Requiem for an Old Friend

It was not unexpected, but the finale still caught me by surprise. Had I been a bit more aware, a bit more focused, I might have seen the end coming. As it was, all that remained was my deep sighing that so often comes with hindsight.

The signs were obvious: the increasing frequency of a missed thread or two in our conversations, a noticeably crooked gait and tensions that could not be soothed.

And, then, one morning, my poor little $99 entry level sewing machine that had been pushed so far beyond its limits while gamely stitching on, simply choked on a wad of thread and sputtered one last time. And with that, my old friend froze and was no more.

It didn’t take me long to realize that I was heading into unknown territory, probably a more expensive territory than I wanted, but now that I am officially addicted to quilting, I knew I needed more than a $99 entry level machine to feed the cravings.

So I headed back to the major retailer, stood in the middle of the enormous showroom and looked something akin to a deer in the headlights.  A young sales man approached, realized I needed more help than he could provide, and returned with a knowledgeable, seasoned fellow who figuratively took me by the hand and began to narrow down my options.

The sticker shock was not as bad as I had feared as the store was having a seriously discounted sale coupled with 60 months interest free financing.  Whoo Hoo!!  This had all the markings of a sugar-coated, addiction-laden quilting heaven.

A couple hours later, I left with the new love of my life, a sewing machine that, as my good friend Gail notes, does everything but bake bread and iron.  Too bad about the ironing.

My old friend was quickly put to rest and my new Soprano immediately began singing.  What an amazing machine. I fully expect it to break into dance at any moment. In short order, I had completed five almost-finished twin and queen quilt tops, their backings and had actually quilted another crib size quilt.

I should know by now that any love brings the expectation that space will be shared, and this one is no different. 

Well, almost no difference. Unlike my old $99 entry level friend or the former men in my life, the Soprano demands a lot of space and, in no time at all, took over the dining room, which was not an issue as it’s seldom used. She also demanded the guest/sewing room.  And the great room. And a couple of closets for fabric, notions and whatchamacallits that I’ve yet to figure out.

Thus far, I’m keeping her out of my bedroom.

The cat looks very cautiously at this new rival, not quite sure whether to simply ignore the intruder or fight for his turf. Thus far, his posturing has been limited to sprawling over fabrics and half-finished quilts,  but he is giving the Soprano wide berth. She ignores him as well, instead singing softly as she swiftly stitches through whatever I give her.

As long as the cat doesn’t get too jealous, I think I’m going to thoroughly enjoy having this new sweetheart of a Soprano around.



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!