Antique Sewing Machines: Tailor Made for Nostalgic Decor
February 16, 2019
My maternal grandmother, Nana, would have been 100 years old this season if she had been still with us. She was a master carpeting sewer before the late 1960s. A few years after retiring from the trade, she began having grandchildren, and her lifelong sewing skills were transferred into an yearly tradition of making us kids some of our most memorable Halloween costumes.
Around the time that my brother was born, Nana decided to replace her newfangled Sears sewing machine using a simpler model, similar to those old carpeting sewing machines she understood so well. She discovered the 1928 model you see at a secondhand shop in San Francisco for $15. She felt that cost was a ripoff for what was then only an old machine.
Today this 85-year-old classic is among my most prized possessions. My mom gave it to me when I showed interest in making Halloween costumes for my own children about 10 years back. While my sewing abilities are underwhelming, my passion for giving my kids what Nana gave me fueled me to persevere. I resorted to attaching neighbors who have any kind of sewing skills inside my dining room to help me finish a catchy princess collar or a confusing pair of genie pants.
Today my kids have moved on to more complex (read: store-bought) costumes. I am OK with this, since I do not have the hours to dedicate to this yearly action. But that precious Singer nevertheless has a prominent role in my dining room, today as a meaningful decorative piece on the credenza.
Waxing nostalgic. There is something about an old sewing machine which stops many people in our tracks to ogle its beauty and to question exactly what it created in somebody else’s hands decades ago. Employing an antique sewing machine and its parts to decorate the home creates a dichotomy using the high tech, fast lifestyle we lead now.
Let’s see how other ers are utilizing classic sewing machines and their accompaniments to decorate. Perhaps you, too, will be motivated enough to pull out that old sewing machine which was bequeathed to you long ago. Halloween or not, an antique like this requires no specific season to be valued.
The residents of the home chose to showcase an old Singer on its original table in the entryway. This original impression sets the stage for other vintage treasures guests are very likely to find in the house.
Frank Shirley Architects
This sunroom has an antique sewing table minus the machine. The colours nicely offset the whites that are resounding.
A Singer treadle (the part of the sewing machine run by the foot to produce a rotary motion) has been topped with a slab of rock to make a helpful garden feature.
Another idea would be to use the treadle for a foundation to get a terrace table.
This homeowner did something similar by placing a piece of scrap marble beneath a Singer treadle near a banquette.
Southern Traditions Window Fashions
Sewing machine tables could be upcycled into bedside tables. A wooden headboard in a similar tone with black metallic details creates visual continuity in this furniture arrangement.
Smaller racks can result in excellent writing desks or makeup tables.
It’s possible to leave the racks in their normal state or provide them a coating of paint which is most suitable for their new home.
On the lookout for a new bar console? One of these smaller sewing machine stands makes a fine low-profile setup.
Lands End Development – Designers & Builders
The bathroom may appear to be an unlikely place to find an old sewing machine, but this homeowner makes it appear so right as a one-of-a-kind vanity.
Sharon Charboneau, RESA Guru, Interior Stylist
Or do something crazy and use a table the way it’s intended. It is paired with a contemporary machine here in order to emphasize the different eras.
Do not forget about the other tools which have classic sewing machines, including the beautiful boxes which maintain the thread, bobbins, needles and other accoutrements.
When emptied of the original contents, these accordion-style expandable boxes can be a trove for TV remotes, tablets or whatever you need alongside a bed, desk or sofa.
Dianne Sheridan Designs
Where to find classic sewing machines and accompanying parts. Craigslist and eBay are all great places to start, because of the numerous areas they cover. On a local level, hit up antiques dealers and flea market vendors, who are constantly getting finds from home.
Do not forget about your local sewing repair shop. Shopkeepers may have old machines which were never picked up, or they could be conduits to other people interested in offloading what they’ve found in Grandma’s attic.
Your turn: How have you used a sewing machine or its parts to decorate?