Thursday, 3 April 2014

How much is my vintage sewing machine worth?

I'm frequently contacted by people asking me how much their vintage singer sewing machine is worth.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but old sewing machines are worth very little.

And here's a possible reason why...

Between the 1900s and 1940s sewing machines were made by the thousand, my girl was made in the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank, near Glasgow in 1929. This factory was churning out around 13,000 machines a week - that is 676,000 a year... and that was just one factory, in just one year. Every housewife worth her salt would have had a treadle or hand crank sewing machine in her house.

By the 1980s and 1990s the market would have been flooded with second-hand manual sewing machines (all those salty housewives were shuffling off this mortal coil and make-do-and-mend was no longer common-place) Many people must have thought that Granny's old sewing machine would be worth something one day, so hundreds of families the world over stored the machines in basements, garages and at the back of the hall cupboard because it was a family heirloom, an antique.

Sadly not... there are still hundreds of these machines around, looking for owners. Often the people who want them want a bargain, they want to be thrifty and sew without the cost of electricity. They are not antique collectors and what you have is likely not an antique.

I got my machine for free, as did my sister, a friend paid £30 in a charity shop. I have visitors to my blog who pick them up in garage sales and even in skips (dumpsters)


If your machine is in absolutely tip top condition, the decals are perfect, it has no nicotine stains, the cabinet is pristine, etc. then I would suggest you auction it on eBay. Start it at £100 ($160 USD) and see where it goes. I have seen pristine machines going for around £200 - £300.

Its not all bad news...

You can give your old machine a new lease of life simply by giving it away to a worthy party, there are folks out there desperately looking for an old treadle or hand-crank machine, as long as it works.

So please do consider giving it away. If you don't know anyone who would want it, give it or sell it for a nominal fee (£50 or under seems reasonable to me)

Checkout Freecycle, or Freegle if you want to gift it to someone.
Craigslist, eBay or Gumtree if you want to sell it on for a few pounds.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Our Home Education Approach (age 7)

I have been intending to write a few posts about how we home educate for a while, to share with others how we do our thang. I also want to keep a record of our approach for my own reference - especially now we have another wee peep who I may be home-educating in the future.

So I'm sharing our family's approach as it currently stands, with a 7YO and a teeny baby in the house.

- - -

Small has never attended nursery or school, we always intended to home-educate, we have taken this decision seriously and have always let Small know there is an alternative if she wants it.

When Small was younger we had a very relaxed approach. Most days consisted of play, chatting, and doing things together (baking, housework, reading, drawing, etc)

However as we approached the milestone of her 7th birthday, and with a baby on the way I realised that it was time for us to find a more structured approach to home-education. I researched a few options, most of which seemed to involve huge investment either financially or otherwise, and I worried about getting involved with a structured method only to dump it later on and have to go through another difficult period of readjustment. An American home-schooling friend introduced me to the Charlotte Mason approach, the method that she uses with her children and it looked like this would suit us too.

We don't follow the exact curriculum but Ambleside Online is my starting point for curriculum guidance and we roughly follow their book list. However it is highly scripture led and as atheists we forgo that side of it or replace it with subjects I find appropriate.

A small selection of our living books - No Twaddle!

The main reason I like Charlotte Mason method is the idea behind it that we are training our children for life, not to pass exams, not to prepare them for work, and not just giving them 'busy work' to fill their time. It is semi-structured, based around principles rather than a hard-and-fast lesson plan.

There is a 'no twaddle' principle which I love. The books we read have structure and point to them, they are usually classics they are referred to as 'living books'. The arts and crafts we do have structure and point to them too , we learn to knit, sew and to paint for practicality, relaxation and enjoyment - just like adults would. 
Children are people and should be respected as such. I don't dumb anything down, I do explain things in language Small will understand and ensure she has understood by occasionally getting her to relay lessons to grandparents or Dad at the end of the day.

Our school week is 5 or 6 days a week, usually, but not always Monday-Friday and we stop for holidays when it suits us (eg. 6 weeks off for new baby, no October break)

A section of our timeline
Every day starts immediately after breakfast at the kitchen table (with a baby in the house, the timing of this is highly flexible but usually 9am - 10am) We begin with a page from 'My Spelling Workbook' this is Followed by SPMG textbook maths - these are both used in Scottish primary schools as I want to stick close to the Scottish state school curriculum (though Small is a book behind in spelling and two books ahead in Maths)
Most days we follow this with reading, poetry, foreign language and storytime - but maths and spelling are the bare minimum before lunch.

After this daily work we have a timetable of weekly subjects:
Famous Lives 
Nature Studies 
Film Studies

We don't currently do copy-work (a basic of Charlotte Mason's method), this is because Small's copy-work was absolutely pristine, but her reading was dreadful and for 6 months no amount of copy-work was helping it, the spelling workbook has really helped though, so we will be sticking with it instead for a while. We will return to copywork in the future to help with handwriting, grammar, composition and spelling.

There are a few subjects waiting on the sidelines to come in when the time is right and I have the right materials or lesson plan and Small has the right comprehension. These include photography, music, composer study, computing and science.

- - -

We are often asked how we structure our home-education and I must say that we had very little structure up to the age of 7, it was mostly learning through play. I don't agree with making very small children sit at a desk for hours a day and I must say that holding off until her 7th birthday worked for us.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Goals for 2013 - How did we do?

Around this time last year I shared with you our goals for 2013 - They were reasonable tasks to be completed in a year and would get our house pretty darned close to being finished.

So how did we do?

If you've been following the blog through the year, you might be able to take a wild guess at how we did... heres some clues for you 1, 23.

So here's the low down on our checklist.

Get our building warrant completion certificate - Nope, we have a further extension on the building warrant and hope to get it completed at some point in the next 6 months.

Paint the stairs - Well, they are half done, and that's better than not at all... right? - 0.5 points

Get chimney fixed - Umm, nope.

Sand and refinish the kitchen floor - Nope

Get electrics in the living room and hall - Haha Yes! We actually did this one thing on the list, or rather we paid for our electrician to come and do it. We have lights and sockets in the living room now, Woopee!! This had the happy knock-on effect of us getting a proper TV in the living room for the first time in 12 years. 1 point

Sort out the back patio and landscaping - John made a really brilliant start on this, I felt terrible that he had to do it all by himself but the groundwork is done (literally) though there is still a lot of landscaping and actual patioing (yes, its a word) left to be done - 0.5 points

Finish tiling the kitchen - Nope

Have a usable (preferably finished) en-suite - Nope

Have a usable bath -Nope - there's a pattern here.... 

Build or buy a bench for the kitchen
 - Nope

overall score - 2/10

It is slightly embarrassing how badly we have done this year OK so I had a couple of months at the start of the year when I wasn't pregnant, and those months were productive. But then I made a human. An actual human person... from scratch... a crying, pooping, smiling little bundle of joy... fingernails and all, that beats all the plastering, patioing (still a word) and painting I could possibly have done in the same amount of time.

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