My First Sewing Machine


I celebrated my birthday recently, 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 on 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. Besides, 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.


And here are some more stories from lovely Sew Much Easier members….. Enjoy!





Hi Shelley,

I used to sew on my Mum’s machine and with my Nanna on her machine and spent hours watching 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 elf.

- Jan


Hi Shelley,

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.

Kind Regards

Maryanne P




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 computerised as my budget was not big enough and anyway such things were a bit of a mystery to me but it was one of the last sold metal ones and 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




Hi Shelley

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. Memories eh?!

I received my first sewing machine in the 1950s when i was about 8. my dad 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.

- Robyn


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 but I loved it.

That was 1969 and I had it until I took up patchwork in 2007 when I upgraded.

Jill J


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 Lemair Helvetica)

- Ann T


Newly married in 1964 and emigrating from the UK to a new life in NZ – I was ( 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


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 computerized 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 there 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. Brought a cheap machine to teach them the basics, and surprise my youngest daughter, was here on holidays with her 2 boys, and she asked me to teach her to sew, 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


Hi Shelley.

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.

- Robyn D



Hi Shelley,

Well, I learnt to sew on my mums Singer treadle 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.

Warmest regards,

- Suzanne M

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 within 18 months. 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.

- Denise



Hi Shelly,


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.


Cheers Hazel


Hello Shelley,

Must start by saying how much I enjoy your emails 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



Hello Shelly,

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
as well. .
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


Hi Shelley

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.

Kindest regards

Rhonda S


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.

- Kerrol


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

Lynda R
Collie WA



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.
regards Laila G


Hi Shelley,


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,


Hi Shelley,

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


Hi Shelley,
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
Tina B.



Dear Shelley,
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!


Here’s wishing.





Hi Shelly,
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 4800. 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.



Hi Shelley

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

- Colleen


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 Husvana, and later Brother. Recently, I purchased an Elna because the Brother has a computer problem and is too heavy to lug around to Patchwork.

Do you have a story of your first sewing machine?


Simply share your story by sending me a quick email :-)