It’s a New Sewing Machine! Made of Dead Fish!

by Erin on June 5, 2007

german sewing machine ad

Janet (of zimmersarmy) sent me this image. Doesn't it look like this poor woman would rather be holding a dead wombat that a sewing machine? Of course, those things are heavy, and maybe the illustrator used a model who was thinking the whole time, "I don't want to drop this on my foot!" Except she was probably thinking that in German, and I'm terribly sorry, but the several years of German I was exposed to (I can't say 'took', because it obviously didn't take) did not equip me to express that in German. I'm pretty sure the words wollen and Fuss are involved. And possibly nicht. Given my track record, though, if I were to put those words together, it's more likely than not to come across as "Please, a foot I do not wish to be."

It's unfortunate that the ad makes what was probably a kick-ass machine look as if it smells awful.

Also, after resorting to a German-English dictionary, I feel ALMOST confident asserting that hausschneiderei means "home dressmakers". The translation of the rest of the ad I leave as an exercise for you, dear readers.

{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous June 5, 2007 at 10:18 am

Don’t feel bad- i just graduated from high school with four years of German class, and the closest thing i can come up with is “Ich tun nicht diese machine am meine fuss drop-pen? ” and droppen is not a word… :)


Heather Outside Boston June 5, 2007 at 10:25 am

That model hardly looks human — I wouldn’t’ve even noticed the sewing machine if you hadn’t mentioned it in the title (though once I scrolled low enough that she vanished, I suddenly noticed the PFAFF branding).


Marge, Born Too Late Vintage June 5, 2007 at 10:29 am

According to babelfish the ad says, “New momentum in tailors.”The model looks like she’s already dropped the machine on her foot and is trying not to panic as blood seeps out of her shoe.


Theresa June 5, 2007 at 10:40 am

It’s hilarious! Maybe she jsut really hates sewing and would rather hold a dead wombat! I agree with her looking not quite human. No help on the translation. I took Spanish.


zimmersarmy June 5, 2007 at 11:26 am

There is another advertisement in this same vintage (and obviously German) needle arts magazine where a small girl child is standing in front of a stern looking school master. He has what looks like a switch in his hand.Not being able to read German, it appears to me that he is about to beat her unless she starts producing well made sweaters. You can only see the back of the small lass. I imagine there is a look of horror on her face…she’s biting her lip and holding back the tears.Perhaps the Germans of that era had a love-hate relationship with sewing and knitting. Maybe before the wall came down, all women and girls were forced to create clothing.Thanks Erin-Janet


Latter-Day Flapper June 5, 2007 at 11:42 am

My friend has a Pfaff of about that vintage. She got it for $50 through a newspaper ad and it came with all the little pieces of hardware, oil dropper, extra lightbulbs, manual, etc. It has a fantastic, funky, hammered-metal-look finish (pewter colored). All metal parts, of course. It’s a work of art even if it didn’t sew beautifully.She definitely prefers it to a dead wombat.


anthrok8 June 5, 2007 at 12:07 pm

I don’t know about her facial expressions. To me it’s a cross of “evil clown” and “kommt hither! ja!”And lady must have some serious core-strength, to be able to hoist a machine like that in her dainty wristed hands!On a serious and very speculative note, I must say this ad is interesting to think about as a historical document. If it’s from the mid-50’s (it looks like that to me) or even early 60’s, it would have been published during Germany’s post-war recovery. It’s interesting to think about what kind of economic and material resources you would have to have to be able to buy a brand spanking new sewing machine AND the stuff to sew on it. England’s rationing didn’t end until well into the 1950’s, and Germany also had serious resource shortages post-war. If you could buy a machine like this, you were definately entering into a different lifestyle than the one you’d been living for the previous decade!How interesting to see that!And I am not in the least surprised to hear that someone bought a used Pfaff with all the fixins still with it… it’s a GERMAN machine, after all.


Anonymous June 5, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Aaah a Pfaff 332, a very nice old timer.How about: Es(meaning ‘it’, die Nhmaschine- the sewing machine) soll nicht auf meinen Fuss fallen. (It had better not fall on my foot)orEs soll nicht auf meine Fuesse fallen.(It had better not fall on my feet)Is there a native speaker in the house?


Anonymous June 5, 2007 at 12:21 pm

***England’s rationing didn’t end until well into the 1950’s, and Germany also had serious resource shortages post-war. If you could buy a machine like this, you were definately entering into a different lifestyle than the one you’d been living for the previous decade!***It was the Era of the Wirtschaftswunder after all, wasn’t it. Then in the 60s everything started going downhill.On the other hand, I visited Liverpool back in the ’80 and there were areas which looked like the war was just over.There are people on auction sites selling this machine as ‘industrial strength’. Don’t be fooled people, although it is a fine machine, it is a fine household machine. It will no sew through multiple layers of jeans cross seams.The later 260 will though, with the right needle and a bit slower sewing.I know this because I have a collection…shhhhhh!


enc June 5, 2007 at 1:28 pm

Call me monkey-meat, but I just can’t get past the fact that they put “Schwing” in the headline.Groan.


anthrok8 June 5, 2007 at 2:52 pm

Hey Anon from 12:21:Yeah, I commented to a friend that in the General Election in Scotland last month, Scottish people were still voting like it was 1957. His reply was, in terms of some poverty, health, and employment issues, in Scotland, it still *is* 1957. And he’s so right.Domestic Consumption as Social, Political, and Economic History! Yay!(It’s lucky they don’t make anthropology cotton prints like they seem to make typeface and font ones… I’d go broke in a week)


Riva June 5, 2007 at 7:11 pm

Ich will night dass ding auf meinem Fuss fallen lassen.Apparently. I had to ask my resident German speaker about the verb, though. I’ve only ignored two years of german, myself.Also, hi.


Riva June 5, 2007 at 7:12 pm

Only I dunno why I spelled das with two “s”s last time.


Susan June 5, 2007 at 9:35 pm

I took French. Equally useful…


Saint Pud June 5, 2007 at 10:39 pm

I gotta say, there ain’t no kinda way I could hoist my (mother’s) AWESOME — and still smokin’– 1957 Singer with such delicate poise at any point in my 46-year-long life. However, I will say that no machine, no matter how sleek and no matter how German, should be forced to claim responsibility for the awkward and bizarre neckline on that strange model’s stripey sailor top.


Myrte de Zeeuw June 6, 2007 at 4:00 am

I’m Dutch, so not so native, but very close.”Es soll nicht auf meine Fuesse fallen. Sounds good.”Riva’s “Ich will night dass ding auf meinem Fuss fallen lassen.” Does sound hilarious, but it’s a strange way of saying something quite simple. It’s like saying, I do not want this thing on my foot let fall. I’m sure they’ll understand you though!


Joni June 6, 2007 at 7:00 am

Perhaps she has a goiter. Otherwise, you’re right, there’s no excuse for that neckline.


dinazad June 6, 2007 at 7:41 am

De-lurking here to put in my two cents: I think she’s about to throw the machine at whoever gave it to her (telling her, as the headline indicates, that the new Pfaff would put more pizzazz/vim/zing into her home dressmaking). She was probably hoping for a pearl necklace or a slap-up dinner instead….Oh, and if she hoped it wouldn’t fall on her foot, she’d be thinking: “Hoffentlich faellt mir das Ding nicht auf den Fuss”…


Anonymous June 6, 2007 at 10:26 am

What’s left of my high-school German tells me that something like “home dressmakING” is closer than “home dressmakERS,” because of the -ei ending.But I wouldn’t have been able to interpret the hausscheinder- part of it. :)


jenny June 6, 2007 at 11:00 am

She’s probably thinking…Ich hoffe, da es nicht auf meinen Fu fllt!(I hope that it does not fall on my foot!)That silly German minor was good for something….


Susanne June 6, 2007 at 3:02 pm

I’d say, “Hoffentlich fllt sie mir nicht auf den Fu.” (Like Jenny said, sorry for the minor correction. And I’d say “sie” because machines are feminine in German (especially sewing machines of course)I’m struggling with “Neuer Schwung in der Hausschneiderei” too. So, dinazad was perfectly right and now I’d need a native speaker of English to tell me if pizzazz, vim or zing works better. New whatever in home dressmaking.I just had to write something since I actually am a native speaker of German…


ambika June 6, 2007 at 5:05 pm

This (and the comments) made me laugh on a very busy day. Thanks for that.


Kira June 6, 2007 at 9:40 pm

It’s Cindy Loo Who, all grown up! Who knew she’d be able to get work after posing for Chuck Jones’ “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” special. Maybe it’s an “I’m gonna be bruised tomorrow” look?THEN I wonder if that neckline was made of wool and itched! Maybe it’s a “I desperately need to scratch” look?Dinazad, Susanne, I would say zing. Vim is uncommon, and pizzazz doesn’t “sound” right. :)


Anonymous September 7, 2008 at 2:43 pm

The pfaff 332 weights 44 pounds!I think my face would be the same, if I had to lift that one for more than 5 minutes!


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