Monday 27 June 2011

Modern Sewing ...

Damiel - my 1958 Novum

How strange, following on from the whole Wings of Desire/Peter Falk theme, that this is also the week I officially retired Damiel, replacing him with a brand new machine.  

My first.

I didn’t want 70 stitches.  I wanted three - straight, zigzag & blanket.  

Straight and zigzag are a given, but blanket stitch is not so easy to find on budget machines.  Good easy buttonholes (just in case I'm ever that brave) too.  Anything else, like embroidery,  I'd rather hand sew.

The needle threader had to be easy and non-fiddly or no bloomin point, same for the bobbin too.  I also wanted a stop/start button and speed control, because I think it might make chain piecing a dream, for me anyway.  I couldn't afford a stitch regulator in any brand so that was off the list.

I spent hours at my LQS, the Brighton Sewing Centre, trying out machines. I had it down to a couple of Janomes and a Brother.  I’m a bit anti-Brother, I don’t really know why.  They have a reputation for bouncing all over the place, but I didn’t find that.  They all felt like lifting a kitten compared to the tonnage at home!

I swapped allegiance at the last moment (it was the bobbin and stitch dial that did it in the end) and went for the very basic Brother Innov-is 10!  I only need a basic machine to make some things easier.  I realised in the shop that there is no way I would give up using Damiel completely until I can afford something soopah doopah.  Right now, this will do very nicely.


I’ve NEVER sewn with anything made after 1975, so I knew it was going to be different, and that it’ll take some getting used to, but I’m yet to fall totally head over heels with ‘modern’ machines. 

Those things that I find brilliantly convenient about them – lightness, quietness, pre-set control – are the things that actually made sewing with an older machine, like the Novum, a much more tactile experience. 

Yes, the Brother can do everything that I ask it to, but it’s a little robotic.  All the machines I tried, right up to the £800 ones sounded and felt just a bit reluctant.  They lacked the enthusiasm (read raw vroom vroom motor) that my 50s semi-industrial all metal machine has in spades. 

Of course, the downside of an amazing belt driven motor is that pedal to the metal like being a teenager in a Lamborghini.  The upside of that is that you learn how to read and coax the machine with the smallest of tweaks as you sew.  You are physically at one with your fabric and machine, man.  It’s give and take.  You learn from your machine.

It’s like the difference I feel between using a non digital SLR and using a point & shoot digital camera on auto.

Damiel is stored behind the sofa for easy access! Just in case I feel the need for a bit of mechanical connection and wild, head-out-of-the-window speed. I’m going to use all that learning to keep practising my FMQ on him.  Speed plus slipperiness underfoot and a huge harp is good, but I need to master the basics first.


RoboSew really replaces my 1975 {Mrs}Singer.  I’m going to freecycle her – she still works really well, but is just a bit too frumpy for me.  She was my first machine and she will make someone very happy and they will love her and make beautiful things with her. Tension issues 'n' all.

All that grumpiness about 'the new' aside, I love the fact that RoboSew, as the Brother has been named, is going to help me whip through easy sewing  - I do have to admit that it really is about 5 times faster for piecing! - there’s a lot less fiddling about -  and it’s going to give me much more controlled practice of Free Motion Quilting.  

I'm looking forward to learning to override some of the controls.  ... and yup,  I'm loving the stop/start button thing! 

Onward & Upward eh?

When you’ve replaced a beloved machine, did you find it difficult to bond, or did you just fall straight into easy serial monogamy ?


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