Monday, May 28, 2007

Sewing Room

For well over seven years I wrote a column in the voice of a woman from 1898 by the name of "Abigail Bradshaw" for newspapers that ran in syndication throughout 23 states of the USA and in Canada. I thought I would begin to share some of those rather nostalgic columns here in my blog for fun. One came to mind the other day as I finished an ACEO with a vintage sewing theme. (I've posted a picture of it here -- it's up on Ebay for sale right now -- Ebay ID: judiwithani2.) Here's that column in its entirety copyright, Judi Brandow 1999-2007, all rights reserved.

"The Sewing Room"

'No Female Suffrage Yet. -- But something far better and more valuable, a Wilson Sewing-Machine for every wife and mother in the Union, and at the low price of $50 each of the full finished machine. People ask why the Wilson, a leading machine in all respects, can be sold for $50. The answer is easy and direct -- because its proprietors do not belong to a great "ring," whose purpose it is to keep up the price of sewing-machines.' -- ad from Peterson's Magazine, December 1878

February 1898

Greetings from my home to yours. I am sitting at the table in my sewing room, sunlight dancing a step over my shoulder and across the bright patches of the 'Chimney Sweep' quilt top I just finished piecing. I am surrounded by a delightful disarray of crimson, saffron and muted green calico prints, waste threads and cuttings -- a testament to my absorption in the project at hand.

How fortunate I am to possess a room set apart soley as a sewing room. I can make a great creative mess here without affecting the rest of the house. When my darling Edward first suggested turning part of the attic into a sewing room, I balked. It seemed such a dingy, out-ot-the-way hole. But when the windows were cleaned of film, a cozy rag rug laid on the floor, and shelves built to hold my collection of boxes, I settled right in to my lovely little nook.

How carefully I arranged all the hundred-and-one things employed in sewing. Hat and shoe boxes were labeled for such articles as rolls of bias tape, hooks and eyes, laces, stays, and threads. I carefully separated out different colored buttons and strung them onto cords placing them in my button box to enable me to find just the button needed without trouble. An old bureau's drawers were each labeled with the names of family members to provide each with a 'piece drawer' for all that person's mending and sewing needs. Another bureau was hauled into my space with drawers for al the folds of fabric waiting to be cut. One drawer holds bags of all my different colored scraps for quilts.

Because I am forever losing track of where I have placed various sewing accessories, I have found it most useful to employ the old-fashioned 'housewife' my grandmother espouses. It is a charming work-case equipped with pockets for scissors, buttons, thread and thimbles, with cushions attached for needles and pins. Grandmother encouraged me to stuff the cushions with hair saved from my hairbrush. She swears the oils in the hair help to keep needles and pins from rusting, and to this day, my pins have never suffered the complaint.

To save myself from eye strain, my sewing machine is positioned where the light is best in the room. The window over my left shoulder allows just the right amount of light to fall on the machine as I work. Mine is a Singer Treadle. I love polishing the beautiful red, green and gilt scrolled flourishes and lettering on its black cast iron body. Keeping it well-oiled and cleaned assures me it will work when I am ready to sit and sew. There are some who say the sewing machine manufacturers are working on electric models. I say, 'Give me the slow, steady whir of my treadle, the warmth of sunlight on my back the feel of crisp fabric through my fingers and a song to hum in the serenity of my sewing room, and I am content.'

Until next time, believe me to be sincerely yours, Abigail Bradshaw."

And, might I add, I am off to my own sewing room, busy on a tiny altered crazy quilt ACEO size (2.5"x3.5") book! In my next blog post, I'll show some pictures. -- Judi

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