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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Jacqui and Jake's Antique Sewing Machines

Jacqui and Jake have been married for 30 years. Jacqui has been sewing since she was 7 years old. She learned to sew doll clothes on a Singer treadle machine and continued to sew making garments for a growing family. She has been making quilts for 20 years and teaches classes from her home. Jake worked in landscape maintenance for over 20 years, but recently completed his Bachelor of Education and currently teaches high school science.

They started collecting sewing machines about 13 years ago. Avid yard sale shoppers, the first sewing machine they bought was a Singer Featherweight 222 with a free arm. They bought it because Jacqui thought it was "very cute" and didn't pay too much for it. They didn't know what a find they had until Jacqui did some research afterwards on the internet and found out it was quite valuable. Buying sewing machines became a bit of an addiction, picking up all they could find; but eventually they had to limit their purchases and currently they concentrate on Canadian built sewing machines. They currently own 150 sewing machines from 30 - 140 years old as well as 70-80 toy sewing machines. Jake has always been fascinated with things mechanical and soon became expert in the maintenance and repair of sewing machines. He does not actively sew, but appreciates a good stitch.

Using powerpoint, Jake took us on historical tour of the sewing machine. At one point there were 34 known manufacturers of sewing machines in Canada, and the majority of them were in Ontario. It was fascinating to learn that the Singer plant in Quebec used actual wood native to Quebec for the cabinets of their sewing machines and that the 'parlour cabinet' design to hide the machines were invented because the former wooden covers for sewing machines became nicknamed 'coffin covers' and reminded people of baby coffins. Jake and Jacqui own some very rare samples of Canadian built machines.

Jacqui soon found out that one hobby can quickly turn into another hobby. She has found herself collecting other sewing machine related items, such as antique treadle scarves, threads, buttons, sewing machine oil cans, to name but a few. She found that the internet can bring collectors together. Jacqui currently participates in a few groups such as Treadleon, an internet list and webpage dedicated to sewing on "people powered" machines. Another group is Canadian Sewing Machine Collector's Society, which concentrates on the history of the Canadian sewing machine industry. She participates in block exchanges with other treadle owners. Jacqui does most of her quilting and piecing on her treadle machines. Jacqui treated us to a trunk show of some of these quilts. She loves these block exchanges " as it forces us to use our machines". Typically a block will have a signature portion where the participant signs their name, city, and the machine used to make the block.

Jacqui has also designed her own pattern which is available through her website. This is just one version made recently.

Jacqui and Jake ended their presentation with Q&A and an informative handout on sewing machine maintenance. If you are interested in purchasing previously owned machines they have a for sale blog here.

The LFQG would like to thank Jacqui and Jake for a wonderful presentation!


Other Business:

Penny and Elaine report that at their Batting Up Kids' Quilt meeting recently, 20 quilt kits were made ready to be handed out to volunteers! Ask for your kit now! And another 20 quilts were dropped off at Children's Aid! Thanks to all who worked on kids' quilts!

(Here is one of the kids' quilts, machine quilted by one of Jill's workshop participants)

Quilts of Valour

New member Teresa dJ would like to work with other members on a Quilts of Valour project. Anyone who is interested can contact her or let me know and I can pass it on to her.


Next month's meeting date is moved to Thursday, April 16.

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