Saturday, August 28, 2010

Sew Sew - Not So So

My mother generously gave me her old Singer sewing machine this week. I have so many memories of watching mom making and repairing clothing. I used to love watching her foot on the pedal and the bobbing action of the needle. Now, I'm faced with the daunting challenge of learning to sew. I'd love to hear from Ana and anyone else who can sew. Do you think I should invest in a few sewing classes, or should I read the owner's manual that came with the machine and flub my way through it? I was equally hopeless in Home Economics as I was in Industrial Arts. I was always the student about to lose a finger. I like to think I'm less of a liability now.

My dad is so sweet. When he realized that the cover of the machine doesn't snap on anymore, he found an old belt and strapped it around the machine.

Oh, one more question: Does anyone have a ballpark idea what I might be looking at to have the machine checked out by a Singer dealer? I guess I should call for a quote. It may need a new belt and lube job.

Here's a sewing video. I love this song. I remember thinking the singer had such a cool haircut and funky style. Dig.
Thanks a lot.


  1. oh fun! the old singers are wonderful (the new ones are garbage...isn't that the way with many things, sadly?)... how old is it? if it's mid century and newer, a regular tune up starts at around $60+... plus extra for parts. call around for sure, and ask about wait times. some places take your baby and keep it for weeks, while others have a faster turnaround. if it's even older, like an antique, that may cost more, especially if it needs parts.

    and i'm so excited for you! sewing is such an adventure. i say fiddle around with it, get to know the basics like threading it and the different settings. sew straight lines (pillows, napkins, etc)... and then find a class in something you'd love to make! one of my best experiences was a quilting class, and i knew how to sew garments and such at this point and still learned a ton! nothing like hands on experience and collaborating with others.

    have fun! and take a photo of it already!!!! ;)

  2. Thanks so much, Ana. You've given me so many ideas. It's a Singer from the 1970s (maybe mid-to-late seventies). I'll try to get a photo soon. My brother-in-law mentioned some stores I could get it serviced at in Toronto. He sews a bit and said I'm better off taking it to a professional rather than have him tinkering with it.
    Once again, thank you. I knew you'd have some thoughts.
    All the best,

  3. Read the manual and find some basic sewing classes. I'm sure you'll find out you're not that bad!

    Now go bake some casseroles! You can do it girl!

  4. I have an older Singer also. I need to drag it out and get it serviced and make some pillows. Good luck and I am not much of a 'sewer' either!!

  5. my pleasure erin, we can chat sewing anytime :) looking forward to what you come up with...

  6. Take the sewing class! I've sewn for years but just bought a new machine, took the free class, and it's suprising how much you learn. Things you knew the machine could do, but never took the time to explore on your own....

  7. I bought a Kenmore sewing machine at Goodwill for $6 a few years ago, and it cost me $89 to get it serviced. He didn't have to replace anything either, and it still sounded noisy when I got it back. I think I got ripped.

    Anyway, cool about getting your sewing machine! After your machine gets the once-over, I would read through the manual and play with it, sew some straight stitches, etc. Then check into a class for something you really want to sew. (There's worse than being frustrated with a project you don't care much about to begin with.)

    Also, there are some older machines that are just more frustrating than others. If yours seems like it's not cooperating, try a different machine. Sometimes when you take a class, you can use or rent a machine where the class is held, and those tend to be pretty nice machines, plus the staff is usually experienced in dealing with any issues that crop up.

  8. I paid about $80 (US money)to have my mom's 70's Elna serviced, and paid a little less to have my 80's Singer serviced, by the same repairman. He's an old timer; has been in the biz for some 50 years. That's what you need, someone who has experience in working on older sewing machines. He told me that today's Singers are junk, so it'd be worth it to get yours in tip-top shape.

    My advice is to check out your thrift stores for some easy sewing patterns to practice on - look for fabrics there too! I've made shorts, pants, skirts, plus craft items for gifts this way. Good luck!

  9. Thanks to all for the great advice. I feel like I've got a solid sewing support network around me.


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I'm a slightly off-beat Toronto-area teacher who enjoys writing and photography. I come from a family of collectors and now I'm dragging my own family around to yard sales. It's just a bit of fun. Enjoy the scenes.