Searching for a pin in my wife’s needlework box today, I came across a vintage tool, which had somehow mysteriously stayed out of sight for a good 3 decades or so.
Circa 1980, my then GF decided to take up sewing lessons from her neighbouring Aunty. So she acquired a good-size needlework box, with a full complement of scissors, measuring tape, a small box of pins and needles, a triangular piece of marking chalk, etc, and of course, this Tracing Wheel.
A paper pattern would be drawn, and then a piece of carbon paper placed in between this pattern and the underlying cloth. The tracing wheel was then used to roll along the lines drawn on the pattern — producing a matching string of dots onto the cloth. Stitching was then done along these dots, after removing the papers.
Sometime in the 1990s, we decided to trade-in our old Singer sewing machine for a secondhand Japanese-made “Brother”, with some high expectations. It came in a nice glistening white…but alas, after the initial elation we discovered it was really another animal. Nothing seemed to fall in the familiar “right places”. For instance the thread take-up lever was staring at the user and kept nodding up and down, instead of facing the left. And the motor-drive really drove us crazy.
Oh how we struggled to tame the beast, instead of giving attention to the actual sewing Exasperated, we traded-in that white elephant for……guess what…an old-fashioned leg-powered Singer !
Not that Brother is bad — it dawned on us that we were ageing too successfully, and finding it harder to cope with new things in the fast-approaching dusk of our lives.
You may want to call it Stitch – any which way, it was an art that required huge Passion, Patience plus creative Imagination. Embroidery by hand ; which ladies of the old days – including many of my senior relatives – loved to indulge and excel in.
I remember that sometimes they also used sewing machines to do the stitching.
Haiz, it has been donkey (maybe for 2016 just call it Monkey) years since I last saw any lady, especially a younger one, doing it. Perhaps it simply does not jive well with the fast pace of modern life. Also, these days, with computer-aided machines, even extremely complex patterns can be sewn and reproduced by the millions in perfection.