This weekend I mis-spent yet another morning in the Sunday Antique Market in Market Harborough.
As I have mentioned before, sometimes one wanders around for hours, inspecting every stall in minute detail, but seeing nothing which whispers in your brain or shouts “Take me, take me” in a vaguely sexual but worryingly schizophrenic way if you attempt to walk away and have a cup of tea and a custard tart.
On Sunday, I walked through the doors, and the first thing I saw was a Thing of Beauty. A 1950’s ‘Sew-ette’ children’s sewing machine.
I own three sewing machines already; a turn of the century table mounted treadle, a 1910 flower-enamelled, hand-operated Singer called Daisy (which I used for all my sewing needs until five years ago) and a brand new, Swiss-made, electric Elna machine, which has so many functions, that I can only assume that some of them are surgical. I carried out three circumcisions before someone pointed out that the extra tool was a button-holer.
I saw it, I haggled, I bought it. The Sew-ette is a mere 6″ long but is fully operational and can be used manually, via a miniature treadle or, most dangerously, with a simple on-off switch on the base. I have no idea how it works, as it doesn’t appear to have anywhere to put a bobbin, but I’m sure I’ll work it out. It is, after all, a children’s toy. How difficult can it be?
This would never go on sale today, as the plunging needle would no doubt be considered a tiny-finger-mutilating-hazard. And the upshot of not teaching children to use vital tools and respect the potential hazards of real life is that many grown people are no longer able to mend their clothes, turn up a hem, or run up a pair of curtains. Or make a button hole.