Grandma’s Sewing Room-Part 1(and designing a craft room)

When I was young, Grandma’s house was the quintessential grandmother’s home.   She made dolls of all sorts, carefully sewing their bodies, painting their faces, and making their clothes.  She quilted and made beautiful masterpieces that adorned our beds.  She made me skirts with matching bonnets, then later made my daughters the same.  She made furry stuffed bears and buffaloes.  She created childhood happiness.

sewing machine

In the 1980’s when every child was begging Santa for Care Bears, my parents couldn’t afford the overpriced stuffed animals.  But, in glittering wrapped packages from Grandma and Grandpa came three Care Bears.  One for each of us.  They were not as fat, they looked a tiny bit different, but they were perfect and my sister, and brother, and I considered them the “real” Care Bears and lugged them everywhere.

Her sewing machine was often set up by the dining room table, near the large bay window filled with plants.  A cheery place to sit and listen to the whir of the sewing machine with a tiny cup of coffee and a cookie.  Downstairs a giant quilting machine and kiln loomed.  A house full of magical instruments and a toy world all our own.


She taught me how to crochet a blanket and I took first place in the seventh grade art show.  Sure it was a bit crooked and Grandma helped me finish it up, but it began a love affair with yarn…and now spinning….and fiber animals.

The next year she taught me how to make a quilt.  Large purple and pink printed blocks came together.  We went shopping to pick out a matching back to the quilt.  I picked out a large sheet that was soft, brown, and had lion cubs all over it.  Not matching whatsoever, she simply asked, “Are you sure?”  We took it back to her house and I undertook the painstakingly slow process of tying yarn strings in each corner securing quilting in my heart forever.  I took first place at the eighth grade art show.


Up until recently Grandma could always be found with a project in her deft hands.  A scarf, a baby blanket, a quilt started on the dining room table, new fabric or yarn, or inspiration.  Chronic pain has robbed her of these gifts and she asked that I come and take much of her sewing items to clear space in the closet for blankets.  Twas bittersweet loading up a truck load of fabric pieces, multi-colored spools of thread, plum colored yarn, and unfinished projects.  How time flies.

In our small farmhouse I have been allotted a corner in the living room for my ever growing art and sewing center.  With the bounty of new art and creativity waiting in the truck, I have to find a place for an art room.  Alas, the dining room is the Apothecary, the second bedroom is Emily and the baby’s when they come over, the kitchen and the living room quite out of room.  There is a hundred year old creepy basement.

In this post, this is the only picture I took. It really is my basement. Scary, huh?
In this post, this is the only picture I took. It really is my basement. Scary, huh?

Farmgirls must make the most out of what they have, I suppose.  There are shelves already erected and space to fill.  We cleared out the unused linens and the mix matched gloves from the shelves.  We gave away any junk sitting about.  We vacuumed up the cobwebs.  A good scrubbing will ensue today.  Three rugs and a space heater that looks like a fireplace are the only purchases I will make towards this grand transformation.  I will look in the garage for furniture, use creativity in storage options, and create a light filled, perfectly charming craft room.  I am a grandmother, it’s time I had one.

10 thoughts on “Grandma’s Sewing Room-Part 1(and designing a craft room)

      1. I think you will, from what I can tell you like doing crafts and staying busy! And actually, I know from experience, that horrible-looking places can be made to look quite homey and cute! Be sure to put up pics!

  1. It does look a little scary, but bring in some light, some lovely landscapes, and a little paint and that would be an amazing transformation. It’s surprising what you can find in garage sales, or what people you know may happen to have that they are wanting to give away or sell for rock bottom prices. Most of the things in my home are give-aways from friends and the in-laws. 😀

    1. It is originally a cellar where the coal was shoveled through the window to the stove. It is all cement, walls and floor, so I can’t paint. Which is usually my catch all transformation! I think we can distract from that with lots of vibrant material and art!

      1. Our basement was built circa 1970 and does NOT have a walk-out. Our basement walls are cinder-block(s). I painted the walls all around (decade or two ago) with “waterproofing” bright white paint and we have bright fluorescent fixtures overhead. Photographs would embarrass my spouse to the extreme. To me it is a very comfortable place. My desk is at the far end (South) near the natural gas furnace. Long ago when our now 42-year-old was about to turn 16, we have a ping-pong table (now in our garage where the Prius isn’t).

  2. Oh what wonderful memories you story brings back. I remember grandma had a treadle sewing machine that she made all kinds of magic on too. It was an old New Home machine that she was so proud of because New was her last name. I inherited that machine many years later, made my first daughter’s layette on it, used it for two years to sew my clothes and my daughter’s baby clothes until my husband surprised me with a new electric zig zag machine that was, at the time, incredible! I learned to sew at the age of 10 from my mom who was a professional seamstress. Sewing has been a passion for 49 years now!! The treadle machine still remains in our family, although my youngest daughter’s, ex grandfather-in-law, as he restored the machine, removed the stenciled New Home on the upper cabinet. Grandma would have been appalled, just as I was when I saw it. But, at least the machine still works, my granddaughter rides back and forth on the treadle, just as I did when I was little, just as her momma and 2 aunts did when they were toddlers. I was blessed to have received my mom’s Pfaff machine that she bought brand new back in 1959 and it still runs like a charm. That’s the machine that I learned to sew on and it too, runs like a, well, sewing machine. That, and the intricately carved vanity bench that served as mom’s sewing machine chair. I can remember when my feet didn’t touch the floor when I sat in that chair. It was my throne! I was the queen, dressed in my baby brother’s receiving blanket as a royal robe, and a scepter made from a stick and a tin foil star that mom made me, along with a tin-foil covered, cardboard crown. I still use that vanity bench as my sewing room chair.

    Thank you for bringing back memories~

    1. What great memories! I have my grandma’s old Viking sewing machine and I swear that thing is better than anything new. I have been sewing on it since I was twelve. I hope to increase my knowledge of sewing and use it more this winter while off from markets and growing!

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