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December 31, 2018



I've moved, a lot. I sew and I own a sewing machine (maybe 2 now that I think about it...). I have owned old houses, one reason I'm in an RV now with no intention to ever own a house again. I still didn't follow all of that, but I wish you luck with all of it. For some reason I assumed you would be moving into an apartment.


Happy New Year, Alecto. πŸŽ‰ May your new year be prosperous in every way. πŸ’–


I want to learn to sew. I've got much I'd like to create.


SM - it is an apartment! Technically. The main house is a very large farmhouse constructed in 1750 in Chappaqua, NY. It is one of the landmarked houses Chappaqua holds onto for dear life (although I don't see a lot of tear downs around here).

Horace Greeley left a significant impact, maybe even more than the Quakers who migrated from Purchase to Chappaqua (about 11 miles) beginning in the 1730s (and I believe they are now more present in name but I'm not sure yet).

The main house is situated on one of the primary spurs off the State road that runs straight into the center of town ending at the train station. The 'apartment or cottage' is what used to be called the 'farm hand' cottage. There is some debate as to whether or not these were slave quarters or actually the living quarters of farm and/or domestic servants. My guess is free given the presence of the Quakers and Greeley combined, in addition to the timing, despite the Dutch slave trade still being active mid-century. Yes, I did my homework after a lively conversation with the homeowners who are still trying to be sure about it (and they know they never will be 100% sure which makes them deeply unhappy).

The cottage is literally attached by one wall and the cellar which is how servants entered the main house to eat because the cottage did not have any cooking facilities. What it did have was one massive furnace right under what is technically the front door (it's on the side for us) and distributed heat directly through a massive grate in the floor. That massive grate is still there but closed off. It drives the animals batshit.

Today we have a very small walled off part of the cellar which holds the gas furnace, hot water tank, full sized washer and dryer, and a dehumidifier, which I expect is quite necessary in the summer months. There is a connecting door which locks from the other side as it should.

The 16 x 12 living area was once two rooms. The 16 x 10 foot bedroom was once two rooms. I have no idea when plumbing was introduced but it's old and they've done their best to retain and maintain the copper piping. There is one working light switch and it's a push button for a sconce at the bottom of the stairs. There are upgraded sconces in the bedrooms and the bathroom but they are manual. There are two switches in my bedroom but I assume they are attached to floor outlets. I'll figure it out. There are no switches downstairs anywhere (other than the push button). There is heat control upstairs and downstairs and it really does seem to matter. The floors are a miracle even if the only one left uncovered is in the living area.

There is a full size attic with pull down stairs in the entry way at the top of the stairs (which means there is enough room) which is completely floored; more than half of it is carpeted. I need to get a remnant for the remainder. That will help a lot. I can store lots of the stuff I'm not ready to part with that can stand temperature changes as well as swapping out seasonal clothing (properly mothproofed).

They kept the original (OK, they've had to be replaced) wood shingles even though this roof has clearly been completely replaced.

Here is the very best part. *I* am not responsible for maintaining any of this. I write a check. I change lightbulbs. I probably do other things most tenants would not but that's out of habit and because it's easier than calling those lovely old people in the rooms down the hill.


Jules - Go for it! March yourself into your friendly neighborhood sewing center. You are in the midwest; they are bound to be friendly sewing centers. They still sew in the midwest (my family assures me). Tell the store person this:

1. You are an absolute novice
2. You really do not want to spend much money (if they try to sell you bells and whistles, get the hell out of there - more moving parts = more things that can go wrong and can break - novices don't need those things happening to them)
3. If they have refurbished, good quality machines to offer, you are possibly interested in this because some of these machines are of much better quality.

Here's what you need to be thinking:

1. You also don't want something really cheap either. The damn things break.
2. The name brands our mothers counted on can no longer necessarily be trusted. Singer and White recently broke my heart
3. You want to be able to thread the needle, wind the bobbin, insert the bobbin, sew forward, reverse, adjust tension, change the needle, change the foot. That. Is. It. Once you've mastered that, you learn to sew in a straight line against the guide on the machine and you do nothing else until your hands, arms, and body (yup, even your body) are one with the machine and the fabric.

It's a magical sort of thing.

I firmly support this creative outlet especially for you.

If the sewing center offers lessons, take them. They'll teach you a few other things I would imagine but that's ok too. (or not)

I have a refurbished Janome I about from a shop up in North Hampton for maybe $275 about four years ago when the $1100 Elna I bought used from a friend for $500 died because the electronic panel blew out (which I used exactly once). The Janome and I would sleep together if I didn't think one of us would get hurt or go to jail.


Oh to be in TX where my MIL would happily teach me all those things. And more. She's a boss sewer and hand quilter. I know some of the basics, but need to learn the machine. I took sewing in Jr. High when they still taught those classes. Now to carve out a space! Thanks for the encouragement!

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