Friday, December 28, 2007

The Little Engine That Did


This is my Viking 500, who I have referred to as "The Little Engine That Could." In spite of a faulty foot pedal that was temporarily repaired, she still had a mind of her own. When she felt like sewing, she did...her little motor would start sewing and refuse to stop...even when I took my foot off her throttle.When she didn't feel like sewing, she thought of all kinds of clever ways to let me known that...sorry, she just wasn't in the mood.

I loved this little sewing machine and she has served me well, for many, many years...with no competition and no back-up machine other than my serger. But there comes a time, when each of us deserved some well earned rest. And I sew clothing and decorative accessories, as well as quilt. In fact, my sewing years outnumber my quilting ones by 40 years.

Having learned to sew at age 12, and having made all of my own clothes by age 18, sewing was my passion. I sewed for myself, for others, for three children, for gifts, and for school and children's theatre costuming for more than 8 years.

I always said I was not interested in quilting and would never learn to quilt. I made simple whole cloth baby quilts or simple nine patches, and that was it. But when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, I joined with 200 other women and we made 200 quilts in 2 days. I became a community quilter and I never looked back.

Now, it is time to retire my little Viking and bring out my new Christmas Eve/Christmas Day birthday gift of a new sewing machine. It has taken me three days to do this. Letting go of the old is not easy for me, I treasure what I have and make things last as long as I possibly can.

She sewed 50+ clothing and decorative items a year for all of her years and she has quilted for me for the past 8. She kept on going through this holiday season with 50 fabric napkins, 3 aprons, 3 tea cozies and 8 potholders for Christmas gift giving...even when her wires were crossed and her tensions awry.

As I get ready to go into the new year and a new era, I bid farewell to my trusty and loyal little friend and hello to her brand new sister. She won't be put away completely, but as you can see by the size of my little sewing area, she won't be in view side-by-side, either. I shall pass her down to one of my three children or keep her in reserves for my backup. So, today, I honor and thank her...and choose to let her have a rest!

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Michele Bilyeu blogs "With Heart and Hands" as she journeys between Douglas, Alaska and Salem, Oregon.