followed by a discussion of my sewing machines
Alright, it seems that time is getting away from me. I have a number of things I’ve failed to share in a timely manner, so I’m really making an effort to catch up now, but in a reasonable manner. I’m going to plow through all the May things I’ve skipped, in order. Yes, I have some things from April and older, but this is my compromise for catch up.
I did a little workshop work a couple weeks back. I still have so much to do! Cabinets, shelves, finishing items like putting on window trim and outlet covers. It is going to take me years to call it “done” since I only make progress once or twice a year. Can’t be helped – I like working in the workshop more than working on the workshop itself.
One of the small bits I accomplished was to put some semi-dead storage shelves in. My treadmill is a good-sized one, and hefty, since I needed it to get me jogging (or walking) through the long Wyoming winters and run for many years. Unfortunately, the size means there is wasted wall space – that is a sin if ever there were one! The space is behind the treadmill, where the main control panel backs to the wall. It leaves a good 16″d x33″w x30″h space under the control panel, in front of the tread – above where the motor is. You don’t see this area when the treadmill is up, but it sits there, undisturbed and not being useful. And let me tell you that doing the morning exercise for an entire winter will give you plenty of time to think about how to reclaim that wasted space.
Beautiful! Since this is only seen while the treadmill is down, and you’d have to put the treadmill down to access it, only items of notable value, but limited usage would be appropriate here. This is why I call it semi-dead. My “spare” sewing machine fits this bill and fits part of the space perfectly. You can read later why I have a spare machine, if you care.
Oh, you can see the new catwalk here, too. Now the cats can get to three different windows without touching the floor, or (and more importantly) wrecking my shit on the way.
And with the treadmill up. Not even visible. Ugh, my desk is still exactly that messy. I moved a bunch of stuff onto so I could have some workspace to build these shelves, then never cleared it back off. I have too much stuff.
That’s it! A simple and incredibly useful project for me. If you want to read about my spare sewing machine, carry on. Otherwise, I’ll have more new stuff up soon.
My sewing machines
Yes, plural – I have four as of a month ago, used to be just three. But, with only three machines, I’d still get incredulous people who visited my workshop. “Why do you have three sewing machines?!?!” as if I were mad somehow. These are usually sourced from people who don’t sew. What they don’t understand is that it is like asking a painter why they have more than two brushes, or a woodworker why they have a garage full of tools. Simply, they do different things. Here is the breakdown.
1. Gretchen, my Pfaff, which I bought as a showroom-used model 11 years ago) was (until a month ago) my main machine. It is a basic model, there are no fancy stitches or options, no computer chip, all mechanical. I have used the hell out of Gretchen and I am confident she will travel through hell with me for another 11 years and more. The older mechanical Pfaffs are excellent, new computerized ones not so much.
2. Suzy. Before I learned to free motion sew, I eyed with silent envy the computerized machines that would stitch out cute little icons or letters for you. They seemed so shiny! I found Suzy, my spare machine, at Target, on sale, many years ago. It could do the basics plus decorative, flowery, patterns, and multiple alphabets! All for under $200. A quick check of the internet revealed bad news – the machines are worth what you pay for them. Approximately half them were duds, the rest fine. I gambled and won – my Suzy was a keeper. (I call her Suzy because of all the many stitches she’ll do for how cheap she was = Suzy the stitch slut.) Whenever I had to take Gretchen in for regular maintenance or a timing fix (because of the previously mentioned hell I put her through) and needed to sew during that short time, out came Suzy. Plus, Suzy was good for a number of labels, dates, a short poem or two, some decorative work, etc. As well, I do sometimes run multiple machines at a time for involved projects, but that is a subject worthy of a different post.
3. Diva (or sometimes, that fucking Diva of a machine!) is my Sashiko II from Babylock. This was mostly an impulse purchase at a quilt show, but I love the sashiko (hand stitched) look it will produce. In summary, it is an overpriced, under-functioning, one-trick pony that is unreliable. It only does the sashiko stitch, that is all. It has to be significantly readjusted with any thread type change. The timing is too easy to throw off and way too hard to fix. Even the shop I bought it at couldn’t fix it and replaced it with a new one to fend me off when I took it to them. I’ve cursed more at this machine more than any other machine (any, sewing or otherwise) in my life. I’ve envisioned smashing it with a sledge, setting it on fire, and (sometimes) running it over with a truck. It skips, snags, pulls, breaks, and sometimes shreds threads. It is a fickle piece of crap and I don’t suggest ANYONE buy one. If you’re thinking of it, instead hire a local kid to do stitching for you. Even that will be cheaper and more accountable. However, with all that said, I still love that stitching – when it works. Looking at those stitches twangs my creative heartstrings. While I will put Diva away for lengths of time to avoid harm (to both of us), I keep bringing her back out and playing her damn games.
4. (no name – Janome brand) I had to take Gretchen in for some overdue maintenance. [There was so much lint fluff in there it was becoming felt!!] While at the shop, I decided to look around. I’d only the day before on the internet seen some way-fancy free motion machine designed just for that purpose. Of course, it was overpriced and unreliable, so I wasn’t even thinking of going for it, but I did now have a thought in my head that I could stand to look around, a little, if I wanted, no meaning to it. Yes, that did it. The shop was having a remodeling sale and I found my new machine and it came home with me that day. It is … well, almost awesome. As in, I am almost in awe of it. It does all the basics, it does all the fancies, and it will free motion with a mere foot change and a switch flip. This is heaven for me. Plus, I bought the surface extension that fits onto it. I FMQ’d the whole “Black Cat in Rainbow” quilt as the first project on it. It didn’t snag once, it adjusted tension automatically, and it has an auto-thread-cutter. That alone has saved me a lot of time, especially with the 40+ thread changes I did on that quilt. This thing is great. I didn’t exactly plan to buy it, so I have some weird money-splurge guilt for something I didn’t really need, only wanted. It seems I now have a new main machine.
I still have Gretchen. There is nothing wrong with her, she is as perfect as if I’d bought her yesterday. If I keep her, I should get rid of Suzy, since Gretchen would become the backup and my new Janome can trump Suzy’s fancies with a glance. I am torn about what to do, but I am sure some time will help with the decision. For the time being, anyone who comes into my workshop might still ask, “Why do you have three sewing machines?!” Little will they know I really have four, with one hidden from sight on the new shelf.