As of today, I have 22 sewing machines. I had to qualify “as of today” because I just acquired 2 more in the last week. One was gifted to me from a friend who was cleaning out her Mom’s place. It’s a beauty, one of the first Singer zig-zag machines. The other acquisition is from a friend who is the local “junk guy”. He saw it on the side of the road, which is where I find most of my machines. I think it's really sad that people just throw them out. I personally find them to be both beautiful and marvel of machinery, from an era when nothing was digital. As a recovering software developer, I’m a little sour on all things digital.
Most of my sewing machines work, some of them don’t. I clean them up and try to get them working. Every single one of them is “vintage”. I’m not sure at what age a sewing machine becomes vintage, but all of them are at least 40 years old. Some of them are well over 100 years old.
A few years ago, I was knee deep in sewing pattern development for my pattern company Sew Fun® when I had the brilliant idea that I’d produce 8 sewing patterns all at the same time. This left me more than a little overwhelmed and in desperate need of some help. It being in the middle of winter, my husband was not so busy at work. He was rattling around the house saying things like “if only there were some way I could help you”. He suddenly decided he was going to test all the patterns for me. I gently explained, “But you need to know how to sew to do that”, at which point he famously uttered, “How hard could it be?”. He reasoned that he knew how to use a myriad of other tools – band saw, table saw, chain saw – what could be the difference? I said, well, all those things rip stuff apart and here we are trying to put stuff together, and neatly, too. I was quickly out voted.
Now the real dilemma kicked in: which sewing machine should he use? I didn’t dare let him use one of my treasured beauties, after all they were old and fussy, and his oft-repeated mantra to get a stubborn machine working was to “hit it with a hammer”. I knew this wasn’t entirely in jest, as I’d witnessed the demise of a recalcitrant leaf blower at his hands.
As luck would have it, I had the perfect solution. It was “Kenny”, my old Kenmore 10, gifted to me by a co-worker when he decided he “just didn’t need it anymore”. “Need”, I scoffed, as I happily took it off his hands. Kenny was like my husband: big and sturdy, and not fussy. Kenny was so rugged I’m pretty sure you could use him to winch a truck out of a ditch. That day a match was made, Kenny and my husband ended up getting along just fine. He learned to sew and my patterns got tested. As a result, I’m totally sure my patterns are newbie friendly! More than his accomplishments at sewing, he also innovated a way to cut an entire yard of fabric into 2 ½” strips in less than 2 minutes using common shop tools. That will have to be a post for another day!
Please join us here every other Wednesday for another fun, fiber-filled installment of By the Yard. You can read more By the Yard® at www.bytheyardcomics.com, and you can see lots of fun sewing patterns at www.bytheyardcomics.com,