Having previously sewn on a one stitch, no reverse, treadle powered Singer for many years, the opportunity to buy a new multi-stitch swing needle electric Singer in 1973 straight from the factory at a very reasonable price was an offer I could not refuse. The new machine also conveniently fitted the old treadle table. I loved that machine and nothing ever went wrong until five years ago…
I had been sewing curtains and the machine was switched on but idle. I was finishing off some thread ends by hand when the machine began sewing, all on its own. Woah! I switched the machine off and just sat watching it from a safe distance while my heart rate returned to normal. A quick inspection later didn’t reveal anything untoward. My curtains needed finishing so I turned the Singer back on and tentatively began sewing again. After about five minutes I became aware of a slight burning smell and when I looked under the table, I could see smoke drifting up from the pedal! Help! A repair could take 2-3 weeks and what if it was beyond repair? Dilemma. I needed a working machine now. I’d had the machine for over thirty years. Time to update once more perhaps.
A trip to the local sewing machine shop ended with the purchase of a Janome sewing machine. I wasn’t familiar with the brand so I chose something mid-range in both price and function. Five years later I have to admit that I’ve never really liked it for all sorts of reasons but basically, it just wasn’t my dear departed Singer. It hasn’t had a great deal of use and the last twice I’ve used it, it’s been extremely noisy. The manual suggested removing any build-up of lint from the feed dogs but there was almost none there when I checked. Perhaps it needed oiling? No, the manual doesn’t mention oiling anywhere at any time and I couldn’t find any oiling places on the carcass. When JP asked why I was making a note of the model number, I said that the machine was playing up and I was going to make enquiries about a repair. Generous soul that he is, he suggested I buy a new one to go along with the new studio. Excellent idea! Before he could change his mind, I had kissed him goodbye and was off to town.
Twenty minutes later I was like a child in a toy shop: Singer, Janome, Frister and Rossman, Bernina – all new and shiny and tempting – with price tags that went from ‘just a motorised treadle at that price’, all the way up to ‘do you really want a divorce?’ I swiftly decided that apart from being waaaaay beyond my price bracket, I really didn’t need a specialist machine so immediately discounted the models with TV screen size displays and plug-into-a-computer-for-extra-options embroidery and quilting models. I was still left with an overwhelming choice, unable to decide on a make or a model. Once I’d been round the shop a time or two, the guy at the back asked me if I was looking for something in particular. A few minutes later he was demonstrating a Bernina and I was hooked, drooling over his shoulder, but the price tag was nudging towards separation if not divorce. Had he mentioned trade-in earlier? Yes! He could do me a trade-in, throw in the embroidery foot which he had demonstrated and he had the Bernina in stock. I wavered. It was still a shed load of money. Would I get the same deal anywhere else? Unlikely. Would the deal still be good in a week’s time? Yes. OK then. I said I’d probably return later in the week and we shook on it. When I got home, I checked his prices against other suppliers and he’s as good if not slightly better than any I saw for the same model. I also checked out the Bernina website and their model comparison leaflet and yes, I would love to have an all-singing, all-dancing sewing machine that will cook me dinner as well as sew but I have to be practical too so I’ll continue to sigh longingly when I pass one in a shop but I’m already looking forward to being a Bernini owner. I can even join the Bernini owners club, fancy that! I wonder if someone would drive me and Janome to the shop tomorrow?
Oh wait! I just have to tell you this other thing too. For years I have mourned the closure of fabric shops around the country but we are lucky to have a small one here and on the way there after leaving the machine shop, I came across what was to me a new fabric shop! I was absolutely stunned when I crossed the threshold! It’s a veritable Tardis. I’ve been in fabric shops in Hong Kong that never seemed to end but this local shop beats even those. There was fabric EVERYWHERE. Bale after bale after bale and rack after rack after rack floor to ceiling, with little pathways in between, twisting and turning into dark corners with dim suggestions of additional rooms yet to be filled with more fabric. And the fabric choices! I must have died and gone to heaven, this fabric paradise must be a dream. I couldn’t believe it when they said they’d been open for eighteen months! Eighteen months of missed sewing opportunities! (My excuse being that I never walk along that part of that particular street and this new shop has no web site.) I wasn’t surprised to hear that there are regular customers who travel seventy or more miles to shop there. I intend to be a regular too from now on and I’m glad I found it, because the other fabric shop closed yesterday!