My mother contended that every woman should have a sewing machine and use it; and further, that if the bailiffs ever came to sell you up, the machine was the one thing they could not take because it provided a way for a woman to make an honest, decent living. I have no idea if that is true in Australian law or not, but she certainly believed it, and I received a sewing machine for my 21st birthday. Since my mid teens, I’ve sewed countless metres of fabric into my own and childrens’ clothes, curtains, furniture coverings. though I no longer make clothes for anyone, I just kept on sewing as I discovered patchwork and quilt making about 30 years ago.
A sewing machine has always been part of my Essential Life Equipment. Early in my life the machine was either in use out on a table in the family living room – we’ve lived in plenty of houses with one living/family/dining area – or resting on the floor beside a bookcase or in a hall cupboard. In the Mt. Isa house, I remember how exciting it was to get my very own built-in cupboard that contained the machine and when I need to sew, I simply opened the doors and locked the fold-up work bench area into place. For the first time I had my own space, and it felt like a total luxury. In the Boulder house with big rambling enclosed verandahs I bagged a corner room, never minding that the louvre windows allowed a fair bit of dust to come in, because like all Goldfields seamstresses, that never bothered me. This was a luxury upgrade that I have been fortunate to enjoy since, where ever we have lived. Here in Montevideo I have the largest room yet, about which I wrote with some revealing pics back in 2013
When we bought the Perth house, I chose an upstairs bedroom with a view out over the street below and to the city beyond. In renovating, I installed cupboards all along one wall and a pin board along another shorter wall. Book cases were on a third wall, and on the front wall, glass door windows opened out on to the upper balcony. It was marvellous, but for all the 24+ years we owned it, we only lived in that house as man and wife for 3+ years, sigh. Over the 20 years I was absent, my sewing room gradually became a storage room as the our house sitter/buyers progressed from a couple to a family with three children. Early on I used to have some visiting rights, but it’s years since I had a long enough visit to Perth to do anything in that room. I arrived thinking I’d be able to do a quick bit of sorting and discarding, a plan I immediately abandoned when I saw this!
It was no surprise then, that at the end of monday afternoon, all the stuff in the foreground had been packed, and the packers discovered that what they’d assumed was wall was actually painted sliding doors behind which were shelves of quilting and embroidery fabrics and drawers of embroidery threads, notions and equipment. That meant they had seriously underquoted volume and time for the job, and extra hands were hastily called in for the next day to help meet the tight tuesday afternoon uplift deadline in what is removal companies’ busiest time of year! When they finally reached the hidden stash, I was called to something else going on elsewhere in the house, so I just have to take it on faith that my fabrics and other goodies were still behind those cupboard doors, and that they’ve all gone into storage.