I mentioned in my last post that I was tremendously excited to have a new sewing machine on its way. It arrived Wednesday and I’ve had some time to play around with it, and I am just as delighted as I expected to be, if not more. In addition to being probably the fanciest machine I’ve worked on—my grandmother’s, used for a cumulative three days tops, may beat it—it is as quiet as a whisper to work on. Which is to say, not quite silent and probably annoying in some situations, but it doesn’t go clackety-clackety like my old one. I should probably disclaim that this post should not be construed as a particular recommendation for this machine—it should be clear that I haven’t got experience with any of the comparable machines on the market—but simply as an expression of my excitement to have a nice machine at last. Although, if this sale comes up on Woot again, I will say: it comes with a lot of parts, runs smoothly and quietly, has a good stitch selection (and automatic buttonholes!), is quite well engineered, and so on, so definitely worth the much-reduced price.
The first thing I did was demolish the packaging, set up the machine, and try out a bunch of the stitches. In addition to the utility and decorative stitches, it has a monogramming font, which took me a few tries to figure out how to use (turns out you need to program your sequence ahead of time, not pick letters on the fly). The buttonholing feature works perfectly, although the buttonholes (automatically sized to a button placed in the back of the special foot! so clever!) are a wee bit looser than I would make by hand, so I may adjust the size down a notch in future.
Yesterday I made my first project using the machine—although most of the stitching was by necessity done by hand. The coin pocket on my wallet has been wearing out, so I decided to replace it with a double-layer of a slightly sturdier cotton fabric. One of my concerns from playing around with the machine was that the presser foot and feed dog were too good at holding the fabric, making it difficult to follow tight curves, so I decided to outline some of the patterns on my fabric with the machine, to see how well it did in a low-stakes context. The stitching will help stop rips in the fabric, so it wouldn’t have been wasted effort even if the decorative effect had failed. And, fortunately, it worked just fine; I had to go slow and had to pick up the presser foot after every few stitches on the tightest curve, but could follow the lines quite accurately. That done, I wandered back to the couch and attached the fabric by hand—it would take quite a machine indeed to blanket-stitch through the holes I already established in the vinyl, and I didn’t want to detach the zipper and reattach it by hand just so I could sew the cloth and zipper together by machine. At any rate I am quite pleased with the new coin pocket and expect to get another few years’ use out of the wallet.
Just for sentimental reasons I took photos of my other two machines and intend to talk a little about them. First up is Bug, the first machine I owned (although for most of high school I basically owned my mom’s machine, a table-mounted Singer, by squatter’s rights), which I bought for a grand total of $40 from Target. It has one stitch, straight, and three discrete speeds, all of which are fast. I kinda adore this machine—its exploits include sewing through seven layers of heavy denim to make hakama for a friend, and crossing campus in my backpack only to sew paint-spattered canvas in a dingy basement for decorations for a carnival booth. It’s still going strong, too—I recently used it for my canvas grocery bags, which involved many layers of canvas in attaching the handles. On the other hand, it is loud, has the jankiest tension mechanism ever and a broken spool pin, and as previously mentioned has only the one stitch.
My other machine is the serger, which for some reason mostly inspires vague feelings of guilt. It was a gift from my then-boyfriend’s mother, who had had it gathering dust for many years and was happy to get rid of it. I think I feel badly because it was once quite a nice machine, and I have a lot of hangups about Properly Appreciating Gifts, but by the time I got it it was rather out of repair, and between my preference for hand-sewing and my preference for non-stretch fabrics, it has not seen much use at all and doesn’t even have a name.
Anyway, watch this space for new machine-based sewing exploits; I intend for one of my remaining Five Blouses to be my real getting-to-know-you project for the machine.