I might have a wee tendency towards obsessiveness. It’s a bit of a pattern in my life. Something will grip me and I can think of or do nothing else. The predominant symptom of this state of mind is that I become incredibly boring. Well, not to myself. To myself I’m perfectly fascinating, but anyone who happens to cross my path will invariably get to hear way more than they ever wished to learn about dancing or land use or the building code or home based business or local economies or…
Straw braid sewing machines!!! Isn’t it incredible? I’m so in love. Do you want to hear all about it and all the little parts and the fact that there was no wrench that fit the bolts, so Tony had to file one down for me and it took me forever to figure out the right thread and how to get the straw going in a bloody circle. I laughed, I cried, I swore like a sailor, I let the dishes pile up for five days, forgot to feed my kid and then…
I made this pretty hat and the one in the first picture. Talk about a learning curve. This particular hat is quite small. Not that I intended it to be small, but I am only beginning to figure out how to impose my own will on the hat.
I’ll tell you the story behind this machine and hopefully you won’t start slowly backing away from me like everyone else I talk to these days.
It all started 14 years ago…(get back here). Tony and I were living in Massachusetts.
A friend of Tony’s owned the building in Lynn that used to house Henry the Hatter.
Tony asked his friend if we could go down into the basement to check out Henry’s old hat making equipment. He responded with whatever the Massachusetts equivalent is to “fill your boots.”
So, we filled our boots…with hat blocks, fabric and a couple of antique hat sewing machines.
I never did know what the machines were meant for, but a few months ago I came across a photo of a straw braid machine and I realized that this was my machine. So, I called Neil at Bridgewater Sewing and he cleaned it up for me and put on a little motor and I got to work.
But after watching a ton of videos on straw braid machines, it seemed my machine was missing a key part that made the whole thing easier. The lapper feeds the braid in and lines it up with the previous layer.
Then I discovered Robin at City Sewing in NY and I sent him a photo of my machine to see if he had the part I was looking for. His response…That’s not a straw braid machine. That’s a set up machine for sewing in the sweatband.
How embarrassing. And here I had even made a straw braid hat on it and everything. Good thing the hat doesn’t care what kind of machine I used. But it was a ridiculously onerous task lining up the layers of braid without a lapper and I was hooked on the process. So, I cracked open the piggy bank and bought an antique straw braid machine from City Sewing. It took forever to get to me because Joe,who makes parts for these machines, is 82 years old and he cleans his church weekly and gets tired out and Robin just can’t rush him. Well, I was eventually rewarded for my patience and I’m glad that Joe lived another day to make this part for my machine and now I have my very own straw braid machine and I’m so, so, boring and I really should be making more of my canvas hats.
because, literally, every time I make one I sell one and it’s not like I don’t need to actually sell hats, but all I can do right now is play with my new sewing machine. The possibilities are endless.
So, if you managed to stay with me to the very end I will reward you with this beautiful photo from last Saturday. That might have been the last time I left the house. See you next week. (If you see me before then, you might want to avoid me.)