I’ve spent the last couple of days doing something I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined I’d be doing…sewing face masks. But, as I pulled out my 1937 Singer, rolling it’s squeaky wheels across my bathroom floor in order to sew where the lighting is best, the same sentimental feelings washed over me. The reason? There’s a fantastic story behind my sewing machine. It’s one of sacrifice, love, & God.
A couple of months ago, before the Covid-19 Shelter In Place orders, I was invited to teach a painting class for the young ladies at my church. As part of that, I was also asked to share something I treasured with them. After giving it some thought, I chose my vintage sewing machine. I love it for so many reasons. But when I began to put into words what it means to me, I was somewhat overcome by a giant lump in my throat. My goodness, I’m not only sentimental, I just see how good God has been to me my whole life. So I thought I’d share that story with all of you who follow my blog, since you’ve seen pictures and video of my sewing machine pop up from time to time.
When I was growing up, my mom – who is an excellent seamstress – had three sewing machines. She had one that she used practically every day, one that was a little more modern that did a variety of fancy stitches, and one that was covered up all the time to protect it. She had always said if each of her three daughters learned how to sew, she would let us have one of her sewing machines when we got older. I must have been around six or seven years old when I immediately put dibs on the one that was kept covered up. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew it was old because it wasn’t even electric. It was operated by manual foot pedal. So, in my child mentality, I told my mom I wanted that one because, “if I was ever sewing and the electricity suddenly got cut off, I could keep right on sewing!”
When I got older, I did get that sewing machine, and to my surprise, it came with a folded up piece of paper that turned out to be the Bill of Sale. My maternal grandfather, Natividad Valenzuela, had bought the sewing machine on September 27, 1937. He paid $50 dollars for it, in a time when a gallon of gas was 10 cents! It was such a huge purchase, it had to be stamped with a seal and notarized.
It so happens my mother was born just a few months earlier, in that same town of Santa Rita, New Mexico. It’s a town that no longer exists, as it was eaten up by one of the largest open-pit copper mines in the world. Today, it’s a giant hole.
But that’s not the sentimental part of this story. My grandfather had bought this sewing machine for his wife, Jesusita. They hadn’t been married very long and had just given birth to their first child, my mother. I don’t know for sure if it was done using this sewing machine, but it’s said that my grandmother cut up pieces of her own wedding dress in order to sew a sweet little dress for her baby girl at a time when fabric was hard to come by.
Shortly after that, my grandmother, Jesusita, died at the age of 22, leaving her baby girl to navigate life without a mother. It’s crazy to think she could die from something as ordinary as pneumonia, but she didn’t grow up in a time when penicillin, antibiotics, & vaccines were readily available. It really makes me think about what’s going on right now with Covid-19 and the whole reason I’m sewing these masks in the first place. Time is an interesting thing.
Now, for my favorite part of the story….
In 1999, I was a brand new mom, and therefore, Sew Inspired. In fact, I was sewing a reversible dress, no less – one side yellow with little flowers, the other side blue with little flowers. Nothing was good enough for my baby girl. Of course, I was using my antique sewing machine to make it. I was living in Sacramento, California at the time, and I was sewing in my garage with the garage door open to let in the sunlight and I had the radio playing in the background. All of sudden, the music cut off. It wasn’t long before I figured out, there was a power outage! What!?! In the middle of my sewing there was no electricity. I mean, what are the odds!? But I kept right on sewing, just as I said I would when I was a kid.
You could call it a self-fulfilled prophecy, but I call it a little gift from God. He knows the desires of my heart. And He knew me even before I knew Him. He saw my childhood wish and He made it a reality. It’s just one of a million examples of the love He’s shown me my whole life, and I get to ponder it in my heart every time I pull out my sewing machine.
Thanks for taking the time to read my sentimental story, as I take a break from sewing face masks. I pray you stay safe and are Sew Inspired during this quarantine.
To see my vintage sewing machine in action, check out one of my video tutorials at http://www.muralsbymarcy.com/music-room-makeover/