Li Hong lives in Dalian City, northeast China's Liaoning Province. The 67-year-old retiree has a happy family with a 70-year-old member, an old sewing machine.
It is like an "antique." The patterns on the machine have faded with age. When the economy was far less developed in Li's childhood, the sewing machine was a valuable item. Li grew up in a poor family with many children. His mother worked in a factory at day, and at another job with needlework at night. The machine cost a year's savings for the family.
With the help of the sewing machine, Li's family weathered the tough times. His mother made lots of clothes for relatives and friends for a small amount of money. After Li got married in 1980, his wife gradually took over to make clothing for the family.
His wife is frugal, too, having made most of the fabrics in the house. Combining the machine with her ingenuity, she can turn the beautiful cloth into fabulous dresses that add bright colors to a simple life.
"People's clothes used to be monotonous with a single color of black, white or grey. They wore the same styles. Patterns with bright colors were rarely seen. We lived near a printing and dyeing mill. They sold leftover cloths at a low price. I bought them to make clothes for my daughter. She looked gorgeous in them. People envied her so much," Li's wife recalls.
With the economy booming after the reform and opening-up, beautiful clothes are available everywhere. Li's family don't have to sew for money anymore. With better living conditions, however, they have adhered to a simple lifestyle. Sometimes they use the sewing machine to mend damaged clothes. Sewing has become a kind of entertainment for them.
The sewing machine has become an "heirloom." Yet Li's daughter wants to learn sewing from her mother. As a token for the family's frugality, the machine has witnessed changes of the times. Li's daughter hopes to pass on the craft and spirit with this old machine.
For Li and his family, this sewing machine is not obsolete at all. It is more than an old item in the house, a wordless witness of history. With 70 years of beautiful memories, it sews and records happiness of the old times.