My Sewing Machines – Part 1: The Beginning
(Updated: June 13th, 2105)
Someone asked in one of my previous posts comments what equipment I was using was in my sewing studio.
I thought about this question for awhile and I decided that it would be better to delve into this question a little deeper and not only answer the question of what I currently use but why I currently use it.
It will also give a good overview for anyone considering purchasing their own embroidery machine and the many joys, pitfalls, and costs of ownership of this type of equipment.
This information will be broken into several parts and posted over the next several weeks. It is a lot of information to get typed up and will be a lot of information for the reader to digest.
I hope it is helpful to some of my readers.
This will probably be more information than you wanted to know, but as long as I’m telling the story, I thought the beginning was a good place to start.
My mother taught me to sew starting at age 8 through a series of 4-H projects. If you don’t know what 4-H is you can check it out here.
As a young kid with very little interest in sewing, it was no fun and I struggled through the projects.
As I was doing the projects I thought to myself, my mom is an excellent seamstress, so why did I have to learn? Couldn’t she just sew it for me?
I also knew that I was going to be a professional career woman when I got older and of course, I would never have to sew for myself. I would be able to pay someone to do that for me.
It sounds like famous last words doesn’t it?
Oh how young, silly and naive I was!
Every year before the new school year started, my mom would sit us down with the pattern book and we would pick out a school wardrobe for that year and she would start sewing them for us. Mom would do her best to try and get us involved in this sewing, but it was easier to say, “No Mom, you just do it and I will fix dinner”, or I’ll do the laundry or whatever else so I didn’t have to sew anything myself.
As strange as it may sound, it was my first trip to a big and tall store that got me into sewing.
My husband and I had just married and we were going to college, poorer than church mice, and he needed some dress shirts for work. I did not even have a sewing machine at the time or really know what to do with one, but after laying out that kind of money for a few of his dress shirts, I decided I wanted, no make that NEEDED to be a seamstress and soon!
My husband purchased me my first sewing machine as a Christmas gift that year. It was not the smallest Brother sewing machine they made at the time, but it was the next step up from the bottom of the line model and I was so excited to get it!
A few days later my mother in law called and said she was getting rid of her serger and her sewing box and asked if I would like them.
The serger she gave me at the time was just a three spool, but any thing was better than what I had which was nothing. Sergers also cost a lot more than a sewing machines did at the time so I was very grateful to have one.
Her sewing box was filled with many notions, pins, needles, bias tape, buttons, etc. so I was on my way.
At the time all of my sewing equipment was stored in the living room coat closet of our tiny apartment but I made do with what I had.
The next big help for me in my sewing endeavors was a part time job I got at a fabric store. I got the job just for the extra money, telling them that my sewing skills were not very good, but they hired me anyway. I loved the job and enjoyed cutting fabric all day and talking to the customers about what they were going to make with their purchases. The other ladies that I worked with at the store were all so helpful and gave me great sewing advice as we worked together.
The store had inexpensive fabric at $2 a yard or less and the employees got a discount on everything and thus became the start of my fabric stash. The store also gave free fabric and notions to their employees to make fun projects for the store to display.
After being displayed in the store for 30 days, the display projects were yours to take home and keep. I made all kinds of fun stuff for the store displays that I would have never spent my own money on.
Once our schooling ended and we started our full time jobs we moved to a bigger apartment. With that my sewing equipment was moved to a larger closet in the spare bedroom. My ingenious husband got me a folding table that looked like an ironing board that fit in the closet. With my sewing machine on one side and the serger on the other, plus shelves on the side, my first sewing room was born.
While out Christmas shopping one day, we saw a demo of the Viking Huskylock 1001L sergers from Husqvarna and I was in love with the 4th and 5th spools, differential feed, auto thread tensioning, and all the other great new features it had over my old 3 spool model. After listening to the lady’s sales pitch, we told her we would love one but just could not afford the machine at it’s current cost of just under $3000.
She told us if I did not mind a used one, that after the demo was over, she was instructed to sell the demo models at a discount, and would sell me one for less than the regular price. I was thrilled at this and agreed to purchase the demo model for just under $2000 with very little use on it. And it is the same serger that I am still using today.
Over the years, I have looked at the new models of sergers as they came out and debated about an upgrade, but decided against it since the only feature that I would gain that I might use is the cover lock stitch.
Serger and sewing machine technologies don’t seem to move very quickly forward as it turns out.
Speaking of sergers there are two types of sergers you can purchase.
There is the $200 kind at discount store like Wal-Mart or the $1500+ kind at a sewing machine shop. If you are a casual sewer the $200 models will probably work for you for occasional use, but if you are serious about sewing your money will be better spent on getting the more expensive models as they are built better, work better and will last you for a much longer time.
My Viking serger I mentioned above it over 20 years old now and I haven’t had a single problem with it in all those years.
I continued to use my little Brother sewing machine to sew curtains, sleepers, pants, shirts, bedspreads, comforters, etc. for many years until the arrival of the combo sewing and embroidery machines.
Stay Tuned for next weeks post: My Sewing Machines – Part 2: The Embroidery Machines