I know, for most of you this is old news. You all had your own thoughts about this topic many times over. But some things take a while to mature.
Yesterday, I was talking with a friend about crafts, DIY in general and sewing in special, and we were musing about working by hand in contrast to working with a machine. Although I actually own several sewing machines, I rarely ever use them. (1 treadle, 1 hand cranked, 1 simple electric from India with only straight stiches and 1 40 year old Husqvarna, more like a tractor under the sewing machines, most of them with very personal stories behind them.) I learned sewing on machines when I was in school (around 10 or so) and later my mother insisted I take a sewing class when I was around 14. Mother and I had very different approaches to teaching, learning and crafting in general.
But I think, it is good that I learned sewing properly it helped me later when I started making my own clothes. My father taught me how to repair things. He was the one who taught me how to sew on a button. And I think it is good that I learned that too.
Later on, mother's machine approach to crafting lost me. She had a knitting machine, the treadle machine was hers and she had an electric as soon as she could afford it. (My parents loved machines. They had an electric bread cutter, one of those fancy kneading/mixer/etc. kitchen appliances, automatic bread maker, they even had an egg cooker and electric knives and can openers and juicer and what not. The amount of kitchen machinery alone was mind boggling. Add to this the whole DIY shebang my father had and you can imagine, they needed a rather large house.) For a time, making her work easier with machines even made sense. After the war, she earned money by sewing shirts and dresses for other people. So she needed a productive method to work. (That was were the treadle machine came in. Electricity was rare in the late 40s, early 50s and she got it on food stamps she collected from the whole family.) She had two children (my brother, I came way later.) a husband and her parents to look after, cloth and feed. So everything that helped her getting things done faster was good.
But later, when there were only my parents and me left (my grand parents were dead and my brothers moved out), she still favoured machines over everything else. She even had a rotary iron. (Our cat just loved to sleep on the still warm, freshly pressed bed sheets.)
Me on the other hand always favoured doing things by hand. Yes, I learned how to use the machines and for a while I've sewn on the treadle, and I even used the Husqvarna for another while. (I got the Husqvarna in trade for a sofa from my flat mate's mother who was a craft teacher in school.) I do have a washing machine and thank all Gods of Invention that someone came up with that thing. Hubby has a tendency to machines as well. So for a while we shared our kitchen space with one of those coffee makers (where you fill in whole beans and water and push a button to make real espresso). Over time I got rid of some of the machines again (except the washing machine). I have one of those espresso makers (the ones you put on the oven), a hand cranked bread cutter (hubby insisted on some kind of help, he is hopeless with a bread knife) and when push comes to shove, I choose to do tasks by hand.
I always thought this was because I don't like the noise those machines make. They are all so incredibly loud. But - and here I resume my tale from the beginning of the entry - when I talked with my friend about sewing by hand and kntting by hand and favouring the spindle over the spinning wheel, I realised it was not the noise.
Yes, the noise is one factor but my main reason not to use machines is because I feel I am only handling a machine not sewing or knitting or spinning. When I sew by hand, my main goal is sewing. I sit whereever I like and I have a needle and thread and the stuff I want to sew. When I have a long straight seam, I like the help of a third hand but lacking a piece of furniture where I can attach it, I can use my feet to keep the seam straight and tight. I can even pin a piece of fabric to my trousers and tighten the seam this way. In short, I don't need anything else but the bare necessities. But when I sew on the machine, I am glued to one place which needs to be ideal. It needs an electric outlet, more space, should not be too high or too low and so on and basically I am just the machinist. Yes, this is oversimplifying the task of sewing on a machine but still, it is more about the machine than the sewing.
But nevertheless, since I do have all those machines (the sewing machines, the spinning wheels, even my mother's knitting machine) I always think I should use them. Be more productive. I could do so much more than by hand.
This talk yesterday made me realise that all this huffing and hemming about the machine assortement in my house is unnecessary. I now had over 40 years time to get not only aquainted with them but befriend them, make use of them, in short, be the machinist. And I didn't. When I think about sewing or knitting or spinning, I take my needles or my spindle and begin. Just like that. So maybe it is time to part from some of the machines. Find them a new home where they will be used.
I am a hand crafter. I will always prefer manual tools over machines. I am not running aroung naked, even hubby has enough clothes to wear and we are not freezing in bed because the next quilt takes a whole longer. I am a hand crafter, I can take my time and do things the way I feel best.