Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sewing machines 2

I have owned four sewing machines as an adult.  When I left home access to a machine was not important as I finally discovered you could buy clothes!  I also found that in the UK dressmaking patterns were behind shop bought clothes in terms of fashion whereas in New Zealand the time lag for bought fashion meant they were current.  And I never learnt pattern cutting.  My mother encouraged me to go to evening classes in tailoring after I had finished university and these proved useful but I left New Zealand part way through the academic year.

I can remember making a winter suit when I was an au pair but that was not made on my machine.  I did learn quite a few dressmaking terms in German, though, as that was where I was living.  I can also remember borrowing my aunt's sewing machine when I was flatting in London but cannot remember what I made on it.  I then  spent a year in Italy but did no sewing.  I met my English husband in Italy and we decided to get married.  We had very little money but I had bought a white and gold sari in Singapore on my way to Europe and I decided this should be made into my wedding dress.  I began by making a Laura Ashley cotton dress in the pattern I had chosen.  This was when everyone was wearing long dresses and the Laura Ashley dress plus a pinafore that went over it was very useful as I could wear it to work.

Sewing the sari was a different issue, though.  It was so fine that it would not go through the machine so in the end I made the entire thing by hand.  Here are two photos of the work involved.  There is a photo of me wearing it on the Hats post.

Then I closed the bank account I had in my maiden name and spent the money that was in it on another Elna.  I seem to remember that I went for the model below the supermatic as I did not think I would use all the stitches that had.  I remember calculating that by the end of the first summer, this machine had paid for itself as I had made so many clothes on it for both myself and my husband.  I had this Elna for many years but when I began to be serious about quilting, I realised it had one big disadvantage: you could not lower the feed dogs.

Partly for that reason, I decided that I should have a new sewing machine for my fiftieth birthday.  This was the point at which I moved over to Bernina.  I really appreciated its features and ability to deal with machine quilting.  However, this machine had a short life.  After four years we had a terrible house fire and I lost absolutely everything related to my textiles because it was all kept in the attic.  After the fire there was no sign of the Bernina which I thought was perhaps because it had melted but it may have been because what was left of our thatched roof had to be swept up.  Somewhat to my surprise the Elna survived although I never looked at it again.

You can just see it in this picture, marked by a red arrow.  

I was very lucky because the insurance assessor was very understanding and I was allowed to replace the Bernina with a brand new one  It is even marked as being a Millenium Quilters' Edition.

This is the one I am still using.  It has spent most of its life in the studio that we created from the garage but after Christmas I brought it back into my bedroom. I do not think I should be using the studio much because of my disabilities and the possibility that no-one would hear me if I fell (which I have done in the past).

In 2009 I bought a second Bernina to take to workshops.  This replaced a very cheap machine that I had bought because I was worried about taking the big one in the car.  About that time I stopped going to workshops so this machine has hardly been used and this is the one I gave away a couple of weeks ago.  I found the receipt when I was sorting it out to give away.   It had cost much more than I had realised but I regard it as a legacy and it is good to think that two generations will benefit from it.

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