Monday, December 28, 2015
Something I Didn't Learn On Aunt Mildred's Porch
As I explain in the About the Porch section of my website, I learned how to knit, crochet, cross stitch and do various other crafts on my Aunt Mildred's porch in the summers of my childhood. What no one ever did on her porch was sew with a sewing machine.
My mother always had a sewing machine, but until she caught the quilting bug in the mid 80s, I never saw it open. It was something I always knew was there and I saw pictures of some cute things she had made me when I was really little, but I didn't see her sit and actually sew with it. It was just a piece of furniture in our playroom and I didn't think about it much. It had its own cabinet with a cover she had made and something sat on top of it, like a table.
When she started quilting, I was in middle school and really wanted to learn how to sew. We didn't have home ec in my school and she didn't want me using her sewing machine. I imagine she didn't want to have umpteen million new projects being made when I should have been doing things like playing outside.
I assure you, if someone had ever brought a sewing machine to Aunt Mildred's porch, I would have found a way to learn how to at least make a simple straight seam.
Fast forward to high school, and a former teacher who was my neighbor and a marvelous seamstress asked me if I wanted to make a dress.
With no skills or instruction beyond that one pattern we cut out and sewed, I suddenly had the keys to my mother's sewing machine and off I went. I guess by then, she figured I was old enough not to sew through my hands and probably gentle enough not to break it. Plus, that wasn't her "good" machine, it was just the one down cellar.
This was all before the internet, so I had to read pattern instructions and just wing it. I winged it enough to make my prom dress for my senior prom and though it wasn't really the style of the times (I didn't know you could actually sew things that were up to date stylewise) it was something I was really proud of and would wear right now if the occasion called for it!
Whenever I was home from college, I would sew a bunch of things for myself, and even some pajamas for my roommate one year, and happily wore them with no idea that I could actually manipulate patterns before cutting them to make sure they really fit.
I did a lot of unspeakable alterations that would make a real seamstress croak.
Not that I have a lot of amazing skills today, but I think I am a great example of how simple it is to sew, if you can read and have a little creativity. With youtube, you can search for how to do almost anything and there are some really great people out there who have very clear, well done videos to show all sorts of things that mystified me years ago. People have asked if I will teach them to sew and I always say no. No one should learn my hack, that'll do skills. You can learn far better from the internet!
Along with my Bernina 1001, my grandmother shocked me yet again with a FunLock serger to go with it. I've shown plenty of pictures of that on here, so I won't bother in this post.
My friends were like "WHAT?" while I was in heaven. I didn't have a degree in home ec, so sewing machines probably seemed like a weird graduation present but I knew what lay ahead.
These are all of my stitches and I can't imagine using any others! I haven't even found a use for everything I can do with these.
I know that the new digital machines have all sorts of stitch regulators and favorite stitches you can save and some will embroider and do really fancy stuff. I guess I still see each machine as a separate thing. A serger serges, a sewing machine sews, an embroidery machine embroiders and a long arm quilting machine quilts. Even though I've done just about all of that on this machine!
My mother gave me a walking foot a long time ago, and I think I might have recently worn it out! I use it for way more than quilting, mainly because I forget to change it until I'm partway through something. I read all over the internet that a lot of people use it all the time for the same reason and love it. The only time I change it is when I need to make a narrow seam that the walking foot it just too big and clunky to do well.
With my Bernina came a couple of metal bobbins and I quickly learned that just a couple of bobbins is a real pain because not everything can be sewn with a few colors. At that time, it was still the late 90s, and the 1001 was still fairly new, so I managed to find a package of a few more bobbins that fit. I assumed I'd always be able to find bobbins to fit.
This Christmas, when no one knew what to get me and I kept saying I didn't want to make a list, I decided to bite the bullet and investigate these bobbins and see if someone could get them.
Voila, 8 more bobbins that fit! I really think the metal kind work best, though the plastic have never given me trouble. I just feel like the metal makes things glide better. I was nervous when I saw the holes because my original bobbins don't have holes but these work just fine.
Are you ready for my big confession? I've sewn on this machine for more hours than I can possibly count in the past 2 decades and I've never had it serviced! I don't think about it until I clean it myself and then I wonder if maybe I should take it somewhere. But then I'll be just about to start a new project and don't want to give it up for a week or more. So I continue to subscribe to the old "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" theory.
My mother has more than one sewing machine and so does my sister and it makes me think maybe I should have a fancy machine along with this one. But then I see all of the new machines and they are all made of plastic. This 1001 is actually porcelain covered, so it has this heavy, cool feel to it. The plastic machines just feel so cheap to me. Like they aren't made to last.
So, I'll continue to save my pennies until the day this Bernina bites the dust and I have to give in to a new model. Until then, I think we are in this for the long haul!