Saturday, April 30, 2011

What do you think?

I attended an antique automobile swap meet with my husband today (payback for making him go to the button show, I guess) and we came across these:

antique sewing machine tractors

They're tractors made from old sewing machines. Maybe you've seen them before.

Making something new out of something old is quite popular right now, and while I agree 100% with the sentiment, sometimes I just have a hard time with it in practice. I mean... I like tractors as much as the next Iowan... but did this really improve the sewing machines? Did it make them more useful? I get that there are millions of these old machines lying around in people's garages and attics... so maybe it's all good. But is there a line that's being crossed here? It's one thing to make jewelry out of old buttons, to repaint old worn out furniture to fit a more modern style or to use vintage postcards and ephemra in artwork... But retrofit a beautiful sewing machine to be a cutesy tractor? To me, this is akin to making a lamp out of a clarinet... or flipping an old schoolhouse bell upside down and using it as a planter. On one hand, I see these things and think, wow, that is fun and clever - maybe even ingenius... but on the other hand... I'm just not not sure if I'm quite comfortable with it. [Full disclosure: I realize this may have something to do with my museum/preservation background]

I have mixed feelings about this. I'd love to hear what you all think about this trend! (not just the tractors, but the repurposing of old stuff in general... is is possible to go too far? Is there a right way, or is it all about personal preference? No judging here... all opinions are welcome!!)

Update: Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I have decided that it all comes down to preference, and any creation that keeps an old piece out of a landfill is a good idea to me! :) [and yes, I agree that the tractors are kinda cute] Also, see my note to Sarah in the comments!


  1. Well it maybe that I'm a tractor lover but, I think it is too cute, and kind of want to get one for my dad just b/c I know he would love it too, and knowing it used to be a sewing machine would make him think of me :)
    And, that is alright with me considering he lives two states over.

  2. Hi! Love your Blog!
    My mother is an antique dealer and I have been raised around antiques and collectible all y life. I have a great flair for the Old as well as the repurposed. I create a repurposed T-shirt bag as well as look for cool crafty ways to repurpose things all the time. Also I love love love to sew. So....I am taking in consideration I grew up in an urban environment and have never ridden a tractor. I do think it might be really cool. Honestly I think the tractor sewing machine is in bad taste. Like yourself, there are women who do probably come to events like this who sew. I still have to battle with my inner repurposer and say. Another ones trash is another treasure.
    Thanks so much!

  3. My dad would have thought this was brilliant. He loved tractors!

  4. I do think this is rather strange. I wouldn't have expected a sewing machine engine to be powerful enough to work for a tractor. It does feel kind of wrong somehow, but then maybe I'm biased, if they were making sewing machines out of derelict tractors I'd probably think it was a great idea

  5. They're definitely cute & quirky! For some reason, though, it makes me a little sad to see a working sewing machine lose it's primary function. When I refurbish things I try to maintain the item's original identity. It feels kind of wrong otherwise... Like you said, I guess it all comes down to personal preference :)

  6. Sarah... you took the words right out of my mouth!! I think my issue has everything to do with losing the primary function... It seems ok for simple, common things but the sewing machines feel like they're crossing the line a little bit. Thanks for the note!


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