Crazy Sewing Machine Lady
August 10, 2010 § 16 Comments
While I’m working away on my Doll Quilt and Wild Geese Quilt, I thought we might spend some time talking about some of our favorite quilting tools. There is a discussion going on over in the Doll Quilt Swap Flickr group that sparked this idea.
So… let’s start with sewing machines. I currently own five sewing machines. It kind of freaks me out to say that. It probably freaks out my husband more to hear that… but three of them are vintage, of which two still need to be cleaned up and tuned up before I can actually sew on them.
left to right & top to bottom
- Janome Horizon – I just bought this machine a couple of months ago and haven’t had much sewing time on it yet, so I can’t say what kind of relationship we will have. It is meant to replace the Viking that I wasn’t in love with. It’s nice to have a machine that does zig-zag and buttonholes when I get the occasional urge to sew clothing. Even though it is controlled by a computer, what attracted me to this machine is that not EveryThing is controlled by the computer. And it makes really nice buttonholes. For some reason, to me, that is the ultimate indicator for a potentially good machine, nice buttonholes.
- Brother PQ1500s – classified as a “light industrial” sewing machine. Still a home sewing machine but sews 3 times faster and only does straight stitch. I love, love, Love this machine! We have a very good relationship.
- Singer 15-91 – it was my grandmother’s sewing machine. It needs to be cleaned and tuned up, supposedly a real work horse on denim. I haven’t sewn on it yet.
- Singer Featherweight – purchased from Dave McCallum who travels around locally teaching people how to care for their Featherweights. It’s lightweight and perfect for carrying to classes. Sometimes I set up this machine to piece while I am quilting on my brother.
- Singer 319W – given to me and needs to be cleaned and tuned up. One of the very first zig zag machines that Singer made. It’s only caveat is that it takes a special needle size not found in stores (but can be ordered on the Internet). I haven’t sewn on it yet.
I was talking to a customer at work some time ago about sewing machines and our relationships with our sewing machines. She had named her machine Doris. (I think, if I remember correctly) I haven’t named any of mine, but I’m thinking that maybe I should. Would that make me the equivalent of the “Crazy Cat Lady” in the sewing machine world?
So what is it that makes this relationship with our sewing machines “click?” I can’t say for certain, but for me… I think the bottom line is that the machine really does what I want it to do. And it takes a little bit of time and effort. I previously owned a Husqvarna/Viking that I never did get on very well with. And prior to that another Viking that I loved dearly. All of my sewing machines have different features that they do really well or that I love about them.
So, let’s start with the sewing machine I use the most. My Brother PQ1500s. When I was first in the market for a sewing machine to replace the one I had been using since high school, I looked everywhere and at just about every brand. I thought I knew what I wanted, purchased a machine and brought it home. It turns out that it wasn’t really what I wanted and it was Frustrating! Fortunately, I was able to return the machine and I took up knitting for awhile. I’m sure you are laughing right now and think that I am joking. But I’m not. Truly. I quit sewing because I was so frustrated and started knitting.
Then I heard someone talking about a Juki light industrial machine that was new on the market. It sounded fantastic. I knew that Juki made good industrial machines and thought that I might have better luck with that route. Turns out that this machine was so popular that there were never any in stock and so I could never test drive one at a dealer. Along the way I discovered that Brother had started producing a similar machine and test drove it at a local quilt show. I bought it, brought it home and have been in love ever since. I’m sure the Juki is just as fabulous. I’ve just never had a chance to sew on one. BTW, they are much easier to find now.
This is what I like about my Brother:
~It only sews straight stitch and does it very well.
~It’s not controlled by a computer so I get to tell it what I want it to do. It does have one very small computer chip which, I think, controls the bobbin winder and needle-down position. I can choose the tension, pressure on the presser foot, stitch length and feed dog height with dials, not digital numbers or tick marks on a computer screen, which never seem to have small enough increments of change.
~It doesn’t have a needle-up position. It’s either needle-down or off. I love the needle-down position for machine quilting. But for piecing and regular sewing I like the needle to stop sewing when I take my foot off of the foot feed. It doesn’t take another second, or two, or three to complete a stitch. This is really important to me when I am trying to position a stitch at just the right spot in a corner, or slowly sewing over zipper and trying to avoid the metal end.
~The feed dogs are closer together. The distance between the feed dogs is only 5mm, similar to the Featherweight and the Singer 15-91. The distance between the feed dogs needs to be wider when zig-zag and satin stitches are part of the machine’s capabilities. But can be a hindrance when sewing small pieces of fabric together with small seam allowances.
~The throat plate has a small, single-stitch hole so that the fabric never gets pulled down into the feed dogs. Most machines have single-stitch/hole plates that can be purchased
~It has a sturdy, large, extension table that has actual legs rather than hanging off of the throat part of the sewing machine. And the underside of the extension table secretly stores the knee lift. I love secret compartments!
~It sews really, really fast! Up to 1500 stitches per minute. I can’t sew quite that fast because my banquet tables starts to shake. But a regular home sewing machine typically sews about 500 stitches per minute.
I hope I haven’t bored you… I’d love to hear about your sewing machines and your relationship with them. If you feel inclined to post about it on your blog, please come back here and provide a link in the comments so we can all read about them. And what do you think about giving your sewing machine a name? Crazy? Normal? Tell me more.