Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Sewing Machines, old and new.

coffee cup
(crossposted at BlogHer)

I was going to write about sewing today. That was my plan. I've spent the weekend sewing on a purse I've been designing, ripping and redo-ing as each little problem with my no-pattern-all-in-my-head piece became apparent. It seemed logical to simply search for fellow bloggers doing the same thing. Right?


And it's not that folks aren't sewing and blogging about it.

Cottage 46 Knitter just starting sewing and has several of the beginner's projects that she shared. Reclaiming the Home has started sewing clothes for school (with tutorials!) already. So cute!
DIY Maven at Curbly even wrote a nice tutorial on making an apron out of napkins.

There is a basis to write about sewing projects. But as I wandered through blogs, I found a greater theme: sewing machines.

Cottage 46 Knitter, besides knitting, started sewing after acquiring several sewing machines, including this vintage Singer 99 in a bent-wood carrying case. (From personal experience, let me tell you these things only make the "portable" class because they are not in tables. Mine weighted a ton!) Hers, from 1928 will be unelectrified and turned into a hand-crank machine. Sewing during "power down" days will not be a problem for her!

Idyllic Chick was gifted a nice Singer 301 In honor of receiving her wonderful gift, she posted a great gif on how a sewing machine works. Go check it out! After I posted about her machine at BlogHer, she even posted photos of her beauty!

I used to own a number of vintage Singers, including a Feather Weight constructed near my birthdate, about 5 of the 99 - most made in the 50s- and one of these 301s (in the more contemporary tan color). Believe me, it's one of the very best Singers ever made. I would pick this hands-down over a Feather Weight any day. (gasps from the readers change weather around the northern hemisphere).

The 301 is slightly larger and slightly heavier than the revered FW, but this is a gear-driven machine where the FW is belt-driven. The difference? Besides the obvious fact that you don't have to keep trying to locate and replace belts for the machine, a gear-driven machine doesn't transfer any of it's kinetic energy like a belt-driven machine does. Every little bit goes right into the act of sewing, which makes this a strong silent workhouse. This is a machine that can power through upholstery fabrics, heavy denims and even machine quilt with ease.

And the 301 and 99s are 3/4 sized machines. This means they are a bit shorter than their full-sized sisters (like the 201) but not quite as tiny as the 1/2 sized Feather weight. Sometimes having just an inch or more room in the throat plate region makes a big difference in what you can sew

If you're at a garage sale or auction house, and need to choose between these machines. don't hesitate. Grab your self the 301.

Not everybody is going vintage, however, in their sewing machine acquisition. Minnie's old "big box sewing machine" died on her a couple weeks ago, and she went out and purchased herself a shiny new Bernina! Does she love it? I think so:

Already i have completed a bunch of basic mending tasks that have been sitting around in my sewing room waiting for me. Some for actual YEARS have been waiting to completed. Also many of the decorative stitches have been tested and gloated over.

I swear.. sewing with this thing is sweet!
We sewers do have a dedication to our equipment. We split into camps of "Classic Singers", "Pfaffies" and "'Nina heads". Many women promise that the first item out the door in an emergency evacuation would be their sewing machine. Yet some anonymous woman chose to go a step further and bring her machine with her to eternity. Check out this Flickr photo of a sewing machine etched on a headstone.

I sold or gave away all my vintage machines about 10 years ago, when I purchased a (then) near top-of-the-line Pfaff. It's far from the newest machines of today, but it still keeps me in stitches.

Do you have a sewing machine love story or a photo you'd love to share?

I also blog at: Weight for Deb and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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