Saturday, October 31, 2009

Is Your Sewing Machine Haunted?

Here lies the body of the man who invented the sewing machine, readers. I took a tour of Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn today, and can you believe it? We came across the grave of Elias Howe, the man who (arguably) invented the sewing machine.

Though others had already come up with the idea for the sewing machine, Elias Howe was the one to make the first working model and to be awarded the first U.S. patent for the design.

Visiting Howe's grave got me thinking about death and sewing . . . specifically, about the horror-movie potential of sewing.

Sewing can be scary, no doubt. Danger lurks at every corner: fingers can be sewn clean through, rotary cutters go awry, and then there's the prospect of bound buttonholes. (Eeek!) And there's always the possibility that your sewing machine could be haunted. That's right, haunted. (Bwa ha ha!)

Apparently it's quite common for sewing machines to become possessed by spirits. Take this eBay listing for a haunted 1894 Singer, which unfortunately ended last week. (But there were no bidders, shockingly enough, so don't give up on your chance to own it!) According to the seller, the machine is haunted by the spirit of a woman named Paloma, who was killed by her abusive husband while she was sewing on the machine. If you listen closely, you'll be able to hear Paloma sobbing, or you might even see visions of her bloody head resting on the machine.

Sewing machines provide plenty of other opportunities for haunting. The internet is rife with tales of machines whirring away mysteriously . . . with not a human user in sight. And isn't this prime horror movie material? Think Stephen King's Christine, but with a possessed vintage Singer instead of a murderous car.

So, let's hear it. Anyone out there have a haunted sewing machine?

P.S. Happy Halloween! Watch out for the ghost of Elias Howe and other things that go bump in the night . . .


  1. What a timely post! The story about the haunted sewing machine might give me nightmares. Very scary!
    I don't suffer from a haunted sewing machine. Just sugar-possessed children right now...

  2. Aren't cemeteries fascinating? I hope my sewing machine is never haunted. I am the first owner, so I guess I'll be the one doing the haunting at some point!!

  3. I frequently hear loud, sustained sobbing in my sewing room. My own.

  4. I inherited all of my grandma's sewing things when she passed. I don't think my machine (also desk and utensils) are haunted in a scary way, but I do like to think part of her is still in there somewhere.

  5. I cannot believe you went to the Brooklyn cemetery without me! I'm coming back to visit again......maybe your serger will be haunted by me someday.

  6. I'm a horror screenwriter when I'm not sewing, and I love the idea of a sewing horror movie (especially because I find myself sobbing in front of the machine so much!) Unfortunately, I can't convince my husband/collaborator of the horror potential. The big challenge is that sewing machines, unlike cars, aren't mobile, so the victims would have to come to them. You'd have to have the spirit of an evil seamstress possess someone. The other big challenge would be keeping it from going campy/funny -- audiences consider female characters like librarians, seamstresses and teachers to be fussy old spinsters, and getting them past that preconception takes some work.

    Anyway, it seems to have already been done -- I spotted a horror movie called "Seamstress" in Blockbuster a few days ago. While it has a great cover -- a dirty hand with needles jutting out of the fingers -- it looks iffy. But for you, Gertie, I may watch it and report back on the spooky sewing shenanigans.

    Oh, and Molly, I also inherited my grandmother's machine, notions, fabric and buttons. It does make me feel like she's still here with me.

  7. Nope - no haunted sewing machines at our house, but there is a haunted piano in the family, complete with a friendly spirit who has the heavy smell of cigarette smoke (she was our grandmother and was never to be seen without a 'fag' (as she used to call them) in her mouth.

  8. I'm not sure one of my old machines was haunted, but the dang thing had a tendency to mess up at the most difficult times..before automatic tension, this was a nightmare, and for a long time, I always thought it was me. Once I got my first machine w/auto tension settings, it was like a miracle in the monastery!!! My sewing was immediately angelic!

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  10. When I was about 6 my mum's sewing machine used to go all by itself. I told my mum and of course she thought I was just making it up!!! Then finally one day she saw it happen too so she took it to the sewing machine person(what do you call people who fix sewing machines?) and after that no problems :)

  11. Actually, the first working sewing machine was invented in France by a tailor named Barthelemy Thimonnier, who also opened the world's 1st garment factory.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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