A whole lot better than I do mine, I'll bet.
Recent conversations -phone and in person - with Mum and Dad all turn, at some point, to procuring an industrial machine and the frustrations of sewing our more interesting projects on home machines. Not actually being in Singapore when Dad does his sewing, I am only as aware of how well he and his (home) machine are getting on as Mum will report. Delightful nuggets like "someone flipped the switch on the pedal so it was extra slow and we panicked because we thought the machine was going to conk" and "we didn't like the zipper foot so we unscrewed it and transplanted the old one from the treadle machine" liberally sprinkle our exchanges about children, school, weather, Korean TV serial plots and the prices of baby back ribs and pho. Fun.
This morning we were talking about the joys of shoving gummy layers of neoprene under the presser foot of a typical home machine when Mum suddenly remembered that she and Dad had recently discovered a secret lever on their own machine that lent a whole new dimension of ease to bulky fabrics. So great was her enthusiasm that even I, apathetic seamstress-still-mentally-on-vacation, was spurred on to investigate my own machine in the hopes of finding this same Wonder Thingamajig therein. How came she about this fantastic revelation? I muttered into the receiver, my head wedged under the horizontal arm of my Pfaff 1525, nose dangerously close to getting impaled on the needle.
"We finally found our sewing machine manual!" she brightly confided.
Ah, the manual.
"Maybe your manual will tell you where to find yours!" she continued. "We found out from ours that our machine can do so much more!"
Extracted my head and stood upright long enough to (bitterly) explain that my useless manual contained overlapping instructions to operate three different models, with all the most exciting features accompanied by the disclaimer, "*Not found in model 1525".
"I've given up reading the manual, Mum. It was too depressing." I finally concluded my tirade.
"Tsk," said Mum, sympathetically. "These people should..."
"Those people", however, were liberated from whatever obligation Mum had designed for them, because right then, I discovered The Lever.
Although, more accurately, it wasn't actually a new lever. It was the same singular lever that had raised and lowered the presser foot for years but which had a mid-position lock that I'd never noticed before. Here, I'll show you:
This is my presser foot mechanism, with the black walking foot behind it.
Here it is in the raised, lowered, and (newly discovered) middle position:
This middle setting of the presser foot, achieved on my machine, by clicking the lever sideways into a little catch, instead of up-and-down, allows the presser foot to remain suspended above the plate while sewing.
"Does it work?" asked Mum.
"I dunno. The machine isn't plugged in." I said.
"Why not?" asked Mum.
"Because I'm still on vacation."
Speaking of presser feet, I discovered something else new about my machine. Like many other newfangled machines, mine came with snap-on feet, and for years I never thought to try any other kind of feet on them. The trouble with the specialized snap-on Pfaff feet is they are very expensive, and very unavailable, except from dealers (sneaky). So I got by with using just the feet that came free with the machine, and using cunning techniques to impersonate new and exciting feet I needed e.g. scotch tape (teflon foot), strategic fingernail gliding (piping foot) and sheer brute force (roller foot).
When I met up with Jen on this trip to Singapore, I bemoaned this to her, and she suggested unscrewing the whole blooming foot shank thingy and replacing it with cheaper, generic feet. Brilliant (her)! And dim (me)! Couldn't wait to get home and try it. Mentioned this to Mum on the phone in this morning's conversation and she said, "Oh, Dad's been doing it all along."
Hrmph. My parents are keeping all the best sewing secrets from me, I swear.
Anyway, so I carried out Experiment #2 - The Foot Transplant.
Unscrewed and removed the entire foot shank of my Pfaff,
leaving only the bare whatchamacallit,
poached a presser foot from the old spare Singer I keep around for emergencies:
and grafted that on.
Snap-on schmap-on. Pschffffft.
True, the walking foot (black thing behind the regular presser foot) cannot engage with these parasite feet, which might mean compromised workmanship with the more demanding materials like neoprene and vinyl, but at least it's an option. And something to experiment with, certainly, while incubating all my research on industrial machines.
So that's my lesson today. What new and humiliating things have you learnt about your sewing machine lately?
P.S. Happy Valentine's Day, y'all. I ate extra chocolate today to celebrate; "extra" meaning "while ignoring the treadmill."