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The Biggest Vintage Sewing Machine Group on Facebook - Part Two


Continuing our series on the Vintage Sewing Machines Facebook group, we interviewed administrator Melanie Rowley.

Response to Part One has prompted us to offer the following introduction to Part Two, and any reader deeply interested in the full series (and what to expect going forward) will probably appreciate the introduction. Readers unfamiliar with much of the controversy surrounding the Vintage Sewing Machines group may find the introduction unnecessary. Continue with the introduction, or jump to the main article about Melanie by clicking here.

Introduction


As documentary media-makers, we've conducted nearly 200 seated interviews for film on topics as wide-ranging as artists, school systems, law enforcement, fascinating octogenarians, clergy, and organized crime figures. Imagine how thankful we are to have the opportunity to sometimes marry our passion for true-life storytelling to our love of sewing and VSMs (vintage sewing machines). We've produced biographical work in the quilting industry, and this very site is anchored around our film on VSMs. What a fun privilege, truly, and our thanks to you for being a part of it here.

Filming for Still Stitching.

For us, a discussion surrounding vintage machines is, at it's core, a discussion about people. The machines are effective and beautifully designed, but their qualities and purpose stem from those who invented them, use them, care for them, expand endlessly upon the topic, and commune over the machines to this day. Nothing in this field has sprung from the earth on it's own, and no machine was created on the eighth day. Some individuals have loved these old gems for a lifetime, while others are new to the topic but are likewise enamored and deserving of our respect. We believe that the topic of vintage sewing machines is really about personality, passion, ambition, success and failure, and every person has a story and a perspective. It may be that we are 51% documentarians, and 49% VSM nuts. We're okay with that notion, but in truth we feel they overlap evenly for the reasons just described.


In past articles, we've discussed historical figures and comical industry scandals through time's lens, but we also like to profile figures in our online community, because not every collector can enjoy real-world face time with equally passionate VSM enthusiasts. This invokes the up-side of the Internet. We are able to easily seek out others who share our interests, even when they aren't within driving distance. A phenomenon that contributed greatly to our virtual community was – and still is – the Vintage Sewing Machines Facebook group, founded in 2012 by Starrlee Simmons. Some may dismiss it as “outgrown” or of less relevance among many more specialized groups with smaller populations, but Vintage Sewing Machines has a history and an impact to be considered for those interested in the people behind this topic, this passion, this obsession.

In 2016 we attempted to reach Starrlee Simmons for an interview, as we were among many members observing continual growth in the interest of VSMs online, a growth no better exemplified than through Starrlee's group. We didn't know her, just as we don't “know” many of the figures we've interviewed for documentary films, but it made sense to us to interview her. Unbeknownst to us at the time, our message was likely lost in an overflowing inbox, or perhaps Starrlee was dealing with so many administrative headaches and disgruntled members that the last thing she wanted to do was talk to strangers about it (see Part One of this series). Soon after our attempts to reach her in 2016, she left the group. Honestly, we didn't notice at the time. We were busy in other areas.

In the two years that followed Starrlee's departure, we heard some of the same things others heard about a transition of power in the group she founded, a mixture of rumor and facts, and we had some vague sense of what had occurred; but we had no skin in that game, no dog in that hunt, and as much as we enjoy stories, we're not fans of online drama. At most we thought it was unfortunate that the founder of the group had left.

We became too busy with other projects in media and quilting, and our VSM blogging tapered off for a while. Finally in 2018 our schedule, resources, and a little serendipity allowed us to return focus to publishing articles on a relaunched website here at Still Stitching. We observed that the growth of the Vintage Sewing Machines group had shown no signs of waning, and while we hadn't been able to interview Starrlee in 2016, we wanted to revisit the possibility. By early 2019, we became acquainted with the current administrator, Melanie Rowley, and we were able to finally reach Starrlee as well. This article series has been in the works since early February 2019 and we were interviewing Melanie by February 15.

The challenge with blogging – and the problem with this very long introduction – is that people statistically prefer online articles in the 600 – 1,000 word range. (You just finished more than 1,000 words. We hope you'll continue.) So with a lengthy amount of material to cover, we knew we'd have to break the article on Vintage Sewing Machines into a few parts if we were to do something more than a puff piece. We're not very good at hit-and-run click bait. Our articles tend to be lengthy.

Part One caused a stir, as some readers very personally took issue with some of the events described in the first article. Our original intention for the series in three parts was to first discuss Starrlee's founding of the group while acknowledging Melanie and her controversial – and as we did say, arguably “dictatorial” – administrative actions and policies. That would lead us into Part Two, which is biographical material on Melanie and is forthcoming below.

Because this series was intended to be about the Vintage Sewing Machines group, we didn't conceive of a vast “he said, she said” endeavor with multiple players identified by name who would either take issue with the group's administration or defend it; rather we wished to acknowledge that controversy exists and move on to the interviews in the first two parts, then in Part Three discuss more about the group's administration and the daily activities known to both delight and disappoint members, depending on one's perspective from behind a keyboard or mobile device.

If any public figure is interviewed in any publication, it is a bit absurd to think that every imaginable counterpoint to their opinions and actions can be presented, or that every possible criticism of the interviewee can be anticipated, or that every topic can be outlined, much less explored in depth. However, in the case of Part One of our series, some readers have been so incensed that merely stating general facts leaves them uncomfortable if not bitter. For this reason, in Part Three we will return to the discussion of the controversy, most specifically the purge of hundreds of Vintage Sewing Machines members in the spring of 2017. When Part Three is lengthy as well, blame those insisting on deep detail, but many will nonetheless find it interesting, we're sure. Will everyone be satisfied? Eh. Will everyone feel vindicated? Eh. But we will strive to give multiple perspectives from multiple and varied sources. I'd like to be able to say, “from both sides of the controversy,” but the fact is that there are more than two sides. It's going to be a challenge.

For now, the topic is Melanie Rowley. Thanks for sitting through this lengthy introduction. Take a break, visit the lobby for refreshments, and please return for the feature presentation. Please keep this in mind: yes, we'll get to the vintage sewing machines.




Melanie Rowley with some of her children and grandchildren.


Melanie Rowley


Recalling when she was a high school sophomore, Melanie Rowley describes refusing to enter her mother's apartment, their home, while her mother brandished a belt in the doorway. Melanie recognized the gently swinging buckle as more than sufficient for her mother's purpose. Unable to negotiate safe passage and unwilling to become trapped in the apartment yet again, the young teenager said, “I'm sorry, Mother,” and walked away through the neighboring woods.

“And when I walked off that day, I was just resolved, I think,” Melanie recalls. “I was scared she would run after me, but I knew if she got me in the house she would probably kill me.”

Left, Melanie's mother Liz. Right, Melanie as a child.

Her mother Elizabeth – “Liz” – had been president of the Moberly, Missouri chapter of the Business and Professional Women's Foundation, likewise the American Business Women’s Association, a chairwoman for the March of Dimes, the church treasurer, and active in railroad organizations while married to Melanie's father Wyman. Melanie describes Liz as her “ex-mother” – a staggeringly abusive parent, savagery smoldering within a mink stole and from under a classy hat, always bent on the appearance of propriety and decorum. Inside the apartment, the disguise, and all bets, were off. Mother would win in painful ways against a terrified daughter.

Melanie's arm was broken cruelly at age six or seven. She wore turtlenecks to school in warm weather to hide marks on her neck left by Liz.

Easter photos of young Melanie. On the right, 1962.

The young daughter once heard her mother crying in the living room after bedtime, and with a child's instinct to love and be loved, she rose from bed intent on comforting Liz, wishing to say, “I love you.” Disaster. She knocked over a glass hobnail lamp when she climbed from bed. It broke. Whatever heartache or mental confusion had brought her mother to tears now surged into rage for Melanie's carelessness.

“She raked me across the headboard, then had a pillow over my face pushing down on it, kneeling on me and telling me she was going to kill me. I remember praying to God to let me die.”

Terror was so familiar in the face of a deeply disturbed mother convinced of her perfection that “you learn to not flinch,” says Melanie. “I remember going down the highway on shopping trips, and something would set her off and she would do this crescendo scream – no other way to describe it – and swerve into oncoming traffic. I can still see the big trucks taking the shoulder to avoid her. She would scream she was going to kill me. I heard that a lot, and always thought, 'I wish you would.'”

More unanswered prayers, something for which Melanie's own daughter is thankful for today. “She's a wonderful mother and a dear friend to me,” Netta says of Melanie. “Especially now that I’m a mother. Everyone says they have the best mom, but I really do.” Meanwhile, a friend of Melanie's tells us, “She's tough but does have a soft side. She's been through a lot, but it has made her who she is today.”

The strange chaos of childhood – rage and pretty dresses, piano lessons and flashing knives – as well as the proverbial long and winding road have contributed to a wry sense of humor in Melanie.

My ex-mother, as I refer to her, was – other than not being a movie star or rich – on a par with Joan Crawford as portrayed in Mommie Dearest, complete with the midnight raids and the beatings with coat hangers. Although in my case, the wire coat hangers were replaced with the wooden hangers that came in good luggage such as you bought in the '50s.  I think it is a testament to their superior quality that no matter how hard she hit me with them, they never broke, nor appeared damaged.  You seldom see such craftsmanship now.

Humor, born of whatever source, may not always round sharp edges from nightmarish memories. The tales are countless and vivid. Mother pulling hair. Mother wielding knives. Melanie crashing into furniture and glass. Endless threats of death. And while none of the torment was cloaked as “love” the way abusive parents sometimes rationalize their cruelty, this madness surrounding even shopping trips was buried within an illusion of an an ideal lifestyle through the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Divorced, a respected professional, intelligent and impeccably dressed, Liz made sure the disguise of dignified normalcy was complete with her daughter's outward appearance as well.

Melanie with Wyman, 1958.

“I always had nice clothes, and back when I was a child, you had play clothes, nice play clothes, school clothes, church clothes and dress up clothes complete with shoes, hats, gloves, and coats to go with all of them. You took care of your things. I never knew a time when there wasn't plenty of food in the house, toys. I had dancing lessons, piano lessons, took part in various museum classes for children, and went to the library weekly, if not daily. And to meet my ex-mother, you would not think anything was wrong. Fur stole, nice clothes, hats, matching alligator or lizagator shoes, purse and accessories cases, as women did back then.”

Liz was active in charities, business, and community organizations, frequently holding leadership roles.

Melanie's parents had divorced well before she was two years old, “at a time when divorce wasn't common,” she says. She loved her father, who was an engineer for the Wabash Railroad and a Saddlebred trainer who owned a World Champion mare.



“Her father,” Netta says, “contributed to her lifelong love of horses. And in turn, her children's love of horses. She always had us around horses as children. Riding, feeding, and grooming them. I even went to horse camp as a child. She still owns a few horses today. Her father's career as a showman has always been a point of pride for her. His horse Mimi Genius meant a lot to her. Her grandchildren call her Mimi because of that horse.”

Melanie's father Wyman, pictured on the right with his World Champion horse, Mimi Genius.

Horses are integral to fond memories sprinkled mercifully throughout a rocky childhood. She has owned upwards to twenty horses; and dogs, cats, and birds have been pets throughout her life. She'll go to the mat in defense of abused animals.

Melanie's parents, Liz and Wyman, "tailgating" at a horse show.

In contrast to memories of Liz, Melanie happily recalls Granny Bennett on Wyman's side of the family. There was no question in Melanie's mind that her father's mother "loved me dearly. She showed it. I can remember rolling out sugar cookies, and I have her recipe for those, and her angel food cake recipe, too. She died in 1962 when I was about six." She now finds that in a maternal sense, she tends to stop being "cuddly" with kids when they reach the age she was at when Granny Bennett died. Melanie displays a keen self-awareness, accepting that she's "wired" to forgo hugs and kisses and would prefer to show her love through giving and deeds – hours spent sewing, crocheting, loom knitting, making treats or foods others love, finding books or things related to interests to give as gifts or "just because." Observing bygone generations and changes in behavior, "you weren't lovey dovey and didn't give empty praise or words."

"Here... take a couple of eggs with you... Do you need any chickens? You look cold... let me give you some gloves... that type of thing," she explains.

Melanie recalls Granny Bennett and Wyman playing "cowboys and bad guys" with her in the kitchen, with one of them always tied to a kitchen chair to be saved.

Granny Bennett holding Melanie the year she was born, 1955.

She enjoyed love from Wyman as well, if not as tenderly as from Granny Bennett, “but in the 50s dads didn't get custody of children,” she says. Still, one may naturally wonder why a loving father would not have saved his daughter from a madwoman. It may be easy to forget life from within a child's mind, a sense of powerlessness and fear of speaking a truth that her mother would have denied shrewdly – this throughout an era in which a seemingly proper, “respectable” mother would likely give authorities all the right answers, close the door, then menace the child for the trouble she just caused.

Melanie's father Wyman is pictured with Liz (left), then with Melanie's step-mother.

Her father Wyman remarried a woman who did not want children in their Ethan Allen home, and when Melanie asked her dad at age thirteen if she could come live with him, his answer was a new bicycle. Melanie simply didn't tell him fully about the hell living with his ex-wife for fear of repercussions from Liz. It was rumored that Wyman had defended his daughter at least once with his own violent act. Melanie's aunt told her that Liz's dental bridge, which held a tooth in place, “was where my dad had hit her in the mouth for hurting me, but I do not know about that, just what Aunt Marilyn told me.” It's conceivable, too, that Wyman's possible violence against Liz would further complicate matters of custody and blame.

Liz also knew ways to get to her daughter without laying a hand on her.

“I had a cat and her two kittens... she had me gather them all up and put them in the car, then she drove me out into the country and made me leave them there.” Melanie still remembers their names: Muffet, Beau, and Buttons.

“Muffet was the mother. She would get on the neighbor's house and jump to my bedroom window ledge for me to let her in.” Abandoning the cats in the country, Melanie saw that “there were lights in the distance. I hope they found a home there where the lights were.”

“And who do you tell?” she now asks. “You are also conditioned to think if you do this or you do that, or you don't do this or that, things will get better. And logically, who are they going to believe anyway? This kid in nice clothes, in a home with plenty of food, or the well-dressed, articulate woman that is active in the community and seems so nice?”

In 2017, with the conflicted duty of an estranged daughter, Melanie cleaned out Liz's apartment and put her into a nursing home. It was their first contact in a “long, long time.” Melanie found photos from the 1800s through to present day, and “I found photos I had taken of Muffet and her kittens.”

She recalls Liz mentioning the abandoned cats once, with Liz saying, “I shouldn't have made you leave the cats.” Too late, and empty words. Even as an adult the memory brings tears to Melanie's eyes. She sobbed the day she found the photos.

The situation with the cats was not entirely isolated. A few years prior, Liz "also strangled my poodle Julie, had her up in the air choking her, and I put my hands under her back legs to hold her up and try to keep her from strangling to death.” Liz let go in time. Apart from using pets to torment her child, Liz otherwise seemed to love animals, underscoring her cruel and frightening unpredictability.

The two sides of a mother so volatile – so potentially dangerous, yet diligent in dressing her child fashionably, ensuring material provisions, a respectable home, trips to museums and learning exhibitions to rival the upper class, library cards, allowing pets yet abusing them – for Melanie this wasn't a paradox to unwind as she grew up. She was just trying to survive her mother's explosive wrath. A psychiatrist reading today might offer educated guesses as to a diagnosis for Liz, but her child's terror never hinged on “Why?” Just getting through it was enough for a little girl who could fathom no escape. Following visitation with her father, she cried hard on the front seat of his Buick, begging not to be returned to Liz, but for whatever reason she was indeed returned, so what real freedom could she possibly imagine?

Melanie

“To me as a small child, she was so all-powerful, it was overwhelming.” Liz was “a force to be reckoned with.” She was sharp and decisive, even when the decisions were dreadful in the truest sense of the word.

Melanie had a friend that knew her in high school prior to Melanie entering foster care, and this friend told her many years later that she thought Liz was a drunk. Melanie doesn't recall ever smelling alcohol or seeing Liz terribly inebriated, a fact in strange contrast to what was one of Liz's weirdest decisions: taking her child into drinking establishments on weeknights. “Seedy” spots as Melanie recalls.

“I was ten or so. Sometimes I would take a book if I thought fast enough to grab one, but light was usually too dim to read. Played the jukebox quite a bit, and drank Cokes and Shirley Temples, sitting in a haze of cigarette smoke.” She even played pool with figures she observed as the “town drunks.” Such ill-spent nights could contribute to poor marks in school, getting her into trouble and creating double jeopardy when report cards were sent home.

A few scattered conversations in the mid-2000s with a maternal aunt suggested to Melanie that her mother's childhood may have been wrought with sexual abuse at the hands of Liz's own father. Comments regarding his alcoholism along with suspected behavior may lend explanation to Liz's volatility – the cycle of abuse sociologists study and warn us about. For Melanie as a victim, it may serve as explanation, but certainly no excuse.

“I know enough to understand. I don't need to dwell on it,” she says, “but I will state that child molesters need the death penalty.”

Having endured a nightmare through her mid-teens, Melanie finally walked away, on her own without support, that day Liz stood threateningly in the apartment doorway. Following interviews with the authorities, a juvenile officer told Melanie that she was going to a home for "incorrigible girls." Melanie insists, "I was not incorrigible in any way. Just tired of the life I was leading and had led."

Even before Melanie managed to get the authorities involved, Liz had once called her into the living room to make her watch a local television segment on “Mom Spry,” a beloved foster mother in Boone County, Missouri, in the neighboring town. “You are going to end up there,” Liz had warned. She was right. Given that as late as the year 2000, Melanie's step-father admitted somberly that Liz hated her own child, it could be that Liz welcomed the possibility of losing custody, though it's uncertain.

Mom Spry became Melanie's foster mother in 1972. Melanie remained until she graduated from high school in '74. Mom Spry's mother was also dear to Melanie. Grandma Watkins was a professional seamstress who sewed for the Jewish garment district in Kansas City, Missouri, and Mom Spry was even more sought-after for her skill. Each had sewn the samples that salesmen used in presentations to clients, rather than performing routine factory piecing. While Melanie only picked up a few sewing tidbits in passing from her kinder maternal influences, she did end up with a 1950s Universal sewing machine she acquired from Grandma Watkins in 1977. Melanie would later pass that machine down to her own daughter, Netta.

Netta knew that Melanie's foster family had given her something that Liz did not, far more than a sewing machine, obviously. “She felt more appreciated and understood by her foster mother.”

To receive that Universal meant a lot to Melanie's daughter. “She even set me up with a hard case for it and all the fixings,” says Netta, “showed me how to use it. We even sewed a few summer dresses together on it.”

Melanie's life has taken a winding path through the south and mid-west, from fast food jobs to nursing school, secretarial work to driving eighteen-wheelers, riding horses, teaching riding, even teaching art classes to children – the list of occupations in every sense of the word is long and varied.

She raised five children, facing financial stress too often. There were setbacks and certainly regrets. Of marriage she says, “The moral of the story? Never monogram your luggage.” In spite of this keen observation, it should be mentioned that Melanie is indeed married. She's a repeat offender in that way, and her recidivism rivals Elizabeth Taylor without quite breaking any records.

Ryan
She tragically lost an adult son Ryan, and his two surviving children number among Melanie's total of ten grandchildren.

“He was only thirty-five," Netta explains. “I think his death hurt her more than any of us, her remaining children, could ever imagine. But vintage sewing machines did give her something else to focus on, something she could just dive into. A new hobby of sorts.”

“I never knew the phrase 'broken heart' really meant your heart was broken,” Melanie reflects, “but you can literally feel it breaking... and you know it is still there because you are still alive, but there is a gap where the heart was and you feel the other side of the gap, like an empty swimming pool. You know the hole in the spool that goes on the spindle and how you can feel the hole under the paper? That is what my chest feels like to me in my brain, a hole under the skin.”

Oil painting by Melanie.
About a year following Ryan's death, Melanie took a job working horses for three years. She frequently cried into their manes, remembering now that it was usually a horse named Pooh. Her time in the barn was therapeutic.

“There isn't anything anymore that can hurt that bad. Nothing. It took away a lot of me, I was always a very black and white person, never much gray in my life. Ryan's death just made me more so, I think.”

Making things with her hands has been a constant endeavor throughout, as has been reading: these pastimes are comforts through life's ebb and flow, its ups and downs and deepest valleys.

Aprons sewn on Melanie's Singer 401A.

“I have always done some sort of handcrafts,” Melanie tells us, and even her mother and a friend of her mother's had trained her. “I learned to embroider when I was four. They gave us real needles back then too, and scissors.”

Ceramics, cake decorating, baking, oil painting in college, watercolors, all sorts of crafting... another long list. She started making loom hats in 2012. Most recently she finds herself enamored with cultivating iris, the colorful flowering perennials.

Left, Melanie loom knitting a hat. Completed knitted hats on the right.

She also collects vintage cook books, explaining, “I just like old things.”

Netta says, “She’s always had a great love of nostalgic items. The 'way things were' if you will. That old saying fits when she finds a cool old machine or item –  'they don’t make 'em like this anymore.' We always went to museums and exhibits as children because of her interest in history. She’s definitely passed that love of history on to her children. She’s an avid reader and enjoys reading and learning about vintage products.”

Melanie enjoys museums pertaining to bygone eras. She stands here with 1800s steam machinery.

Melanie enjoys photographing birds and wildlife. She's also interested in structures and objects that speak quietly of a bygone era. She started and administers the Forgotten Missouri Facebook group, exceeding 35,000 members, to encourage state residents to actively capture an abandoned past in photographs. “Old stores, churches, cars, bridges, schools, etc.,” reads the group's description.

Some of Melanie's wildlife photography.

It's that sensibility that led her to vintage sewing machines. Having begun with Grandma Watkins' mid-century Universal, she wasn't yet fully hooked until she spotted a bentwood case in an antique shop. The hand-crank Singer inside was beautiful. She paid $55.

Some of the machines Melanie has procured, including the hand-crank Singer, upper-left.

In 2015 she discovered the Vintage Sewing Machine group, previously having no idea that a large community was so passionate about old sewing machines.

“At the time I found Starrlee's group,” says Melanie, “it just ignited me somehow, I had found seven machines up here the first year in northwestern Missouri but knew nothing and had no clue that anyone anywhere would know anything about them. I found homes for them, but now wish I still had them. I was all over Craigslist finding ads and I posted about 2,000 [in Vintage Sewing Machines] I think – okay, maybe fifty – but got a severe tongue lashing from members because I had posted them.”

“The Vintage Sewing Machines group was the first thing I checked every day too. I loved reading the posts, looking at machines, reading about them. I went to every website suggested, looked at photos online and haunted stores that might have them.”

Melanie removed herself from the group for a while after members chided her for posting Craigslist links. She returned after a break, and with her enthusiasm refueled she acquired fifty machines in a year's time. Less than two years later, she would become the administrator of Vintage Sewing Machines.

Melanie grows and photographs her colorful Iris perennials.



Epilogue


“One thing I'd like to add,” Netta tells us, “my mom is one of those people that knows a little something about everything. She’s so smart and so helpful. If you’re interested in something she will do anything she can to learn about it and foster your interest in that thing, whatever it is.”

Melanie and Netta with "Baby Huey."

As of this writing, I'm proofing and checking in with Melanie for a few minor details, such as what she paid for that Singer in the bentwood. In passing, and knowing she loves animals, I show her a picture my five-year-old drew of kittens.

“Need to hone that one's talent,” she suggests through Facebook Messenger, drawing from her experience as both an art student and a teacher. “He is doing very well for a five-year-old... good eye and knows details too.”

She continues, “But he needs to be given plenty of art supplies, and take advantage of any classes this summer. Many places will have free things for kids, or some stores do.”

She then proceeds to send me abundant ideas and links: art supplies, articulated cat mannequins, online stores for bargain shopping, rapidly explaining various techniques and crafting projects inside of mere minutes. Potato paint stampers, watercolor pencils. Her rush of support is apparent and encouraging. We do projects with our son regularly, and now I have a few new ideas for him.

Coming in our next article, Part Three, we'll resume discussion of the Vintage Sewing Machines group, including more on the controversies associated with it.

4 comments:

Tammy Priest said...

I really enjoyed reading your article... Melanie is one of the smartest people I know...I can't believe we've been friends for over 10 years now... Never have I ever found one subject that she doesn't know about....My 2nd daughter need to know how to make flesh colored frosting and she just rattled off how many drops of each color to use and my daughter wrote it down and tried it and It turned out perfect... One time I was working on a paper for collage and I need to come up with a group of people and she told me to research the Hunan Clan which I had never heard of and she told me quite a bit of info on them... I looked it up and she knew exactly what she was talking about. She is my best friend and we enjoy looking for abandoned buildings to photograph, making projects to enter into our fair, going to eat Chinese, and family get togethers. We both agree on many subjects and how to handle them. While we do not agree on everything our friendship is truly treasured. She recently gifted me a sewing machine and I can't wait to use it....you would have to ask her what it is because I am not up on all that... Can't wait to read your next section. Thank you for your articles.

CWBarnes said...

Amazing insight. Makes me wonder how did I get so lucky in life.

Ray Elkins said...

Although I've only spoken with her on a few occasions, I had that "kindred spirit" feeling since the first phone conversation. It's amazing to see the pieces fall together when you read about the life events that formed a person, and Melanie's resolve is much clearer now. I remember the changeover when Melanie became administrator very well, and it came at a pivotal and critical moment in the life of the group. I remember how the group had became and how it seemed out of control, and even though some people didn't like the new management I believe the group was at a life-or-death moment. I would never say that I am glad that Melanie experienced the life lessons that she did, but I will say that we are all as a group blessed by the fact that she did. To step in and prevent the inevitable self destruction of that group is a commendable accomplishment, and something that Melanie's experiences no doubt played a great part in her ability to turn it around. I have defended Melanie and many conversations with people who did not know all of the facts and only knew they rumors or the derogatory claims against her, because I knew that without her efforts the group would be long gone by now. it takes a special kind of person to have the strength to do what is right at the risk of alienating a large group of people, and individuals with that quality are made, not born that way.
I can't say enough good about Melanie and her efforts, and that isn't just because she has supported my wife and I in our endeavors with our Sew Purty Workshops. We owe a large degree of our success to Melanie's support and even her defending our position at times.
Thank you for this article, and thank you Melanie for telling us a little bit about yourself even though I can see some of the things might not be the easiest to broadcast publicly. Although I already respected you greatly, that respect and adoration has increased exponentially in reading this article. I am reminded of the song "Broken Road", not in a romantic sense of course but in the realization of how a long, winding, sometimes devastating trip through life is the only path that leads us into our purpose. Although I know you were shaped for many other (no doubt more important) purposes, there are about 40,000 people who should be thankful for you and your efforts.

Janeiac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.



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