Today I was going through some of my sewing equipment. One of my most essential tools is my 100-year-old Singer treadle sewing machine. Actually, I have about 6 of them – one that I use regularly and the others for future refurbishing or parts. I’m always looking at auctions, flea markets and garage sales for the bits and pieces that go with these beautiful old workhorses.
As I sat today unwinding a rusty shuttle-type bobbin it dawned on me that this bobbin wasn’t wound for use in the sewing machine, but by hand by its long-ago owner to keep small bits of thread. There were several different colors in lengths varying from a yard to only about 6 inches. It made me think about the industry and frugality of generations past. This bobbin could have been used any time from the turn of the century through the 1930’s. Was the owner poor or did she just abhor waste? Did she wind it in a soddy on a remote homestead claim somewhere on the Plains or later, during the Depression, when “stuff” was hard to come by? Did she save the last bits of what might have been precious few spools of thread or did she salvage it out of old garments as she cut them apart to make a quilt or maybe from the hems of her girls’ dresses as she “let them out” to last another season? No doubt whatever her reasons she was a good steward, one who probably could teach me many such sewing lessons.