Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Sewing machine meme

Sew, Mama, Sew is having sewing machine week. To kick off the fun, they have asked for answers to these questions. I think they plan to compile them into a sewing machine resource. I'm not sure how much help I will be, because I have vintage machines. I love the word "vintage". It covers so much stuff that would otherwise be defined as old, used, or ancient.

So, here are my replies.

What brand and model do you have?
I actually have 3 machines. I have a Bernina. I can't remember what model--I think it's a 1980's model. It was my mother's, and she's been gone since 1991. It may be a 1970's model. I put it in the shop a few years ago, and when they returned it, I put it away, since I had another machine. When I finally pulled it out months later, I realized that they had left out the whole bobbin mechanism. There's just a gaping hole there. I keep thinking that I'll hit ebay for the parts, but I haven't bothered.

My second machine is a Singer, ca. 1940's. It's a Featherweight and a half--or so the repairman calls it. For a number of years, it was my only working machine. I liked it just fine, it did everything I needed except backstitch and zig zag. I wasn't sewing much in those days, so it didn't really matter. I bought it at an estate sale for about $20.

The machine I'm using now is a Singer Fashion-Mate, also from the 1970's, that my MIL passed along to me when she downsized. It's my primary machine now, and it's never let me down.

How long have you had it?
Singer#1-I got it about 10 years ago.
Singer FM-about 20 years ago.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?

I think they are all too old to have value.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
These days, I'm mostly just making toys, pillowcases, a few pillows and kitchen things. I'm not making clothes anymore.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?

I probably sew less than 20 hours a month now, although that's way down from a few years ago.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?

I am ambivalent about my machines. It's what I had when I couldn't afford anything else, and now that I can afford to upgrade, I don't see much sense in it.

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
Pretty featureless.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
Not really,

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!

When I found the older Singer at an estate sale, it was tucked into a bedroom on the second floor. I carried that machine, in the cabinet, across that house, down a steep, narrow flight of stairs with rude people trying to push past me to get upstairs, and outside to the car. All by myself. I worked for that machine!!!

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Honestly, I'd have to say yes to both Singers. You can pick them up on ebay and estate sales for almost nothing. If you are just getting started, or just doing basic sewing, it's an inexpensive way to get a machine. Mine have all been extremely reliable and both make a pretty stitch.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

I honestly don't know what's available now. I just plug along with my antiques.

Do you have a dream machine?
Funny you should ask. I want a Janome sew/quilt/embroidery machine like the MC11000. I actually planned to buy this at the State Fair last fall. I saved for a year and had the money in my hot little check book. But, that was about the time the economy started getting a little shaky. I'm self-employed, my husband is semi-retired and works for me, and the truth is that I got scared. I started thinking about how much it was going to cost, and anyway, my office/sewing room is so crowded now that I don't have a place to put a large machine. In the end, I went home without it. It was a good decision. We had a few rough months, before we re-bounded with record sales this spring. So, even if I'd bought it, I wouldn't have time now to get a lot of benefit from it.

So, basically, if you want to get started and think that a machine isn't in your budget, do 2 things. First, ask around and make some phone calls to find out who can work on machines in your area. That might not be an issue in urban areas, but in rural areas, a machine repairman nearby is a very good thing. Once you've done that, start visiting estate sales or yard sales for a machine.

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