Three years ago, I invited a friend, keen on upping her sewing game, for a light lunch and an afternoon of stitching. While I zipped along on the super-cheap Singer I’d bought at a Woolworth’s in 1995, Nathalie found the perfect cross-stitch pattern for quilting felted wool on the hand-me-down 1980’s “Computerized” Husqvarna that came my way in the late aughts. That day was fabulous, even if (or especially because), in the middle of our sewing session, the Husqvarna started smoking from its motor, and we ran it out onto the cold front porch to keep ourselves and the house safe from further harm.
So much for showing a friend how therapeutic sewing can be! Though, I am happy to report, despite this potentially traumatizing event, Nathalie has gone on to create her own bespoke business upcycling wool sweaters into gorgeous quilted felted cowls, blankets, and throws.
Not to be thrown by the initial smoke-show, myself, I had the Husqvarna repaired as I started budgeting for a new model. Turns out, that savings plan was not a bad idea. Not long after the 12-month guarantee on the repair expired, I found myself performing a one-woman re-enactment of that fateful run outdoors! Standing solo on my front porch, surrounded in smoke, I knew further repairs to a sewing machine without the functionality I wanted would not be worth the price of labour, let alone the components. I’d donate the Husqvarna for parts and recycling. Then, I’d take time to do significant research as I kept on saving for that dream machine.
“My kingdom for an automatic buttonhole!”
I still had the Singer to sew on, after all. Although, as the months went on, I realized that this workhorse, on which I’d made so many delightful things, including my wedding dress, was ready for a semi-retired life. I could clean it and oil it and do a basic tune up. But it needed to be set aside for learners, emergencies, the bulkiest of denim seams, and sticky jobs like velcro, etc. So, I decided to take a few moments at the end of 2021 to mark its retirement in style. I used some brown velvet and a slippery green poly I’d kept around for years to try out the Papercut Patterns Nova Coat, with a green True Bias Ogden Cami to wear with.
Then, with guidance from the creative professionals at The Workroom, in Toronto, my Christmas came with a brand new sewing machine, a Bernina 457QE.
This new Bernina is my forever machine. And I’ve decided to take the opportunity of a fresh start by approaching it as a novice sewer, reading and re-reading the Bernina instructions, watching all of the videos I can handle, and going over basic techniques in a few classic sewing books, i.e. Vogue Sewing. Of course, as I’ve been honing my skills, I’m learning that there’s a difference between “beginning again” and “beginning in fear.” My fear with the Bernina is less setting the machine on fire (though it has crossed my mind!) and more general “breakage” paranoia. Still, I do like the idea of taking care of this new family member. To that end, my first little project on the machine, and my first “quilted” anything, was this self-drafted quilted screen protector I made for the touch-screen