This afternoon I sat down for the first time with a 1930-35 Singer Featherweight Sewing machine, a Christmas present from my husband. It is a simple machine – beautiful to me for its simplicity. It sews forward and reverse with just a flip of a lever: down for forward and up for reverse. It came with assorted feet for different sewing techniques; I could identify a rufflier, a zipper foot , and narrow turn hemmer and some feet I’ve never seen before.
As I began to wind the bobbin and thread the machine; I thought of how many women, yea, men who have gone through these same motions, over this, through that , thread goes from right to left through the needle’s eye.
How many miles of thread have flowed through the needle’s eye
Of the hands guiding fabric under the presser foot
Of the items created wedding dresses, aprons, pillow cases, baby clothes, work shirts, school clothes, Sunday best and, of course, quilts
Of the piles and piles of mending
Of the seamstress….what were her thoughts joy, anticipation, grief, weariness?
Did she pray for the ones wearing the clothing?
Did she sing songs of joy?
Did she sew through her tears?
The phrase from the Bible “the old paths” came to mind and I found it in Jeremiah 6:16
Thus saith the LORD, Stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, We will not walk therein.
The old paths The good way
Many times I check Clarke’s Commentary with this verse I found this:
There is an excellent sermon on these words in the works of our first poet, Geoffrey Chaucer; it is among the Canterbury Tales, and is called Chaucer’s Tale. The text, I find, was read by him as it appears in my old MS. Bible: – Standith upon weies and seeth, and asketh of the olde pathes; What is the good weie? and goth in it, and gee schul fynden refreschimg to your soulis. The soul needs rest; it can only find this by walking in the good way. The good way is that which has been trodden by the saints from the beginning: it is the old way, the way of faith and holiness. Believe, Love, Obey; be holy, and be happy. This is the way; let us inquire for it, and walk in it. But these bad people said, We will not walk in it. Then they took another way, walked over the precipice, and fell into the bottomless pit; where, instead of rest, they find: – - a fiery deluge, fed With ever-burning sulfur, unconsumed.
I remembered family and friends who walked in the old paths, who walked in the good way and remembered being encouraged and blessed by their examples.
As I continued to sew my little project of binding Christmas placemats recycled from a table runner purchased from the thrift shop – I set myself to add to the miles of thread and cloth guided under the presser foot and to follow those gone before on the old paths.