Isaac Singer has a lot to answer for. Not for his bigamous private life that resulted in more than 20 children, but for his alterations to the mechanics of the sewing machine that resulted in his claim to fame – the Singer sewing machine – the forerunner of all the others we enjoy and curse today.
While Isaac didn’t invent the sewing machine, his improvements turned the machine from an expensive, industrial device to one that Isaac envisioned in every home. Does that remind you of the computer or maybe the mobile phone? Yes the antique treadly was the moby of its day.
Although they were expensive, Isaac and his business partner ensured that everyone could afford one of his machines because they utilised the installment system that had been used for purchasing farming equipment. So a small down payment and a few dollars a week meant they were very affordable. Remember this is before the personal loan or credit card. And so then they went global. Way to go Isaac.
As a result we quilters each have a machine. Maybe not a Singer but perhaps a Jerry Janome or maybe a Bernie Bernina. Whatever the livery I reckon it’s a fair bet that you don’t really know how to use it. Sure you can sew straight and maybe you can recognise the 1/4″ foot. Perhaps you’ve dabbled with the darning foot for free motion quilting and even tinkered with the occasional zigzag.
Ah yes the inoffensive zigzag, but have you ever used the twin needle that came in the little tool box that slides off the front of your appliance? What about the blind hem foot? And don’t even start on the stitch regulator. And who of us actually understands tension and how to regulate it? The actual sewing of the sewing machine looks quite a simple process…
So why is it so difficult to make ours work the way they are supposed to work? And how come we don’t even know about half the features? Fortunately there are those among us who do actually know about all the hidden secrets of the sewing machine – sewing machine whisperers if you will. Those who can speak the secret language of edge stitch feet and stitch regulators. Sometimes they will share their secrets.
And so it was that some of the Apatcheez gathered together in the humidity of the subtropical world last Saturday to learn from the wise. The very clever Gail McMahon took the girls through their paces while they marvelled as she revealed switches that created decorative details and knobs, previously hidden to the operator, that produced the most marvellous stitches. The project was a rather attractive bag and another day is needed for anyone to actually finish one, such was the intricacy of the design (or was that because of the ignorance of the operators?). Nevertheless the ladies enjoyed the day (apart from the heat which was not very conducive to learning as more than one of us noted). Wondering what it was like? Here’s some pictures..
It was a very serious business as you can see. I blame Isaac Singer.
Until next week