I have fond memories of my mother’s sewing machine. It wasn’t antique, it would be more apropos to say it was ‘retro’. Still, I remember popping open the various hatches and looking at how the mechanisms worked. More than once I experimented with trying various stitches and created tangled messes of thread.
My mother, though she was extremely adept at using the machine, (and could spot machine-made embroidery a mile away) also sewed by hand and made embroidered pillows, shirts, ornamental towels, table cloths, and various other objects that sometimes were functional, but were always beautiful…
Sewing machines have quite an intense history. If you want to read about innovation, read about the development of sewing machines. They’ve gone from being mechanical works of art, to technologically efficient machines. Antique machines were powered by the sewer and created stitches that were relatively weak. Modern, electric, motorized, programmable machines can make stronger and more complex stitches and do it with blazing speed and minimal human input.
In some ways it’s the old ’human vs. machine’ battle, only in this case it’s more of a ‘human+machine vs. machine-human). In other words, is the output obtained through using a person powered machine as beautiful as that from a pre-programmed machine? (As an aside, why don’t sewing machine makers put ‘accidents’ into their programs to make patterns less perfect?)