Feb 8, 2013

The Virgin

This very old treadle machine was given to me by an student who felt I would appreciate it more than she ... one of these days I'll try to use it ... she has a wooden cover that locks onto that box.
The gorgeous cloth that she sits upon is one I found in an antique/junk shop ... hand embroidered, in beautiful condition ... for $35 !

... has drawers full of original tools, bobbins and instruction manual !
The Virgin

I don't teach free-motion machine embroidery any more because I found myself in the impossible position of 'fixing' someone's sewing machine all the time ... wasting valuable time which should have been with the class as a whole. 
I'm sorry about that, too, as I really liked teaching this stuff ...  but just had to start saying 'no' when asked to teach a course. Even when my list of requirements to prospective students stressed 'for advanced sewers', I'd still get half a class that didn't know their machine at all ...  "I haven't used my machine in a few yrs, but I used to sew a lot." ... right !

At one point I would begin my class with a lesson on cleaning/care of a sewing machine ... it was the best lesson that I ever got way back in 1983 ! 
I would begin by introducing my very old Kenmore as 'The Virgin' ...( this would always get their attention !) ... as no man has ever laid hands on her !, I would explain.   
It was the absolute truth and still is today ! 
The Virgin worked so hard for me, for over 30 yrs, until 'things' just started to fall off of her ... the lever bar wouldn't lift anymore unless I spent a few moments jiggling it, and more small things just fell off, but her heart was still willing to work, bless her soul. 
I finally retired her, went straight to the local sewing machine shop and asked if they had any 'old' machines. The clerk thought I was nuts when I refused a newer, computerized, fancy-dancy machine. She finally 'got' what I wanted and led me to the basement where boxes of sewing machines were stacked to the rafters. She rooted only a minute and presented me with another Kenmore even older than my retiree ! It had never been out of the box ! Had a steel body (my main requirement), was heavy, and had a zig-zag stitch ... all I would ever need in my work. And for $128.00 ! 
I haven't named this one but she works just as hard for me and I swear that after a while machines get to know what you expect of them.

This morning while browsing some Canadian blogs I came across an article in Judy Cooper's blog where she posts about the care/cleaning of your sewing machine and references this article in Threads magazine. I really want to share that with as many sewers as I can, as it's so important and so easy to do and takes only a few minutes ... and so good to your wallet ! Enjoy.

Snowing for hours now ... shot from my studio window into mine and my neighbours far thru the screen on the window ... just adds to the 'grey' today.


  1. what a beauty she is :) just cleaned mine--and WHY do they make the new ones so hard to take apart and get into????????

  2. Mine needs cleaning right now as she has been working overtime helping me get my piece of a joint project done ! Almost there ! Yes the Vibra is a pretty little thing and one of these days I'll research it.
    I wouldn't attempt to 'fix' my computer either and that's what they are these days.
    Good luck on your house hunt !

  3. Mine is not as old as yours, but when I had it serviced I was told that the older machines are much better in construction to the newer ones. I would like to be able to take mine to pieces and clean the bits,which I can't do on my Pfaff. I started free motion machining on a Singer, and had to actually remove the feed dogs to make it work.Good luck with the caterpillars.

  4. Thanks Jackie ! Cleaned and oiled now, my Kenmore is humming !
    I started on an old treadmill as well but I can't remeber if it was a Singer or not ... probably was.
    I am anxious to find a few hrs. to start learning the caterpillar stitch ... it looks fabulous !

  5. ... oops ... secrets out !
    Yes I author the Connections blog, too !

  6. I know what you mean by the 'joy' of teaching free machine embroidery. I would spend all my time fixing student machines as well. We used to try and get all our students to use Bernina's so at least I was familiar with fixing them. Like arlee commented earlier though- machines are getting harder and harder to pull apart. My Bernina 830 is wonderful to pull apart and I can nearly always fix the problem. Yet my 1230 Bernina that I adore is almost impossible to get a single part open on it. Maybe it is a conspiracy to make us all pay to get them fixed.

  7. I'm glad to hear I am not alone re: teaching machine embroidery .. and, yes, I think you may be right .. there is a conspiracy afoot !
    Thanks you for visiting, Sarah !