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At the spa for a week

2013 June 10
by elizabeth_admin

Me?  No, my machines.  Specifically, my serger and my Singer Featherweight.  I took them in for servicing.  The serger, despite my constant cleaning was quite dirty inside and I could tell I was not reaching all the detritus with my teensy tiny brush.  The tension on the left needle kept slipping as well.  My Singer Featherweight was making a strange noise and hadn’t been serviced since I bought the machine.  Of course, I dutifully oil it often if not after each project.  The belt thingamajig was fraying (for lack of a better term).  I was scared to use it, so it was definitely time to get it looked at.

I took my machines to a sewing machine store that my mom had taken her lemon, I mean piece of crap, I mean machine to get serviced.  The reason for the derogatory attitude about her machine is that she paid a pretty penny for a machine that is always broken.  A very pretty penny mind you.  And here’s an aside question for you.  Why do quilters spend thousands of dollars on their machines????  I don’t get it.  Isn’t the art of quilting about the piecing, not the embroidery or fancy stitches?  I really don’t get paying that much for a machine.

Anyhoo, while I was there, I thought I would see if they had any vintage machines for me to look at.  The sales lady who was about 80 years old, looked at me funny when I asked her if they had a vintage machine section.  She repeated vintage to me as if she’d never heard the word before.  I said, “You know, any machines built before the 1970’s.”  Then she looked at me like I had three heads.  She took me to the back room and showed me some Singer 201’s and 221’s.  Nothing that I was actually interested in as I already had a Singer Featherweight.  I was more into seeing if they had any old Janomes.  Then she said to me, “You don’t want any of these machines dear.  They don’t have any bells and whistles.  They can only do straight stitches.”  To which I replied, “Well, I’m not a quilter; I’m a garment sewer.   So I only really need the straight stitch as long as I have my serger.”  It was at this point that I had obviously grown three heads.  Then she tried to steer me to a $10,000 Bernina.  I kid you not.  I politely said no thank you and walked out the door.

I thought I would be able to get my machines back in a few days, but the repair guy said at least week.  I felt a bit panicky at that news.  What am I going to do with them gone for a week????  I guess I will be cutting out some new projects.  I could make my summer purse on my Viking machine.  I don’t need a serger for that.  I definitely need the serger for garment sewing though.  I don’t want to use the overcast stitch on my Viking.  It looks to becky home-ecky to me.  Personal preference. Or I could read.  I did just finish World War Z in less than 24 hours.  Or I could actually do what I’m supposed to be doing instead of finding new projects to procrastinate with.  *sigh*

What do you do when your machines go to the spa?  How often do you take your machines in?  Only when something goes wrong or on a maintenance schedule like once a year?

I can’t wait to get my machines back.  I feel naked and anxious without them.

20 Responses leave one →
  1. June 10, 2013

    I know how you feel, I feel kind of lost when a machine is away for a visit. Why is it that I always have the great urge to sew when a machine is in for servicing? I only take my machines in when they act up. It probably is better to take them in for a yearly check up, but I don’t.

    PS-a ten thousand dollar Bernina, yeah right. I’ll just sell my car to pay for it, oh wait, that won’t be enough.

  2. June 10, 2013

    I feel a bit embarrassed to be admitting this out loud, but I have a vintage 1976 Kenmore that no longer sews anything but a straight stitch. And I love it. We’ve been together through thick (I’ve repaired TENTS on this thing) and thin (lingerie). I’ve sewn quilts and dresses on it, dolls and curtains. I clean it at least once a year – then lots more often depending on the actual mileage. And I’m with you – I don’t get those fancy machines either. I have friends with Berninas who have absolutely no idea how to use them (the manuals are horrifying!). Nosiree, I’m perfectly content with my 30-plus-year-old, steady-as-she-goes model. We’ll be together for a long, long time! xos

    P.S. I also have a serger that I bought second-hand on eBay. Works great… but I never really use it…

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      June 10, 2013

      Don’t be embarrassed Susie! That’s the kind of machine I want.

  3. June 10, 2013

    that’s hard! My machine should probably be serviced too, but I know I’ll wait until there’s a catastrophe because I just can’t bring myself to do it. I think quilters buy expensive machines because they want big machines –not for the piecing, but for the actual quilting. The bigger the machine, the easier it is to wrangle all three layers of a large quilt through. I know lots of quilters who sew on (big, expensive) straight-stitch only machines.

  4. Renee permalink
    June 10, 2013

    My modern Kenmore recently bit the dust and I’ve been sewing on my 70s 3/4 size Kenmore. It’s marvelous. I want to take my 221 in for servicing too. My mother has custody of my 301 — which I also love. But, it’s nice to have it at their place when I want or need to sew something. My next sewing machine for home will likely be a straight stitch Juki. It will be nears $1k but it will be super fast and do one thing really really well.

  5. June 10, 2013

    Well heck, I was hoping to read about your spa experience. I get very anxious when I have to take my babies to the shop. I try to schedule it for a week I will be on vacation in a place where there are ample adult beverages. I take them in for true maintenance – when something goes wrong, not for preventative maintenance (I know. Bad Mom!) The serger when the blades get dull and need to be replaced. The sewing machine when something gets out of whack like the reverse stitching on buttonhole looks crappy compared to forward stitching, or the auto thread cutter doesn’t work and holds the bobbin thread at the start of each seam (dull cutter).

  6. Laura permalink
    June 10, 2013

    Honey, honey…..that’s why you have more than 1 machine…..I take mine in when I go on vacation, and tell them I must have them back within a week (or when I get home..MUST)…it’s worked, now I know my fixer guy on a first name basis, always call him by name when I see him etc.
    Works for me! LAURA

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      June 10, 2013

      I know! I couldn’t function if I had taken all my machines in at once. Thankfully, I still have the Viking at home.

  7. June 10, 2013

    Have you tried SewingMachinesPlus, they seemed very knowledgeable.

  8. June 10, 2013

    > Why do quilters spend thousands of dollars on their machines????
    Don’t knock it until you try it. In my defense, the only things that differentiates the Bernina Aurora QE and non QE (quilters’ edition) are the accessories included in the base package.

    The QE comes with a pretty fancy optical system for free motion quilting. It senses how fast the fabric is moving across the sewing machine bed and adjusts the needle speed to the fabric motion speed to achieve the length of stitch the user selected. It works like a champ and wasn’t cheap to implement.

    The Bernina included manuals are atrocious, but the Feetures series of books are OK. Bernina is based in German-speaking Switzerland. I speak German (married a German) so, even though the instructions are in poor English, I understand what they meant to say, but translated badly from German to English . (Does that make sense?)

    The best reason to buy a Bernina are the dealer classes included in the purchase price. There are also many pretty good videos on the Bernina website demonstrating techniques. The women they hired mostly speak with a (US) southern accent, but they know their stuff.

    Since I wrote this,

    I’ve spent a lot more time with my machine and can use nearly all the features now.

    So, did they try to sell you the 830? 10k would be a good price for that. How often have you wished you had a 9 mm wide stitch instead of a mere 5.5 mm? I’m asking myself if it is time to trade up.

    • elizabeth_admin permalink*
      June 10, 2013

      I don’t know if I am swayed. I think it’s an obscene amount of money for a home sewer to spend on a non-industrial machine. I think I would need a lot more convincing.

  9. Skye permalink
    June 10, 2013

    There are 2 pathways for my machine servicing.
    1. Their annual clean occurs when I go on vacation
    2. Other time I make an appointment with SM tech and travel drop machines off go have a coffee and snoop a couple of high end RTW stores and then back to collect machine and home again.

    I have the small vacuum attachments that help get the fluff that alludes the cleaning brush
    Skye NZ

  10. June 10, 2013

    I need to get my Viking serviced and the idea is filling me with anxiety! What if I need to sew?!?! For me, also, it’s a production to get the machine to the shop (a 30 min subway ride or an expensive cab). But I can’t put it off much longer.

  11. Wendy Hillhouse permalink
    June 10, 2013

    I have a vintage Elna Stella that is usually for taking to workshops, but I use her when my regular machine is at the Pfaff doctor. I’m so tempted to buy the new Elna Lotus!

  12. O'Susanna permalink
    June 11, 2013

    I am a quilter venturing into garment construction. My main machine is the Brother PQ1500—a straight stitch only mid arm flat bed monster. Think of it as a Featherweight on serious steroids. I LOVE that machine! The stitch quality is unbelievable and it plows through everything “like buttah” The top stitching is swoon worthy! Bought it to machine quilt, but the stitches, feet, and agility make it my go- to for almost everything. Ridiculously easy to maintain/clean. Purchased after one too many ” spa trips” for computerized machine crankitude.

    If only it had a button hole attachment. What it lacks in buttonhole, it compensates with a fabulous 7mm basting stitch.

    Retails less than $1K, but I bought mine used, from dealer, for $300.

  13. June 11, 2013

    When my machine is in for service I trace patterns and cut fabric like there’s no tomorrow. I dislike the process of cutting fabric so when I can’t sew, I get as much out of the way as possible.

    It’s a great idea to drop your machine off for regular service before leaving on vacation.

    I could never spend thousands of dollars on a machine either, even if I DID have money to burn!

  14. June 11, 2013

    Ask an ASG local member where she gets her machines serviced…chances are she will know husbands of members who do this on the side for a cheaper price and can do it in one day. Our local chapter has 4 husbands who do this full time. I drop my main machine off when I leave town but if I need some of the others cleaned like the sergers, it is one day service with an ASG discount…can’t beat that! The members have free access to advertizing in their local newsletter and the men put ads in their all the time…some have pick-up and delivery service for free…not all retired men golf or fish…some love tinkering with all brands of machines. My guy sharpens scissors and knives as well so it is a real great convenience!

  15. MrsS permalink
    June 12, 2013

    Loved your comment about the lady looking at you as if you had 3 heads. I also get very odd looks when I walk into my local sewing machine specialist and tell them I sew clothes to wear not make quilts. It’s like you’re a leaper. I also every 5yrs or so do refresher classes on my machines (one on one tutoring, well worth it) and have to almost yell at the demonstrator – I do not quilt just show me sewing techniques!

  16. June 13, 2013

    Leaving the machine behind is totally heartbreaking! My Bernina repair took 3 weeks and I thought I was going to die. I ended up using my (intended-to-be decorative/for the apocalypse) treadle machine to sew, I was so desperate.

  17. June 14, 2013

    10 Grand for a machine?! Wow! My machine is from the 90s and sells on auction sites for about $80 now…
    I hope all the repairs go well and you get your machine back soon 🙂

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