My $30 vintage find: the start of an adventure

I had long been on the hunt for a vintage sewing machine.

For years, I've been wanting my mom to teach me how to sew. I'd grown up watching her whip up clothing, curtains and other fashionable goodies, but I had been far more interested in reading books than cozying up with a sewing machine. Years later, I finally realized the creative potential that a sewing machine could bring, but I was already a journalist living in another state. I returned to California and, in 2002, my mom helped me sew a simple pillow out of two placemats I bought on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. A difficult time threading my mom's vintage Elgin machine scared me off and I didn't give sewing much thought again.

Then, I had kids and began wanting to sew all sorts of things for them: play food, pillows, soft balls, dress-up capes, and on and on.

My mom told me that she preferred older sewing machines. A few weeks ago, I saw a beautiful vintage aqua-colored sewing machine at a thrift shop for $25. It looked new, but not knowing anything about sewing machines, I passed it up, went home and called my mom, who advised me that I should buy it. But it was already gone, a thrift store clerk told me when I called. Disappointment.

A few weeks later at another thrift store, I saw a Singer Merritt 2404 for $30 and snapped it up, only to discover when I got home that it didn't work. The store returned my money and I went home, empty-handed again. Disappointment.

On Sunday, I went to a thrift store that had a 50 percent off sale. As soon as I walked in, I saw the sewing table and recognized it as one housing a sewing machine. I practically ran over to lift the lid so I could look at the machine. I couldn't believe it. My dream sewing machine. Pure joy.

It was precisely the color I dreamed about and drooled over while watching Flickr slideshows of vintage sewing machines. Yeah, I know I'm a little weird this way, but that is just the way it is when I've got an obsession. But back to the thrift store. With a price tag of $60, that meant the cost was $30. After confirming the price, I paid and an employee helped me load it into my car. Driving home, I envisioned all the fun I was going to have with my new toy.

Isn't she gorgeous? Really, I don't know how well this machine will work for my purposes of learning and simple sewing, but I do know that I have long craved a machine like this. My mother-in-law happened to visit yesterday, was shocked at how much I paid for it, and happily noted to my father-in-law that the machine looks just like one his mother used to have. Hmmm, that old?

I've tried to do some online research on this machine, a Nesco CVC-2575, but have come up with nothing. My mom seems to think this isn't a problem as long as it sews. I'm now waiting for the weekend, when my mom will visit for a couple of days and, hopefully, give me my first bona fide sewing lesson!

If all goes well, I do have some work ahead of me.

Yes, those are some damaged areas on the cabinet, which I would need to refinish. I'm thinking perhaps a dark chocolate brown stain, or perhaps something bold like yellow or red. Too much boldness for such a vintage machine? Thoughts?

I've got my fingers crossed all will work out well with this machine. I've been anxious to use up some of my vintage goodies that I've been loading up on.

By the way, the orange toy sewing machine in the first photo and the photo below was one I also bought on Sunday, just a couple hours before finding the Nesco machine. Isn't she cute?

The photo below also shows some adorable patterns I bought for 17 cents each, fantasizing that my skills would one day be up to par so I could sew simple clothing and toys for my kids using those patterns.

Of course, you wouldn't think books would go unmentioned in this post about sewing. Knowing I wouldn't have my mom at my side every minute of my sewing adventures, I thought it might be handy to have some basic guidebooks about sewing. Some books on my bookshelf on this topic are: Better Homes and Gardens Sewing Book (1970), Coats & Clark Sewing Book (1967), Simplicity Sewing Book (1972), a 1960 MacMillan textbook on Clothing Construction and Wardrobe Planning.

They have been fun to browse and I imagine I will use some of these as sort of "dictionaries" that I can refer to when I'm stuck or want to learn something new. I'm also on the lookout for more modern books, but I couldn't bear to pass these up since they had a price tag of about $1 each.

I told you I can be obsessive, but that doesn't mean I don't plan to have fun. After all, what's a hobby for if it isn't fun, right?

Seeing me photograph all my sewing gear and books, my daughter walked over with a lump of play dough in one hand and a small chair in another. She stood on the chair, looked over all the colorful goodies on the sewing table and exclaimed, "Wow, it's like a party."

I thought of the eager anticipation I feel at times when I know I'm going to a good party, perhaps seeing old friends and making new ones. That's precisely how I feel about sewing.

"Yes, baby, it sure is," I told my daughter.


P.S. For the opportunity to win a copy of the fabulous-looking book "Flea Market Style," go here. The Australian mum who writes the Thrifted Treasure blog is celebrating her one-year anniversary with a giveaway of the book, which celebrates stylish interior decorating with flea market finds.


Scattering Lupines said...

I'm trying to teach myself, too! I've had great success starting with dinner napkins and moving into pillow slipcovers. My next project will probably be bedding-- lots of straight lines-- and then I hope to accomplish the feat of a chair and ottoman slipcover before moving on to clothing!

And, yes, she is QUITE the beauty! And it IS much like a party!

Tina said...

Oh Minnie!!!!! I am so happy and excited for you on many levels :) Yay to you for getting such abargain! Firstly, if you are going to paint the cabinet, go the bold colour - it will look gorgeous in any colour!! Secondly, how exciting that you are going to learn how to sew :) Not a day goes by where I don't sew something...A whole new world is about to open up for you, enjoy :) How gorgeous is your little daughter, I think you may have a fight on your hands to see who uses the sewing machine in later years :) Wonderful post and I can't wait to see your future creations. Enjoy the party ;)-Txx

CACHANILLA73 said...

What a beauty!! This story is very similar to mine. My mom is a seamstress, but I never had the desire to learn to sew, I was busy reading books. She did my wedding dress. I would like a vintage machine, so I can learn and create beautiful things, I have memories of my mom cutting patterns on the dinning table, I know they'll help.

Saluditos y que buena suerte!!!

P.d. Las maquinas en flickr son bellisimas, especialmente una color lavanda...

Thrifted Treasure said...

Thank you so much for mentioning my giveaway :-) Your name is in the draw 3 times!! I love your blog and I have to confess to being GREEN with envy over your sewing machine find, I have wanted a green one FOREVER and $30!!! Incredible!!! I have been contemplating taking up sewing myself but have given up on ever finding a gorgeous vintage machine so it may have to be a boring new one for me :-)

Sharyn said...

Don't forget the party hats and balloons!

Sharyn said...

P.S. Once you start sewing up a storm, you might have to change the name of your blog because you will be a mama with neatly sewn borders!

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