When I was growing up, it seemed that grandmothers had dust covers for everything from toasters to typewriters. Each appliance had its own flowery, custom-fit quilted cover. It also seemed to me that women in my mother's generation scoffed at such things -- dust covers were in the same category as doilies: who needed all that silly frippery? Just more stuff to clean, and besides, those covers never matched the decor.
And then, last week, the City of New York tore up the street outside my apartment building.
Signs along the street announced that no parking was allowed over night (holy smoke, where was I going to park??). And at about 10:00 p.m. this huge piece of machinery appeared. It went along the street tearing off the surface with big chomping teeth, then the broken pavement landed on a conveyor belt and was deposited in a dump truck driving along with the machine. The pavement will be pulverized and re-used. Ingenious, and not as noisy as you might think.
But oh, the dust!
Within moments, despite the closed windows, every surface in the house became dusted with fine, black grit. The grit continued to fall all through the next day. And even now, more than a week later, with the street remaining unsurfaced, every car that drives past raises a cloud of dust which ends up on everything in the house.
As I wipe away the dust again and again I wonder how much is getting into the mechanisms of the various machines I depend on. Suddenly, dust covers seem very practical. Not having any, I've been covering things like my sewing machines and my electric piano keyboard with towels.
It has made me think about my grandmothers and their dust covers in a totally different light. Living on a farm, where there was plowing and weeding and animals in earthen barnyards, not to mention pollen and even perhaps aerial spraying, I begin to understand just how much dust they (and anyone who lives on a farm today) had to contend with all the time.
Suddenly dust covers don't seem silly at all.
So here's an idea: the next time you have some pre-quilted fabric (like the extra you trim from the edge of a quilt you got back from the quilter, or the extra quilt sandwich you use to test thread colors and tension on a quilt you are quilting yourself, or a few extra Free-Motion Mastery in a Month practice blocks), save it, put it together with quilt-as-you-go joining strips, and use it to make dust covers for the important machines in your life. Think of it like making a quilt for your sewing machine or your computer. After all, aren't they in their way, your friends, your companions in creation? Don't some us even name them? So, along with making quilts for family and friends, let's make quilts for our machine friends to help keep them clean, warm and healthy.
Here's a YouTube video by Debbie Shore about making a dust cover for a sewing machine. (I'll post instructions of my own when I have them.)
I'll post a picture of dust covers when I get them made, right after I finish dusting -- again.
Happy quilting! ~ RaNae
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