From My Carolina Home

Quilting, cooking, reading books, gardening, crafting, sewing, photography and more


NC Lighthouses

We have returned home from a wonderful week of vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.  DH and I spent the entire week working our way from Currituck to Wilmington.  Now, I know there are not many things more boring than other peoples vacation photos, and I promise not to bore you with the over 250 pictures I took in seven days.  I do want to share some interesting things about our trip, and the Lighthouses are at the top of the list. Although it was raining the day we set out, we didn’t let that stop us. We started out on the north end of the barrier islands in Corolla at the Currituck Lighthouse.

Currituck Lighthouse 3

It was here that we discovered that the painting of the lighthouses are all unique, each one different, so they can be identified from the ocean during daylight hours. Currituck was the last one constructed, so it was left unpainted. It is easier to see all the brickwork on this one.

Currituck Lighthouse 1

On the inside, a spiral staircase runs up the sides, with landings every so often for a little rest.

Currituck Lighthouse 5

The lower landings have history lessons to read while resting.  We learned that the night time flashing pattern was unique to each lighthouse, Currituck is 3 seconds on and 17 seconds off.  This was so mariners could tell exactly where they were when approaching the NC coast in darkness.  That was a new fact for me, I thought they all just flashed lights in no particular pattern.

Currituck Lighthouse 11

Halfway up the 220 steps, the view is already lovely, even in the rain.

Currituck Lighthouse 12

Gorgeous views all around from the top observation balcony.

Currituck Lighthouse 15

DH was really interested in the Fresnel lens which was fully restored. Unfortunately, they didn’t let us get to the lens room.

Currituck Lighthouse 19

From there we took a drive down the barrier islands, hoping to see the Bodie Island lighthouse next. But, alas, it wasn’t open.  The horizontal stripes identify it during the day.

Bodie Island Lighthouse

Then it was on to Cape Hatteras the next day with its distinctive spiral pattern.

Hatteras Lighthouse 1

We were surprised to learn that the lighthouse had been moved in 1999 due to the erosion of the land. The story of that is fascinating, and you can read the entire thing at Moving the Cape Hattaras Lighthouse. The same spiral staircase was here too, with 257 steps to the top of the tallest lighthouse in the US, at 208 feet tall.

Hatteras Lighthouse 3

Stunning views here too.

Hatteras Lighthouse 5

Modern lights allow the beams to reach 20 miles off the coast.

Hatteras Lighthouse 14

We then got on our first ferry ride for the day, a one-hour cruise to Ocracoke Island.

Neuse Ferry 1

This was so much fun! Watching the other boats come and go around us while we motored over.

Neuse Ferry 5

Neuse Ferry 7

We couldn’t get to the Ocracoke Island lighthouse because of road construction. We were wary that we couldn’t get in and back out again in time for our scheduled ferry crossing to Cedar Island and we were booked on the last one of the day. That was OK, visitors aren’t allowed inside this lighthouse right now, so we piddled around in the museums until time for the ferry crossing. This ferry was twice the size of the other one, and we had a 2 hour and 15 minute crossing time.

Cedar Island Ferry 4

Cedar Island Ferry 3

I watched the sea, and the birds for a while, then read a book while we were out of land sight. I did manage to get a pic of the Ocracoke lighthouse from the ferry.  Its daytime paint is solid white.

Cedar Island Ferry Ocrakoke Lighthouse

Although I really dislike souvenirs in general, we did get two coasters to commemorate the two lighthouses we really did climb.  Since they are North Carolina landmarks, I think they go well in our home.

Lighthouse coasters

Have you ever been to a lighthouse?


Spring Break Link Party



Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!  This is my favorite holiday of the year.  I always wake up with much anticipation for the day.  After making a pot of Thanksgiving Blend coffee from Starbucks, I’ll enjoy it while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I have been spending the holiday morning doing this for many years.  Seeing Tom Turkey kick off the parade is exciting every year!

TomTurkey©Macy’s, Inc

Did you know that they use the same floats year after year as well as balloons?  Each year, some are the same, and some are reworked into something new.  I think my favorite float would have to be the Marion-Carole Showboat float which has been in the parade more than 35 years.  It is one of the few times I have seen my name on something spelled with the E!  Usually the performer on that float is one I like to see.  The Big Apple float is also a favorite.

MarionCarole  BigApple

©Macy’s, Inc

Sometimes the balloons get a change of clothes.  In 1946 Harold was a baseball player, and had a role in the 1947 release of Miracle on 34th Street.  At another time, the same balloon was a Harold the Fireman.  The Macy’s Parade website says this was 1948.  But, the same site says the baseball player was 1949, when we know it was 1946 because of the movie.

HaroldBallplayer  HaroldFireman

©Macy’s, Inc

The scenes of the parade in the movie were made in 1946, the year before it was released, with the actual parade seen through the window!  They had to time the scene to correspond with the appearance of the baseball player to match the script.  Plus, all the parade scenes had to be shot that morning, as doing them over wasn’t possible.

Natalie-Wood-and-John-Payne-watching-parade©Twentieth Century Fox

Edmund Gwenn was really Santa Claus in 1946 so the scenes could be shot with him in them.  I love this version of Miracle on 34th Street, and I’ll watch it sometime this weekend.  None of the remakes have even come close.

EdmundGwynn©Macy’s, Inc

Santa©Twentieth Century Fox

 Snoopy is a classic too.

snoopy ©Macy’s, Inc

 They even have floats perfect for foodies!  The one on the left is by Lindt called The Enchanting World of Chocolate.  And on the right is Domino Sugar’s Stirrin’ Up Sweet Sensations.

WorldChocolate  Sugar

©Macy’s, Inc

And more floats!!

Celebearation CentralPark

Sesame 83rd Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade

 ©Macy’s, Inc

A couple of years ago I started a Pinterest board to save pictures of the iconic parade – Thanksgiving Parade!!  I wish I could share more of them on the blog, but you’ll just have to go to the link to see them.  There are images pinned from before WWII, modern images, and even some from Miracle on 34th Street.   Images I have used here are from the Macy’s media release, and are used with permission.

The holidays are now officially on, so I wish you all a very merry season!



History of the Sewing Machine

I first started researching sewing machines a few years ago when I was lucky enough to find a vibrating shuttle machine with the branding of R.H. Macy.  I wondered who made it for them, and began to dig.

Macy machine

This portable electrified vibrating shuttle machine was probably made around 1880.  Beginning in the 1800s, several manufacturers including White, Singer, Domestic and others manufactured machines for department stores with the store’s branding.  Today, it is very difficult to determine a particular machine’s provenance if it is a store branded machine.  Store branded machines made after World War II are mostly of Japanese manufacture.

Many people believe that Singer invented the sewing machine, but he didn’t.  The actual history is an amazing story of espionage and stolen ideas, worthy of a blockbuster film.  In much the same way as our modern day Steve Jobs and Bill Gates had the war between Apple and Microsoft, in the 1800s there were Elias Howe and Isaac Singer.

The first documented sewing machine was made and patented in 1804 in France, but never made it off the ground.  A German invention was patented in 1810, but didn’t function well and was abandoned.  In 1830, a French tailor named Barthelemy Thimonnier patented a chain stitch machine using only one thread.  His clothing factory was burned by rival tailors who feared the invention of the machine would put them out of work.

In 1834, Walter Hunt made the first sewing machine in America that actually worked well.   He abandoned his invention because he believed it could cost jobs.   He did not get a patent, which would prove to be a determining factor in a later patent fight.

The first American patent for a sewing machine was granted to Elias Howe in 1846.  His design used a two-thread system.   It used an oscillating shuttle to create the lockstitch.   In the 1850s, Isaac Singer designed a sewing machine and began production using the same lockstitch mechanism that Howe had patented.  Thus began the patent wars, ending with a victory by Howe in 1854, largely due to Hunt not patenting his machine.  Singer was forced to pay royalties to Howe, dramatically increasing Howe’s income to more than $200,000 a year, a real fortune in those days.  Howe died in 1867, the same year his patent expired.

In 1850, inventor Allen Wilson invented the vibrating shuttle bobbin.  He was immediately sued by the owners of another shuttle patent that had been granted in 1848.  Rather than fight, Wilson agreed to sign over half interest in the shuttle.   He then began work on a rotary hook design that endures to this day.  The Wheeler and Wilson sewing machines were in peak production in the 1850s and 1860s.  They were the leading producer of sewing machines at the time.  Wilson was also the inventor of the feed dog mechanism and spring presser foot, both still in use today as well.

During the 1850s, so many sewing machine manufacturers were created that the owners of the patents were constantly suing other manufacturers to maintain their patents.  This is known as the Sewing Machine Wars.   In 1856, four manufacturers created The Sewing Machine Combination to pool their patents and force other manufacturers to obtain a license to manufacture sewing machines.  These manufacturers were Wheeler & Wilson, Grover & Baker, Howe and Singer.  They were not cooperative with each other, however, competing with each other to grant the licenses for their own designs.


Goodspeed and Wyman was a sewing machine manufacturer in Massachusetts, which marketed single thread sewing machines under the name of Bartlett Sewing Machines.  The faceplate above is difficult to see, but has the name Goodspeed and Wyman, along with several patent dates ending in 1860, and the names Howe, Grover, Wilson and Singer Co visible.  This would seem to indicate that the license fee was paid to the Combination.  In 1866, a new patent was granted to Goodspeed and Wyman, but this patent number does not appear on this machine, indicating it was made prior to 1866.

In the 1870s when all the patents expired, The White Sewing Machine Company began to market its premier product, the Vibrating Shuttle Machine.   After that model, the company began to produce a rotary hook model.  At the same time, Singer began production of its vibrating shuttle models and became the leading manufacturer of sewing machines.  Singer was the first to offer an installment payment plan, as machines were very expensive relative to the average salary of the day.

Singer treadle

This Singer machine was originally a treadle machine and was converted to electric later by the addition of a power supply.  It is a rotary hook machine.  The serial number dates it to 1925.  Of the domestic makers, only Singer kept meticulous records of its own machines.  No matter how old your Singer is, anyone can discover the date his or her Singer machine was made and where it was made by the serial number.

This Featherweight has a beautiful scrolled faceplate.  It was made in 1941 in Elizabethport, NJ.


Singer was not the hard working inventor that the company wants us to believe.  Far from it, he was a shameless self-promoter, would-be actor and womanizer fathering 24 children with many different women.  At his death, his multi-million dollar estate including a castle in England was divided between the 24 children and three of their mothers.  Singer dominated the global sewing machine market until the 1960s.  Severe competition over the next three decades forced the Singer Company into bankruptcy in 1999.

In 1873, Helen Augusta Blanchard of Portland, Maine patented the first sewing machine to have a zigzag stitch.  The zigzag machine was in use in Europe for years, but in America only the commercial machines had this feature.  The innovation didn’t come into widespread manufacture for the home sewing market in the U.S. until the 1950s.

In 1893, Karl Friedrich Gegauf invented a hemstitch machine in Switzerland for the manufacturer Bernina.  They entered the home sewing market in the 1920s, but didn’t become a major force in exporting to the United States until 1988.  Bernina introduced the first portable zigzag sewing machine to the world in 1945.  Bernina is also responsible for introducing the computerized machine in 1988.  The company has been an innovative leader in sewing machine development.

The Japanese entered the sewing machine manufacturing arena in 1908 with the Brother Sewing Machine Company, the first to mass-produce sewing machines.  In the 1920s, the Japanese company The Pine Sewing Machine Company was founded.  The name was chosen to be palatable to the American market.  The name was changed to Janome in 1954.  Janome is a Japanese word meaning ‘eye of the snake’, so named because the round bobbin reminded the workers of a snake’s eye.  In 1960, Janome purchased the New England based New Home sewing machine company, which had been in business for over 90 years. In 1990, Janome introduced the Memory Craft 8000 to the world market, which combined sewing and embroidery capabilities. Janome became a leading innovator in the modern computerized machines we use today.

Singer treadle2

Do you have an older machine?  Learn how to care for it with my post on Cleaning and Caring for an Older Sewing Machine.