Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Sewing Update

I was amazed to find out how much sewing machines have changed in the past 25 years. The $200 machine I picked up yesterday for my RAK give-away project has a lot of features my Bernina doesn’t have.

The new machine is a “Huskystar”, supposedly made by Viking, one of the big names in the industry. For having such a stupid name, the machine is really quite nice.

You might be impressed when I tell you I have 4 sewing machines. But when I add that they range in age from 25 to well over 100 years, you can forget it. I am definitely dealing in older technology.

I always thought of sewing as just the automation of interlocking threads in fabric. All I ever really needed in a machine was the ability to sew forward and backward with a straight and a zig-zag stitch and to do buttonholes. There wasn’t much I couldn’t make with these capabilities.

I suppose it’s like with cars – they wouldn’t sell new ones if they didn’t keep adding bells and whistles. So the Huskystar has a needle-threader, a new kind of zipper-foot, a very cool buttonholer that knows exactly how big to make the hole, dialable embroidery stitches, and many other functions are now automated.


The best news is that it never needs to be oiled. Sort of like the radiators to which you no longer need to add water. So the maintenance is quite low.

The older man at store where I bought the Huskystar spoke affectionately about my Bernina Model 830 as though it were some vintage machine that is still legendary. It has served me well over the years. With my penchant for NOT having the newest technology, I can imagine it will be the last sewing machine I ever purchase.

But for now, I have had my crash course in how to use the Huskystar and am ready to take on my student Glenda, who will become the proud owner of this machine. We will meet for the first time next Monday afternoon.

11 Comments:

Blogger Richard said...

There is a great deal of beauty in older things (I'm talking before general mass production) since they tended to be the product of craftsmen. However, I believe that newer things are often of much better quality.

There is some sadness in the loss of craftsmanship, because of the loss of character and uniqueness (much like that little local toy or book shop), but quality and functionality tend to be better now-a-days. It is a question of trading off aesthetics over functionality. You can have both, but, aesthetics tends to cost more because it is individual.

(today's magic word yogupx)

12:58 PM  
Blogger Golden Silence said...

I believe in keeping both: one for the nostalgia factor and the other for its more advanced craftsmanship. The larger older one is very lovely.

I have tried to learn how to use a sewing machine, but it's not happening. We had to do a class on costume design for our Theater Fundamentals course, and it involved use of a sewing machine. Let's just say instead of having a small swatch of cloth sewn together at the end, I had a jammed machine . . . .

1:38 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

I love that you're doing this. It's such a great project.

4:29 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

Can't wait to hear how Glenda likes her gift!

My grandmother (handed down to my mother and then me) had a Singer treadle machine. I made clothes for the kids and myself on it until 1987! Now I have a Singer Featherweight worth its weight in gold - it sews beautifully though I do have to thread it myself.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- What I did learn in my sewing machine research is that you definitely do not want an older no-name sewing machine (like my 1960-ish Elna) because you can no longer get parts for them. It pays to stick to something that at least can be repaired. As for being made better, I'm not so sure. It's sort of like listening to newer car doors shut versus an older heavier Mercedes door. There is no comparison sometimes.

Golden -- I'm definitely not parting with my current sewing machines. I purchased the new one to give to a Hispanic teen mother who wants to learn how to sew. I love my old treadle machine, even though I no longer use it to sew. It's a family heirloom.

Kristin -- I'm so anxious to meet my young student and figure out where to go from there in terms of teaching her and actually making something. I was never trained to be a home-ec teacher, so this should be interesting!

Pauline -- I think we all become attached to our sewing machines, even if they aren't the most modern. You quickly realize that no one really needs a computerized sewing machine to do the basic work most of us do.

6:26 PM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

I agree with you that all I ever really needed in a sewing machine was for it to go forward, backward, zigzag and make buttonholes. I have changed my tune a little as that automatic needlethreader sounds indispensable (what with my crappy eyesight nowadays)

Can't wait to hear about Glenda- she is in for a treat!

6:53 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Sorry, I did not mean to imply that old mass produced machines were nice works of art - they are not. And yeah, parts are a problem. Restoring and maintaining them is not worth it.

6:58 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Gewels -- Unless you are legally blind, the automatic needle threader is still too many steps. I still favor just a good lick and point the thread at the hole. But I too have noticed it's not quite so easy to see the hole any longer...

9:06 PM  
Blogger Kate said...

What a fabulous random act of kindness! Not only the machine but teaching someone to sew! A brilliant choice but am not surprised that this is what you are doing.

Hugs,

9:56 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate -- Thanks! I'm really looking forward to Monday.

5:02 PM  
Anonymous Steve Australia said...

Have a real good look at the new machine manufactured in Taiwan as apposed to the machine produced in switzerland. Not to mean that the Country of manufacture is going to make one machine better than another in some products but I will tell you that your 1974 model machine will outlast AND out perform the new machine in ANY test you wish to give them. By about 70 years. Old machine parts are rarely required as they do not wear out with the use in a domestic situation. Good luck making the NEW machine perform.

5:03 AM  

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