Chapter 7 – I Broke the Sewing Machine!

By Ruth

When I woke up the next morning, there was a soft patter hitting against the windowpane and on the roof. It was raining. I felt nice and cozy in bed and snuggled with the blankets over me. I wondered what my aunt had in store for me today, and then I heard her coming up the stairs.

“Come on you lazy bones, time to get up.”

“But, it’s so comfortable and warm in bed,” I said.

I did get up and when I went downstairs to the kitchen, which smelled so wonderful with cooking smells. My aunt had been baking and we had corn muffin with a surprise in the center. She had put fresh raspberries in the middle when she cooked them. They were hot and the butter just melted and oozed out when you ate them. It was a special treat.

After breakfast she decided to teach me how to sew on the sewing machine. My Aunt was a dressmaker and I had watched her sew. It seemed so easy. She was very good and had made some dresses for me before. I was delighted that she would show me how, but also she would allow me to actually sew on the machine.

So, we proceeded upstairs over the large hall where her sewing room was, with all the different fabrics and threads. The fabrics were an assortment of colors and kinds. There were cottons, linens, crapes and some very shiny kind she called damask, this was for drapes she said.

It was a very comfortable room with big windows which looked out over the hill and road my Dad and I came up on. There were shelves and storage cupboards and a large table for laying out the material and big shears for cutting, and there it was, the sewing machine!

It was black with the letter “SINGER” in gold. It was set in a wooden cabinet and held the material you were sewing. The threaded needle went into a metal slot and connected with the thread on the bobbin. This made the stitches, my aunt said. “But, how do you make that happen?” I asked. “Oh. You pull the hand wheel located on the right side here, and the needle will start to go up and down,” my aunt replied.

“Yes,” I said, “but how do you keep it going?”

“Very simple.” She pointed under the cabinet at the treadle, “When you move this pedal back and forth with your feet, the big wheel turns. See how the big wheel is connected to the hand wheel with this leather belt? That makes the belt turn the hand wheel, which makes the needle move up and down and make a stitch. Suppose you try it on this scrap of cloth?”

So, I sat down all ready to sew I thought. I messed it up the first time! “This is good for your first time,” my aunt said, “so let’s try it again.” This time I did better and was able to make a few stitches. She said to practice some more and she would be back. I kept trying and I did get better.

When she came back I showed her and she was pleased. I had run out of thread in the bobbin so my aunt showed me how to change it for a full one. It had to be returned to the slot underneath, so I could continue to practice. My aunt thought I could try to sew two pieces together now, so I started on that. It went well. In fact it went so well I ran out of thread in the bobbin again.

Now, because my aunt was busy, I thought I could change the bobbin as she had done. It looked real easy when she had changed it. I took the empty bobbin out and looked through the three drawers on the right side of the cabinet. I found a full bobbin and put it in, with the thread hanging out just as my aunt had done. Then, I started to put the bobbin back in the slot and it wouldn’t fit. I thought that perhaps I had broken the machine. What should I do? I was at a loss; my aunt had trusted me and somehow I had busted the slot for the bobbin. I tried again but it just wouldn’t go in. The bobbin was long and narrow and fit inside another piece called a shuttle. My aunt would be coming up soon anyway, so I decided to call her up and tell her. I was really afraid.

When she came up, I explained I had run out of thread, found a full bobbin, put it in the shuttle, but wasn’t able to replace it in the machine. I said, “I’m very, very sorry if I’ve broken the machine.” She laughed, which I hadn’t expected, and said, “No, child, you haven’t broken the machine. It’s just difficult to fit if you’re not used to how it’s supposed to go.” She just turned it around and it fell right into place. It was that simple. I felt so relieved I hadn’t broken it, I decided that was enough lessons for today.

We went downstairs and my Uncle Jim came in. As usual we had supper, and after, a little time in the parlor. I was allowed to write at a small desk in the corner of the parlor. My aunt suggested writing to my parents about my adventures with George Washington, etc. She let me write with ink. I really felt I was all grown up writing with ink and learning to sew. It had been a wonderful day, even if I felt I had broken the sewing machine. However it was time for bed and another adventure tomorrow.

January 21, 2009

2 responses to “Chapter 7 – I Broke the Sewing Machine!

  1. Ruth, this is wonderful. You are a great writer. I saw the same kind of sewing machine as a child. Keep up the wonderful story.

  2. November 25th, 2009

    Dear Ruth,

    I loved this story about the Singer sewing machine. I also learned how to sew on my Mom’s old black Singer sewing machine, only it ran on electricity. I still have the Singer (a Athena 2000) machine that I bought for myself back in 1973 when I was 23 and it still works just fine (mostly).

    I wish I had a sewing room like you described in your story. I can just imagine how wonderful it was with the big windows over looking the hills – how lovely that must have been. I also wish I had time to sew…. I still do use it to mend clothes, but I haven’t made anything since Dmitri was a baby 8 years ago.

    Great work Ruth!

    A fantastic story!

    I LOVED IT!!!

    Keep on writing!

    Love always,


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