And here it is. The Vesta treadle sewing machine, made by LO Dietrich of Altenburg, Germany, housed in it's 'parlour cabinet'. Not as pretty you might expect from the name: Vesta, who was the Roman Goddess of the Hearth and Home, but pretty practical and definitely an integral part of the hearth and home!
Before I had the luxury of my own sewing room, mine sat in the dining room with a lamp on top and served as a furniture piece, as it was intended originally! Now it stays open and ready for action!
The machine came to me with an original tin box housing all the extra feet and tools and a marvellous etching of the manufacturer's factory inside the lid, a collectible in itself!
I inherited a supply of needles and I must confess (being self taught) it wasn't until recently that I discovered the remaining needles, that I had been routinely using were far too fine for the job in hand. I broke so many! Enlightenment came when I went to a class held by Norah Stocker of Fantasia Textiles and found I should be using needles three times the thickness. Not sure why I hadn't worked it out for myself!
The handbook has also survived but I have to handle it very gingerly as the pages are so brittle. An additional instruction book shows all manner of rather clever techniques to master : not sure I'm into festooning and monogram embroidery but who knows, it might come back into fashion-most things do!
Here's the original guarantee for my Vesta treadle sewing machine, made by German manufacturer, L O Dietrich of Altenburg and bought at Jones Brothers, Holloway Road, Islington for my Grandma, Florence, on 18th November 1938. Knowing that war with Germany was imminent they took the decision to buy this highly recommended machine while they still could. Grandma made sure she stocked up on needles and as the factory subsequently went over to the production of munitions, this was a prudent decision.
She had two boys: my dad was 8 yrs old then, and his much older brother 15, so she was a busy housewife living in a terraced house much like I do now, but without the luxury of the time saving machines we all take for granted these days. However, a sewing machine was a must-have item in those days, when ready made clothing was for the higher classes and the women of the household were taught to sew by their mothers, so that they could clothe their families and make themselves the latest fashions!
Grandad, Frank was an office worker for Colgate-Palmolive and this would have been a big purchase for the family. Grandma was a proficient seamstress. She made her own dresses, suits and coats and by all accounts was a stylish little lady.
Grandma made my mother's wedding dress from white velvet, which is not an easy fabric to work with (as I know to my cost!) with tiny pearl style buttons and fiddly loops down the front of the jacket. I still have the buttons, but the dress is no more: Mum made me a party dress out of it, when I was little dot! (Make do and mend was the order of the day.) We were going to a Christmas Party at her old Grammar School (Camden High School for Girls) and I had outgrown my best frock, so she did what she had to do!
Hello, I'm Ruth Overton. My nickname as a child was 'Ruthie Toots' which is how the name