Sunday, June 03, 2007

Ode to My Sewing Machines

Vicki Welch at Field Trips in Fiber recently did an Ode to her Sewing Machines and asked the rest of us to also post such an Ode, so here it goes ...

Great Gramma had an old treadle Singer Sewing Machine in a beautiful wooden table (not quite the one pictured above). It was in the house for a while--My mom had a thing for antiques, but the old farm house was perpetually under some remodeling project or another, and it eventually moved out. For years, the old Singer gathered dust in the granery on the old farm. As kids, my brother and I played around it, working the treadle, watching the gears turn, the magic of the machine rising out of the table ... After many years, my dad tore down the machine shed, and the old Singer disappeared. I would love to have that old machine now!

My first sewing machine was a Singer Genie, handed down to me by a teenage Aunt who never took well to sewing.

I was in first grade (I think). I remember being in 4-H, going to Mrs. Borneman's house for sewing lessons. I was working on a little orange sun dress with a yellow jacket. I finished it well enough to wear it to school once or twice. I remember I did a lot of seam ripping on that project! It was hard to sew a straight line in those early days! I think this machine was handed down to my younger cousin Ashleigh, and moved to Idaho ... This was the starter sewing machine in our family.

Later, Gramma Pickles bought me a White, because I "needed something dependable" when I started a small dress-making business.

The first week I had it, I broke something while winding a bobbin. When I took it in to be fixed, Hans (of Hans Sewing Center in Madison, WI) told me in a thick accent, "I've never seen a machine so cheaply put together!" Apparently, all the parts are plastic inside ... To his credit, he didn't try to sell me an expensive Bernina then. So I made a few more dresses on it (including 5 wedding dresses, got through graduate school, and got a real job. When I could afford it, I traded the White in for a workhorse of a machine with all metal parts :

Riccar 1570

This Riccar is a good, solid machine. I made several medieval SCA dresses and my sister's wedding dress on it. I also learned to quilt on this machine--including free motion quilting and embroidery. It's still the machine I take to sewing classes because it's is so darn dependable!

In 2003, my Mom and Aunt Rosita discovered quilting due in part to the excellent quilt shop in Antigo, WI : The Cutting Edge Quilt Shop is owned by Marla Arndt, a Viking dealer. My mom and Rosita both bought one (and then a few more ...) At one point, they told me, "Marla has just the machine for you : a used Viking Rose. It's got lots of stitches and embroidery machine capabilities." Embroidery was important to them, not me. I had learned free-motion embroidery and quilting on the no-frills Riccar. Why did I need some expensive machine?

But the spell of all those fancy stitches got to me -- I wanted to do some crazy quilting (and not by hand!) I finally bought the used Viking Rose :

It is now my primary sewing machine. I've been very happy with it. Though in the beginning, I remember being very frustrated with it. I lived too far from the shop to get the New Owner Lessons, so most of my learning was trial and error on my own. Now we have a pretty good relationship. I know it well enough to make it do what I need it to do ...

Last year, my mom upgraded to a Designer SE, the current top-of-the-line machine from Viking. Since she would only get $1000 on the trade-in for her Designer I, she offered me a deal I couldn't refuse. I now own a used Viking Husqvarna Designer I. I haven't taken it out of the case yet ... I'm going to a quilt retreat this fall. That might be a good time to get used to using it--Ma, Rosita, and Marla will be there to help me with any problems in getting to know it.

My husband laughs and says these fancy machines are so smart that we only need to turn it on, throw the material into the room with it and shut the door. In a few hours, the quilt is finished with no other intervention from us. Well--it's not quite that easy ...

In March, I won a new Viking Platinum 715 at the FVTC Sewing Expo :

So far I've been to Sew 'N Sew in Appleton for 1 round of lessons. I plan to finish the lessons this summer to get more familiar with Vikings in general, then I'll give it to my mom for Christmas. She's been saying she wants a 2nd machine to do straight piecing and quilting while the fancy machine is set up with embroidery.

I would like to have a 2nd machine set up for free-motion with the fabric mover. Now I just need a larger space. My sewing room at present is so packed with STUFF, there really is no place to go ... Ah, someday ...

1 comment:

Vicki W said...

It was fun reading about your sewing machine history. I love that Genie - I bet it still runs! I've never used a Viking Rose but everyone I know that's had one has adored it. It's awfully hard to give up a good machine for something new!