My First Sewing Machine
How did YOU get your first sewing machine?
Here's the story of how I got mine...
November is my birthday month, and it got me thinking about the most memorable present - my very own sewing machine - on my 15th birthday.
I first got bitten by the sewing bug in primary school - hand sewing little felt toys. This continued well into high school when hand stitching just wasn't keeping up with scales of things I wanted to make any more - try making a doona cover and bedspread with valances by hand!
So the 14-year-old me started wandering into sewing machine stores after school - huge school bag and PE gears in toll...
I soon realised unsupervised teens with huge bags weren't necessarily welcome to poke around, play with displays, and ask questions - especially if there were other customers who were there to spend real money. I was often told to come back with my parents.
It was the 80s - before late night shopping and Sunday trading - when shops just didn't open long enough for my parents (who worked 9 to 5) to come along. The only day was Saturday morning - but there was always the mad rush to get the weekly grocery done before shops shut at midday. Who had time for sewing machine shopping?!
Then one Sat morning I happened to be at Myers in the city with my parents. The sewing department was closing down, and they had to clear out all the Janomes there.
Go on, take your pick, the sales people said. I realised it was almost my birthday.
I promptly fell head to toe in love with the Memory Craft 6000 - which was the latest, greatest (and first) computerised model at the time.
I ooooh and ahhhh at all the fancy stitches, and how smooth it felt in action. I could already see all the things I could do with all those fancy functions...
Of course it was out of budget - and why on earth would any sane parents spend that much on the first machine for a teenager (who just might lose interest after a couple of months)?!
So we settled for this one.
The SW-2018E - which was already "too good" for a beginner.
But Dad was an optimist who had faith in me continuing with sewing, and Mum was the economist in spotting the greatest dollar amount in discount.
Beside - I secretly suspected that they were glad to find something that would occupy my busy fingers and keep out me of trouble.
It was a "cash-and-carry" deal - with no lessons. Not that it mattered - as I happily found out - my new Janome was so easy to use. It didn't take me long to figure things out by just going through the instruction book and having a go.
I managed to embellish my entire bedroom with pretty pastels and frills, and I was hooked. That was the BEST birthday present, ever!
There had been many many moons since then, and my old girl is still going strong. I don't think I would ever part with her. And I never grew out of sewing.
As I'm writing this, it just dawned on me that my whole experience had prepared me for what I do today...
I counted myself lucky that I get to connect with sewist of all ages, all ability levels, and all across Australia - because I'm here to help YOU fulfil your desire to create.
With you, I want to share everything I know - and deliver the kind of service that you deserve - every step of the way along your sewing journey. And I do this with the same passion I have for my own sewing :-)
Even though I may not have as much time to sew now, each day for me is filled with joy and possibility. I'm happy and grateful to be of service. To you.
So - How did you get your first machine?
Do you have a story to share?
Simply email me and share it with everyone :-)
Until next time, Happy Sewing!
Hi Inspirational Shelley,
My first sewing machine i went out and bought when i was 32 yikes abit old to start to learn but i always dreamed of making my own clothes. Well i started making quilts and next year im determined to finish a proper dress i can wear!
Lots of hugs,
My first machine was a Jones with a handle on the side, we lived on a farm where power was always going off. I made dolls clothes and little scarves for my cat, which she hated poor thing.. but I was only 5 years old.
My one and only sewing machine was bought for 100 pounds left to me and my husband by his Grand father. I loved it and learnt to sew at night school. Neither my Mother or my Grandmother could sew,
That was many years ago but unfortunately it stopped working many years ago and it sits in its case in our shed as a reminder of our Grandfathers’ generosity.
I started using a sewing machine old treadle at six, hand sewing was taught from third class to six class, when I went to high school i did sewing for three years , machining was done there , i was able to use my mothers electric it was an Elna which was stolen when our house was broken into she replaced it with a terrible machine a real cheap, I purchased my own machine when I got engaged, it was a Bernina 5??, it had thirteen fancy stitches & a great button hole , you could not purchase one without taking the lessons that went with it, I had seen it advertised on the drive in screen it cost one hundred pound before metric that was a lot of money in those days, still have the machine it sews better than the 1630 I now have which I am very disappointed with already have had to put in a new mother board & cannot use all the stitches however have to put up with it as I really do not want another computerised machine, i do want the knee lift it is the best thing when quilting. I did inherit my mothers machine when she passed away it is an old Bernina which she purchased after seeing my button hole, I also have my aunts little Elna so far have not used it thought it would be good to travel with to do the big trip around Australia which is now not going to happen. Sewing is a big part of my life as well as folk art & knitting & embroidery however not enough time to do it all.
It was Christmas and I was 13 when I got a second hand singer sewing machine.
From that day on I sewed in my bedroom making anything and everything, then for my 15th birthday my parents bought me my first janome machine along with that I started working at the knitting Mills as a machinist for 4.50an hour.
Then in my early 20s I did my diploma in fashion design and tailoring. I lost count of all my machines after that but I also went on to do upholstery and canvas work and then got a job being a vor machinist for kenworth truck.
I went on to driving trucks interstate that's when I fell at work and was injured now unable to work I spend a lot of time sewing for my grand kids.
My machine is now very old, but on a pension it is not a priority to purchase a new one - anyway that is my story
Hi, my first machine was a husquavana , given to me for my 21st birthday. My mum was a sewier, mainly clothes. I was always taking the scraps etc to make doll clothes etc. got to high school, and it was compulsory for girls to do sewing and home economics. Loved it although my teacher wasn’t that nice told me to forget about. .but never did, borrowed my then boyfriends mums machine,when I could, got married then had 21 st husband surprised me with it , to say I was over the moon is a understatement. Then sewed whenever I could especially once my boys came along. Story here is my friend and I caught up in town one day, and we saw the teacher. my friend ran over to her with one of my boys and said that Cheryl can sew ,she made her boys clothes etc , the teacher was embarrassed, as she actually recalled who I was and that she had said it. Pleased to say I’m still sewing ,although not many clothes as I’m more into crafts and quilting etc. But sewing my clothes is making a comeback. It was about 6 yrs ago that machine packed it in , after being repaired a few times . It gave me nearly thirty yearsI’ve still got it even though some of the dials can’t be fixed. Have a bigger machine now that can cope with what I do, and the best bit is my granddaughter has shown a interest now too. So I’ll put in a entry to win a machine for her .... Sorry for the long winded story . Regards, hope you find time to do a bit more sewing , I find it’s my stress reliever . Thanks
My first sewing machine was a “New Home” it came from a Salvation Army charity shop.
It was similar to the Singer Treadle Machines except that the bobbin was shaped like a shuttle or shaped like a bullet.
This first machine came in very handy and although extremely basic I did many, many items of clothing for my children . Also my first formal gown I made on this machine was great, it was shiny satin fabric, the top was fully lined and the skirt had pleats at the waist line.
My children were always well dressed thanks to this machine and I also felt very accomplished and pretty in my satin ball gown.
I hope to win the Janome machine in the competition as I still sew quite a lot as I make porcelain dolls.
Hi Shelley, and everyone,
I started sewing by hand at 4y.o. I wanted to make clothes for my dolls,
and my parents had no money to buy anything. So I used scraps of fabric left
over from things my mother made.
When I was 13, my parents could not even afford the basics for us,
I have an Aunty that lives in Tamworth, she would send us fabric and elastic,
and I would cut out and sew my own underwear, she had sent us a pattern.
My mother had an old mechanical Janome.
In high school I did sewing all the way through and was using Bernina 830’s.
They are a great machine as well. I have since bought one.....
When I left home, I missed sewing, this was in the late 80’s.
When I could, I bought a secondhand old Singer Diana. It was the biggest piece of rubbish!
No matter what I did, or how many times I sent it to be checked.
It never sewed properly, had constant tension and bobbin issues.
A few years later, I laybyed an ex-demo top of the line Elna. An Elna 7000.
OMG. My life was changed once I finally paid it off and got it home.
It was amazing. I fell in love with sewing all over again.
I now have many machines, Janome, Brother, Elna, Husqvarna, Bernina. I love them all....
My husband thinks I have too many...
I have taught smocking and basic sewing over the years, when the opportunity and interest arises.
I love my sewing.
I have 5 children, the last 2 are special needs, youngest is 8.
I have been doing courses at TAFE to go back to the work force as a teachers aide to help children.
So there has not been much time for sewing.
I had been coerced into making MANY skirts for my children’s school over the last few years,
but I informed them after the last lot a few months ago, I would no longer be available to do this.
I dance as well. So the only things that have really been made are skirts for my routines.
It has been some years since I made something for my kids... the last thing I can recall is
making my sons smocked romper for his Christening 7+ years ago.....
One day< when all the insanity of childhoods passes and life settles down,
I hope to FINALLY be able to wade through my extensive fabric stash, many patterns,
threads and accessories as well, and start using them and making things, just for the fun of it...
My 2 elder daughters are 28 and 24.... so it may be for grand children one day in the future....
Yours in sewing
I won't enter your sewing machine contest as I am so lucky to have 2 Janome machines.
My first sewing machine I won.
As a child in high school I detested sewing-
Made excuses to get out of sewing classes -though sewing was not cool and
for old ladies but not for me.
One excuse day my friend rubbed ammolin all over her face and informed the teacher she was not well-as the ammolin made her look so white- so I offered to accompany her to the sick room.LOL
Later down the track in life -married expecting my first child who is now 45.
I was staying with my parents closer to a hospital which was just down the street from their place of living at the time.
Reading a magazine at Mum's while I ate 12 small mandarins off of my parents mandarin tree- (my craving thing whilst pregnant)filled out a crossword competition-the first prize being a noritake dinner set.
I wanted the Noritake Dinner set as being newly married back then the last thing one could afford is a Noritake dinner set.
My husband picked me up that night from my parents as nothing was happening -on leaving I had put the crossword entry in an envelope-instructing to please post it for me.
Well got home -then hour or so later back to parents house as started to feel pains- then got into bed out of bed then off to hospital.
Some weeks later after the birth of my daughter - received a letter telling me I won the dinner set and if I paid a small amount I could have a Janome sewing machine.
Not I was my words to my then husband -I don't want a sewing machine-
Well he thought it was a good deal and imagine you could fix my work clothes .
REALLY- well long story short got the machine- thought I may as well try to use this stupid thing now I have it -haven't stopped sewing since- sewed clothes for my girls growing up- my first 2 grandsons-beautiful little shirts that you could only buy back then for a phenomenal prices.
Now I no longer sew clothes - maybe the occasional skirt for myself when I see a nice stretch cotton fabric that they have out now-
I even do markets at times - make and embroider library bags -Christmas stockings -shirts etc for my little granddaughter who is now 8.
I am lucky enough to have a Janome 12000 embroidery machine and a Janome memory craft 770.
I might add every time I use my machines I never stop being amazed at what the machines can do now-I was a show steward for sewing and needle work for many years until this year until hubby and I have moved to Bargara to retire. Wish my grandmother could see what I do now -she also was a creative sewing lady-school teacher - and show steward back in her day.
But I know she is looking down on me watching me .
THE END of my long story .
Thanks for reading - pleasure to share.
When I was teaching in Ipswich, I was passing through
The local department store where a lady was demonstrating
Invisible zips on this cute little Elna foldaway sewing machine!
I told her I was not interested in knowing how to insert zips but how could
I get one of the sewing machines!
My little Elna served me well for many years
and was so easy to take from place to place!
I still love sewing!
I really enjoyed your trip down memory lane and I think all of your readers would have been transported back in time themselves. And like you said, it's not just the moment of your fist machine but the whole journey that's gotten us to where we are today.
My first experience with a machine was actually my mothers Elna. She had made so many of her own stunning dresses when she was young which left me in awe of her talent. I never did get to tell her that and how those old photos ignited a spark in my sewing imagination.
After moving away from the family home I didn't have a machine of my own but while shopping with my friends (they'd try on clothes but I'd be looking at the construction of garments on the rack and working out in my head what stitches had been used and what type of machine I'd need to achieve the same - besides there was little for me to try on given that I was off the bottom end of the standard sizing range. Even when size 6 clothing came in, most of it wasn't true to size.
Anyway, the story of my frustration at the so called Australian standard sizing chart is a story for another time but I guess that's where my passion for wanting to make my own clothes began.
If you can't buy them then make them!
First projects - Climbing pants! I set to work in my head copying designs from my partners array of climbing clothes, mixed ideas, reworked designs for a midget female - diamond gussets, stretch waist panels, articulated knees and so on but I knew I'd never get the right finish from mums Elna. It would do for the basic stuff for now. So down the shops I went and talk about perfect timing - Mother's Day sales!
My mother had passed on many years before so this wasn't a particular time of year that I had necessarily been focused on.
That day, and a huge discount later, my first machine was actually an overlocker (Bernina 800DL) because anything that required stretch needed an overlocker! Right?
I didn't know the first thing about them or how to use it. Luckily it came with a few 'getting started' sessions at the local sewing shop. A few weeks after I realised there was little chance of convincing my siblings that I should have possession over mums Elna so down the shops again for the next instalment of my imaginary sewing room. Grinning like a cheshire cat, I excitedly rushed home to try out my new Janome Memory Craft 5200, all computerised and fancy.
Well you'd think it would stop there but something was missing. I've always been a picky sewer, not a fast sewer but attention to detail was a key factor for me. Even my mum would say I was being too precise. I think I'll take that as a compliment although that's not what she was getting at. I began to take notice of hems of stretch clothing. To my inexperienced eye the hems looked overlooked... on one side anyway. And so I learnt about cover stitch! My overlocker could be converted but reading multiple reviews and talking with staff back at the sewing shop, converting your current machine was a complete pain if you were switching regularly. And so it was..... the final piece of the puzzle. A shiny new Janome CoverPro 1000 CPX.
With thanks to a dear relative leaving me in his will I was able to follow a dream and hopefully one day produce something as stunning as my mothers beautiful garments all lovingly sewn on a basic early 1960s Elna with straight and zigzag stitch!
I'll just wipe away a tear as I remember her.
Thanks Shelley, for the opportunity to waltz down memory lane.
Thought I’d give you a laugh, my first machine second hand from a dealer and I used it to make curtains for our new old home.
I had never sewn before in my life and so all my stitching was straight stitching and I ran timber poles through my top pockets to hang my curtains, hubby thought I was so clever.
Well 6 months later I decided to recover the lounge cushions, but my sewing machine would only run backwards, so I turned the machine around and used it for a few years running perfectly backwards.
Finally when new curtains were needed my husband decided a repair on the machine was needed so it got serviced and from then on ran forward, and a new set of curtains were made. This old Janome which only did straight and zig zag went for years.
Then I had a brain tumour removed – all went well but I lost memory and ability to do small things like write, my doctor told me to take up folk art and quilting to get my brain working again and forming pathways to my hands, so once I started quilting sadly I realised I needed to upgrade my dear old machine to a better small Janome.
It’s a hobby I can say I am still doing and learning 12 years later and still love, you never stop learning with quilting.
Hi Shelley, my first machine was a Singer treddle which a neighbour gave me in 1970. Her daughters were not interested in sewing and I was the lucky recipient of a great machine. My daughters learnt to sew on it prior to me purchasing an electric machine in the mid 80s.
I still have the treddle and it is still in working order.
My first Janome was Memory craft 1000 and I had it for 22 years before it blew up. I still use a Janome machine, sewing and overlocker.
My first machine was a Singer Treadle machine that was given to me to sew my baby clothes on. I was using it at the height of Cyclone Althea in Townsville. We then purchased my $60 St James from Waltons (1 months pay. From there I have had a basic Janome that has gone to a new home and I now still have my Memorycraft 6000 that I am sewing Cosplay and dance outfits for my 15 year old grand daughter.
I would really love to win this machine so that I can give my grand daughter my machine. She is becoming very interested in making her own costumes (much to my delight).
GE that was a trip down memory lane, thanks for enticing me to go back in time for a bit.
Love your story.
My story is that I was given a Hasqvarna Practica III for my 21st Birthday.
Previous to that I had learnt to sew on Mum's Singer Machine since I was 11 years old. My Hasqvarna has been used for a miriade of projects. Making baby clothes, my son and daughter always had home made clothes. I sewed 400 aprons for the Art and Home Economics Dept at their High School. It has mended tents, sewn shade cloth for the caravan. You name it we have done it until last weekend I was repairiing our Caravan cover (a rather large item) and it has stuck itself in reverse. Hence the need for a new machine.
Hope you enjoy my story. I would love to win a prize.
P.S. I forgot to add in my story that my machine is 53 years old.
My name is Kerri and my little story goes; my mother loved to sew, so did her mother and the rest of her family. For as long as I knew she had that Janome SW-2018E!
I used it often and ended up doing Textiles at school from years 9 - 12 (the only years offered). When mum passed away, even though my dad and sister knew how to use it (mostly), it was unsaid to be mine. (That was 14 years ago).
I became an auntie last year and wanted something a bit more so that I could make some awesome things for the new kids in the family.
Last year my dad contribute to my new machine for Christmas. Attached is a picture of old and new... how times have changed!! I'm loving my new Brother machine, and loving the Disney embroidery!! I've nicknamed it Mickey!
Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experiences.
PS. Janome is still running perfectly. I had to use it the other month cause the new machine didn't want to go through the really thick material, but you could make the old machines do it and they don't beep at you and tell you NO.
I started sewing on my Grandmother’s old singer treadle sewing machine which my Mother then had and my father converted it with a little electric motor.
I loved sewing right from a young child.
In later years my Grandmother and Mother progressed to electric singer machines.
My own first machine was my grandmothers which she gave me as a wedding gift.
That little machine did a lot of work as I made most of our children’s clothes on it, as well as my own.
My first sewing machine belonged to my mother. It was a Wertheim . It was blue and folded down into a wooden
Box base. Mum bought that herself and it was one of the first to have a motor put on it. Stitched really well.
I learnt all my stretch sewing on it and then bought a Janome Memory 7 which lasted me well over 30 years.
“Do you have a story to share?”
Well, I do, but I doubt that it’s of much or any use to those deciding what machine to acquire as their first sewing machine.
But, here it goes.
My first introduction to any sewing machine – that is, ‘serious’ introduction where I actually had to think about it – was at the start of my study and traineeship in Italian Leather Design and manufacture.
This was in the late 70s, so we’re talking about vintage industrial machines.
The first ever that I used – or should I say, ‘it’ took me on a ride – was a Pfaff cylinder arm roller wheel presser foot, not unlike, but not the same as this in the pic. This shows a walking foot – compound feed presser system. Mine was a solid wheel.
the “wheel” presser foot.
I actually didn’t like this machine too much even though it was a brute and bulletproof. I didn’t easily come to grips with and be comfortable with the wheel foot.
But then I graduated to an Adler. This was slightly smaller (or at least less bulky) and had a gorgeously useable compound feed walking (top and bottom) presser system.
I loved it!
A truly lovely machine – user-friendly and reliable. Also tough as nails.
I retained these machines well into my career, producing such things as ….
Well, Shelley - you did ask!
I’ve attached a more full inventory of products produced on those two fabulous machines (URL below).
Sold the machines 25 years ago. I now own a Pfaff 1222, which is a little RIPPE
Thank you for sharing your story; my first sewing machine was passed down and it filled my heart with so much love, every creation is a passion shared. Have a beautiful week ahead!
How i got my first sewing machine?
I was always using my mums. When i moved out of home i borrowed her machine. It never quite made it back to mums.
Then i met my husband to be. Mum needed her machine back. So future hubby said i could have my own machine or a honeymoon? Well that wasn't to hard to decide, the machine won. So i got my very own sewing machine which was a singer. I made so much on that machine which incidentally lasted a hell of a lot longer than our marriage.
Then 8 years later i met 2nd hubby. We had been married about 2 years when i told him i was just nipping to the shop to get some new needles for the machine. Oh dear i came home with a brand new sewing machine a janome which i still have 15 years later.
Hope you enjoyed my story. Have been looking at upgrading again. Have to keep saving.
Thank you from Karen.
Oh what wonderful stories. They are just soooooo good. Thank you everyone for sharing.
my very first machine that I was allowed to use when I was 10-11 yrs old was my mothers old Jones hand machine that was 58 yrs ago.
It was navy blue with a wooden lid that went over it, instead of a bobbin there was a shuttle. I still have the machine but it's not used. It travelled to Australia with us packed in a packing crate aboard the PO Iberia in 64.
I remember coming home from work one Saturday lunchtime ( the shops weren't open in the afternoons then) and I needed a dress to go out in that night so out came the pattern and fabric and I made a mini dress with bell sleeves fully lined and trimmed with ric-rac around the sleeves and neck. That was when I was 16.
I never got an electric machine until I was married pregnant and 21 haha.
Happy memories !
- Margaret L
I used to sew on my Mum's machine and with my Nanna on her machine and spent hours wTching my bestie sew on her Mum's machine. I was rather jealous when she bought her first machine. I had to wait until, I was 25 before having my own! My Mother and Father-in-law bought it as an engagement gift for mending hubby's work clothes (farmer). Since then it has worked like a trojan for 13 yrs, sewing up tears and creating clothes. It too is a Janome. I only named it in May this year after a deceased friend of mine who introduced me to quilting and all its gloriousness! My dear 'Lucy' will never be parted with!
I took over my mother's ancient Singer machine before purchasing an Elna myself.
- Jan M
My first sewing machine was mums. I loved sewing from a young age and mum helped me make many things. During high school I continued and was making coats, dresses, lingerie and even evening dresses.
Sadly I have no idea where mum's sewing machine went after she passed.
I have a basic one now and still sew, but not as much as I would like.
Thanks for sharing your story with us.
What a lovely story-and such a co-incidence.
I also bought my first sewing machine - also a Janome - when the Myer sewing department shut down. I also missed out on the lessons which I probably could have done with but I read the instruction book till it fell to pieces.
At that stage I was newly married and watching every cent, so it was a huge expense. But I was still sewing all my own clothes and secretly hoping to make baby clothes so I talked myself into it. It wasn't computerized as my budget was not big enough, but it was one of the last solid metal ones, and it felt like it would last.
I can still remember lugging it home from the city on the train - and it weighed a tonne!
For many years we ate meals around it on the dining table as I couldn't afford a sewing cabinet and it was just too heavy to move anyway! Besides I always had some work in progress.
Well it has lasted - so well I have not been able to justify replacing it though I rather like all the things newer ones can do - and my daughter frequently steals it.
It must be around 35 years old now and apart from 2 services, it has chugged on making heaps of clothes and curtains and of late quilts and clothes for our new granddaughter.
Thanks for bringing back happy memories
My parents bought me my first machine (apart from a toy one many years earlier) when I got married.
I had only just ventured into sewing my own clothes as I was too impatient to wait for my mother to get around to it (very clever of her in hindsight!).
My father chose the model and I made all the curtains for our new home on it as well as clothes for years afterwards.
- Margaret D
I received my first sewing machine in the 1950s when i was about 8.
My dad had a second hand furniture store and he got an old Singer treadle into the shop. So it was set up for me on our back verandah for me to make dolls clothes.
That was over fifty years ago and i am still a sewaholic at 66.
My first machine was an old and basic Jones which my sister and I shared.
It was only marginally better than a treadle machine but at least it was electric.
When I married, my husband bought me a Myer own brand which was so good. I was told it was made by Janome and I loved it.
That was 1969 and I had it until I took up patchwork in 2007 when I upgraded.
I just have to tell you I have the SW-2018E, it too came from Myer.
When I upgraded to an electronic machine I gave my machine to my Mum. My Mum passed away a few months ago and I now have the machine back with me, still working fine and in great condition as Mum took great care of it.
(It was my 2nd machine my 1st was a very basic
- Ann T
I was newly married in 1964 and emigrating from the UK to a new life in NZ.
Being ( then ) the original skinny bean pole my Mum used to make all my clothes. What on earth would I do with out her?
A long sea voyage and a stop in Aden where I purchased my first ever machine.
It was a Brother, and satisfied my needs as a beginner. Then along came the family and the need for a more sophisticated machine.
- Geraldine S
I remember flunking sewing at school, teacher was not a very good at communication, flunked every class she taught... cooking... sewing...
I brought a sewing machine, a singer, when my daughter was born... 32 yrs ago and taught myself from books and patterns... loved it... I sewed all my girls.. 3 of them...clothes. Everything from underwear, swimmers, dresses, tracksuits, shorts.. everything they wore I made,,,,
We moved to Winton in Qld, and I met a very dear lady, my best friend now for over 30yrs, and we started a business together, sewing bridal, lingerie, swim wear, and evening dresses, alterations etc. i brought a computerised machine, much like yours.
Lauracy's.. our business, enabled me to raise my three girls, without missing out on to much, being from a single parent family.
I run into my old teacher when I was visiting my mother, had my girls with me, and she commented on their clothes, how well made they were.... busted my buttons to tell her I made them and if she had a look at the tag she would see my name, I gave her some business cards, and could not wipe the smile from my face......
Many yrs later, January 2016, my machine sewed its last stitch..... I have married again, and now have 3 more step daughters, who I am teaching to sew on a very cheap $99 machine. She is now very keen on getting her own machine and sewing...... hopefully they will all get a love of sewing like I did....
So I flunked home economics cooking, sewing,.....and I became a chef, and a seamstress... strange how the world turns....
- Tracey T
I started cutting out and sewing dolls clothes when I was 9. Mum sewed all our clothes so I grew up around sewing, it seemed to me to be a natural thing to do. I can remember one of the first dolls dresses I made, I lined it and embroidered the bodice. It was not the best cut out or sewn dress but I was so proud of it. Even my mother was amazed. (not sure whether at my ingenuity or the actual horror of the outcome.)
I started sewing my own clothes at the age of 11 on Mum's Universal sewing machine. Over the years I continued sewing my clothes and curtains using borrowed machines. When I got married and became pregnant with my first child I wanted to make clothes for the newcomer so when Waltons had a sale on of sewing machines, $10 for a Janome, $20 for a Celestial, $30 if I took the hard carry case with it, my husband bought the Celestial for me, hard cover and all. That was in 1976 when $30 was a lot of money for a machine, or so I thought. That machine has been the backbone of my sewing journey and only when I started patchwork I bought myself a Janome Memory Craft. I am still trying to figure it out. I still have my original machine, it is still in good condition and has only had to be fixed once when the socket for the electricity cord became loose. It is good for those times when you want to sew a quick repair to a seam and doesn't need precision seams. I still make clothes on occasion but my main focus now is patchwork or cushion covers I have embroidered or made with patchwork.
Well, I learnt to sew on my mums Singer treddle sewing machine. I was about 9 years old. I wanted to sew clothes for my Barbie dolls. So, I asked mum for some material, cut out a few squares of material and sewed one side. That was my first dress for my doll. Every spare minute was spent on that machine.
When I was 12 I got a job on a Saturday morning that paid $2 for the 4hours. That's right $2 for the mornings work. I wanted an electric sewing machine but my mum couldn't afford it. So mum and I went to the local sewing store and I put a machine on layby. I took the $2 that I earnt and paid off that layby. Once I got it home there was no stopping me.
That was 50 years ago. I have only had one other machine since. I think I am due for a new one LOL. Maybe one day.
My first machine was my mother's treadle beberfalds bluebird and as she had done all my school sewing I had hardly done any sewing. so I bought a pattern and material and made a dress.
In the 50 years since I have made all my clothes, my children's, grandchildren's, done quilting and made tote bags.
And still enjoy sewing.
I started sewing in primary school on my grandmother's treadle Singer ; a great black monster with gold trim, but I still remember the excitement and that oily smell. The first that I owned was in my 20 s and another Singer. Now as a quilter I love my Janome ,as does my 11 yr old granddaughter.
I used to love sewing at school, I used to use my mums, but never was fortunate enough to have one of my own, but mum had purchased a new Singer, and it was a good sewer, I used it a lot.
when I was married, had 2 little girls, my now ex husband bought me a Janome machine for Christmas, I was 27 at the time, it was the only gift I kept from him lol. I used to make my girls clothes and in particular girls nighties.
When I met my now husband, we decided to build our own home, then decided to build a rental property all. We had someone make the drapes for our home, then I realised I really missed sewing, as the other house would require drapes I decided to make them, my new husband thought the machine I had was not good enough or strong (heavy enough), to do drapes as it kept bouncing across the table, therefore he purchased me a new Janome memory craft 6500, it was the best, I loved that machine and used it heaps, however, I had surgery and didn't realise I didn't have strength to tighten my stippling foot on to the machine, I was busy stippling away, and the foot fell off my machine and jammed, I was able to retrieve the foot, but unfortunately the machine didn't appreciate that little adventure, and squeaked just like an old car that had shockers and springs gone, sadly it could not be fixed so it went to machine heaven to rest quietly. It was a great excuse to be able to upgrade to a Husqvarna Sapphire, am very happy with it. although be great to have a little light machine to take to quilting classes.
I used to use my mother's Singer treadle machine until I got a Lemair Helvetia sewing machine for my 21st birthday.
Unfortunately I wasn't real interested in sewing in those day so it stayed almost new for quite a number of years.
Thankyou for your generosity in all the prizes that you give us the opportunity to win.
Must start by saying how much I enjoy your stories and helpful and interesting tips and experiences.
My first machine… I was very lucky growing up, my Mum was a trained dressmaker and I enjoyed a unique, exclusive, handmade wardrobe that I probably didn’t appreciate as much as I should have. At age 20 I married and moved away from home with the precious gift of my Mum’s old black Phoenix sewing machine which served me well keeping up with repairs and alterations. However, about 4 years later Mum spent a week of her holidays with me. Together we enjoyed a morning shopping and I brought home a brand new Janome sewing machine which Mum used to help me sew a layette for the baby that I was expecting. That was 1979 and that Janome served me very well. Eventually it had to be replaced with a better Janome. I have really discovered my own joy in sewing since my 4 grandchildren (eldest is 8) were born to the daughter that my first machine was bought to sew for. I dream of being able to replace her worn out old Brother machine for her... perhaps one day?
Shelley, thanks again
I couldn't believe it when I saw your first sewing machine. Its identical to mine.
I received the same Janome from my then boyfriend for my 21st birthday and I still use it today, 32 years later. I'm am a little like you and would never part with mine.
Over the years I also had an Industrial machine to use, but for some reason I always went back to my trusty Janome. It has never let me down.
Thank you for allowing me to tell my story.
My first sewing machine was given to me at age 8 or 9
It was a small singer hand cranked , which used to sew chain stitches
I think it was my Mothers and wasn't I the lucky one to receive it as I had an
older sister ( I am now 74 so that makes that machine over 100 )
I still have it and my Husband has made it like new by restoring it. Still has the same needle in
I progressed from that and then used the "singer treadle" and made clothes
on that Till I left home at 18, when I married.
When my dear Mother in law moved into a Nursing home she asked me
what I would like from her house and I said her "sewing machine" which was
a 1927 Singer Treadle , still with all the parts and oil can and book.
I have that in my front room in memory of her as she was a beautiful sewer and
made many a dress for her daughter and for other people
How I wish I had a few lesson from her
She thought I was silly as then I had my first "embroidery machine" a
Janome 8000 which was still working up till a few months ago when I decided to
retire it to my machine mechanic to use for parts.
Now I have a Brother Quattro AND Brother 6 needle the new kid on the block
also a Brother NS 20 for normal sewing , not a patch on the 8000 though
I am kept rather busy sewing, quilting and embroidery.
sometimes all together.Jumping from one thing to another.
Yes I am a sewing tragic all started from that first "little" machine
So little time and so much to accomplish
Thanks so much for your time
regards Ros B
I loved your story of how you got your first sewing machine. I was introduced to hand embroidery & machine sewing by my Mum who made many of our clothes when we were young, this dwindled a little when my sister was born with severe disabilities. However, she still found time often working late at night. She dressed my Bride Doll for Christmas, made us bloomers to wear, hats, yard clothes, overalls, party dresses & I remember the cutest little cookie dresses & of course our school dresses. There was often a surprise garment made for Christmas gifts in our teens.
I was also taught machine sewing in primary school & high school in 1969-1971.
My first sewing machine - My husband (Mr Practicality) bought for me a Bernina 801 for my 21st Birthday. My eldest daughter was 5mths old. I was going to TAFE Dressmaking one night per week in a rural remote area. A very social evening. I continued with TAFE classes for dressmaking, stretch & home decorating for several years until these were withdrawn. Such a loss to the women of the community. I watched many others learn to sew.
With four daughters & a farmer husband I always had projects, the need for a new outfit or mother daughter outfits or mending. Over the years I continued sewing progressing into making my daughters dance costumes & some 16 years later when I had a 3 tier taffeta gown to make for a tap dance recital I convinced my husband I needed my first overlocker.
I still have my 801 it has been mothballed for a few years with only occasional use as my life has been busy & focussed on other things but now I’m sewing for my grandchildren when I can and I have been afflicted with that quilting disease. I love my machine and would never part with it! I have been buying my daughters sewing machines over the years to encourage them.
Happy Birthday Shelley & thank you for sharing your joy of sewing & the chance to win a new machine. There is always room in a project to have two machines set up & working.
My First Sewing Machine
My mother had always been a seamstress. She learned dressmaking and tailoring inMelbourne in the mid 1930's. She taught me to sew at first by hand but then I discovered that the sewing machine could sew it so much easier. She had a Singer knee operated swing needle machine. There were little discs that could be changed to sew different stitches. By. By the time I was in High School I was making my own dresses. Being an overweight teenager it was better to make my own than to try and buy clothes. When I was about 15 my Dad surprised both Mum and I by saying " If you're going to fight over the sewing machine then we had better buy another(For me.) That first machine was a Pinnock and subsequently lasted until after I was married and made all the curtains for our first house!
My darling nan made all my clothes for me from the moment I came into the world,
Until I was in my late teens. As a young girl I would sit and create wonderful memories with her.
I always wanted something different, and she never let me down.
When I was about 10 nan bought me my own basic singer sewing machine, oh the
Fun. I thought I would grow up to become a fashion designer. High hopes.
That faithful machine worked until 2012 when I got it out to make special curtains
For my own beautiful granddaughters. I completed one set before it started to sizzle
Then burst into flames. I was shell shocked she had lasted me for 50 wonderful years.
Good morning Shelly
What an awesome story you have to tell regarding your 1st sewing machine.
Born in 1958, I grew up with my parents and 5 sisters in a small country farming / timber mill town called Wilga in the south of WA.
I too learned to sew in primary school and LOVED it.....Firstly, sewing wool yarn onto hessian to make a pot holder. And actually, I have been teaching my 9y/o & 7y/o grandsons to sew this way in the recent school holidays. :)
I loved sewing & embroidery and taught myself to crochet while travelling the 1hr 45 mins to school on the school bus. I learned to sew on a Singer Treadle machine belonging to my mother, only being allowed to sew simple items. I was forbidden to touch any of the knobs, mother fearing I'd upset the tension of the machine creating all sorts of headaches for her.
At about 17 years old I met my now husband from a near by farm whose father bred beautiful Hereford cattle. The following year or so, he had two orphaned calves which he was going to send to 'cattle heaven'. Me being a softie & the nurturing type, I asked him if I could take the calves. He agreed to this, so off to the local produce store I went to buy Denkavit milk and I began to bottle feed my calves every few hours until they became strong enough to drink their milk from the bucket, which was fed to them three to four times per day. I felt enormously proud of these two beautiful babies and they grew into wonderful strong little poddy's. As we all understand, growing up on the farm, it's very difficult when it comes time to send stock to the market especially when you've hand reared and grown so attached to these animals. But, I knew this day would come for my babies too. Off to the market my babies went bringing a very decent price.
In about 1979 I bought my very first sewing machine. A darling little Bernina with a soft tartan style cover 'I wouldn't have called the queen my aunt!'. My very own sewing machine!! And I was fortunate enough by this time to have a dear little niece who I sewed dresses, shorts and tops, little nighties and little knickers for.
A couple of years later, my father in law was wanting to buy his two daughters their sewing machines and asked if I'd like to upgrade and this was when I sadly decided to trade in my baby Bernina and purchase the Bernina 930 which is still as good as the day I bought it and I will never part with it. However, it's mostly in retirement. I have since purchased a Janome 6500 second hand from a girl friend and sewing became my therapy.
I still LOVE sewing and mostly make quilts for charities, PMH children's hospital and friends. In 2015 I made and donated the most beautiful quilt to Relay for Life which was raffled over a couple of weeks and raising over $3 000. Photo attached.
Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you enjoy mine. Friends in sewing!
Warm regards & miles of smiles from
Hi Shelley, My first experience of sewing was when I was about 10 my mother taught me how to use her singer treadle machine and over my teenage years made all my outfits on this machine, ball dresses etc and then when newly married managed to buy a Janome which I used to sew my childrens clothes, curtains etc and now have a computerised singer and I make dolls clothes and do patchworking, would be lost if I couldn’t sew.
I got my first machine (a Lemair Helvetia) as my 21st birthday present from my parents (well, my mum would have decided it- she sewed pretty much ALL of her children's clothes when we were young, and a LOT when we were teenagers!! She was amazing!! We were always beautifully dressed in the latest styles. Mum made all the family wedding dresses/bridesmade's dresses too).
I had NEVER been allowed to use my mother's machines (she sewed so much she wore them out!!) in case I broke it!!! I had NO idea about how to sew. Mum's comment along with the gift machine was "Now get on with it." Mum was an impatient woman and I had had to teach myself to knit and crochet from books already, so it wasn't unexpected that she wouldn't teach me to sew.......So, I taught myself to sew...from books (no YouTube then!).
I married a couple of years later, and we were saving hard for a house. I LOVED clothes (having sent most of my income every 2nd year going to Melbourne and buying the latest fashions and shoes- way ahead of Adelaide at that time...). Thus, my serious sewing of clothes started.
I have raised 2 children and enjoyed dressing them in Burda magazine fashions (I liked to make sure my children were well-dressed and trendy *:) happy ). The paper patterns hadn't been produced then, so I became VERY adept at tracing out!!! I also used some Enid Gilchrist designs (drafted) from the books my mother had used for my siblings and me!! People frequently commented on my children's clothes.
Now I just sew for myself, having worn out the original machine and a Janome mechanical. When I inherited a small amount from my grandmother over 20 years ago, I treated myself to the first Pfaff computerized machine, and it's been a long love affair. It's still my go-to machine (she's been carefully cleaned and serviced every year) although I've added a Janome overlocker and a coverstitch machine, and then a Pfaff mechanical as my 'back-up' machine (and to do heavy duty work that defeats a computerized one!).
Sewing is a PASSION!!!! It is my VERY favourite 'hobby'. When people say 'I don't have time to sew.' I must admit that I'm quite short with them. I tell them that I never stopped sewing, even when I had a family to look after, AND for a while, taught primary school children full time!!!! If you love something, you'll find the time.......
Sewing, apart from feeding my love for clothes and saving us an enormous amount of money (my husband has always told people that) has taught me so much. But mostly, it has taught me patience !!! I am a perfectionist to some extent, so buttonholes get unpicked, etc etc, until I'm satisfied. A person has to be patient to do that and I'm so thankful to sewing for teaching me that !!
As I've got older, my figure has changed very much, and now I can no longer 'sew straight from the pattern envelope' so my patience is being further tested as I struggle with the big issue- FITTING !!! BUT, I will only give up sewing if I can no longer manage it physically. To take a piece of beautifully coloured fabric and use my skills to turn it into something special is so uplifting. I adore colour and fabric, and sewing satisfies both of those loves.
Sewing in SA,
My first sewing machine I am still using it. I bought it myself in 1974 I was 14 and 9 months old
just left school where I did study sewing as a subject. My first job was with WALTONS department
store in the Credit Department. My manager said to walk around the store and pick out something
to buy on time-payment (CREDIT) as this was a good way of knowing what our customers were
doing if I too was paying off a item I have bought and taken home. I chose a WALTONS own brand
Celestial Sewing Machine for $58. That was a whole weeks wage. I use to pay $1.50 a week off this
credit purchase but I paid $20 in fees and interest. It has been a great machine never misses a beat!
Happy sewing Liz xoxo
My first sewing experience was repairing my own clothes after my sister got her friends to beat me up on the way home from school and my blouse got torn. Then I went to sewing classes at school (Domestic Science Cooking and Sewing). I got my first sewing machine for my 18th birthday it was one of those old singers that you put the disc in the top for the patterned stitches. I also went mad making my own clothes and things I needed then I started making clothes for my sister finally she took the machine off of me and started doing her own thing as she was older I was told I had to share with her. Once she left home she took the machine with her and I had nothing till I was 28 and my husband bought me a new machine very basic and I still use that now I am turning 60 this year and my machine is aging so I am hoping to win this new one it would be a blessing come true as I would like to learn to do Patchwork work.
Yours in sewing
Thanks for the great story on your first machine, this month I actually read all the newsletter it was so interesting a story! It made me feel very old to think the Janome Memorycraft was out when you were first choosing a sewing machine!
We have a lot of sewing machine stories in our family, having generations of home-sewers and dressmakers, and still have a few of their old machines around.
I must have been already sewing on Mum's little table-top SInger - the one with the curved timber case and knee lever control- straight sewing only! - when I felt the need for my very own machine. I was in high school, and as well as making clothes for my younger sister and myself, friends were asking me to do the same for them - for money! This was beause we all needed the new 'mod' clothes like in the English pop mags, and this was the only possible way to get them in our country town.
These I would make from just a picture in a magazine, drafting my own patterns to suit. It was the dawn of the Sixties!
Like you, I also shopped on a Saturday morning, out of necessity (school all week) and I went one Saturday on my own, to the specialist sewing shop in the main street, and tested out the various machines. I settled on an Elna - it was about $200, a fortune then. I put all my savings on it as a deposit and undertook to pay it off monthly. My only income to this time had been working for my parent's business during the school holidays and that's where my savings had come from. I didn't ask them to help buy the machine or even worry that I wouldn't be able to make enought to pay it off, such was my confidence in my skills!
I think it all worked out pretty well, I sewed my way through the next few years, adding my mother's friends and businesses to my teenage customers, and I have never really stopped. It was my actual job at times, but mostly it was an extra job in my "spare" time.
I made my own complete wedding groups outfits, from junior flowergirl to even the mens' suits (purple linen safari suits !!!! hahaha!!) and over the years, I graduated to formal gowns, wedding gowns, ballet tutus, costumes of all descriptions, and even covering lounge suites and other soft furnishings. In fact, practically anything that can be made from textiles i have made at some time or other. There have been many sewing machines - I think I have about five in the house at the present time from an antique to the newest Elna overlocker. But the stalwart of most of the years of sewing was a Janome, bought around 1980 (I know this from my son's age) - the Combo! It did everything in the one machine. I have two of them, and the oldest one is still going strong. I traded in my first Elna when it was around twenty years old and got $200 for it -the same amount I had paid for it! but I am sorry I parted with it. My mothers' Singer is also still going like a charm.
I love fabrics so much still. I am really due for a new sewer, the new ones are so light-weight, I could take it with me to my stitchers group, joined since I became old enough to retire and enjoy such pleasant pastimes. Sewing for pure pleaure, no more customers, just for myself and family down the generations. Maybe I will get lucky and win your Janome!
Well this has been more than the story of my first machine I am afraid, it's a litany of a lifetime of loving sewing and loving my sewing machines. And it's not over yet!
I learnt to sew on my mothers treadle machine. It only did straight sewing and only in one direction!
My mum was exacting and if it wasn't perfect it was unpicked and redone. I learnt how to
Finish seams and do button holes by hand all this at 13 years of age.
When I got married (after making my bridesmaid dresses on mums machine and many many
Outfits for myself.) My wonderful parents gave me my very first sewing machine as a wedding
Present. It was a top of the range Elna, and it actually did button holes and neatened the
Seams and fancy stitches, I was amazed! As time went by I sewed all the clothes for my four daughters,
Including their deb and bridesmaid dresses and most of my own clothing. Plus curtains, cushions, even recover my lounge suite.
My Elna finally died unable to be repaired while I was sewing for my first grandchild. It was only 27 years old.
I was really sad and scared to buy a new one but eventually purchased my second machine a
Janome Memory Craft 480-0. I didn't get any lessons with that one either I still use the manual to work things out, still doesn't quite fit. After all these years I still think of stitches I would use on my Elna and then have to look up what's on my new machine. It's now 14 years old and together we have made beautiful clothing for myself and now 10 grandchildren plus clothing for my daughters, Including 4 velvet bridesmaids dress with trains!
For Christmas I am giving my 11 year old Granddaughter sewing lessons with me and a trip to the shops for patterns and material.
Although I taught all my girls to sew only one has continued with the craft she has a web site
Where she sells amazing vintage children's clothing with hand smocking. I also taught them all how to hand sew!
I love my new machine but miss my first one still.
My first sewing machine was a little hand cranked one with only the needle thread, no bobbin and made a chain stitch. I can’t remember if it was for Christmas or my birthday but I got it when I was about 5. From a young age I practiced sewing on my grandmother’s treadle Singer which she eventually had converted to electric.
Once I moved out of home, I could not afford to buy a sewing machine so I put a Janome Nouveau on layby at the local sewing store. They did not have any stock anyway and so waiting a few weeks to pay it off suited me just fine. It was only a week or so later that I went back into to store to put some more money on the layby. They told me that my machine had come in and that I could take it with me that day! That’s because my mum had sneaked into the store and paid off the layby as a surprise!
That was 32 years ago and I still have and use it.
Was working earning $12 a week and saved like mad for deposit and my boss guaranteed me for a loan no turning back after that I was 18
I purchased my first sewing machine from Nock and Kirby in Melbourne in 1966 and travelled back to the nurses home on a tram. I do still have the machine, but, unhappily I think the foot " pedal" was sent out by my sons for the local council pick up. This machine has the best stitch for stretch sewing. I have purchased a Husqvarna, and later Brother. Recently, I purchased an Elna because the Brother has a computer problem and is too heavy to lug around to Patchwork.