Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sew Slow, Sew Hard...Sew Fun

No, not a post about SFSE, I just couldn't resist the pun.

I'm not one to leave anyone hanging (sorry Birdsong), I was gonna write more about the trauma with sewing machines yesterday, but I literally fell asleep at the keyboard, so I put off my storytelling until tonight...

Ah what peaceful bliss I enjoyed when I first bought my current sewing machine...actually that's a half-truth. If not a downright lie. I was very much mourning for my old machine then.

My very first sewing machine was a Singer, given to me by one of my most favorite nuns in the universe, Sr. Charles. She was of the "blue-haired-irish" variety. When I was really little, my mom used to take my brother and I to the high school she worked in, which eventually was the high school I attended (quick aside--that chapel, I used to help my mom clean it, using Murphy's Oil infused clothes my brother and I would slide across the pews on our tushies...memories).

Mom'd leave us to sit quietly and do our summer school homework in the big kitchen, and I used to sneak into the nun's quarters and sit with Sr. Charles while she sewed. For the holidays the Principal used to make her famous Trifle, and Sr. Charles always sneaked me some, yeah, the adult version, with alcohol and everything. When Sr. Charles was asked to move to the "Care Facility" where she would "help" take care of other older nuns, she not only gave me the sewing machine, but boxes and boxes of fabric and half-finished items that she was not allowed to take with her. I cried. I was 9 years old.

I still own the first thing I ever made with that sewing machine. A half-finished mu'umu'u in a brown bamboo pattern was in one of the boxes. I transfigured it into a robe which I've worn quite thin these past 21 years.

Enough set-up for you? I'm tearing as I remember. Sorry, see yesterday #100.

So fast-forward to 2001, where I'm gearing up to go on a sailing trip with my X husband (then married). We're participating in the Nautical Flea Market at the Elkhorn Yacht Club (my yacht club). We're clearing out everything possible, everything that won't fit on the boat, everything that can go, must. He brings my Singer out of the storage room.

me: "No, not that, I'm either taking it with me or my mom's getting it."
X: "It won't fit on the boat, and your mom's not gonna want this old thing."
me: "I don't want to sell it."
X: "You're not going to need it."
me: "I'm not selling it."
X: "It's too big for the boat."
me: "I'm not selling it."

$20. That's how much it was sold for. I don't know who bought it, only that I know I didn't sell it. I know that it was set down BEHIND me and I manned the table most of the day. I cried and cried and he said he'd buy me one that fit on the boat. I cried some more.

Jump to: the sewing machine store...don't ask me, it was next door to a Kragen Auto Parts in Capitola, CA, anyone know? Is it still there? We're pricing them because we needed to sew canvas, and I was not going to sew anything by hand that would require pliers and a leather glove. I wanted a Singer. Truth was, I wanted MY Singer. Something like 9 stitch functions with, whoo hoo, the ability to sew backward-ooooooh, a new feature back when I'd gotten it! That was not going to happen.

The man talked my X into a Janome Jem Gold. A Quilting machine. Small but powerful. What sold both of us was when he showed me how to sew leather onto a piece of canvas. It would do.

For the next 3 years it lived in a little cabinet all for itself, getting thrashed through bad weather and used to sew up curtains and the odd heavy thing. I lived 2 years in Hawai'i, through many heavy oilings to keep it from turning nasty in all the humidity.

There is where the mystery begins. February of 2005 I packed 18 boxes of my stuff (mostly teaching material) and mailed it off to LA to live with my mom while I took a short insanity break in Lake Tahoe. I did not meet or greet those boxes. The first time I laid eyes on any of it was 4 or 5 months later when I was ready to empty and reorganize, and throw out the broken stuff. If you have ever, I mean EVER moved from one state (especially one in the middle of the pacific ocean) to another, you know things will break. My brother had given me a writing box for my 19th birthday. It too survived 6,000 miles of the sailing life, only to be SMASHED TO BITS by the 3,000 mile trip to LA. I really should have looked at my sewing machine then, but yesterday's #89 should tell you why I didn't.

Have you guessed it by now? The case was intact. See:
But there was some REALLY odd rattling on the inside...
So I opened it up and took it apart. Yes, what I said, see:
You know how the needle part is supposed to go all the way down to make a stitch? Can't, hits the backing plate. The foot is where it's supposed to be, the needle hits the plate. It's pushed so very far over that it can not do it's job one bit. Will have to try a hammer soon. You know that knob that changes all the stitches? Stuck. Why stuck? That's cuz, and you'll see what my photoshop skills are in just a sec:
(This is the top view of the machine's right-hand side, where all the fun gears are.)
the little orange circle with the arrows? That's where a machine screw that connects the gears to the other fun levers and stuff was SHEERED OFF. I may have done it when trying to crank the knob over. Or it just may be the tip of the iceburg.

I've bought a replacement screw and tried oh so very very very hard to explain to the nice people at ACE that I wanted the tiniest tap they had, as well as the tiniest drill bit they had, so I could get the sheered part of the screw out of it's black hole.

They insisted I didn't want that. I wanted a tap THE SIZE of the screw. According to them, I am to drill out the most that I can and re-tap it. This would work if what I was retapping was something that went all the way through to the other side, oh yes. But no, this is, of course, in an "elbow" bend. Fun on a stick.

I mentioned several times this was for a sewing machine. The guy laughed and said the same thing Andy said, "Are you going to be able to put all the pieces back where you found them?" I just smiled. I hate that. I really really hate that. I really really really hate that they wouldn't listen to what it was I wanted and needed. Had Andy gone in to ask for what I'd asked for, I wonder if he'd have come out with what was wanted vs. what they insisted would work?

So the machine? She's decorating the top of the fireplace, in pieces, until the right tools are gathered and I ( or Andy and I) will pound away on that little guy a little more. I give it 2 or 3 more hours before I give up. Maybe it's a sign...I could do with buying a nice, small, no frills, oh I dunno: SINGER!


Walnut said...

i'm a scrapper but wanna learn to blog you have here! i too, love hello kitty :) how can you not

ellie said...

Oh so sad! I used to sew in Junior High. Right after 8th grade I went out and bought exactly the same machine I learned on. With my very own money and everything. It was a lemon. And the people wouldn't take it back unless I came and took their lesson. It was insulting. I had been sewing for 3 years. I made a Scarlet O'Hara dress for Halloween. So, yeah... I never went. And I didn't sew anymore. I still have the fabric for about 8 Christmas teddy bears back at my mom's house. Good luck (on the repair or on the shopping trip)!

keohinani said...

dude, if my husband sold my singer sewing machine (assuming he knew HOW MUCH IT MEANT TO YOU), i would divorce him too! bastard...!
sorry, couldn't help myself. i thought that was SO CHEAP and even if he'd bought me a new-fangled top of the line BERNINA sewing machine, i'd still be SO IRRECONCILABLY UPSET! it's like giving away my first-born without telling me (hypothetically speaking if i had a first-born, anyway...moving on...)
and i HATE when you need customer service and people aren't listening to what you're saying. i mean, HELLO, you're not HELPING!? perhaps it would be a better idea to go to a sewing machine store instead to avoid that sort of frustration...
sorry to hear about the sewing machine drama :( i'm not very good at sewing, but i can appreciate a good (or at least nostagic) sewing machine. i'm going to get back into it because it's something my mom enjoyed doing and knitting is OBVIOUSLY a segue to other crafty things. hehe...
thanks for sharing the comment on my blog. i couldn't knit and do something else at the same time; i'd feel like i was being insolent in some way...even if it was just garter stitch and the other activity was not so involved. heck, i feel so guilty just trying to knit a freaking sock during down time at a wrestling tournament! but that's another story altogether...

Walnut said...

ok...totally posted a comment to you and i have no idea now where i posted it, lol...
what i had said was that you've inspired me to knit something this weekend....and that i was saying "something" because i was not ready to say what it is yet until it's "done"....might start out making a hat and end up with a banana warmer