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?
What a great story of an old friend! Such a great post! They’re such good friends, these sewing machines of ours. I have a similar post of an experience of my Bessie love (antique singer 115) at my blog, 1930slife.blogspot.com
I learned to sew on a bernina 801 when I was 5 which I think maybe one day I’ll track down. It was brand new when I was born in ’83.
What I did to find the perfect name for my singer was I circled all around the table and took a good look at her and then I sat down and sewed a blouse from start to finish listening to how she works and to any different quirks she might have that are different from the rest. I just found that she was smaller than my other antique and just as quiet as a mouse so I named her Bessie Love after one of my favourite actresses!
I have a Bernina 801 on my Trademe watchlist! I can’t resist, it looks so nice.
I am so glad you have found ‘your’ machine! I dragged my first machine to college as well, and made several dresses for my dorm-mates.
The different wattages in different countries is one of the things that holds my wife and I from relocating from the U.S. to the U.K. – replacing my two sewing machines and my stand mixer would be heartbreaking…and expensive!
What a lovely story! My machine is named Jane after Jane Bennet. She seemed like the best Bennet sister to name my machine after. Still need to name my serger though.
What a lovely story 🙂 I learned to sew on an old Singer that was purchased in 1981 (we still had the sales receipt in the manual) and even though I love my current Janome, I will always remember that Singer. I just recently picked up an even older Singer, manufactured in 1956 that has two whole stitches and I am SO in love with it. Congrats on your new!old machine!
what shall I name her? : Bienvenue ?
Ooh! We have two of these at my shop and they are total workhorses. They’ve survived just about everything our members have thrown at them.
The only issue ours occasionally have is sometimes not wanting to switch from straight stitch to zig-zag and back; the little red light will be on one stitch, but it will do the other. Oh, and once, one of them started sewing backwards for no reason, and using the backwards lever made it go forwards!
Oh, she’s neat! She’s neater than our old Lucznik, but he has those diagrams for every single stitch, too – I’ve always loved those.
My Singer’s named Ema because it has such baby colours and because Ema is (or used to be) such a frequent character in Czech alphabet books, so it somehow seemed to fit.
I guess the point I’m making is, pick a trait of this machine that sets it apart from the other machines in the household, and choose a name that fits that. Something neat and sturdy and organised?
What a lovely story. I love the fact that Mr D took the original over to NZ for you. It was my parents’ diamond wedding anniversary last week, and I suddenly thought to ask how Mum got all her stuff from London, where she was living and where the wedding took place, 400-plus miles up to Edinburgh, where Dad was living. The first thing she said was that Dad came down to visit and took her (very heavy) Singer 99 back up on the train for her – true love!
I learnt to sew on my mother’s Elna Supermatic. Later a good friend of mine acquired one at a garage sale for a very reasonable price. He had decided he wanted to learn to make his own clothes (I think he acquired a knitting machine too. However he never quite got to it, he lent me the Supermatic, and it soon turned into a permanent loan, with the promise that if he ever needed anything made, or a sewing lesson, he just had to ask.
I’ve since moved on to a Janome MC6500P, which I love for many reasons, but the Supermatic is still there. I’m also going to take it into Jackson St at some point for a good overhaul, as it is *slightly* easier to transport than the Janome (who is called Janine).
My university sewing machine was my Granny’s singer. Which I also still have. (And which is in even more need of an overhaul than the Elna).
Beautiful! There’s something very special about the machine you really got sewing on. Mine was a Singer ‘Blue Magic’ and I was devastated when it was accidentally knocked off a table and broke (badly), and spent ages hunting down a replacement.
I hope the repair this one needs is not a major one.
I’ve actually found a new machine I love, my Juki HZL-F600. It has a cunning storage area, a good free-arm and a table that can be added to it to give a flat surface. I still have my mother’s Bernina 830 (circa 1970) which is my back up machine and a great wee machine. It’s seriously solid, but I baby it a bit as spare parts are no longer available.
I’m happy for you, hoping you can fixed it without trouble.
I love how solid and practice were the old machines compared to the modern ones.
My sewing machine is a Singer 2110 that I had as a present for my confirmation when I was 12: I actually use it.
Find a good name to your machine 😉
Congratulations on your new purchase! If you are talking about Sewing Machine Services then I can say that Hugh is simply lovely to deal with. I have a few Christchurch friends who were much put out when he moved up here after the quakes.
I think my Janome MyExcel must be a descendant of your new (old) machine – the sewing stitch foot guide under the flap and foot storage all look similar.
I’m intrigued by the whole naming of machines thing. I don’t personally know anyone that names their machines and to me it seems really weird, however it appears to be a common thing in the sewing blogosphere.
I still have my machine I bought when i was 21, its a bit more basic that yours but reliable all the time. cant beat the classics
I learned to sew at 5 or 6 on my mum’s Bernina 807, which she bought in 1969. She sewed mine and my brother’s clothes, curtains, my first communion dress, ball gowns and countless dress-up costumes. I inherited it when I left home, and it is still going strong. I can’t imagine not having this machine, it sews everything I throw at it, including leather and plastic (I make wearable art and sew with a lot of unconventional materials).
I learned on a husqvarna.
Very important question: I would like to buy my fashion-designer-in-training nieces a sewing machine. Which would should I get? There are three of them 7, 8 and 10. Who knows if they will stick with it. They live in the US. What would you do?
Amazing that you found a replacement! Hugh on jackson st is great, quite expensive but good at what he does.
I love my Janome, model number escapes me but it is “computerised” and was the bees knees in 1988! Your machine is very similar to my first Janome which my parents gave me for my 18th birthday (previously I did all my sewing on Mum’s machine, a green Universal). My current Janome my husband gave me for our first wedding anniversary. He’s a keeper 🙂
Interestingly my reverse lever/button has just started to play up a bit and someone in the comments noted that sometimes the zig-zag stitch doesn’t change over which happens occasionally to me too. I get mine serviced every two years or so so it must be about time again.
I learned to sew on a Husqavarna, which followed me everywhere, until it broke down on me a few years ago (I blame SEPTA. My sewing machine just couldn’t take another day on a SEPTA bus and died…). I managed to pick up an old 70’s New Home and have been sewing on it for a few years now. I love it. I may actually cry if she ever breaks.
I used to have one just like that! But then I sold it and bought a post-war Japanese hand-crank (from the shop on Jackson St), because it’s almost silent, and I can sew while my husband reads aloud – not a possibility with the Janome.
The only thing I miss is the zig-zag – the Liberty machine can do 30 stitches to the inch in a straight line, but it doesn’t do zig-zag. So I’ve been doing more French & flat-felled seams of late, and is that a bad thing?
Love your story. I have the same machine SW 2018E I bought it 29 years ago to make my wedding dress I have since made numerous outfits, curtains and most recently my daughters ball gown sadly my machine is failing, like yours the reverse is not working and now the dial to change stitches. I am now looking at a replacement as I’m lost with out my sewing machine. Your story made me realize I love this trusty old machine too. Did you get yours repaired in Petone?
I have this exact sewing machine but its the American Version New Home. It was my Grandma’s and she gave it to me when she stopped sewing so I wouldn’t have to steal my mothers! My only thing is you can’t lock reverse into place like you can on my mothers vicking, which it like 40 years old and still kicking it. I hope you will read this because I have a question: My needle just stopped catching the bobbin thread and it will skip sometimes. I looked up some stuff and it looks like my timing might be off? Is that fixable at home or do I need to go to a repair shop?
I love your story and how loyal you are to your sewing machine! I feel the same way. I think my friend is cursed because her machine wasn’t working and then she used mine and it stopped working…not happy.
It is a great machine isn’t it 🙂 I’ve never done anything but the most basic sewing machine maintenance, so can’t really give you any advice at all on fixing timing. I rely on having a great relationship with a sewing machine repairman for my machines. Good luck with yours and I hope you’re able to get it purring again.
I think your friend is not “cursed”…thinking your friend is not using good sewing practices…possibly may be pulling the fabric or sewing over pins or sewing thick fabric with too fine a needle.
great story… unbelievable. if I am not mistaken New Home is the old name of Janome.
Almost 🙂 New Home (US) and Janome (Japan) were separate brands. Janome bought New Home, but kept the New Home branding on many of its machines for the US market. So, depending on how old it is, a New Home machine has nothing whatsoever to do with Janome, or is a Janome with different branding.
I have the same machine and it has just locked up on me. My husband bought it for me when my children were about 3 and 4. I am heart broken he paid $1000.00 for it about 27 years ago. I am sorry to see it go. Tomorrow I will be looking for a new machine. Any suggestions.
No suggestion except to take it to a good sewing machine repairperson. Mine can do miracles!
Look for a Janome HD1000 if available where you live. It’s in all white or in all black.
About 10 years ago it was called Threadbanger TB12 and had a dragon graphic on it. I am a grandma…but I wanted that machine so much. Didn’t get one though.
Do you still have the box that went on the front of the DX 2022? Would like to purchase if you do! It’s the best machine. Took it in for a cleaning and the shop lost the box! Just about impossible to find. It’s a great machine.
Unfortunately I don’t have the box 🙁 I kept all the feet, but didn’t think to keep the box.
I was recently given a New Home 2022 just like yours. I have a few questions about it. I love seeing and love your story also.