A couple of weeks ago, another of my domestic sewing machines bit the dust. It’s gears crumbled, most likely due to the amount of zigzagging I subjected it to whilst making lots of brooches before Christmas. I had the choice of getting it repaired, getting another similar one, or taking the plunge and investing in an industrial machine that does straight stitch and zig zag.
I already had an industrial straightsticher, a Pfaff that I bought 2nd hand from a tailor shop in Aberdeen about 25 years ago. The tailor kindly agreed to deliver it and set it up, I’ll never forget his face when he discovered I lived on the 4th floor of a tenement! I didn’t have enough room for the Pfaff and the new machine, they are both big heavy beasts built into tables, and I have limited space. I was sorry to see it go, it had been a reliable workhorse for me over the years, and I remember being very proud when the sewing machine repair man who came to service it said he was impressed with it. It has headed off to a new life making yurts with a friend of mine, I hope they are very happy together.
After an initial bout of over enthusiasm when I came very close to buying an all singing , all dancing computerised machine with lots of fancy stitches and clever features , I came to my senses when the Repair and Maintenance Dept. (Steve) told me that if the computer bit went wrong he would not be able to fix it. So I opted for a non computerised machine which can be fixed by an enthusiastic amateur with a service manual (Steve). I found a 2nd hand (one careful lady driver) industrial machine, a Singer 20U, which had been built in Japan rather than a newer version built in China. Sadly none of them are now built in Clydebank, Scotland.
Big excitement on the day it arrived, in the midst of Storm Georgina (named after my Mum). Thankfully the truck driver managed to get it down the hill onto the level my workshop is on, and between me, a wheelbarrow and the muscle (Steve) we wo/manhandled it into place. Steve set it up, then had to go out for the day, leaving me to have a play. I got myself acquainted with the threading , the bobbin filling, and the different settings for straight stitch and zigzag stitch. It was almost bedtime, but I couldn’t resist exploring the new possibilities that this machine offered.
A typical domestic machine has a zigzag width of 5mm, but this one can go as wide as 12mm , and can move move between straight to 12mm zigzag stitch whilst sewing, controlled by a knee operated lever. That sentence portrays none of the excitement that this creates. It’s like driving from 0-60, steering with your knees, with the machine making vroom vroom noises!
I tried it on some scrap fabric, back and forth, to and fro, vroom vroom vroom. So far so good.
I then wondered what it would look like on one of my scarves. So I got one, started stitching and …. disaster!
With a REALLY wide zigzag stitch comes a REALLY wide needle hole and REALLY stupidly I stitched a REALLY fine chiffon scarf on it which it promptly ingested through the hole and a large part of the scarf wrapped tightly round the bobbin shuttle thing! AAAARGH!
I pulled out as much of the scarf as I could, then went to bed and cried myself to sleep , thinking I’d broken it on the same day it arrived.
Thank goodness for the Cavalry Dept. (Steve) who had a look at it when he came home the next day, and said “don’t worry, I can fix it, that’s the good thing about this machine, it’s made to be fixable”.
Phew. Big phew. Mega big phew.