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In honor of National Sewing Machine Day, tell us about the machines in your life!

Did you know it was National Sewing Machine Day yesterday? Yup, it was.

It got me thinking of the many sewing machines throughout my life. When I was very little, I remember watching my grandma sew on her treadle sewing machine. As I grew up, I sewed on my mom’s old Kenmore. (She still has it, and it still gives both my sister and I problems whenever we use it!) In school, I worked on a Pfaff, and it was a horse — a solid machine that sewed fast and sewed through anything. And when I graduated from university, my mom bought me my own machine: a Janome. That Janome is still in great condition, and though I should probably upgrade it, because there’s nothing wrong with it, I just can’t bring myself to.

Nowadays I’m thinking of acquiring more sewing machines. I don’t think I need more than one sewing machine. It just seems like a fun idea. I finally bought my first serger earlier this year — I used to just use the sergers at The Sewing Studio Toronto and The Sewing Studio New York (we sew on Janome machines there).

There are often a lot of emotions tied to our sewing machines. Sometimes we love them, sometimes we’re frustrated with them. What about you? What do you sew on right now? What did you learn to sew on? What do you dream of sewing on?

I’d love to hear about the sewing machine(s) in your life!

29 Comments

  • Denise_wild_lovesewing_large

    Aug 8, 2013, 03.49 PMby Denise Wild

    I just love coming back to this post again and again and re-reading everyone’s wonderful stories! Thank you so much for sharing!

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    Jul 7, 2013, 08.32 AMby LaviniaLace

    Two years ago I received a tiny John Lewis sewing machine to assist with my hobby of card making. Little did anyone know that I would take up dressmaking, which has completely changed my life. I am now a proud owner of a Bernina 330.

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    Jun 20, 2013, 09.20 PMby estrix

    my mom barely could sew a button,but we had this black cast iron “family member” with no visible name on it! hidden in light wooden case, i wasn’t allowed even touch it! hmmm,my curiosity grew by days .i was 14 and we lived in former soviet union.some days ,when my ma was asleep,i would fiddle with that “black lady” till i got some sewing skills.there came day for my first debs and my outfit should be made….but,we went too late to our dressmaker and due to debs time of the year the rest of dressmakers was too busy to take our order! oh my! i was in bits! we had german magazines "fraue welt " (hoe the spelling is right) with patterns,so after my ma fell asleep……i made pleated skirt and a ruffled blouse.it was 1981 june. In the morning ,me,proud as i could be showed off my wonder-work my mom broke in tears! and then came the story,about this mystique sewing machine we had ! My granny’s close friend used to be a fine dressmaker,but after WW2 she was sent out to Siberia and took this sewing machine with her,which saved her life by sewing.when she came back from Siberia 10 y later,so was the sewing machine.after this amazing woman past away,she left her s machine to my mom……that was my first sewing “black lady” with no name,cos all golden embellishments was terribly worn off from. that machine is still in my moms house and later will be in mine( i live and work in Ireland) and many years later it will be in my daughters hands, because i too became a dressmaker-there and now here! by the way,Burda magazine,which is printed in Russia and is sold in Latvia too(thats where I’m from),my mom purchase it there and sends me to Ireland! ha ,some trip around the globe!!!i have magazines from y1988 . now i have industrial Pfaff,the best baby ! and believe it or not,that old sewing machine did made some amazing wedding and evening dresses to high standards! cheers everyone and cherish your “sewing ladies” with respect! love to all sincere- Esther Scegolsky

  • Missing

    Jun 20, 2013, 08.53 PMby Kliki

    I wanted a sewing machine for many years. But we were students and lived on student benefit. Far below the poverty line. When my husband got a part time student job he asked me, if I wanted a sewing machine and though I really wanted one, I said no, because our appartment was small and crambed with stuff. But he remembered. We hadn’t lived for a long time in our new appartment, before he reminded me of the sewing machine. We were in Roskilde, in Denmark and he suggested we’d go in to a small sewing machine shop. Now, in Denmark everything is expensive. There is no competition betweeen the shops. So here we were, surronded by shiny and very expensive machines. I looked at one that costed 3000 Danish kroner. I thougth, how amazing it would be to own it. But my husband went to an other part of the shop. “Look”, he said. “Here is a Pfaff machine. You know, my mother has had hers Pfaff for 20 years and it still works brilliantly”. Reluctantly I went over there. It was a Pfaff2020. The clerk, smelling a sale, praised the machine and made me try it. It was on sale, she said, because Pfaff had just made a new model and so on and so forth and she made me try it. That was all very well, but it still costed 8.000 Dkr (around £900). I couldn’t. I loved the machine, but I couldn’t spend that kind of money on myself. (I still can’t). So I didn’t buy one that day. A month later we went to visit my parents-in-law in the south of Jutland, close to the German border. They suggested a shopping trip to Flensburg. My husband had drafted them to find the Pfaff 2020 for me there. I didn’t know it until we stood in front of the shop. Not only was the machine 3000 Dkr cheaper than in Denmark, my father in law had also negotiated, that if I paid in cash I would get a further 10% discount and som extra equipment and to top if off there is a longer garanty in Germany than in Denmark. Now, 13 years later it still works like a charm.

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    Jun 19, 2013, 05.19 AMby lucyrev

    I could easily collect bunches of vintage sewing machines. I just love them. When I was 12 or 13, I took over my mom’s old green Morse. It always munched the fabric down into the feed dogs and randomly made thread nests. I didn’t know what I was doing though and just kept on tinkering. Poor thing probably needed some TLC. When I graduated high school, my mom got me a modern but basic Singer. It was nothing special, but easier than the green monster. When I graduated from college I traded it in for a Janome 4623LE. Super dependable and does everything I need. I also inherited my great grandma’s 1970’s Viking 1020. I love feeling our history and remembering her when I use it. I love its strength and the feel of its motor. The click it makes. The smell. Everything. Recently, I scored a 1960’s pink Kenmore 158.470 for super cheap. I cleaned it and oiled it up and it’s so smooth now! I am learning how to use all the presser feet and stuff it came with. So much fun!!

  • Annette_large

    Jun 18, 2013, 09.37 PMby Asiverson

    I have three machines, a Viking which I’ve had for about 10 years now, a Singer Futura SM and embroidery machine, and a serger. Love them all and they are all going strong, even the Viking. When I first married in 1982 a birthday present from my parents was a Kenmore sewing machine. Loved it and made shorts, pants and a few other items on it. But even after bringing it in for servicing several times, it just never quite sewed correctly. Fast forward about 20 years (yikes!), but when my DH and I moved from NYC upState, I sold my apartment in the City for a tidy penny (hooray) and besides putting it all in different savings, purchased my own machine, the Viking. This was in 2002 and I still have it and it is still going strong. It is my go to machine for most sewing. Though I love my Singer and the Serger, my viking is my first and own true love! LOL!

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    Jun 18, 2013, 06.44 PMby pattytidwell

    I learned to sew in the 1960’s on my mother’s old Singer. In 1973, she bought two new Bernina 831’s, one for herself and one for my high school graduation gift. I used that Bernina for 35 years before it gave me any small bit of trouble! My husband bought me a Bernina Aurora 430 about five years ago. When our oldest daughter graduated from college in 2004, I bought her a small Bernina. We lived on a farm growing up and when the sewing machine salesman came to visit us, he remarked, “How did you find this place to buy it?” That always struck my mother as very funny- the farm had been in my father’s family for a long time.

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    Jun 18, 2013, 04.32 PMby proploft2012

    I first learned to sew when I was 7 or * from my Grandmother who was very into quilting. She had a Singer at the time that was wonderful and had this adorable switch that had a turtle at one end and a bunny on the other to help control how fast you could go when you pushed down on the foot pedal. I always had it towards the turtle :P On my 10th Birthday my Grandma and my Mom bought me a White 1632. The machine weighs a ton with all the metal parts it has, but the thing starts to bounce up and down and shake the table when you put your foot down. It’s a great machine for quilting and such but it was really fussy with me when I was sewing my prom dress. I’ve also sewed on a couple Singer Featherweights that my grandmother’s friend collects for the sewing group she runs, and it only makes me want to get one for myself. My grandmother upgraded to a Pfaff Performance2056 a few years back and when she passed away last year I inherited her lovely machine. I’m very proud to continue on the tradition of sewing with my grandmother’s machine because it always reminds me of her and encourages me to do more and do it right. I’m now in school studying Fashion design and working on the lovely Juki industrial machines that still scare the crap out of me when they wiz through the fabric. I love my sewing machines, even when they get fussy and cranky, and I love to create a bit of personal history with them and remember the history they come with.

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    Jun 18, 2013, 12.12 PMby Angie H

    I currently own 4 sewing machines and two sergers. I feel for my machines as I feel for my children. Two of my machines are newer, but I am especially fond of my older vintage machines. My singer 401a is so strong and capable….stronger and more capable than my newer heavy duty singer and my Kenmore 185.17501 has the cutest little cams that make the cutest stitches.

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    Jun 17, 2013, 03.43 PMby Meldbombs

    I love my Necchi 534FB. It was a blessing as a replacement for my cheap middle tier Brother which could not sew on knits. I also love the vintage aesthetic.

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    Jun 17, 2013, 02.33 PMby Xanthi Spyrou

    The first machine that my eyes set sight on was a professional brother.. my mum had as a seamstress in her early years in Australia… I had abused the poor thing but my mum always put it together… she would mend and even sew me some clothes…. Later in 1990 and living many oceans away from my mother and having 2 small children it was not affordable to pay and get some stuff sewn of fixed… so I went and bought the Janome L372… ( with monthly payment) with its wooden table and the slide in storage seat… I spent many hours on this sewing machine… sewing curtains ,table clothes, pillows, sheets, even clothes for my children … remembering the first pattern I cut was a dwaft outfit for my one year old then(which I have kept)… As the years went by I decided to enroll in the Burda classes… that open a new world for me … and then I bought my Serger Rolinda… With my 2 machines my sewing has became so much easier and with a clean finish……

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    Jun 16, 2013, 11.09 PMby Jamie Grace-Duff

    When I was 14 I visited a quilt show with my mom. I had been sewing for a few years and using her old sewing machine, but more than anything, I wanted a sewing machine of my own. While at the show, I got to test out a Bernina sewing machine, the 1090 – it was amazing and state of the art – semi-computerized and had a knee bar, it sewed so quietly and quickly. I was totally in love and told my parents THAT was the machine I wanted. They grimaced and said they would look into it. Meanwhile, my dad had been laid off from his job and had not quite gotten his new cosulting buisness off the ground. My mom was working 3 jobs and I was also working part time. Christmas was going to be tight that year and my sister and I had small expectations, but Christmas morning came and the there were lots of presents under the tree. I got a fancy cutting table and an adjustable dress form and while I was sad there wasn’t a sewing machine, I got a lot of awesome fashion designer gifts. After all the presents were opened, my whole family dragged over this massive box that was really really heavy with a giant gold bow on it and they all stood there grinning. I tore off the paper and the box said it was my dream sewing machine. I couldn’t believe it until I opened the box and saw it in all it’s glory! I wasn’t allowed to touch it until I took the store run introductory class, but I marveled at it all day! And despite being 15 years old at the time, I knew then that Santa Claus was real because there is no other explanation for how I received that gift that year. I have used that machine for every big project I have ever worked on and designed. It has moved with me to at least 4 states and over 15 years later, still works like a dream. (I do oil/clean her regularly and also take her in almost every year for maintenance)

    3 Replies
    • Img_0225_large

      Jun 18, 2013, 06.45 PMby pattytidwell

      I feel the same way about my Berninas – what a wonderful family you have to sacrifice for you like that. And I can tell you truly appreciated their kindness and love!

    • Annette_large

      Jun 18, 2013, 09.32 PMby Asiverson

      I absolutely loved your story. Hope your machine is still with you and going strong. Annette

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      Aug 16, 2013, 05.54 PMby Mamie Raynaud

      I have a Bernina 1130, which is very similar to the 1090. It’s over 20 years old too. I got it new as well, and also during a time when we couldn’t afford it. I have so many memories attached to my machine, which runs great to this day. This machine has sewn all my children’s clothes, and holiday presents for many years. I am hoping to pass it down to one of my children at some point. So I’m taking good care of it!

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    Jun 16, 2013, 08.01 PMby RedDynamica

    now this is for me! i have about 50-80 sewing machines in my house! i collect them and i sew with them! but there is nothing like buying a machine, and realised you got it just in time, before it died! and bring it back to life! i love singer featherweights, elna lotus, all berninas!

    1 Reply
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      Jun 16, 2013, 10.42 PMby Sewgirl2013

      I am so happy to read your post and know there is someone else out there just like me! I can’t resist saving a machine. I love to make them purr again and produce the lovely stitches they were always capable of.

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    Jun 16, 2013, 10.41 AMby Nkem Onyemachi

    My mum collects sewing machines. As a kid she gave me one flying man that was the name. However I went to boarding school far from home so my flying man and IT lost touch. Today I use Merit.She gave it to me believing that it wud “open my eyes” lol and that was the machine that was forbidden by her to touch when I was a kid. My eyes were opened when it became mine. She still collects machines though. God help her.

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    Jun 16, 2013, 05.51 AMby alekat

    Right now i have a Janome machine named Dolly after my grandma. She can be a bit temperamental, but I’ve given her a good clean and read her instruction manual properly and now we get along happily. I don’t have a need for a overlocker as I use the overcast function on this machine so its just me and her. I learned to sew on my mothers big metal Janome. It was so heavy and it had some cool inlaid wood-grain on it. Very 70s!

    I also wrote a post on Sewing Machine day on my blog!

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    Jun 16, 2013, 01.59 AMby ecogar

    I’ve only loved three sewing machines in my life. The first my mother gave me when I was 10 … she taught me the basics of sewing and I am so grateful. The second, an OH so hip used portable Singer Genie, circa 1973 complete with groovy orange and yellow flowers. A friend’s husband gave it to her, hoping she’d sew, but she knew she never would and passed it on to me. Sadly, it died a few months ago having valiantly helped me produce 100 children’s skirts. Now, I am so delighted with my new (old) 1939 Singer Featherweight that I “won” on eBay. … I adore its beauty and the low-tech sound it makes! I confess that I do have a serger and modern Singer for hardcore tasks.

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    Jun 15, 2013, 01.10 PMby Sailin

    My mom loves to collect sewing machines, so growing up I was able to use her singer, then kenmore, then later got to experience how nice a pfaff 7570 and pfaff surger were! Love them still. She later on got a quilting machine. (Thing was five feet long!) and that was really fun to play around on and be able to make up beautiful designs as you quilted a blanket. One morning my dad surprised her with another pfaff (name is creative vision??) and she burst into tears because she was so happy. Haha! I love how my moms love for sewing and being creative herself has influenced me, for now I have a Singer of my own and love to sew! And to this day she is still collecting sewing machines! :)

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    Jun 15, 2013, 10.43 AMby definatalie

    The sewing machine I first had when I moved out of home (and stopped using mum’s!) was my nana’s Husqvarna. It was wonderful but one day the motor suddenly shorted out and I was devestated! I bought another Husqvarna and it was great until I some how bent the needle shaft thing. At that stage I was very fortunate to have my other grandmother’s machines, a Pfaff sewing machine and a Bernina overlocker, and so I have been using them ever since. The Pfaff is amazing, I was afraid of it at first but now I’m just in love with it! It’s about 20 years old I think, and what it lacks in modern conveniences it more than makes up for in sturdiness and quality.

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    Jun 14, 2013, 05.04 PMby guenthecat

    When I was a little girl my Memama’s pride and joy was her brand new Bernina 930 sewing machne. She also bought a beautiful wood sewing cabinet for it. We were barely allowed to breathe on it much less use it for anything. When I got older she taught me a little about sewing on it and when I first got into costuming in college she actually let me use it all by myself. Because of her love for that Bernina I bought a used Bernina 830 when I was ready for my own machine. When she passed away I inherited her machine along with the wooden sewing cabinet. It is now My pride and joy. I’m better about letting other people learn on it because, frankly, the thing is a Beast, but I feel like she’s there with me when I sew on it and approves of how I’ve used my inheritance.

    1 Reply
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      Jun 16, 2013, 10.49 PMby Sewgirl2013

      Your story brings tears to my eyes. In 1983 I bought my Bernina 930. It is still my pride and joy. It’s funny, I think of it as my new sewing machine because I have a huge collection of vintage Singers and Necchis which are all lovely. However, nothing sews like my 930. My husband bought me a used Bernina Artista 180 year 2000 embroidery/sewing machine for Christmas because I wanted to learn machine embroidery (not yet lol) – and it can not hold a candle to my 930. I was curious what year you think your grandmother bought her 930? And yes, the 830s are great, too.

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    Jun 14, 2013, 04.14 PMby dnembhard

    I got a new sewing machine this year, which I named “Precious”. It’s red, which is the reason why I bought it (shouldn’t your sewing machine match your couch?). Until then, I had a Janome, which I got when I graduated university. It was great, and worked great, but I wanted something with bells and whistles. I decided to start saving for a new sewing machine. It took a few years, and I was almost there—when my fridge died. So, my sewing machine fund became a new fridge fund. Luckily, an unexpected side job gave me enough money to get a new machine—my “Precious”.

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    Jun 14, 2013, 04.01 PMby MegH

    I have had many sewing machines over the years…my favorite being my grandmothers vintage Singer, it is not even electric! Now I use it as a decorative piece in my studio :) But Janome all the way for me! I have been using my Janome for a while now, and love it!

    Great article Denise!

    1 Reply
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      Jun 16, 2013, 11.45 PMby bluetalmeida

      me too Janome all the way!

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    Jun 14, 2013, 01.15 PMby katrinka booth

    We lost everything in an apartment fire 2 years ago. All 3 of my sewing machines and my fabric. I quit sewing for 6 months. someone who found this out donated a sewing machine to me and then 4 more people did. I am a seamstress by trade. I sew every day. I cannot live without a sewing machine. I the first thing I made was a quilt top made from the bits and pieces left over from our curtains and clothing.

    1 Reply
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      Jun 15, 2013, 10.39 AMby definatalie

      Oh this is so sad to read, but the quilt is such a wonderful thing to make of those bits that remained.

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