Sunday, March 24, 2013

The 'Elvis' Altered Toy Sewing Machine

A long time ago, in the early days of the Internet, I started reading about toy sewing machines online. This was a mistake. TSMs are worse than crack. Just a few pictures, and I was hooked.   

Collecting toy sewing machines is the wrong hobby for people like me who love flea markets, thrift shops, and garage sales. In the real world (outside of cyberspace), TSMs - especially the old and charming ones - are rare. Maybe 1 in every 75 visits to a flea market. Years go by between live sightings. When I do meet one in the real world, if it is old, interesting and in decent condition, the price is usually quite high,upwards of $200. Strangely, vintage toys cost much more than vintage full-size sewing machines.

Novice desperation explains why, early in my addiction, when I saw a plain white plastic chainstitch machine at a flea market, I bought it. Though completely devoid of charm, it was small, clean and MIB (mint in box). I think I paid less than $20.  

I brought it home, popped in some batteries, and it didn't work. Total buyer's remorse.  

Then it occurred to me: I could alter it! Correction - this was long before I'd heard the terms 'altered book,' or 'altered art.' So what I actually thought to myself was probably along the lines of: "I'll Mod Podge it!" 

I pulled out my rare, high quality Elvis-themed cotton quilting fabric, and went to town with the Mod Podge, the glue gun, the trim and the tchotchkes (little sparkly things). 

Though the front image shows young Elvis, I went more with the mood of late-Elvis-in-sparkly-white-jumpsuit ("one of the most recreated costumes in history"). There's a dangly pearl ball trim around the base, silver sequins, and shiny buttons and button covers.  
I created a spool of iridescent sequins for the top of the machine. Along the top edge of the machine, there's silver-embellished blue rick-rack. 
Elvis is adoringly gazed upon by a 50's princess/debutante (Ann-Margaret?), in white gloves and gown. His crown is a former button cover.
In all the background areas, there are more clear iridescent sequins. 

Now the machine is no longer 100% completely useless! See those three pins? The machine base is covered with silver-dot-embellished-white tulle, with batting underneath, so it actually functions as a pincushion. 

 Here's the head-on view.
In conclusion, my friends, do you have a useless, broken, charm-free, not-worth-repairing, sewing machine? Consider altering it! (And send me pics!)

PS More creative quilt/art oriented ideas are at Nina Marie Sayre's Off the Wall Fridays:


  1. Glad you enjoyed it Deb. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Creativity at work - it's great! Have you thought of submitting to Cloth Paper Scissors? I bet they've never seen this!

    1. I didn't think of it, Nancy! I'm wondering if they would take it, now that I've published it online! I'll check it out. Thank you so much. Nancy!

  3. You got my vote for the worlds coolest pincushion EVER!!

  4. Glad you enjoyed it, Heather, thanks for stopping by!

  5. This is only as cool as it GETS!!! My stash includes 4 real machines and 2 play ones for my granddaughter - which of course don't work. Unfortunately, I'm moving and have to totally de-stash...but you can bet I'll be looking for another one because you and I shop at the same places. Con Gusto!

  6. This has to be one of the coolest embellishment projects that I have ever seen! You are very creative and your brain must have a lot of extra pathways to think this much out of the box!

  7. This has to be one of the coolest embellishment projects that I have ever seen! You are very creative and your brain must have a lot of extra pathways to think this much out of the box!

  8. You're too kind, Vivian. And I need all the extra pathways I can get, to make up for the regular ones that don't work! Thanks for stopping by.


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