Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Always Name Your Machine

I have had several sewing machines in my life. The first machine I used was my mother's, and it had been passed to her from someone before. We weren't allowed to use her machine but I honestly preferred the old black machine with its gold scrollwork and sense of history. If a belt came off, you just put it back on. I could figure out how all of the mechanisms worked at the ripe old age of 10. There was no great mystery to how it worked, and that instilled a feeling of creativity. If something went wrong, I could fix it. But it wasn't my machine; I shared it with two of my sisters.

Since then I have been through a Necchi, a White, and currently own an Elna. It never occured to me that I would name a machine until I met my friend Melissa. Her machine, by the way, is named Solange. At first I thought it odd, but it really isn't. People name cars, after all. My Gram Driver was always urging Betsy (her VW bug) to make it up a hill. More importantly, your sewing machine is your essential partner in your sewing endeavor. If it (he/she) isn't feeling so well, you won't have as good of an end result. If your machine is well cared for and understood, you will amaze yourself with what you can do.

But before you name your machine, you have to get to know it. Every machine is different both in model and in temperament. My first machine worked just fine but I never really knew it. If there was ever a problem with it I would often walk away for weeks before trying again. Oiling does not fix everything. At one point I was convinced it was nothing more than a doorstop, when it simply required rethreading. It was retired after three years. My next machine and I got off on a much better foot. I read the manual (think of it as a personal ad) before opening the box. If it resisted something I tried to make it do, I would ease back a bit. There was the one time I burned out a foot pedal, but there was a deadline involved. As we worked together, I came to appreciate the steady, sure nature of my new partner. She was christened Beatrice and worked well for many years.

Here are the things you should know about your machine:-how many stitches does it have? more importantly, how many of those stitches do you use?-how fast does your machine run? is it easy to control the speed through pedal pressure?-what kind of buttonhole attachment do you have?-how quickly or easily can you thread your machine?-does the placement of the adjustment knobs/dials/buttons make sense to you?There is no one perfect machine, just as there is no one perfect bottle of wine, car, or person. Find a machine that works for you, works with you, and compliments your style. Play with it. Work with it. Get to know it.

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