Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sewing Machine Meme

To be fair to the other tools I use when making stuff, 
I should also do a Masking Tape meme, an Oil Pastel 
meme, a Craft Glue meme, a Pliers meme, 
a Digital Multimeter meme.....
but for now, I thought this Sewing Machine one 
on Sew Mama Sew was fun to do. 

What brand and model do you have?
I have a Pfaff Classicstyle 1525 and a Pfaff hobbylock 4752.
Photos are in the link at the bottom of this post.

How long have you had them?
3 years. 

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
Both were discontinued models at the dealer so I got a good deal on them. The sewing machine was about $700 and the serger was about $500.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Clothes, toys, home furnishings, nylon wallets, bags, applique, embroidery... anything but quilts, really.

How much do you sew?
A lot. More than is healthy. Every day if my children will allow it.

How much wear and tear does the machine get?
I sew with a lot of different fabrics. I think the machine gets a particularly good workout when it has to deal with several layers of denim, canvas and nylon-backed packcloth.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
I don't know about love. I
need my machines. They don't have names other than "the normal machine" and "the overlocker". 

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
It's sturdy and sews thick heavy-duty fabrics. It has an integrated walking foot, which I love, particularly when working with thick layers and slippery, stretchy fabrics. My family has used Pfaffs as long as I can remember and those that we've had are reliable and aren't prone to breaking down regularly. 

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
The manual that came with it is supposed to be used for three models, including mine. I get confused reading it and trying to figure out which buttons and dials to press and turn. But I have cleverly solved that problem by no longer reading the manual - ha! Now I may be ignorant, but at least I'm not confused!

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
It was a housewarming gift from mum and dad. I moved to the US about 4 years ago and didn't want to buy a sewing machine before then - different voltage, shipping costs etc. So as soon as I moved in and got familiar with the neighborhood, off I went to buy this. Then my aunt and uncle gave me the serger for my birthday soon after. I've been sewing for almost 30 years, but these are the first machines that are mine.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
Yes, but...
Both are incredibly reliable machines. The sewing machine does the basic straight, zigzag, blindstitch, 4-step buttonhole and a few other simple decorative stitches. It has that integrated walking foot and differential feed. I wanted a fully manual (as opposed to computerized) machine and this is perfect. For all these reasons and more, I would recommend it. The serger also has all the basic functions of a typical 2-needle serger. It isn't as difficult to thread as I thought. It does beautiful stitches. It doesn't coverlock because, well, it's an overlocker. And by the time I bought it, I'd finally figured out the difference and decided I didn't need a coverlocker at that point in my life.
Here's the but...:
If I were a beginning sewer and not sure I'd really use a sewing machine a lot, I'd be wiser spending less money on a different brand to get similar functions so I'd have more money for fabric -he he he! Unless, of course, generous family members want to sponsor my new hobby. I would, however, especially NOT buy a used machine if I were a beginning sewer. This is because used machines don't have wonderful things that new machines have, like a warranty, free classes at the dealer, and general squeaky-clean gears and whatsits.  

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?

Sewing machine:
  1. How close to your home the dealer is. Of if there even is a dealer in your area.
  2. Whether you want a manual-type machine or a computerized one.
  3. Your budget.
  4. What functions you want. A nice starting point for beginner sewers would be a machine that has straight, zigzag, buttonhole stitches. A few extra fancy embroidery stitches thrown in wouldn't hurt, either.

  1. Whether you want a coverlocker or overlocker. An overlocker does seams like the side seams of a Tshirt. A coverlocker does those AND hems like the bottom hem of a Tshirt and the hems of the Tshirt sleeves.
  2. If you want just an overlocker, whether you want 1 needle or 2 needles. A single needle overlocker does basic rolled hems, ruffles and seam serging. A 2-needle overlocker can be a 1-needle overlocker when one of the needles is removed. But with the second needle in place, it gives wider seams and a second row of straight stitching called a safety stitch. This means I don't need to sew the seam with a regular sewing machine before serging the edges - the 2-needle function does both in one step, which is nifty for lazy people like me.
After deciding on the above two points, then look at brands.

Do you have a dream machine?
Yes. Oh yes. But she's not a fancypants modern bells-and-whistles gal. She's a grand old lady with whom I grew up but who now works for Dad and Mum. Mum uses her for free-motion embroidery and Dad for sewing his leather projects. See her picture (and more longwinded whining about us not being together again yet) here

Parting thoughts: 
I think a person can't have too many sewing machines 
like a person can't have too many pairs of shoes. I also 
think there is some wisdom in having a back-up sewing 
machine in case the one I usually work with conks. I have 
a spare Singer from my mother-in-law in my storage 
closet just in case. Plus there is a second backup machine 
in her basement. When I am finally reunited with the 
abovementioned Object Of My Affection (who does not 
run on electricity), I will even be able to sew during a 
power outtage and if stranded on a desert island. Make 
a list of all your neighbors who own sewing machines in 
case you ever need to borrow one in an emergency - 
they lend you eggs and cups of sugar, don't they? 
Determine the nearest JoAnn or SuperWalmart with 
demo sewing machines on display so you can nip in if 
you ever need a quick sewing fix. You say paranoid, 
I say prepared -ask anyone who's ever had to send a 
sewing machine into the repair shop 
with just one more line of topstitching to complete.


  1. Fantastic post! I'm pretty pleased with myself if I manage to sew once a week, although half the problem is that I sew on the dining room table and so the machines have to get hauled out and then put away if I want to feed my family. I especially loved your parting thoughts :)

  2. A decent sewing machine and a serger would be my idea of heaven. I'm currently limited to the cheapest machine we could get five years ago and so in an effort to avoid teaching my children swear words, I mostly hand sew.

    Seeing the things you create makes me want a working machine sooooo badly! Your sewing is very inspiring!

  3. Great info. I've been trying to sort out coverstitch/overlock/coverlock/serger in my mind.

  4. I gave your blog and Awe-summm award on my blog:

  5. Nice! So when are you giving us your Digital Multimeter meme? : )

  6. Just started taking on the task of learning how to sew, thanks for the advice!

  7. Great article. Thank you for sharing. I have learned some information from your article.


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