Growing into sewing

Treadle sewing machine
Early beginnings

As a kid, Mum insisted I learn to sew all sorts of simple garments on my treadle machine.  Skirts, tops or blouses and – much later, dresses.

At high school in the sleepy wheat belt town I did Home Economics and learnt how to make a dress. I remember everything about that dress – the soft green-yellow fabric was the best I had felt ever, it had puffed sleeves, and the dress was fitted, so that meant darts and curved seams. The outstanding lesson I learnt was not to put dress length zips back to front … ie I sewed the wider side on the right hand, rather than the left of the zip. A salutory lesson in unpicking impeccable work that was simply wrong! Needless to say, zips are not my favourite items but I know how to sew one in!

From my treadle machine I graduated at about 15 years old to a brand new Elna Supermatic. It is only in recent months that this beauty began to really show her age so I changed my brand and bought a Brother. I love that one too!

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My Elna Supermatic lasted many, many years

On the Supermatic I learnt a variety of stitches – zigzagging seams together as we did before over-lockers, and rather than turning the edges and sewing them neatly. I also learnt how to do semi automatic button holes with the special foot.

Patterns came on discs inserted into the top and adjusted to ‘auto’ for the stitches to take shape. A whole new world opened up! The straight sewing of the treadle days was a brilliant foundation to all my future sewing, as I had to learn to sew everything with straight stitches.

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