Dismantling sewing machines, not the seamstress.

Image from Google

Hello my lovely Bloggy friends,

I’m not always good when it comes to answering questions, I never have been. It’s not that I don’t want to talk or even answer. It’s just that sometimes I really don’t know what to say or I don’t even get the question in the first place. This then makes me feel stressed because my mind is always trying to answer puzzles and I know most people don’t always want answers. But my brain will do overtime trying to find them.

In the past I have people pleased

This has stopped the stress in my mind and the cycling loops but it has also caused me to feel like I have lost who I am. I sort of know what people are getting at, most of the time, when they ask me a direct question. It’s the indirect questions and when people are trying to get me to agree with them. I have started to actually say, “I don’t know!” some people are fine with this others get annoyed and think I am avoiding them, I’m not…I just can’t always cope with a head full of questions.

I try my best now, if I don’t agree, to actually speak up.

This comes as a big shock to most people who have “known me” for years. Or I say let me think about it or pray about it depending on the person…some people don’t like me to pray for them. This I find a struggle because I pray as I think.

I realised that through questioning I can get so negative on myself, because I don’t answer correctly when I am rushed. I then start to dismantle my thought process and dig myself into a pit of guilt feeling I am letting people down.

So the title….

Dismantling sewing machines, not the seamstress.

Those who know me personally and those who have been following my blog for a while will know that I am from a long line of Master Tailors, Dressmakers and Seamstresses. Also that I worked in the rag trade for many years before having my kids.

I hadn’t really thought about this until yesterday

I had a shutdown day, and I decided to strip down two of the several sewing machines that I have. I cleaned them, oiled them and then did some sewing. Sewing and me have a love/hate relationship or so I thought, but yesterday I got in touch with a part of me that I had forgotten about. It’s NOT the sewing I hate, it’s the memories of how I was treated in the rag trade.

My Aspie mind likes to work out puzzles

Sewing machines have always fascinated me, I used to sit and watch my Nan sewing for hours. I was hand sewing at about 6 years of age and I had my first electric sewing machine when I was about 10. At 15 I left school and trained as a seamstress and sample hand and loved learning my trade.

Puzzles and fixing things

I learned very quickly how all the machines worked in the factories I worked in. Not just the sewing machines but over lockers, 5 threads/rufflers, button-holers, button machines, blind-stitchers, elastic and binding machines and more. At the end of each day when I cleaned them and blew pressurised air through each machine I would study them and all their parts and workings. Each one had its own feel, each one to me had its own character and some of them felt like my friends.

When they broke down

I was very often taking off the production line and asked to sit and find out what was wrong with a machine. I loved doing this, I hated the production line. I had been trained for top quality samples and the production line just seemed so wrong. I knew how much people were paying for these garments and I knew how little they cost to make. Sewing at speed I could do, my mind and fingers work very fast, but I knew my quality was not as good. Each day I felt guilty about this and my love for sewing was slowly being taken from me.

Puzzling it out and not giving up

It seemed that the factory I worked for would quite happily leave me there with a tool box stripping down the broken machine and no one seemed worried at all. I didn’t work this out until years later, about 10 years later actually. I was paid £75 for a 40 hour week. The mechanic charged £50 just to come out to look at a machine. This is where being an Aspie, with dyslexia, also far too trusting didn’t really pay off.

But it is one of my happier memories from all my years in the trade. So I’m not griping.

So when I’m questioned and can’t find answers

I automatically try to think of how to make things work. People can become like things in my mind, I don’t know I’m doing this so I will sometimes not want to answer because I’m aware that my ways are different and could hurt someone.

I’m not always very good at seeing that I work though. There are lots of little bits of me that don’t really work the way society expects them too. When I think on them I get quite down on myself and feel inadequate.

When I was fixing those machines

Sometimes I would find something so very simple that was stopping the WHOLE production line. It could be something as simple as a bit of broken needle wedged between two moving parts, or a screw dropped out and into the oil tray making the tensions tangle all the cottons. But by shutting the machine down, stripping out all the dirt and dust, trapped bits of fabric and cottons, getting rid of old grease and grime. Polishing up and making new and removing what isn’t needed. Then the machine would sew so beautifully and feel like a friend again.

When I feel God leading me to a shutdown day

I know I should listen and give Him the time to help me see. My Autism is a gift when I see it through God’s eyes, when I look to Christ in me. Only when I look at myself and question why I am so different do I feel that I need fixing. I don’t slow down the production, I might be a different kind of part but that’s what makes me ME!

Psalm 139:13-16 (NIV1984)

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

1 Corinthians 12:12-31 (NIV1984)…..One Body, Many Parts


Singer Treadle, a machine with character.


10 thoughts on “Dismantling sewing machines, not the seamstress.

  1. It has always seemed to me that many employers love to take advantage of their employees…most folks never figure it out at all…by the way love the photo of the old Singer Sewing machine.

  2. This is a great post, wonderful in fact, that you have such insight into yourself, and so honest. I’m so glad that you’re writing this blog and sharing your life with us. 🙂

  3. I so enjoyed reading this post – it is such a great description of how you think through stuff. Although I think it is important to educate people, I don’t think that means we always have to use so much time and energy explaining ourselves. I think it has to be okay to set boundaries when we need to take care of ourselves first and only answer when we feel able to.

    Bless you!!

  4. Thanks to Tilly Bud for helping me find you! I am a hippie too, an old leftie, and my daughter Riley has Asperger’s. She had been misdiagnosed and medicated for a long time before we figured out what was up – she is also gender queer and a talented artist and musician.

    Your description of sewing machines having character of their own reminded me of Tracy Kidder’s book, “The Soul of a New Machine.” The thought makes sense, because as we are created by God, the organically created objects we make are a part of that.

    Thanks for this inspiring post. Please visit me if you wish – I’m a manic depressive PTSD leftie feminist straight girl jazz singer married to a pastor!! Yeah, it gets complicated. Peace, Amy

  5. All I saw when I read this post was how amazing it is that you can do all of those things, mechanics completely baffles me, as you know I’m the same with anything digital. You can sew really well,. I came from that same line of Maser Tailors and I don’t enjoy sewing. We are all made different in our own unique way. The trouble is we are living in a world where everyone is led to think the same. Be yourself. Yes you were exploited because you could do the same as a mechanic for no cost. That isn’t your loss but your gain. love you xxxx

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