Necessity is the mother of invention, it has been said; and to me, a truism. No sooner had I sold my old sewing machine cabinet to a friend—a cabinet that we had re-purposed more than four decades ago, as a place for the Hi-Fi turntable—, yes, that long ago— I found a need for it as it had been intended for: a sewing machine cabinet! For many years since we first used it as a place for the turntable, we used it as a small entry table. It served at Christmas time a fine place to set a tall Santa looking upwards towards stars I hung from the ceiling. The rest of the year, however,it was just a small table to the side of the door, with no real purpose; so selling it was the logical thing to do.
Now I find myself in need of a convenient place to do some mending in my office. I have 36 inches between my storage unit and a wall, and thought that would be a perfect place for the table. I began going through the spare room, where all the extra furniture resides at this time; I soon remembered I had the sewing table!
I began my quest at a familiar antiques store and found an old- fashioned, wrought iron base with a marble top. “Perfect,”I thought. I inquired about the price, and the owner said she would get back to me. Unfortunately, while the price she quoted was acceptable, I could not get back to her and the shop would not hold it for me. I found myself back to square one.
What I had liked about that particular table was that it had a flat surface on which I could set my mending machine; now the search was on. I found that many antique sewing tables still had the old machines intact. I really did not want the machine; I, perhaps foolishly, had gotten rid of the one that came with my cabinet all those year ago, so the thought of having another one to discard did not sit well with me. My searches took me to Craig’s List and a fairly near-by community where I found what appeared to be a suitable cabinet—with machine, ugh. I went to see the piece and after talking with the owner, we came to an agreeable price. We loaded it into my car and off I drove.
The cabinet top was in fairly poor condition; but I knew my husband could remove it, and I had planned to get a stone cut to fit it. In the mean time, however, my husband cut a piece of cabinet grade plywood, sanded the edges and set it on top. When I saw the new top, I decided to give it a coat of stain, just for the time being.
Well, as luck would have it, the stain was a perfect match to the existing cabinet drawers and frame of the old top; so the thing was settled; it would so remain.
My next conundrum was what to do with the sewing machine. Appreciating all the beautiful detail in painting and metal scrolling that was engraved on the face of the machine, I was averse to just tossing it into the landfill. I pondered the problem for a short time. I decided to use it as decor and a “nod” to its glorious past. I found a shelf and bought a couple of matching, iron brackets that appeared to be similar to the iron work on the base.
My husband fixed the brackets to the wall and we set the shelf on top and then the old machine upon the shelf. Now it sits in its place of pride, not in the way of anything, but a pretty reminder of the past. I learned to sew on a treadle machine, not too unlike this one, so it brings back fond memories to me as I sit at my desk and work. While the space of 36” is small, the iron frame has tiny wheels, and I can easily slide the machine out for work that requires a bit more space.
So the hasty selling of my old cabinet turned out to be a good thing, as my friend has a place for her computer monitor, and I have a given an old machine a place to shine and be saved it from the landfill.