Sunday, May 11, 2014


       Some people name their sewing machines. I'm not one of those people. Sometimes sewing machines come with names.
       Meet Betty. I bought this Cornely L last year from Craigslist in California. The machine had belonged to the seller's mother, Betty. He told me about her career as a chainstitch embroiderer, embroidering everything from bowling shirts to patches for The Hell's Angels. He told me that Betty once tried to start a school for chainstitch embroidery and that someone had broken into her studio and stolen all of her new machines but left the Cornely L, which was the machine she used most often.

This is "Betty", a 1950's Cornely L chainstitch embroidery machine. The machine can do two and three thread cording as well as chainstitch and moss/chenille stitch.

       He was kind enough to send an example of Betty's work along with the machine; a patch set for the Little Counts motorcycle club. It's always amazing to see original chainstitch embroidered pieces. I can only hope that the artists who made these works were aware of the great skill they possessed.


Looking closely at this embroidery you can see the careful attention to the contour of the shapes that make up the image. I always say that each chainstitch embroider has a "hand" that is evident in their work, similar to that of a painter.

          The Cornely arrived safely from California. The seller had packed the machine carefully, going so far as to build a small wooden crate for it. I set it up and it still worked beautifully. After a couple of days I noticed something etched into the enamel...


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