Ugly beautiful

I’ve been doing more sewing lately–putting things together in my own way, which means mostly without measuring or using a pattern.

Here’s a tiny project that was born out of need. For years I’ve been using masking tape to fix a little brown paper lunch bag to the edge of my sewing table, just at my right hand, for collecting snippets of thread, bent pins, paper packaging from zippers and trims–that sort of thing. A good idea, but not sturdy or attractive.

Recently I bought a new (sort of–keep reading) sewing machine  that’s affixed to a table. The table has a useful little  drop down tray in the front of it for holding spare bobbins, tools, etc., and in the far right end of it is a little hook for holding something . . . what?


I made it on the fly and it’s neither artistically perfect nor precisely designed (you can see that the strap from which it hangs is a teensy bit off center), but it serves its purpose with dignity. It also incorporates a bit of recycling–I made it with a piece of heavy duck cloth adorned with a freezer stencil of two pomegranates that was intended to be part of a lunch bag set. The design came out perfectly, but the placement on the cloth was a bit off, so I set it aside and waited to see what it wanted to be.  Now I know.

A word about the sewing machine. I bought a brand new one about 3 years ago–a name brand but low on the price scale.

And on the quality scale. From day one it caused problems. Wasted my time with repairs. Taunted me. Mocked me. Vibrated like a magic fingers bed every time I got it up to speed. I spent more time fixing it (and cursing it) than I did sewing with it (the bonus was that I lost any sense of trepidation about taking it apart and putting it together again). And it invariably broke down when I was 5 minutes from the end of a project that had to be finished within . . . 5 minutes.

Finally I got fed up. Hopped onto Craigslist and went hunting. Three days and $25 later I was the proud owner of Ugly Beautiful, a Singer from the 1970s that was part of the estate of a woman who used it lovingly and had it serviced professionally once a year.  Her husband had even built a table for it (which is a little wonky itself–it has leaves that are hinged in the wrong direction, but it’s a strangely endearing problem that I haven’t had the heart to fix yet).  The woman’s daughter showed me the brown burn marks on the top left of the machine’s sewing end where her mom, eyesight failing, had pretty much planted a high-intensity lamp right against it. “You sure you want it?” she kept asking. “It’s really ugly.”

It is ugly. But it’s a beauty, too–runs like a dream, heavy enough that there’s no vibration, never balks, skips, or falters, isn’t cluttered up with features I don’t need (back, forth, zigzag, and various stitch widths are the only features I’ll ever ask for) and came with the original owner’s manual and a chair with a hidden storage area full of pins, needles, specialized presser feet, bobbins, ribbons, zippers–all from the 1970s.

She’s ugly, but she’s mine.


One response to “Ugly beautiful

  1. I learned to sew on a machine like that in the 1970s. Definitely a keeper for you.

    But I do love my Viking sewing machine which my dear husband bought for me on the occasion of our 12th wedding anniversary.
    I have only had to have it serviced one time in the 16 years since.

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