Posted in Writing Life

*Meet My Friend

I had no intention of getting a sewing machine yet. After all the calling around and searching, I came to the conclusion that it would be a long process to find the right one, and would involve much filtering of lies and semi-truths spoken by sales people in their diligent effort to make sales. It was frustrating when all I wanted was someone to be honest with me. I knew what I was looking for, and I was willing to pay a fair price for it, within my means. And if it wasn’t within my means, I was willing to wait and save or splurge when I next sold a book.

So there I was on a P.A. day, my older daughter with my husband up at the university, walking along Queen Street with my younger daughter. We stopped in at a fabric shop, peeked in the window of a sewing co-op and workshop that was closed till later in the day, went into another shop where the owner tried to convince me that nobody else on the street sold sewing machines but him, and they were all good, cheap and good, made with aluminum and prime plastic.

And then I saw the shop, small and dusty, with ancient machines in the window and the sign above: repairs. The owner was a grumpy, cigarette smoking slavic man (Russian or Ukrainian; I didn’t ask because if I guessed wrong he’d likely have been insulted). He was not friendly. He didn’t especially wish to sell me anything. The world had come down a few pegs in his day. The garment district has diminished to nearly nothing. Sewing machines were crap, bolts no longer made to bolt. He warmed up a bit as I insisted on looking at a couple of sewing machines in detail. He showed me how to thread and how to wind the bobbin. This was the better one, he said. The rotary mechanism was superior.

But it’s a Toyota! I said. I never even knew they made sewing machines.

The name doesn’t matter. It’s what’s inside. It’s all metal. It’s a good machine, he said.

I liked him. He was grumpy. I thought he was honest. So I didn’t haggle, but paid him what he asked for, and took it home on the streetcar and bus, with my little daughter’s help. I got her a donut with sprinkles on top at Tim Horton’s to tide her till we got home. I promised her the portable Brother I bought and never used for her own.

This is my friend:

Toyota 2460

My first try at using the sewing machine was a simple repair to the beloved crib blanket of one of my children, which still has a place of honour in her bed. Note the stitching at the bottom of the blue dinosaur’s feet–that’s where it was torn and the stuffing starting to come out. Also his back.

Crib Blanket

Today my first creation out of whole cloth. I’m going to decorate it, maybe paint it. Or embroider it. I’ll let you know:

And for your viewing pleasure:

There is a story to this too, but that will wait for another day.



Lilian is the author of Web of Angels, a novel about a mom with DID (multiple personalities). She's also the author of the historical novels, The River Midnight and The Singing Fire, about secrets, friendship and motherhood in 19th century Poland and London.

14 thoughts on “*Meet My Friend

  1. What a great story! I love it that you bought your machine from the grumpy guy because you could trust him not to oversell. I’m sure there’s a message for all customer service personnel in that! 🙂

  2. I love this story! Reminds me of the line in LOTR where Frodo tells Aragorn he would have “seemed fairer and felt fouler” if he was the enemy. (I think I have that quote right…)

    As for the budget machine… In the early sixties, my parents were paying 75 dollars a month or so in rent. 119 was WAY beyond their budget. My dad bought my mom a Japanese machine, I think, so she could make herself maternity clothes. Singer was the high end machine and no way could they afford one. Some “young budget!!” 🙂 You have to love the way she dances around, don’tcha?

  3. You write beautifully! I linked from the SGOT website. I enjoyed your story and can commiserate about buying a machine and not having the wool pulled over your eyes. Best of luck with your machine and enjoy the world of creative sewing! Chris

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