13 January, 2014

Broken Threads #1

Many of you know I make quilts. A lot of quilts. It's a compulsion and I have a freaking boatload of fabric here in the house, even after giving my friend Katie nearly a full trunk of my overflow (as in the trunk of my Corolla, not a steamer trunk, although the volume is probably similar).

I've been sewing since our daughter was an infant, maybe three or four months old. She'll be twenty four years old next month and I have made, minimum, 25 quilts a year for the entirety of her life. I made twenty six one summer (it was a very good quilting year) but there have been slow years too, so an average of 25 seems conservative to me. That's right about six hundred quilts. Likely more.

Before your eyes pop outta your heads over that crazy number, most of these quilts are on the small side. I've done a couple hundred baby quilts (let's say eight a year, average), I usually only do one bed sized quilt a year (probably 30 total), three or four lap or couch sized quilts a year, and the rest are small, table runners, wall hangings, odd little funky, artsy things. Still, a LOT of quilts.

My first sewing machine was a 1953 Elna model I got after my great aunt Mary died. It used different cogs I had to insert into the machine to make it do various stitches. I burned the oomph out of it in about two or three years, mostly making baby clothes plus some quilts. My second machine was an inexpensive BabyLock, and I used it literally to death, wearing out the motor and gears after about six years of quilting, quilting, quilting. When it became too tired to quilt anymore, I bought a really nice computerized Pfaff and I've driven it through hundreds of quilts (very few garments). The Pfaff was a dedicated workhorse. I dragged it all over the place for classes and sew days and to keep me sane during my down time at writing events, even out of state. I love my Pfaff.

My Pfaff on my sewing desk.
But it's a 15 year old, used, abused, and hard worked machine. Over the past few months, it's had oddball issues with stitching (mostly dropping stitches for no discernible reason) but, in November, the computer started to act up. It would 'count' through different stitches (zigzag, basting, buttonhole, stars, etc), while I was sewing, even while the machine was sitting there on but unattended. In short, the poor little computer was dying, and taking my adored sewing machine with it.

Since I need to sew or I get a little cuckoo, and it's been nearly two months since I've managed to sew, Bill has basically told me to Go Buy A New Sewing Machine. I am now on a quest. I test drove Brother brand machines today and the Brother Simplicity 3129 seems to be my best fit, at least in their lines.

I'm looking at BabyLock and the new Pfaffs tomorrow, then I'll have to decide what's the best way to go from here. I really miss sewing.


otterdaughter said...

I dread the day my Bernina 830 finally gives out...the dear thing is over 30 years old and still runs like a champ. I use it so much that I have to take it in and have the tension spring replaced every year, but other than that it's been my constant companion since my college days.

Good luck finding the new machine that fits you best!

Kat BM said...

I own 2 of your fab quilts!! I am a lucky girl. but I have to laugh... right now I have maybe 7-8 sewing machines, most of them the treadle kind in various levels of bad shape, ready to be torn apart for .. well jewelry parts.