A handmade’s tale


Inspired by Amanda Blake Soule’s delightful book The Creative Family, I decided it was time to put my vintage sewing machine to use. My aunt, who sewed so lovingly for forty years on this machine, died last month – just six weeks after I’d become its proud new owner. This has spurred me on to try and surmount my technical ineptitude, and get to grips with this formidable beast.

The first project in SouleMama’s book is a pencil wrap made of felt; perfect for a beginner, since there are no hems required. My version is smaller – a wrap for crayons, for the son of a close friend of mine. Happily I am confident that both she and her little boy will see past the imperfections of my first sewing project and enjoy the bright colours, and the fact that it’s a handmade gift.

The wrap ties shut so that it’s easily transportable …

… and there’s a flap to help keep the crayons in place …

… with the crayons themselves tucked into six little pockets.

I plan to make one of these for my little girl, who is already aware of the importance of having her art materials always to hand!

As for SouleMama, her blog is full of beautiful photography, a visual hymn to the comforts and creativity of a rich family life. Congratulations, Amanda, on the gorgeous new addition to your family.

Initials BB


I have recently acquired my aunt’s old sewing machine.

“Old” doesn’t do it justice. It’s a black vintage Singer 306, whose model and serial numbers date it at 1954, and whose original handwritten receipt places its purchase by my aunt in 1955.

When I agreed to house it, I was slightly concerned, for two reasons: 1. Would I have room to store the thing until someday I decided I needed it? And 2. Since my experience of machine sewing was limited to a matter of minutes back in the early 80s, I was wondering just what I’d do with it if I ever I did decide it might be needed.
I wasn’t counting on it being quite such a beautiful object.

I have named her “Black Beauty”, and she’s been out on display for the past 9 days because I cannot stop looking at her.

My cousin was part of a dance troupe that appeared regularly on tv variety shows in the 70s and 80s. My aunt, her mother, sewed all of her costumes on this machine. When my cousin died, my aunt decided she would never again find a use for it.

I’ve been playing with BB, these past few days, and I confess that I’m a total novice – but I love her! Two days ago I didn’t know what a bobbin was or where to find it, let alone how to wind one; today, I can wind that bobbin, tighten its tension and thread the needle ready to sew. No doubt, once upon a time, these were basic domestic skills possessed by every young woman, and it must seem ridiculous to anyone who was ever taught to sew that such clueless creatures as I could even exist – but we do.

I never in a million years imagined I would one day have an interest in sewing. Is this what being 38 does to a girl?