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This is Lesley Skog’s moving story of how a sewing machine saved her life……….
“I'd like to tell you the story of how a sewing machine saved my life. Every summer I spent a month with my grandmother. When I was 7 years old, she introduced me to the joy of sewing. She handed me an old cookie tin filled with needles, pins, thread, buttons and my OWN scissors! But the best of all was the big red pin cushion! Along with these treasures was a basket stuffed with fabric scraps. I learned how to make pot holders and quilts for my dolls. When I was 9 I was taught how to use her treadle sewing machine. I am 69 years old and the thrill of creating my own doll clothes and an apron that summer has never left me.
Home economics was a required class in my time and I loved the sewing classes. My mother and I would walk to Sears on Saturdays and while she shopped I stayed in the sewing department and looked at patterns and fabric. I was in heaven!
The year I turned 13 my father surprised me with a brand new portable sewing machine in a beautiful two tone gray case. It cost $49.00 which was the same amount as our house payment at the time; a great extravagance in those days! I still have that machine and it stills sews beautifully.
My next sewing machine was also a gift. My husband and 5 children went and purchased it and surprised me with it. At the time the store held classes on how to use the machine and I went; Zig Zag stitches and a button hole attachment was top of the line stuff for me. I still have that machine also. I made all my children’s clothes and mine. I taught myself to tailor and made my husband 2 three piece suits with that machine. It still runs like a charm today.
Having five children can be stressful at times and I promised myself the treat of the sewing machine after they went to bed to get me through the days. My husband was out of work for a long time. I sewed and sold for groceries. I cleaned houses, cut hair, babysat, decorated cakes, ironed, painted and wallpapered houses for people- whatever I could to keep us together.
My husband became very depressed. I was on my own with five children. I took a job shoveling coal and working the coke ovens at Great Lakes Steel on Zug Island. It was back breaking work. Getting up each day became harder and harder. I was diagnosed with chronic depression that still plagues me today.
One year my daughter was in the Christmas school play. She needed an old fashioned nightgown and sleep bonnet costume. She was so excited. With no money to buy fabric, I used a flannel bed sheet and some scraps for pantaloons and cut out the pattern.
That night as I sat at my dining room table looking at the cut up sheet all of the responsibility and constant worry broke me. I thought horrible thoughts. I rested my head on my machine. I thought of all the times this machine had worked so hard to get us through and how much hope and pleasure it had brought me. I picked up my fabric pieces and started to sew. With some bright buttons the bed sheet nightgown turned out quite pretty and my daughter was very proud of it. Almost forty years later she still has it.
From that day forward my sewing machines have held a special place of importance in my life. They are the shelter I retreat to, to clear my mind and heal my soul.
“When our eyes see our hands doing the work of our hearts, the doors of our souls fly open and love steps forth to heal everything in sight”. Anon