The Tesla Sewing Machine

sew machI’ve finished sewing what seemed like thousands of cut, ironed and starched pieces of fabric together into nine blocks for my Century Quilt and am now starting on the trim. 

My seven year old, entry level, little sewing machine that cost $100 and has never seen reverse, until now, has done a more than admirable job. 

I’m very proud of my little machine that chugs along with the refrain, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can…

But, as the piecing is nearing completion and the quilting on the cusp of beginning, I am well aware that the next step may be far beyond the capabilities of my little sewing machine.

With that in mind, I ventured down the hill and into the valley in search of a more appropriate sewing machine that could handle simple quilting.  The shops that sell sewing machines also sell vacuum cleaners, although I have no idea what that connection is. 

I walked into the nearest Sewing Machine and Vacuum Cleaner Shop and straight into a display of what can only be described as the Tesla Model of Sewing Machines.

The price tag was well in excess of 13,000 dollars.  I think that was more than we paid for having our two kids, buying our first three or four cars combined, and much more than I’d ever consider paying for a sewing machine.

I choked and momentarily considered bolting out the door and racing back up the hill. 

Instead, I took a couple of very deep breaths and proceeded up and down the aisles.  $10,000, $5,000, $4,000, $8,000 — holy mackerel, I couldn’t find even a used machine for under $1,000.  It all got very discouraging, very quickly.

The clerk approached with a warm smile and invited me to try out a lower-mid level machine at $2,500 but was on sale for somewhere around $1,000.  I was still in sticker-shock at the prices.

I sat in front of the $2,500 on sale for $1,000 model that almost resembled a sewing machine. It had 3,252 stitch options, which was 3,250 more than I’d ever use. It also had a computer that was far complicated than my MacBook Pro and could keep track of my two favorite stitches should I ever want it to do so.

Good Grief.

It took about two minutes to realize that this machine was more like driving a car while using a computer than using a sewing machine.  There was something that resembled an old stick shift that you nudged with your knee and it did something dramatic, but I forget now what it actually did. It also went at speeds that rivaled race cars even though most people run it at a much lower speed. 

I didn’t ask if there were speed limits posted with this machine, but I was beginning to wonder if I were test driving a car or sewing machine.

I explained that I just wanted a next level up sewing machine from my entry level little sewing machine that is chugging along so I can do the quilting.  Not interested in much else; I know my limits. But the warm and friendly clerk was adamant that I would grow to love my new machine that could handle basic quilting in addition to 3,250 more stitches, and that I would grow to embrace all the domestic features it offered.

The sewing machine didn’t iron or cook, so I knew it was not going to be something that would be going home with me, especially if I had to pay $1,000 for 3,250 stitches that I would never use, even if there was a computer to monitor the two stitches I would use.

I left, very disappointed and not really sure the direction I was going to take, except that I was not going to take on a huge debt to make one quilt, maybe more, if I survive this one.

I started to consider my options which was pretty much limited to hand quilting and problematic given I can’t sew a straight line, much less sew even stitches.

Fortunately, my Sister Jane called a few days later.  Jane is an excellent quilter, although she says it’s primarily a winter activity.  I can understand that.

Jane cut right to the chase.

You need a new sewing machine.  Yours is too small.

Do you know how much they cost?  Of course she did.

Don’t buy one.  You can have my old one. It’s a step or two up from yours and you can figure out if you want to continue quilting in the meantime.  I just have to find it; it’s buried somewhere in the garage.

Finding the machine may take a while, but that’s just fine. I can wait. I can cut and stitch tons more ironed and starched fabric for multiple quilts while I’m waiting.  There’s absolutely no hurry.

Bless our Sisters for they do take care of us.

And, thank you, Sis!


4 thoughts on “The Tesla Sewing Machine

  1. I’m sure Jane knows what’s best for you, but that $2500/$1000 machine with the weird stick shift thing will sew practically anything.


  2. I love it. Hope Jane can find the (free) machine for you. I donated mine a few years ago. I used to sew everything including
    bathing suits and ski apparel. That was more than enough.


  3. I bought an expensive machine years ago and gave it away after each of the two times it was loaned I had to pay $150 to retune it after it had been run at warp speed by the borrower who was behind on her projects and who had just a basic machine. Solution: don’t loan, but that was not an option in this case. I still have my old tried and true, and since I am running slower these days, it goes fast enough for me. While its true the new ones do everything but squeeze you tight and tango, not everyone is into the tango! You and Jane did the right thing!


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