November 9, 2012

The Singer

My sewing machine and I go way back. My mom took me to Sears over 20 years ago and together we picked out a basic Singer. I had been using an old knee-pedal machine to learn how to sew, but it was time to move up to a more modern model. Mom told me at the checkout counter that no matter where I go in life, that machine was mine. 

I was a little giddy. We didn't really have a ton of money for extra stuff when I was growing up, so the thought of having something that cost $100 be mine -- all mine -- was pretty amazing for a 16-year-old.

Although I didn't take it with me to college, I sewed when I came home for breaks. When I moved overseas, I sewed when I came back across the pond. And when I moved to a ship off the coast of Africa, I purchased a machine from another crew member who was leaving. I didn't get overly attached to it though. I knew I'd have to resell it when I left the ship. I made curtains for my cabin and a few dresses with African fabric.

I still missed my Singer. 

Whenever I was actually home, I made fleece jumpsuits and jackets for my friends' babies. Fleece creates fuzz. The fuzz collected in the bobbin area. I took apart the bobbin box one day, to see if I could clean it. I'm fairly handy -- and ever since the Sailor bought me a fabulous mini (pink) leatherman, I have been fearless about trying to fix things on my own.

For a while, the fuzz seemed to have disappeared. Over the past few years I haven't sewn quite as much as I used to. Our tiny apartment doesn't have the space to leave the machine out for days on end (hence the obsession with more compact ways to create garments... like knitting!) I kept the Singer in the box, in a closet, and pulled it out when I needed to hem jeans or fix the curtains. 

But everytime I did, the bobbin would just jump out mid-seam. My hems looked like I sewed them by hand, with my left hand (I'm right-handed), blind-folded. They were a disaster. 

I knew the Singer needed help. Serious help. 

I got the number of a sewing machine repair man a few towns over, from my former home economics teacher. For a mere $30, and in only 48 hours, this elderly man took my machine apart properly and cleaned it. 

Then he politely scolded me for trying to do it myself in the first place. Apparently my little experiment in cleaning the machine myself caused the problem in the first place. The screws needed to be properly adjusted and callibrated -- otherwise the machine won't work right. 

The sewing maching isn't going back in the box. Nor will it ever. The sewing machine master put a metal spool holder on the top of my machine, since the plastic one I had was removable (and therefore fell off all of the time) in order to get it back into the box. But now, the machine won't fit in the box. 

That's probably a good thing. There's a pile of fabric waiting around the corner. 

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