Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Sewing Machine History

I happened onto a blog post a while ago where someone was writing about a couple of the sewing machines they have owned and that triggered an idea for this blog post.  Today you will learn what machines I sewed on from my learning to sew days as a child, up to the machine I sew on today.421452619_o

I learned to sew on a black Singer sewing machine like this one.  This isn’t a photo of the actual one my mom owned but hope to get a photo of it before too long as my brother and his wife have it and will be taking a photo of it for me.  This machine always sewed a very nice stitch and I used it to sew many garments while I was growing up.  My mother was an avid seamstress and taught my two sisters and I to love sewing too... all using this machine.

I am not sure about the first thing I sewed but do remember making a pair of shorts for myself out of bright green fabric then cutting out a pair of shorts for my baby brother out of the left over fabric and making them too.  I know I had done some sewing before that time as I started 4-H when I was 8 and I sewed every year in 4-H.  I think when I made the shorts I might have been around 11 or 12  at the time and Don would have been around 2 or 3.  I remember it well as Mom was doing yard and garden work and was outside most of the time I was stitching them.  I cut my shorts out and would take the pieces out and find out what to sew next then go back into the house and stitch it then come back out.  I remember my shorts had a zipper in the side and a waistband too which were rather tricky.  I remember putting in the zipper as it was the first one I had done and had to stitch it in 3 times which also means I had to rip it out twice!  The first time I had put the zipper pull to the inside, the second time it was upside down and finally the third time I got it in correctly.  I might not remember those shorts if had not been the zipper problem.  I do remember I wanted to wear them so badly I kept working on them until I got them finished and do remember I loved them and wore them a lot that summer.

I sewed in 4-H for 10 years and made all kinds of clothing and a few home furnishings during those years.  I remember making drapes for my bedroom when I was in high school and going to my cousin’s home to use her machine to sew the side and bottom hems…the black Singer did not do the invisible hem stitch and my cousin’s new machine did.

My sisters and I sewed a lot of our clothes when we were in high school and college and Mom sewed most of our clothes when we were younger.  I made a tailored wool suit when I was 16 and a tailored wool coat and dress when I was 17.  I still have the wool suit since I didn’t wear it in college and Mom saved it for me but took the coat and dress to college and wore it some after I was married too, then put it in a box to go to charity when it didn’t fit or was out of style.  Sure wish I would have kept it now.kenmore-sewing-machine

When I graduated from high school my parents gave me a new sewing machine for a graduation gift and I was thrilled!  It was a Sears Kenmore like the one in the picture below and was a good machine for many years.  I don’t remember the model number but this photo looks just like my machine. 

I used this machine a lot while I was in college and the first 14 years after I was married.  When I was in college I made a lot of clothes as fabric was cheap and I could whip up a new dress over a weekend. 

After sewing all those years in 4-H I could fit a pattern to my body and stitch something up in no time.  Now is a different story…I have not sewn clothes in a long time and the last time it was like digging through an old archive to remember how to do certain things and now fabric is not cheap and neither are patterns….plus my body shape has changed too and I would have to do some serious study and experimenting to get a pattern to fit me so now I am mostly sewing “quilty” things.

Back to the Kenmore….I used that machine for 18 years until I was taking it in to be repaired all the time and decided I needed to get a better machine.  I gave my Kenmore to our oldest daughter when she got married to use if she needed a machine but even though it had been repaired again the stitching was just a mess.  She didn’t sew much but did use it to repair clothing or make a few items for her home.  She gave it back to me after a few years and I sold it on a garage sale for $5.  I told the man that bought  it that it didn’t work well at all but he told me he had several machines and was taking the good parts from one to fix others and could use parts off of it.

When I started shopping for a new machine I looked at several brands.  I didn’t know anything about a Bernina but a store about 30 minutes from me sold them so went down for a demo and to try one out and instantly fell in love.  It was more expensive than other machines at the time but John and I decided it was worth it since I did so much sewing.  I couldn’t remember when I bought it but decided to look in my file of warranties and found the receipt and the date was Dec. 16, 1985 and I paid $750 for it.  The receipt says it was regularly priced at $900 but was December sale so that was a pretty good deal.  That was a happy Christmas for me that year! 

I felt like I was in heaven when I used that machine.  I remember how quiet it was when I sewed compared to the old Kenmore machine.  I sewed on that 930 until I purchased my next Bernina.  I wanted a machine that could do a regular buttonhole stitch and a few other things that the 930 couldn’t do. 

I purchased the Bernina Virtuosa 150 QE on March 29, 2001 for $1550.  The dealer I bought the 150 from really wanted me to trade in my 930 but I decided it keep it and give it to our second daughter.  He told me all he had to do was make a phone call and could have sold my 930 as he had people on a waiting list for any he could get in trade.  It is still a machine that sells well…I just checked Ebay and a Bernina 930 right now has a bid of $832 so it has kept it’s value over the years.  davesbernina--00-00---986738712.pic

I loved the 150 as much as I loved my 930 when I bought it.  I did a lot of stitching on it the 7 years I owned it.  The 150 was selling  between $600-$800 on Ebay at the time I bought my next Bernina, a 730 model. 

My younger sister bought my 150 as she was looking for a newer good machine and so far she has been happy with it.  I sold it for $600 which is what I could get in trade for my  new machine  – the Bernina 75th anniversary model of the 730. 

IMG_2460I hate to say what I paid for my 730 but since I am writing a diary of sorts about my machines I want to include it all.  I paid $5800 for my 730 on June 23, 2008.  I didn't get the embroidery module for it as I have no desire to embroidery. 

I have never regretted buying this machine and have enjoyed owing and using it since it was new.  It is a pleasure to sew on and I have never had any trouble or breakdowns either.  Actually none of my Bernina’s have been in for repair but only in for an annual check up and oiling or that sort of thing.

I feel very, very lucky to have owned all of these machines as feel that the quality of your tools reflect on the quality of your work to a large degree.  I have taught classes where someone has a machine that just doesn’t stitch well or is causing problems and it is very frustrating for the student plus the quality of her work suffers too.

I have visited with my mother some about her old Singer machine and the machines she had after it.  I will be posting a story about it when I get all the facts and stories gathered together so check back later. 

What machines have you owned?  Liked or Disliked?



Jane said...

I have mostly owned singers,and most of them were pretty good machines. I don't do much sewing. I like the look of that last machine of yours,really nice. I enjoyed your post about your machines. Look forward to the next one. Blessings jane

YankeeQuilter said...

What a great history of sewing machines of your life! I'm considering a new machine but may wait until the end of this year (my LQS does great Christmas sales!)

I've mainly used Singer and Viking...

tich said...

Really interesting history. I've had Singer, Elna, Pfaff and Bernina - and some older machines as well. Aren't they great

Marsha said...

I had a 150QE, too! Loved that machine, but sold it in order to help finance my 640E which I also adore. Learned to sew on my mom's Singer, treated myself to a Pfaff after we were first married, then bought my first Bernina when I retired in 2000. I bought the 640 3 years ago when I wanted to learn machine embroidery. And, I found a deal on a Featherweight 221 at a swap meet - that's also a dream to sew on.


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