Tuesday, July 31, 2012

An Adequate Mom's Sewing Machine of Choice

The closest I get to morning sweet rolls is cinnamon pop-tarts. The most innovative house-cleaning technique I employ is using the dryer sheet to clean the lint trap (if I remember at all). And the best wifely advice I can offer: a six-pack of Shiner on an accessible shelf in the fridge goes a long way.

So when it comes to the ideal sewing machine for all of my household needs? It's no doubt a vintage, 40-pound "portable" Singer.

1. There's no chance my bored kids can pull it off the table. In the time it takes for me to notice the suspicious silence of mischief, I can finish updating my Facebook status, one-click order a Kindle new release, and still have plenty of time for the dash across the living room to intervene. This machine is so heavy I can't even lift it without catching a good breath and bending at the knees for leverage.

2. There are no plastic parts, so it does not break.

3. It stitches forward. And it stitches backward. That is all!

My first home project almost drove me to chuck the machine across the kitchen in despair, but luckily, see #1 above. I can only place so much blame on Ikea for selling unfinished curtains when there's no international standard on window height (C'mon already, what's the UN for, anyway??), but maybe hemming the living room curtains was too ambitious a first task.

I hold the two pieces of fabric together (pinning is so over-rated), tentatively tap the pedal, more courageously pick up speed, and I'm sewing!!! $%#*&^! The needle broke. Not to worry! I have another! (My mom inventoried and stocked the sewing machine before giving it to me. Oh how well she knew that my ambition would surpass my preparedness!)

I expertly, for the first time in my life, crank out the old needle, slide in the new one, and I'm off!

$%#*&^! It's no longer sewing. The needle is moving, the thread is pulling, but no stitching.

I call my mom. But for all the sense I could make of Mom's veteran advice, it might as well have been a call center in India. Do you have a small screwdriver? Um, no. Still, not one to let the wrong tool get in my way of progress, I struggled with a full-size screw driver, scissors, and a kitchen knife (bad idea) before finding the solution in a small pair of pliers. And I was going again!

I was feeling so proud and capable that after finishing one-half of one curtain, I stopped to make a pin cushion. It was perfect. Doesn't lie flat, can't hold more than 10 pins, and might leak pins if turned upside-down, but perfect.

No matter that I don't know how to change the thread on a bobbin, so the inside seam of the beige curtains is baby blue. No matter that I didn't have the time, energy, or interest for ironing, so my double-turned guestimate of a hem is a little wobbly.

Four broken needles later, and three-and-a-half hours, I proudly admired our "new" living room curtains.



  1. Hmmm... the more I look at those before and after pictures, the more I like that before picture.

  2. I had a sewing machine sit in my entryway for a year. I could never figure out how to thread the lower bobbin. I returned it to the person who gave it to me, as she knew someone who would actually use it.

  3. Such is life. Feel free to borrow my "vintage" 1980's machine if you have an even bigger project to tackle :)