Sunday, February 28, 2016


Hobbies have a way of morphing into side-hobbies, those things we collect in support of or as an enhancement of the original hobby. Sewing machine lovers also collect miniature or child sized sewing machines, thimbles, wooden thread spools, even yardsticks with local business imprints. In my case, I have become the owner of two sewing machine music boxes.

The first one came from a co-worker who found it while visiting her parents in Oklahoma. When she spied it she knew she just had to bring it back for me. I was charmed and not at all dismayed that it no longer produced music because my husband and I had already worked on restoring a music box that is his mothers. For her 90th birthday we gave her a music box that played Ave Maria and she told us the story of a music box her husband gave her years ago that no longer worked. I asked to see it and thought we might be able to restore it, having a broken music movement and missing a few of the pieces that would latch the box. As it was dissected, we discovered the spring that winds up to drive the pin drum (the part with the notes for the song) was broken. That is a fatal error so we just bought a new movement that played the same tune. We had it all in pieces so could see how it worked so the new music box was less of a mystery. This new one showed signs of rust so it got a gentle cleaning and a dose of sewing machine oil. Nothing much happened but with Christmas decorations coming out it was pushed into a back corner of a shelf.

As Christmas decorations were put away at the end of January (you read that right: the end of January) I picked up the little sewing machine music box to find the key turning! It was trying to play the tune but not a note came out of it. Only three screws held it together so I opened it up again to find the comb was not in place. I wound it up, moved the comb so it could hit the notes to produce the tune. This took a couple of tried but it finally played and sounded quite nice. It only needed a band to represent the leather belt of a treadle and it was as good as new. I brought it back into work to show my co-worker and she was delighted, as I was, too.

This led to another musical sewing machine, just one I found on Ebay, but a delightful one anyway. Have you even felt the pressure of an auction ending in less than 8 minutes and you just discovered this marvelous item? Quick research showed this music box was worth twice the asking price so I dove in and got it. Just a bit of cleaning up, adding a tiny spool of thread at the top, and she was as good as new.

Maybe you have started collecting some items that relate to your hobbies or maybe those collections are actually the hobby and not the original hobby. Okay, that just got confusing, but you get the idea. I also have some children's sewing machines that are intriguing but just not too practical for use but there's no chance they will become more important than my vintage sewing machines. Yet.

What tune is played on those little music boxes? You haven't guessed yet? It's the 1947 hit recorded by Dinah Shore titled  Buttons & Bows, of course.

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