Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sewing machines

My friends, Mrs. Nakazawa and Rumi-san came to do patchwork yesterday. They are both very gung-ho quilters.... when they are at my house! When they get home they slow down a bit and don't get very much done. They seem to find the atmosphere at my house (lots of quilts and cats and coffee) conducive to quilting.

Let's see... Mrs. Nakazawa is working on a large cat quilt, two Bible quilts (embroidery blocks this month), and a flower quilt. Rumi-san is working on a small applique wall hanging, the Bible quilt and the same flower quilt. And both these ladies talk about their NEXT projects! True quilters at heart... but not with enough time.

One problem is that neither friend has a workable sewing machine. Rumi-san HAS one but she hasn't used it for 30 years. She is ready to toss it and buy a new one. Mrs. Nakazawa just wants to buy one. I've been asking Rumi-san to bring her sewing machine so that I could see if it is salvageable or not but it has been hidden away in some closet. Yesterday she finally hauled it out and carried it to my house.

"That's a nice sturdy case it's in. Let's see what it looks like."

Rumi-san and I wrestled (literally) with her Singer sewing machine case for a few minutes.

"How do you get into this thing?!"

We came within inches of breaking the whole case but finally figured out there were hinges and different places to push and pull (sort of like getting into one of those Chinese puzzle boxes) that allowed the case to slide off the machine.

"I don't suppose you have the instructions for threading the machine."

"Oh no. Those were lost long ago. I used this machine for about two years when my daughter was in kindergarten and it's been put away since then... I thought since you do so much sewing that you would automatically know how to thread it."

Thank you for the compliment but I'll need to spend some time "playing" with the machine.

"Does the thread go this way? That way? Around here?"

I now appreciate the new machines that have a numbered pathway right on the machine itself for the many people who lose that instruction book. After awhile I got it right but then I was stalled by the bobbin case. No matter what I did, that bobbin wouldn't move. I got out screwdrivers, lint brushes, machine oil and took that baby apart!

The end of the story is that I think some belt in the machine has disintegrated because I never did get any action out of the bobbin case.

"Rumi-san. I think you are going to have to buy a new machine. Take it in to the repair shop and they might be able to fix it, but if you are seriously planning to use a sewing machine then wouldn't you like one with thread cutters and automatic needle threaders?"

Rumi-san was actually overjoyed with that pronouncement and Mrs. Nakazawa was already making plans to buy identical sewing machines so that they can learn together.

"Tanya, pick one out for us."


That is a major responsibility especially since I will also be responsible for keeping their sewing machines in use. I certainly don't want them buying a sewing machine and then have it retire to a closet for 30 years again!

Yesterday both ladies used MY sewing machine to machine applique their flower petals.

"Ooh... Look how that free-motion foot works!"

So now I'm combing the Internet for sewing machine product information.

Anyone have any advice? I've always used a Brother sewing machine... not specified for quilting. Janome is big in Japan. Juki is more expensive but available. But I think my friends are thinking about around $500 at the most... Easy to use but able to do free-motion quilting. No embroidery.

Who knows... I might need an identical machine myself just so that I can teach them!

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