I learned to sew with a sewing machine when I was 12 or so, and was instantly hooked, so my parents, with a lot of advice from my sewing teacher, bought me a sewing machine of my own for my 13th birthday.
It was a New Home 2022, and I loved it. It purred beautifully, and sewed smoothly over anything and everything. It had all the feet: rolled hem, blind hem, zipper, well designed basic, all stored in their own individual little slots under the lid at the top of the machine. There was a cunning box at the front for putting spools of thread and any additional extras. Everything about it was a delight.
I made half my wardrobe, including two prom dresses, a dozen dresses for my mother, Halloween costumes for my sisters, my first attempts at historical costuming, curtains and more on it while I was in high school.
Then I went off to college (university for those you in NZ), and while I couldn’t fit my sewing machine in my suitcase, I did fit it in a box, with fabric packed around it, and post it to myself at uni.
It dominated my desk for four years of university, and I sewed my first coat, and my first corset, and more clothes, and quilts, and numerous costumes, historical and otherwise.
And then I went to NZ, and met Mr D, and it became obvious that a move to NZ was in my future, so after a visit to me he packed my sewing machine in a suitcase, all buffered round with fabric (bless Air NZ and their old two 23 kilo pieces of luggage allowance), and took it back to NZ with him.
So, after a stint in New York and a temporary move back to Hawaii, I had to sew my wedding dress on the very basic machine my mother bought as a replacement, while my machine sat and waited for me in NZ.
After the wedding we moved down to Wellington, and I joyfully unpacked my machine, and got it set up, plugged into a converter to adapt from the US electrical system to the NZ, and set out sewing clothes and curtains and costumes and…
…One day, only a few months after I arrived, my lovely machine’s engine blew up in terrifying but exciting cloud of black smoke. Wailey wailey!
Yeah, it turns out that sewing machines really don’t like running on converters, especially when they are already 30 years old and have spent a decade in ‘death to electronics’ Hawaii, and have made three major moves.
I took it to a sewing machine repair shop, and they told me that the only way to legally repair it would be to have the entire electrical system and engine replaced, and it would cost at least $2,000. Eeeek!
Since $2,000 was out of the question, I bought a Janome Sewist instead, and bid a sad farewell to my machine. I loved it so much that I couldn’t quite bear to completely get rid of it, and so, in addition to the feet, I kept the the box that fit at the front of the machine.
Because my machine was a New Home, I couldn’t find the same machine in New Zealand, because I hadn’t yet figured out that New Homes were sold as Janome’s in NZ. But once I did, I put a watch on Trademe (like eBay for NZ), and watched, and watched.
And last week, a machine that I recognised as mine came up. It was a Janome SW 2018E, not a New Home 2022, but it was clearly the same machine, and it was mine.
With some luck and careful watching (and a willingness to risk that the machine might be in terrible condition, because it had been the owners mother’s and she had no idea if it would work), I managed to bid and make the machine properly mine, and now it’s sitting on the dining room (which is really my office these days, but gets called the dining room because that’s what it was meant to be)
It’s just as wonderful as I remember. Look at it! They just don’t make machines like it these days. Even the super expensive ones have terrible rickety boxes at the front that are hard to open and get into, and don’t have beautiful features like a storage slot for each foot, and a measuring tape across the front, and cunning diagrams for each stitch.
I’ve brought it home and cooed at it and sewed with it, and Felicity has given it a good once-over. She was particularly interested in the seam gage that I happened to have sitting on it, which I got with my first ever sewing kit, just prior to the first sewing machine (so appropriate)
She approved of the machine, but did not approve of the seam gage, which she scornfully knocked off the machine.
She also inspected the one bit of sewing I’ve managed the time to do on it: the darts on a blouse for my mum I started two years ago and never finished.
The darts sewed beautifully, but there is one little problem: the reverse doesn’t work! Wailey wailey!
So my lovely machine will be making a trip to be serviced and fixed. I think I’ll try the one out in Petone I’ve never been to, so I can tell my students if they are good or not.
Now there is only one question: what shall I name her?