Sunday, January 24, 2016

Heavy Metal

If you're looking for a sewing machine, the best piece of advice for you can be expressed in three words: all-metal frame. Be willing to pay for it, and resist the temptation to blow a few starter bucks on a cheap piece of equipment. Plastic parts, I am told, will get you only so far before the entire machine has to go.

The machine I use from Singer -- a quality name -- is a modest device that does what I need and not much more. I'm sewing historic garb, and I don't need computer-assisted embroidery or the other whiz-bang features I see rolling out. I need a tough workhorse that will get me through multiple projects that's easy enough for me to load up. I prefer having a drop-in bobbin well so I can see what's going on in the innards. Sometimes if I'm sewing on a rough surface or among a lot of other stitches, the machine will jam up and create spaghetti stitches underneath which I have to cut away. Once that's cleaned up, it's fine. The Singer has gotten me through at least five projects already. I haven't broken the original needle on it yet. And it has a 25-year warranty. That's longer than my car.

One fancy-schmancy feature you will want is an automatic buttonhole setting. This has sped up many a process of creating coats and weskits. Granted, my buttonhole stitches aren't exactly top-notch, but it's better than doing it manually. Ironically, I have had to work the automatic buttonhole process semi-automatically when I needed buttonholes longer than the special buttonhole foot would allow. In those cases, I just manually flicked the mechanisms the foot would automatically trigger in its stitch path and got what I needed.

Best of all, this first machine for your humble servant wasn't ridiculously expensive. I paid $140 at Walmart. Not a bad deal at all for a workhorse.

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