Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Good bye old friend... Hello new friends

There comes a time in every sewers life when we must bid a fond farewell to our trusted and loyal machines. You share good times and bad, they have been the savior on many occasions and the bane of existence on others. But you are never mad at them for long. We give them names, stroke them and tell them how much we love them and secretly (or loudly) curse them when they misbehave.


I learnt to sew on my Mum's Janome affectionately dubbed, Jenny Janome, not dissimilar to the picture above. For years she hummed along, making all of mine and my brothers clothes, fancy frocks for Mum to wear to weddings and that and a few capsule wardrobes for my grandmother to take on her adventures around the county. She saw me through my secondary school textiles projects and even a tutu or six at uni. In her old age, tension was an issue, stretch wasn't possible and even reverse became too difficult. Sadly, Jenny was replaced by a newer and fancier (computerised) model.


The new machine can do everything. I think if we were desperate, it would sort and fold the washing for us. Automatic threading, bobbins that wind with a flick of a switch, feed dogs that actually feed!!! The fabric was flying, we could hardly contain our excitement. The following Christmas another Janome arrived. Maree and I are were like dueling banjos, except on machines.


While at uni, I finally bought the long coverted overlocker. No more French seams, double turns and don't even get me started on the joys of stretch. Who knew the world could be this way. Joining seams and finishing at the same time! I would hug the overlocker, sing to it, sing along with its gentle hum. I never looked back. Until the other day...


With our first market date drawing ever closer, Maree and I have been stitching away. Last week, however, it was not the gentle hum of sewing machines or the always comforting "schwook" of metal cutting through fabric. No no, the air was filled with frustration and the gritting of teeth. Ree had spent an hour or more wrestling with the overlocker. For some reason the green thread was not cooperating, unthreading itself, snapping and Lord only knows what else. After my own unsuccessful attempts to wrangle the beast I cried, "that's it!!! I've had it with this bloody overlocker! Ree we are buying a new one!"


On a Tuesday afternoon, not so long ago, we welcomed the newest member of our machine family home. We were like children on Christmas morning, squealing and clapping. Unlike children on Christmas morning, however, we read the instructions. Our old machine was second hand and didn't have instructions. The only information we had were my scratchy memories from Swinburne and even that was limited to industrial machines. Reading the instructions was like entering Aladdin's cave. How to correct tension, roll and narrow hemming, decorative finishes. Our heads were spinning.


"What did Jesse Knowlan say? Press as you go ladies!" I have this sewing mantra permanently burnt on my memory. Jesse Knowlan (I think that was her name) was Maree's sewing teacher at school. And it has served me well! But in order to press as one goes, one requires an iron that gives off considerable heat and steam. And so, a new iron was purchased. I asked the salesman if it was a stealth bomber as well, but he assured me it wasn't. It's slick and shiny and boy does it give off steam and heat. Fingers + steam = OUCHY!


Every sewer, professional or amateur, has a machine or gadget that you love. I myself have another machine whom I cannot part with. He is an ancient Myer Victor that was given to me. He has cams that create the different seams, my personal face is the sailing boats. His tension is shot and and it's been a long time since I've used him, but I still cannot part with him. One of my new faves is the bias binding maker. No longer do I struggle along making it by hand. A few quick cuts and a seam or two here and there and it's thought the machine and presto! Bias binding galore.


I dedicate this post to all those sewing machines, overlockers, irons and other beloved sewing gadgets that have gone to a better place. We will always remember the good times. We miss you.


Kate xx



  1. I still have daydreams about your bias binding machine !
    Great post - such sewing machine love. I love finding and seeing old machines.....the stories they could tell!

  2. Your myer victor, do the cams go at the top? If so this looks remarkably like my first ever sewing machine which my folks brought for me as a teen..I'd love to see more pictures. Thanks for sharing..

  3. Ps. What year is she. Please email info if you see these messages. Thanks. Julie