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bare bones machine vs. bells & whistles

lindamaries | Posted in General Discussion on

I learned on an old New Home sewing machine. To this day, that machine is STILL working wonderfully. It goes forward and backward and that is all. It has the nicest straight stitch you’d ever want. So even and precise the stitches are. (talk like Yoda, I do.)
Then I bought myself a Sears Kenmore Zig Zag for $88.00 in eighth grade. I had that for ever, too.


  1. Tish | | #1

    I learned on my mother's Singer Featherweight, and I still have it.  It goes forward and backward.  It's hard to get that machine to do anything you can't undo with a little back-pedaling and a seam ripper.  It's easy to get into and clean the lint out of when you go from sewing a dark fabric to sewing a light one.

    It's good training to have to learn how to do basting and hemming and buttonholes by hand.  Then you really appreciate the machine that does them for you.

    1. carolfresia | | #2

      You're right, Tish. My mother-in-law has a straight-stitch-only machine, and has sewn some really beautiful garments on it. But she hates sewing! I think she just got sick and tired of doing all the handwork. I keep thinking that someone with her level of skill would really enjoy working with an up-dated model, but she's not interested. Sigh. Well, you can't win everyone over, can you?!


      1. lindamaries | | #3

        Yep, once a person learns to sew and then moves up to a slicker model, there is no stopping the sewer. All the special stitches and buttonholes and feet and not to mention the neat new products that are out today. The threads and Steam-a-seam and the really cool fabrics etc and etc. A person just grows and grows and enjoys and enjoys. You really should let her try some of your stuff. Have a sewing get-together once and she probably would get interested again.

        1. carolfresia | | #4

          I can't believe I'm saying this, but if she would rather change my kid's diaper while I sew, I'm happy to let her go her merry, non-sewing way!! But you're right about the new gadgets. Manufacturers have done wonderful things to the newest breed of "starter" machines, I think.

        2. rjf | | #6

          I'm afraid I fall in the catergory of "can't be bothered to learn new tricks" but I'm curious about "Steam-a-seam".  What is it?

          1. carolfresia | | #7

            Steam-a-seam is a fusible tape that is something like Stitch Witchery, but I think avalable in narrow widths and with a softer, less stiff feel once it's been ironed on. THere are two varieties, but I forget what the difference is between them--I use them interchangably and go more by width. This produce can be used to create a permanent bond, such as a hem, but I use it mostly when I have a lot of finicky topstitching to do: I press the hems in place, then fuse them down with Steam-a-seam, so that when I topstitch, the layers don't shift at all. Works like a charm, and I've already stopped thinking of it as cheating! It takes a bit longer than simply pinning things into place, but with shifty fabrics it works better, I find.


          2. Jean | | #8

            Thanks for mentioning the steamaseam stuff. I'm on the banner committee at church and this might be a big improvement over stitchwitchery for our purposes. Nearest store that handles it is 60 miles away, so we'll have to order on line. Hard to keep up with all the new goodies out there. :)

      2. VictoriaMars | | #5

        My mother was a professional dressmaker who kept buying the new sewing machines that had all the *new fangled* gadgets on it like a button holer and all sorts of feet and I don't think she ever used iany of them! She did everything by hand and taught me the same. 

        My mother died over 20 years ago and several years later, I was having a discussion with my dad about sergers and mother's reluctance to utelize her TOL machines. Dad maintained mother just didn't have time to learn new methods and so stuck with old ones that she was sure of. And it takes time to learn new methods, even if the practise ultimately saves time.

        I believe that if she were alive today that she would jump at some of the new notions and would try new methods and fully utelize the new machines. I think the general skill level of most sewers has gone up even while the number of sewers have dropped dramatically in the last 20 years.

        The *bare bones* machines of today were the TOL of yesterday.


        Edited 7/18/2002 2:09:14 PM ET by VICTORIAMARS

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