Sincerest Condolences: Fond Memories of a Quilter’s Companion

Sincerest Condolences:
Fond Memories of a Quilter’s Companion

shared by: Tricia Patterson
Managing Editor, McCall’s Quilting, Quick Quilts and Quiltmaker

We received a response to one of  one of our feature McQ&A questions from Barbara Harris of Magnolia, Texas. It was such a delightful read, and carried sentiments many quilters share, so much we want to share it with you.

Thank you Barbara!


Singer FashionMate.  1972-2017

ObitPhoto 300x224 Sincerest Condolences: Fond Memories of a Quilters Companion

Rest in Peace
Singer FashionMate

It is with somber fondness I must report that a pillar of the Harris household, Singer FashionMate, passed quietly and suddenly from this realm on July 29, 2017 after a long and productive career.  A rather plain and simple being with a pale, frost green face, she was adopted in 1972, during the era of polyester double knit, from the local S&H Greenstamp store and came to reside with her current companion, keeping her in stitches for the next 45 years. Singer was a faithful and reliable assistant, only occasionally showing any rebellion by breaking threads or looping stitches and rarely complained about denims or batting. Even when her throat plate was covered in fuzz and lint, she performed well. She had a great knack for holding things together and pressing her best foot forward (and backwards). She just kept bobbin’ along and kept her dogs fed. She was never known to have needled anyone in her whole existence, although she did seam to hate invisible thread and went on a years long strike against its use.

Psychedelic70s 150x150 Sincerest Condolences: Fond Memories of a Quilters Companion

Psychedelic 70s- Repurposed for my grandchildrens’ costumes 

Singer’s first accomplishments included garments such as psychedelic colored bell bottoms and evening attire for athletic banquets, along with mending chores. An occasional set of curtains and other small projects were accomplished as well. In the mid 70s to early 80s she seamed up a few baby garments. In the late 1980s, she zigzagged off in a new direction and stitched her first log cabin quilt, which still exists to this day.  With that feeling of accomplishment, she eventually fabricated over 25 other quilts, mostly her favorite, simple log cabins, but also some nine patches, a double wedding ring (which only took 12 years to finish as she despised the taste of the invisible thread and refused to work on it), several memory quilts with pictures (one was for the 100th birthday of her companion’s grandmother) and appliqué, a flannel biscuit quilt (which caused considerable congestion) and a variety of baby/toddler quilts. In more recent years, never too old to try new things as long as they weren’t too complex, she tried her arm and foot with craft items such as tote bags, placemats, microwave bowl hotpads, toy sacks, cosmetic bags, pillows, aprons, children’s hooded capes and whatever various semi-useful things her companion could claim were gifts. Finally, this week while working on a lovely blue and yellow log cabin quilt block, her internal anatomy suffered a catastrophic failure. Her gear was stripped, broken.  She stopped dead in her throat as it seamed her foot and arm were no longer spooling with her bobbin. CPR was attempted with a limp response and a trip to the urgent care center confirmed that she had seamed her last. Hospice was called in and her life support was disconnected forever. May she always RIP.

StashandSinger 150x150 Sincerest Condolences: Fond Memories of a Quilters Companion

My Stash and Singer

She had no fancy stitches to offer and her operator has no special expertise, but together they seamed to get along, making many stitches in time, saving 9…or more. A memorial service was held August 1, and was attended by many of her colorful offspring that still reside nearby. Then, surrounded by her beloved fat quarters and tattered user manual, she was gently sealed in her case and interred in the garage. Her feet, needles, bobbins and attachments have been preserved for future possible transplantation. She will be missed but always remembered.

 -Barbara Harris, Magnolia, Texas

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31 Responses to Sincerest Condolences: Fond Memories of a Quilter’s Companion

  1. Pingback: 6 Things Happening at Quiltmaker This Week | Quilty Pleasures Blog

  2. Dee King says:

    Absolutely entraining story

  3. NancyB from Many LA says:

    I love this!
    I had a FashionMate also, bought in 1977, when I got married. She was my faithful companion, stitching my maternity outfits 2 years later, used occasionally throughout the next few years, and made my first quilt for my youngest son. She drowned in Hurricane Katrina, and even though I went on to buy 2 brand-new machines, I miss her still!

  4. Kim carron says:

    So sad. Very nice memorial for a long time friend and associate. May she rest in peace

  5. Marie Atkinson says:

    What a wonderful little story! I’d like to read more things written by her. Our machines are so much our companions and she really captured the spirit of our relationships with them. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Nann says:

    We never forget our first sewing machines!

  7. Julie says:

    Wonderful eulogy! Hope you have found a new baby to carry you forward into the next decade or so!

  8. Deb Johnson says:

    I felt the same way when my travel iron finally passed after 20 years of faithful service. I spent so much time looking over and reading reviews on the newbies on the market but nothing sounded as good as my old faithful one. So I went online and found a replacement of the exact model – you know that site that’s like a yard sale. It made me so happy that my hubs suggested I go back to that site and buy a spare. Which I did! He’s a smart man!! Thanks for the fun article that sums up how most of us feel. Hugs, Deb Quiltbeeme

  9. Sharon Beeghly says:

    what a fine tribute to your faithful friend . She has left many memories for you to cherish. sorry for your loss…best of luck as you seek out a replacement to continue your quilting journey with.

  10. Karen Phillips says:

    What a great start to my day–laughing at the humor, chuckling along with the things we have in common.

  11. Sandy says:

    I loved this story! I know that my Bernina and Singer featherweight are companions with whom I have spent much time.

  12. Jeanne Dodd says:

    What an awesome story! I love quilting but would never think of such a cute way with words that she did.

  13. Deb from Minnesota says:

    What an awesome eulogy and wonderful story! Your love definitely shines through. We quilters do put our hearts, souls and love into what we make and give to others. I have “talked” to my sewing machine for years, she holds my worries, my secrets, sometimes my anger; but always soothes my stress away. Thank you for sharing!!

  14. LovesPink7 says:

    What a sweet, loving tribute to your beloved Singer! My dad bought me a used a FashionMate in 1974 when as a 16 year old, I woke up one morning and decided I needed to learn to sew! That poor machine limped right along with me as I learned and struggled, teaching myself to sew!
    I lent it to a family member many years ago since I had bought another machine, but never received it back. It still makes me sad that I don’t have her anymore :(
    My condolences to you on losing your wonderful sewing companion but know she was a good and faithful servant for so many years!!

  15. Sally David says:

    Thank You for such a lovely and entertaining and true testimony! I have had to toss 2 computer sewing machines- they were wonderful and sorely missed. Just sewed toooo much! Usually this happened during a Fair marathon or making a Christening dress. Each time I would finish the projects on my lovely green Singer. Still have the instruction book for “Singer Automatic Model 310″ which Mom bought for me when I was 12 years old. Yes, this was my Christmas and Birthday gift for many years! She is now 61 years old and still going! Although Mom was a “little” upset when I decided to oil and clean her, and took the motor off and apart to also clean when about 14 years old!!! Good lesson in putting back together, and even my engineer uncle was impressed! The metal bar that makes the fancy stitches is worn to almost nothing, but she still will try to make important stitches when lovingly spoken to during times of stress!! I have lost count of the number of 4-Hers and others that have learned on her. Number of garments? At least 5 thousand and helped put me through college- from pink velvet skirt to decorating sheets for bridal showers and beyond. Oh yes, she is still used for old times sake or when the new computer sewing machine has a “coughing fit!” and decides to take a holiday. The last few years 310 has helped the 4-Hers learn to be appreciative and will talk to her most lovingly. I believe talking sweetly and encouragingly will let her live for many more years.

  16. Luwana James says:

    I loved your sentiments on your old friend. It brought smiles and many fond memories of all the miles of thread I myself have followed. Please continue on your creative ways and allow me to say Thank You and how much I have enjoyed our brief encounter. Sew On!

  17. Margie says:

    Isn’t it amazing how those well-used and well-loved machines take on almost human characteristics? I have a little Brother that hums sweetly as it stitches through my latest quilt and has followed me from sewing room to dining room hundreds of times through the years, making all the things I cannot afford to buy ready made. The man who invented the first sewing machine deserves a very soft cloud in Heaven for he was a blessing to womankind. Long live the creative.

  18. Judy W. says:

    What a great remembrance! You took us all back through our years of sewing. Thanks so much for sharing this.

  19. Julia Kolb says:

    You have a wonderful and entertaining way with words. While I love cooking, my relationship with my sewing machine is much more precious to me than my cooking pans. Thank you for reminding me of my first sewing machine (lost in a house fire) and everything that I made with it.

  20. Janice Park says:

    This was so awesome. Barbara is a true sewer, love of her trusty companion(Singer sewing machine) and fabrics. Such a wonderful story. Thank you for sharing. I have several machines that I absolutely love this way.

  21. Rita Calloway says:

    My little Singer Genie ,purchased in 1972, has come out of retirement this week to help me piece a scrap quilt . My beloved Elna Quilters Dream needs a few spa days. We are all trying to age gracefully and help each other out

  22. Karen M says:

    Such an awesome ode to a faithful companion. Singer ought to use it as an advertisement!

  23. Vivian Altman says:

    I still have my Singer bought new in 1963

  24. BK Courtney says:

    I always miss my Kenmore. I traded it in on a computerized sewing machine that didn’t last long.

  25. Charlotte C says:

    This was the first sewing machine that I owned-bought it when I graduated from High School in 1974. I loved that little machine and so wish that I still had it!

  26. Chris Johanek says:

    What a lovely piece of writing! I will share it with my creative writing class and invite them to use this as a model for writing their own eulogies for a favorite item! Thank you for a great idea and an entertaining reflection on a special item.

  27. Phyllis says:

    Great sewing machine love story!
    Most likely, parts are available to keep this machine running for many more years.

  28. Madge Van Ness says:

    My mother confessed to never being a crafter, but she did learn to sew and my father (may he Rest In Peace as well) bought her a Singer Featherweight about 1956 ( the serial number is 1955). It sewed shorts and tops for me, simple curtains, hems and as they shrank took up hems. I learned to sew on it and over the years occasionally used it for odd projects when I was home. I lost her this summer, but Mom passed along that old Featherweight and now I feel a sense of continuity and communion as I piece my quilts on that English marked machine. Yes, I have a lovely modern machine, but somehow I piece better here.

  29. YvonneJ says:

    Thank you, Barbara, for this funny and heart warming story. I received my Elna Super about the same time and went through much the same as you did with your Singer. I can’t bear to part with it, even though it’s so worn out it can’t be fixed any more. Silly, I know, to be so attached to a machine! I hope you make many new memories with your next machine. mind how you sew…

  30. Roberta A. Flowers says:

    What a wonderful story. I definitely can relate to that as I’ve completely worn out 2 Singers & now am on my 2nd & third Viking machine. With 3 children & spouses, 7 grandchildren & spouses, 16 great grandchildren & some spouses & 6 great-great grandchildren, I do a lot sewing plus quilting. When Hurricane Irma was coming, I was so afraid of losing my roof, that I covered my machines with lots of plastic plus a lot of other tasks to save my “stuff”. Fortunately, my roof didn’t leave me. Good luck with a new machine. They are beloved & necessary.

  31. Brenda Womack says:

    Nice thank you to a great machine. One question were those the bellbottoms from the 70′s?

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