Back on track

So it didn’t take long to get back to sewing. All I had to do was get over my dread of using the ancient Singer and pull it out. I was actually surprised with how well it runs compared to the machine I’d been using. It definitely needs a tune-up and is a bit difficult to manage, but it works. Which means I got to do some sewing last night! It’s amazing how just a couple of hours to myself to delve into a project can help me get over having a bad week. Sewing doesn’t fix everything, but it sure does help me calm down and relax after a long day at work. That, and a High Life (we do it up classy at our house).

I should probably invest in getting this old machine cleaned and serviced to keep it running, but like I said before, I don’t want to spend the money. And…I was window-shopping for new machines and of course I found one that I liked. It’s so tempting…But considering how my last purchase burned me, I think I will just bite the bullet and put some money into this old one. My faithful Old Bessie- she’s not pretty, but she’s there for me when I’ve got nothing else.

While I was researching how to fix my machine, I discovered some interesting tips on buying sewing machines. So if you’re looking to buy, here are a few FYIs:

  • old machines (like the 1970-something I have) are the best you can find because they were built when the companies put real quality into their work – they have heavy duty metal frames and can take a beating. They’ll last for decades if you keep them regularly serviced. Newer machines are made of more plastic parts and will wear out sooner. The companies finally figured out that if one machine lasts through several lifetimes, there’s not much profit in it for them. But if it breaks after a couple years, you’ll keep coming back for more.
  • To buy old: Continental Sewing in Jackson has refurbished machines, and servicing for the life of the machine is included in the purchase (they were recommended to me by an experienced seamstress I know).You can buy refurbished online as well (Amazon and Overstock have good selections), but I like the idea of a local place where I can take it when I have problems –because I know that I will always have problems. You can also check out garage sales, thrift stores, your grand/mother’s attic – lots of people don’t want them anymore and you can get them at a steal. (A big thank you to my mother for giving me what no one else wanted!)
  • Not sure if this one’s true, but it’s something to think about: the sewing machines sold at Wal-Mart and Target cost less than if you buy the same exact machine from a dealer. What I read said that this is because they are actually manufactured at a different place, and not made as well, which is how the stores can sell them for so cheap. My machine that messed up came from Target, so I’m inclined to believe this.
  • If you are going to buy new, don’t be fooled by all the bells and whistles. To do basic sewing (including house décor or garment construction) you only need 3 stitches: a straight stitch, a zigzag stitch, and a button-hole (for clothing). I have 8 stitches on my machine and I’ve never used any except the 3 I just mentioned. I don’t even know what the others are for (and I lost my manual, so I’ll never know). Some machines offered today have stitches upwards into the hundreds—Singer has a machine with 600 stitches. For a beginner you just don’t need all these to get started. Stay basic at first.  
  • I also read somewhere you should never buy a new sewing machine for under $100, which was my mistake. They just aren’t going to last. If you’re going to buy new, you need to look at $200 as a starting point for just a basic machine –don’t buy a fancy one for that price, it probably isn’t worth much. But you can get a very basic machine for that price that should be quality.
  • They now have mechanical and computerized machines. I’ve never used a computerized one, but I am leery of them. If it breaks, there wouldn’t be anything I could do to fix it, and I’m guessing it would be costly to repair. Also, I don’t want one in my house when The Matrix comes true.
  • But the absolute best thing you can do to buy a machine—new or old—is to not take my advice, but go to a local mom-and-pop store and talk to them. Usually these people have been sewing forever and know what they’re talking about. Generally,  they can recommend machines according to your skill level and budget, and they’ll let you try some out.

I think I will still dream of a nice, new machine, just because something new is always fun to have. But for now I’ll stick to my old Singer, and use the other one as a doorstop.

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