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Sewing Machines, Ghosts, and Demons

Vintage sewing machines have had long lives, touched - literally - by any number of people along the way. The history of a machine may be known or unknown, but in either case, it's not uncommon for some to refer to their sewing machines as haunted. Others have experienced sewing rooms, occupied or abandoned, that feel and sound as if they harbor ghosts.

It can send a chill up your spine when your machine ever... so... sloooowly begins operating on its own. Imagine if your car decided to just ease out of the driveway and take a little trip with no one behind the wheel.

Experienced operators will recognize an electrical issue that causes their machine to appear either possessed or under the power of a phantom force, but here are some stories and claims that might be more difficult to explain... unless they are simply the products of our own "spirited" imaginations.

Alcatraz's Haunted Sewing Area

There are many ghost stories associated with the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, an isolated island facility which housed inmates deemed too dangerous for other prisons from 1934 to 1963. Many have studied claims of the haunted prison. A Travel Channel program reported an investigation involving a psychic, a psychologist, and a device intended to detect paranormal activity.

Of all the places the investigators covered, the most significant activity occurred in the sewing area - the place of a specific and deadly incident, and one of which the investigators could not have known.

In 1940, Henri Young - a notorious bank robber and murderer known for his attempt to escape Alcatraz - stabbed and killed another inmate in the area where prisoners operated sewing machines.

The Dressmaker

James cherished his grandmother's memory, and when he and his family were in dire straights, he reluctantly sought an estimate on the value of his grandmother's old sewing machine. reports:

James’ grandmother had an interesting life. She had worked as a seamstress at a popular movie studio for many years in her youth. She was a very talented seamstress. As a matter of fact, she used to make James different things to wear when he was a little boy. When she died, it was her sewing machine and other supplies that she had left James. James had no idea how to sew, so the old stuff had just been gathering dust since her death. But James loved that old stuff. It was part of his Grandma.

When James received what he considered to be an insulting offer of $500 for all of his grandmother's antiques, he initially refused and had trouble sleeping that night as he began to accept that he would have to take the offer in order to provide for his family. Then he heard his deceased grandmother's treadle operating from the room that held her antiques, and he could hear her humming a favorite hymn.

Naturally, James went to investigate, flung the door open and saw that no one was there, just the dusty machine. A moment later he realized that a dress was draped over a chair near the sewing machine, and he did not recall it being there.

He picked it up and saw that it looked very familiar. It didn’t take him long to figure out what the dress was. It had a tag hanging from the sleeve. It read ” WOO Judy G. Dress #1″ It only took him a minute to decipher the tag. The blue and white coloring of the dress was a dead giveaway. He thought to himself, “The Wizard Of Oz, Judy Garland, Dress #1”. Could it be? The original dress intended to be worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz?
The dress was authentic and James sold it for thousands of dollars. He believed strongly that his grandmother had visited from the beyond to save his family from financial ruin.

Disneyland's Hatmosphere

Disneyland ghosts are an ongoing topic for many, but I've found only one reference to this tale of a supernatural sewing machine. Blogger Kristen writes:

I also heard that the Hatmosphere, the hat booth between America Sings and the Tomorrowland Autopia is haunted. Supposedly, the sewing machine they use to embroider names on hats never gets warm, even after being used all day long. And once someone saw a face in it. That's what I heard anyway.

Maybe not the most convincing testimony, but a cool-running sewing machine can't be all bad, can it?


I'll leave you with this clip from Annabelle, a 2014 horror film. The film is based on a legendary demonic Raggedy Ann doll given as a gift in 1970. The doll is believed to have moved about on its own accord, written notes, slashed the chest of a man, crashed the car of an exorcist, and killed a belligerent motorcyclist. The owner claims to have been offered two million dollars for Annabelle, but he refuses, explaining that it would be reckless to release the doll into the world. Annabelle remains locked in a case at the Warren's Occult Museum in Connecticut. The Annabelle of the film isn't depicted as Raggedy Ann - apparently a creepier looking doll was important to the filmmakers.

What does Annabelle have to do with sewing machines, apart from the fact that a doll must be stitched? Nothing. But just watch this clip from the trailer of Annabelle, then be very careful sewing with demonic dolls in the house.

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