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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Sewing machines : a love story

Before I get going this morning I want to thank you for your comments on nightwear. I can feel a theme warming up here. It's what you wear for yourself, when no one is looking, that really counts, shows your self-care or respect or whatever you want to call it. I think all women need to pay attention to that.

Now moving on to my love story.

The relationship of a sewer to her machine is a profound one. Machines have distinct personalities. You know this is true. Some just seem like arranged marriages and some, well you are just close. Finding a machine that you can feel like this about takes a lot of work.

I have seen sewers spend thousands and thousands on a new machine and pull out the old unit because they feel more comfortable with it. I have a number of machines, including a Pfaff 7570 with dual feed, and my daughter still prefers to sew on the $20 Elna that came from a church rummage sale. 

She says it feels more comfortable to work with.

I have sewing machine opinions. 

Once, about 20 years ago, I did some part-time educator work for Pfaff, then also Viking/Husqvarna then Singer when all those corporate relationships kept changing. I made friends with the Pfaff technician who had trained in the factory in Germany. He was really funny and sometimes he even let me assist him at technical training sessions for dealers. I was pretty incompetent at that but I learned a few things.

I will probably share some of that over the next few days. In the meantime want to share my pictures of my Bernina 801 which, due to the randomness of eBay, now has an original extension table.

My tech friend told me once that the older Berninas had a wonderful hook and a stitch and I have always wanted to try it. I think I know enough to look inside a machine and see if it is bashed up, and I was happy with this one, which, once I had assembled all missing parts costs, about $360 all up. Far less than you will pay for these machines or similar.

Last night I fired her up and got to work on a shirt I wanted to make due to my current interest in making more for my ordinary life.

Here I am on the tiny table we have in this house. Nice machine extension table isn't it? Arrived yesterday.
The collar stitches. The machine went through this like butter and I was beside myself. Definitely the best stitch quality I have ever seen. 
I think I am going to do a Q and A on machines over the next day or two. 

Any questions you have? This is one of my favourite topics.


Nancy said...

I have a Pratt 7550 that I love except for the ugly buttonholes it creates. I'm looking for a solution for making beautiful buttonholes. Any thoughts?

annie said...

Me too. I bought my Viking on the recommendation of a well-known sewing expert. She said (and demonstrated) that Vikings make the best buttonholes. Mine does not.

Anonymous said...

From another Barbara: I have an old Bernina 930 that I would never trade for anything newer. It sews chiffon and upholstery fabric with equal aplomb. I use an equally old Greist buttonhole attachment on it, which works fine for lighter fabrics, but is very unpredictable for heavier ones.

Kuby said...

Boy, the title of this hits me in so any ways II bonded with my Singer Futura so many years ago and am still addicted to the older Singer machines. 400 and 500 series. I have a top of the line 1630. which was my first bernina. I love this machine. I also have kept so many of my machines. Great post!

theresa said...

My Bernina 930 was built in 1985 and I bought her on ebay based on what Claire Kennedy said about the 930s on her blog. Beautiful machine and she has become the everyday machine because she has zigzag, five needle positions, buttonholes and lots of feet that I just don't have on my trusty old black Singer machines. But when I really want accuracy and beautiful straight stitching I still go back to the Singers.

Anne Frances said...

I sewed on a Bernina 801 from 1974 to 2006. Amongst countless other things I made two daughters' wedding dresses on it. Middle daughter has it now, and if she no longer wants it I shall make sure I claim it back. I agree that the stitch quality is excellent, though I could never get it to make a decent buttonhole. Maybe I should have tried a Greist on it. I do like the IDT on the Pfaff and the better buttonholes. But those machines are wonderfully solid and easy to use. Enjoy yours!