Sewing Machines for Real Men?

Yesterday, the New York Times (NYT) ran an article on the increase in the number of men that had bought sewing machines and learned or learning how to sew as a result of all the stay at home, social isolation, etc., of the COVID pandemic, breaking yet another gender stereotype. Ironically, I had bought myself a sewing machine and had been learning to sew, but this was months before COVID hit. So, given that this was in vogue enough for the NYT to write about, I thought I’d post my own sewing machine adventure tale. First a little history.

My history is one that sewing has always been a part of my life. My mother was an excellent sewer. I grew up watching her. It was just a regular part of our everyday lives. After she retired, she and one of my cousins, opened up their on sewing craft business, and they even sold some of their beautiful handiwork on When she passed in December 2017, my brother and I divided some of her more beautiful works, especially the quilts, between us, which I pretty much gave out to my children, along with several of her paintings. Here is a shot of one of her placemats:

Then I was married for 43 years to my now ex-wife, Carol, who herself was a master sewer, having sewn from her teenage years through most of her life. In our early years when we first came to Clemson, she ran a sewing business and had quite a clientele. It got us through some hard financial times. She also made beautiful quilts.

When I found myself single for the first time in my adult life, I was always running into something, I knew they could have easily repaired on the sewing machine. Slowly, it dawned on me that, you know, I could get me a sewing machine, learn how to sew a little, and make some of the repairs myself. At first, I dismissed the idea, but as time went along, I thought more and more about it. Then one day, I was out in the shop trying to repair something, and I said to myself, “Self, if you had a sewing machine, you could just stitch these two pieces together and be done. I had tried duct tape, glue, staples, and small nails. None of them worked. Right then and there, I decided to invest in myself a sewing machine and learn how to use it. To return to my mother’s story a minute.

As my brother and I worked through what to do with all our parents’ stuff that Christmas that she died, I remember standing in her incredible sewing room, looking at all her sophisticated sewing machines of various types and specialities, her incredible collection of highly organized threads, all the pieces of material, all her sewing tools. But even her simplest machine was way beyond me. The damn thing could be computer guided even. I would never be able to do justice to what her wonderful machines could do. So I left them and they were sold in her estate sale. Sigh.

So here I was about two years later looking on for a simple, beginners sewing machine, reading reviews, looking at various models, etc. Finally, I picked one out and ordered it. Here it is in my sewing corner as I call it:

It is nothing fancy. Just your basic beginner’s sewing machine. I’ve learned basically, I mean very “basically,” how to use it. I’ve made a few face-masks, repaired a tear in one of my backpacks, and a few other items. I have to keep the directions handy to remind how to thread it. I’m learning which stitches to use and when, etc. Slowly, ever so slowly, I’m learning. I only use it when I’m needing to repair something most of the times these days.

I have already found some of the limits of the little machine. It doesn’t have much horsepower. Its little motor has a hard time with more than one layer of denim when I’ve tried to repair some of thick Duluth Ball Room jeans, for example. And, it will just barely handle three layers of cotton fabric when I make face-masks.

I don’t know about “real men.” Not even sure what that is exactly, but at least some men are now using sewing machines, and I be one of them.