Monday, 27 June 2011

World Sewing Machine Day and my sewing/emb history

OK sew I missed it! but having caught up with blogs via my reader and having enjoyed reading my long-time sew-pal SewWolf's recent post on her embroidery history I am inspired to add my own!
but be warned, its a bit long and tedious and very probably BORING. 
My sewing machines consist of a rather elderly but perfectly working embroidery-only machine a Brother PE150 which belonged originally to my late Mother and which I inherited some 8 years ago following her passing from cancer on the occasion of her 62nd birthday which was way too soon (not least for her!).  For sentimental reasons I would not consider parting with this machine.  but sentiment aside, I've got to say that small, elderly and basic a model it may be it IS however damn GOOD at what it does best which is get you the basic embroidery design FAST and with consistently GOOD perfomance!
There is simply NO temperament or mood with this!  (along with no speed control!) But you don't need it! press start - it starts and continues until IT finishes or you press to STOP! and it stops! simples.

My Late Mother was reluctant to buy her emb. machine.  But I'm over running my tale and not starting at the BEGINNING.  She was reluctant to buy it because by this time she knew she had a terminal cancer and "why?" she asked would one want to spend ££ on a "novelty" machine just for pure "fun" especially when one might not have long with which to enjoy it?
At the time my step-father urged her to buy it! and enjoy it!  As did I and so, too, did our sewing machine dealer - in fact to the tune of an attractive discount! never one to pass up a "bargain" the deal was struck SHE bought her first embroidery machine!
In the short time she had with it - some 18months - I can honestly say she got the maximum use anyone bar an extreme embroidery fanatic could have rivalled!  Without all the fanciness of extra's and software and the other add-ons - just the SIMPLE standalone machine SHE managed to work her way through embroidery adventures on a range of different fabrics & garments (fleece jackets! table linens! towels! tees! and skirts/tops etc).
And all the while this was going on - I was puzzling over the manual for my bigger fancier (at the time) NEW sewing machine with emb. unit!  Fathoming my pc link, battling with the software and the MMG (miserable martian gremlin) who resided within and attempting to calm and restrain the excitement of the highly charged Bernina by pressing the speed button down to practically needle-punct-needle-punct. zzzzz and appeasing it by STUFFING the hoop FULL of stabilisers, adding the security of basting stitches and a good measure of spray on stuff to keep everything STABLE while it nibbled away at the material and chomped on threads that caught on the way round, snagged at the needle .. sigh ..
You'd be forgiven for thinking I was not happy.
but you'd be wrong!
For years I coveted the Bernina Artista 170+emb unit that I eventually splashed out and just bought! the year after I lost my Late Dad and at the time we had left with my Mum .. and I can honestly say its been MY "dream machine".
While I faffed about squeaking at the thought of spending all that money! and would I use the embroidery function! and COULD I use the software! my Mum was quietly having her own crisis before coming to her own decision to make HER purchase! well that did it! flipping heck! if SHE'S having one then SEW am I too! Mine was ordered and duly arrived the next week.
In the early days, I have very fond memories of my Mum bringing her little machine round to my house, while my young children were out at School, we would sit and experiment with stabilisers which we shared and different fabrics and try to learn HOW to embroider and found out why stabilisers were necessary! and how to tame threads and deal with tricky things like embroidering on RM clothing - at cuffs, on collars, above pockets etc - placement, positioning and fine tuning our experience meant between us comparing our two different machines improved our learning and together we shared a journey that was to be both our last AND our most fulfilling joint adventure as "mother and daughter".
For me, sewing has always been "emotional".
This would be a good time to start at the BEGINNING? right?
In the beginning: I couldn't sew.  Didn't want to sew.  Never thought about sewing!
My Mother DID sew, COULD sew, but didn't WANT to.  Mostly on account of being a young divorced mum of 2xsmall children with no childcare help on offer, she took in sewing and took to sewing to eke out a small living.  And it was hard work! and very low paid!  Customers were demanding! exacting! and difficult!  the work was tedious - she made teddy bears for a while, she dressmakes and did alterations, she made curtains and general upholstery of chairs to suit customer's preferences.  When she could! she stopped! (sewing).  And didn't encourage me in the slightest.
She wanted (what most parents want) she wanted "better" for me.  She wanted ME to do BETTER.  She didn't want me to SEW.
Now the thing thats longlasting for me is the fact that both our sewing histories are tied together, my sewing history is as much my Late Mum's as my own and now as we approach the anniversary of her passing, and what would be our joint 50th and 70th birthdays in August, I can reflect on this joint history and feel PROUD that we had something to share together, and I can be proud, too, that I played an important part in bringing back to her her own rediscovery of "sewing" and personal enjoyment of what to then had been a tedious, detested task to be avoided at all cost!

but I've still not STARTED. Sorry. the blog post I thought would be easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy to share is anything but!  And thats the thing with SEWING - there is always something to get from sewing and a love of sewing (and all things crafty) has seen me through some very difficult and emotional times as well as many very HAPPY occasions and none more so than the FRIENDSHIPS I've gained and kept throughout my sewing history and my MACHINES have been instrumental in this.
So in the BEGINNING, I had my first son in Mar.93 and by the following Sept.94 I had enrolled in a beginners sewing class to learn dressmaking - if I'm completely honest the MAIN (only!) reason was that the local ad.ed. centre was offering FREE creche facilities provided you booked a year's classes and the only one that I could get was THIS one!  I booked it because at that time, frankly I'd have stood on my head and learned to juggle upside down for a year to get 1.5hrs away from my crying baby son!!  (he CRIED constantly and loudly for the best part of his first FIVE YEARS.  I am happy to say that since stopping - at around 5yrs - he has turned out to be the nicest and sunniest natured LOVELY young man that any Mum could wish for! but I would not want to repeat those early years!).

I ought, perhaps, to have taken photo's? to break up the tedium?  Perhaps later I will!

Anyway, I wasn't the only "mum" to be taking advantage of this offer and the class was packed with new-mums equally keen to get away from the tedium for an hour and I made more friends and learned, too, the basics.  As I learned the basics something "clicked" inside me.  I LOVED SEWING! HURRAH! I ate sewing, I dreamt sewing, I lived for sewing!  In the early days a group of us "new mums" got together at the local health centre and formed a vital friendship network that lasted many years and one of the first things we did was sort out a "rota" by which through some complicated wizardry and complexion we EACH got a 3hr "baby free" slot about every week for three out of 4!  HEAVEN!  I used to FLING my son at one of the allocated "mums on duty" and RACE home to switch ON my sewing machine! bliss! it was my release and relief and took me away from the stress and tedium of my new status as a SAHM and was the first time since leaving school and joining the world of work that I was JOBLESS!

I bought a basic Husquvarna that lasted about 3months before returning to shop and coming home with my lovely Bernina 160QE which I loved to pieces and would NOT have swapped had it not been for the EMBROIDERY factor.
I'd long wanted the Bernina Artista 170, but couldn't justify the expense!  but with EMBROIDERY I could! hurrah! eventually I traded in and splashed out on my DREAM MACHINE.
It too is rather old! and definitely behind the times technically but I still love it, though I've not sewn much this past 5yrs or so, I can honestly say when I switch on and feel the pedal under foot, it still makes me feel good inside! and the things I appreciate include the wonderful stitch consistency! and top class performance! Sure I covet my long-time sew-pals model 200e (! sigh!) and yes I'd like to trade UP to one of the newer models, but unless I "have" to, I think I'll be satisfied with this one! This one suits me! I shall be happy if it lasts. And thats the main thing!

I could go on (and on ... zzz) but I won't because that would be too boring!
To complement my sewing room I'd like to add my wonderful Brother 747overlocker which was "cheap and cheerful" at the time and has just given me such consistently good performance with the trickiest of stretch fabrics I can't fault it!  Years ago I tried my BEST to swap it for a posh expensive Bernina! but even the shop dealer admitted that NO stitch would be better than the sample I'd taken in for comparison on my little old "brother"! and that disappointed me, at the time! I so WANTED the Bernina!!

I'd like to talk about my embroidery history too, as I made such a lot of really good and close friends through our joint adventure and my closest friends saw me through the darkest period - that of my Mother's death - but this will be for another day and another blog post, I think!  perhaps, too, I'll take some up to date photos of my sewing room and machines?

I'd love to hear your sewing or embroidery or machine history! please comment and share link to your post?

Happy sewing! (and embroidering!)


Laurie said...

Sue what a great story. I remember when most of it happened as I lost my sis around the same time you lost your mom and to the same thing. I do wish you lived down the street and not across the pond. I think of all the adventures we would have had, riding horses, sewing and of course chasing Robert Plant.
hugs, sewwolf aka Laurie

SewIknit2 said...

lol! you can keep your hands off ROBERT PLANT! HE'S MINE!! lol
yes, you are right it was the same sad period of time for both of us and while its nice to think that we can at least have a cyber friendship through the wonders of the pc and forums, how much NICER it would be if we all lived together on "Sewing Island"!
well. provided everyone kept to the rules which mainly consist of ME being in charge! bah!
Hugs. Sue xxx