You may or may not remember, that would depend on how long you have hung in with me on this blog, that last spring my husband and I put together a vintage Bernina Sport from parts on eBay. We got a good body and power cord from one seller and collected an extension table, feet, and bobbins from others.
I think the whole project cost us about $450.
We cleaned, downloaded manuals, and oiled and greased it.
Of course in my too-busy life at home I didn't have much of a chance to get to know this machine after all that trouble so I brought it down here to do just that.
Currently I am working on a very successful sheath dress from a new pattern (more on that later) and having a wonderful time with this machine.
This experience happens to coincide with some email traffic about new machines from several dealers.
I have enormous respect for the hard work it takes to be a sewing machine dealer these days. They are caught between far too many large companies who pressure them non-stop to sell machines like it was 1960 and every woman is spending happy afternoons set up over the beige broadloom and sewing away making everyone's clothes, and the present.
Modern women should be so lucky.
Anyway the thing about sewing on this old Bernina is how great it feels.
I don't care what you tell me about your new $12,000 top of the line but it has to feel right under my hands.
This machine does. The stitch is perfect and I can feel all those metal parts working away without a snag.
It feels like a well-oiled machine. Because that's exactly what it is. It cruises over those lumps and layers without an hesitation. I hold my breath when I am about to sew over a definite juncture, and I can let my breath out.
This is the way it is supposed to feel.
Now I have a couple of very good machines at home, including a former top of the line that does embroidery. It didn't get to go on vacation.
The sewing machine industry is in a dilemma.
An economic crisis.
With so many fewer hall closets these days hiding a necessary sewing machine somewhere under the tails of coats and the boots, the only way the companies can survive with so many fewer units sold is to amp up the price of the machines they do sell. And also there has to be a new and better model every few years. So suddenly we have machines with computers in them that can digitize, maximize, minimize, flip, reverse, mirror and advise on screen.
Machines that cost more than a second hand car and are about the size of the bathtub in a cheap hotel.
There are two problems with this approach:
1. The buttonholes are still often suspect.
2. You don't need any of this to actually sew clothes.
This whole new machine culture is starting to offer machines that, I hate to be really rude here, but they look like a bunch of guys designed them.
You know exactly what I mean.
You know when that male in your life, any age will do here, shows you something complicated, mechanical or electronic, but most of all new, and therefore apparently improved, and you are real patient and then you say "well when would you exactly use that?" and they look at you like you just told them there was no Santa Claus. Or Easter Bunny. Or no snow day and school is cancelled.
Well that is the mind I see behind so many of these new machines.
Here's an idea.
If I were to buy a new machine this is what I would want to hear:
This machine is the most carefully manufactured machine we have ever made. The stitch is impeccable, the buttonholes are the most beautiful anywhere. No one else has a machine of this quality. No where near.
Let me know if you hear anything like that.
On a less serious note I have three unique pieces of intelligence to share with you tonight:
1. If you leave the back door open in the evening in Florida, well, when you wake up there might be an extremely large toad in the middle of the living room floor. Extremely.
2. If you are making a dress and you are in a sewing frenzy and try it on and decide you need to move the darts down half and inch and you do that. Well when that dress is all sewn up and this time you try it on with a bra on, or at least a good one, well you are going to have to cross out those new markings you put on the pattern, because those darts need to be moved up half an inch.
3. And if you make tailor tacks, I do, and get fed up with ripping the paper over the markings, just make a puncture hole in the pattern where you are going to want to make that tailor tack. A golf tee works great if your pattern is lying on beige broadloom.
This is the life.