Old hand machine

"Shama spent hours in the back verandah sewing clothes on an old hand machine which, mysteriously, was hers, how or since when no one knew. The broken wooden handle was swathed in red cotton and looked as though it had bled profusely from a deep wound; the chest, waist, rump and hind quarters of the animal-like machine, and its wooden stall, were black with oil and smelled of oil; and it was a wonder that cloth emerged clean and unmangled from the clanking, champing and chattering which Shama called forth from the creature by the touch of a finger on its bloody bandaged tail. The back verandah smelled of machine oil and new cloth and became dangerous with pins on the floor and pins between floorboards. Anand marvelled at the delight of his sisters in the tedious operations, and marvelled at their ability to put on dresses bristling with pins and not be pricked. Shama made him two shirts with long tails, the fashion among the boys at school (even exhibition pupils have their unscholarly moments) being for billowing shirts, barley tucked into the trousers.

But none of the clothes Shama made then were worn at Hanuman House." (385)

Naipaul, V.S. A House for Mr Biswas. Middlesex: Penguin Books, Ltd. 1976 [1961]

Sewing in Trinidad in the 1940s.