to have! I inherited this same model from my mom's sister. It is truly an awesome machine so far. I only wish I could figure out how to use the embroidery cams. It came with everything, including the manual, but following the instructions step by step I seem to be missing something still, because the stitches don't look right. Have you been able to use those at all? I just love the cute little fishes and trees and things, and would love to maybe even do some stitching on a quilt with them if I could...

    1. There's a manual for the 1914 model in the yahoo vintage kenmore group. In the manual you'll find a references to adjusting the machine for Cam use.

  3. Love this post! I just purchased the same machine from a thrift store. I immediately fell in love with its sturdy and handsome good looks and build quality. I think came with cams and buttonholes too. It's in nearly new condition and dry as a bone. After a good oiling it purrs like a kitten and sews a perfect stitch. I just love it!