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August 7, 2008

Sewing Machines and Memory Lane

I'm thinking about a new sewing machine, have been for most of this year. Today I got to thinking about the sewing machines I've had and all the pleasure they've given. My very first machine work was done in high school Home Economics, I think they were Singer, probably so in the 1965-69 era. They were all in cabinets and rather than a foot pedal they had a knee operated lever.

In 1967 a neighbor sold me her mechanical New Home portable for $25.00. I immediately began making most of my school clothes and things for my little sister. I used that machine steadily until the early 80's. I got a $400.00 bonus at work and treated myself to a new New Home. Hokey Smokes it even had a zig zag stitch! I literally wore that machine out, it got to the point where sewing was just a swear fest and not much more. At the time there was an ad on TV where someone was so mad they started throwing their furniture out the window. I envisioned doing that with my poor worn out machine so many times...

I started paying attention to the televised sewing shows. They all had a different sewing machine so I made a list of every single feature I liked, and started saving my moolah. Once a month when I went to Portland for supplies for my salon I'd spend an hour or more at Montavilla Sewing Center and poor luckless Brent would walk me through another brand of sewing machine. I test drove every top of the line machine there is I think. I'd take my own fabric scraps to sew on and test techniques on...ever notice all the shops offer you stiff fabric to run under the presser foot? Of course it shows the stitches off to perfection but I don't sew with stiff fabric, hence my own samples.

And so it went for about 6 months. I'd pretty much decided on the Janome (they bought out the New Home brand) MemoryCraft 9000 by then but I was still saving my pennies. One day during a terrible wind storm I came as close as you can to being crushed by a falling fir tree and live to tell the tale. I was kind of shocky for a couple of days, and I decided life is short and then you die and I went to Portland and bought my machine.

Oh the bliss. I must have sewed a million miles on my MC9000 by now, it has been good and faithful, but the day has come when it doesn't do what I need a sewing machine to do. It has a very small harp area (the space between the needle works and the post on the right) which makes machine quilting very laborious. So I'm once again in the market for a new machine. Will it be a Janome/New Home? Probably...

Oddly enough I also got both my black and celery Featherweights at Montavilla, very reasonably. They'd been traded in...someone, like me, looking to upgrade. And back to that knee operated lever in home ec, when the sewing machine world was all agog about the invention of the knee lever needle lift mechanism I found old habits die hard. My MC9000 came with one, and try as I might I could not retrain my mind to knee lever=needle lift. My brain said knee lever=go faster. And nothing would happen. I finally decided it was a pat head/rub tummy thing and just put it away for good.

Big blessings this week!
The kindness of strangers and the Marriott
Our new well filter is $75.00 rather than the $1500.00 we expected
Fun progress on my September secret
A mistake in my checking account math in my favor, goodie goodie gum drops~

1 comment:

JJ ColourArt said...

Oh man, I got an old lunky Singer from my Mom and Dad for my 21st birthday and ran it into the ground for 15 years. When I had to stop hand quilting due to carpal tunnel and tendinitis, I had to get a new machine that could handle machine quilting.

I too spent 6 months going into sewing centres and trying out machines. I couldn't afford a "de rigeur" Bernina, but I found one store in Toronto with a chap who bargained with me on the price and I got a Pfaff with all the fancy stitches and even feed foot and the ability to drop the feed dogs.

I burnt out the circuit board on it in ten years, but had it repaired and I'm still running it like mad 17 years later.

When you buy a sewing machine it is a big event in your life and something to be celebrated!!!