Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Sewing Machine

I thought I would take advantage of this blog hop to share with you my sewing machine history (as you sewists know, this is a very personal and important part of our craft!!):

The Tilted Quilt

My first sewing machine:
I love my husband's antique piano stool beside the antique sewing machine.

A few years ago my husband had the cabinet restored and it is now a decorative piece in our living room.   This lovely lady sewed for me for years.  Some of you might remember the elastic waist half slips?  (I know, I am OLD but not as old as this machine!!)  That was my very first project in Home Ec class.  (OK, maybe I am THAT old!).

During high school my parents bought me my first new machine.  The best gift ever.  A Sears Kenmore beauty very similar to this one (picture borrowed from this post): 
image of a vintage sewing machine
I put many, many miles on this machine through high school and college sewing up clothes for myself, my sister, for friends, neighbors, and anyone else who asked!  Think double knit polyester, cotton shells, and pantsuits.  Oh boy.

As a senior in college this amazing machine came into my life.  She has been by my side for 35 years.
The Athena 2000!  Very high tech, leading edge for the 1970's!  This machine owes me nothing.  It has all those fancy stitches, an amazing button hole maker and is it ever solid!  And low maintenance!  Compared to the high tech wonder I am now sewing on, she never gave me any problems and I literally went years between service.  

So last year I returned to sewing (via quilting) after a few light years of not doing much and decided to treat myself (actually a Valentine's Day gift idea by my that guy) to a new machine.  Welcome Helga:
She is a Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 867 Q.  Overall, I love this machine, but it has not been without some drama in our relationship.  To begin with, the things I love about this machine:

  • Many features that making piecing and quilting quilts so much easier:  needle up/down, stop/start button, scissors, lots of quilting friendly feet attachments, SPEED.  
  • Worthy of mentioning alone and really the deciding feature when I purchased this one is the large harp space.  
  • This is hard to explain, the needle up function (and the foot control) allows you to partially lift the pressure foot up just a little to adjust fabric placement.
  • Loads of stitches...more than I will ever use!
  • She sails over depths of fabric like I have never seen before.  Think hemming denim pants and going over the side problem!
  • And isn't she just pretty to look at?

On the negative side, I have had some problems with the upper tension.  Fortunately, I purchased the machine from a shop with an in-house service person and although it has taken a few visits to get this fixed, the folks have been very good there and I am optimistic that this issue is behind us.  She also makes rattly noises in the bobbin case that seem to mysteriously come and go but as they do not impact the quality of the stitch I have learned to ignore these noises.

FMQ'ing with Helga has been an adventure that I attribute more to my learning how to free motion quilt than the machine.  It has been trial and error...foot to use, needle, thread, machine speed, etc.  But we are making good progress.

(As an aside, I purchased a 1/4" foot for the Athena, thinking it would be a nice backup quilting machine.  Only to find that the poor thing is not able to sew a straight stitch!   I just had her tuned up last year before I bought the Viking but I plan to bring her into the Singer service guy one more time to see if she can be repaired.)

The blog post author has asked what our dream machine would be.  Good question.  I have to say when Helga was acting up, I did look at the Berninas.  I have read so many wonderful things about these machines and am particularly tempted by the stitch regulator.  But for the additional money and the smaller harp space, I decided not to make the switch.  And then there is the temptation of a longarm?  One of those 16" harp quilting only machines?  If only I had more space...

Thanks for letting me share my personal sewing machine journey!  I know you all have one too, short or long, full of memories of all the special projects you've created with the help of your sewing machine(s).


  1. I loved your "machine" history! I started out with a White, then a Singer in High School. Then a Pfaff when I married and began to sew quilts. Now I have the Sapphire 835 and am pretty satisfied with it; the one thing that is not very good is the 1/4" foot--I don't like plastic--I miss my Pfaff built-in walking foot. Julierose

  2. I enjoyed reading your machine history. Your Singer is gorgeous. I just added a HQ Sweet Sixteen to my herd of machines. I'm very happy with her so far.

    Cheers, K

  3. How lovely. It's so nice to see your machines through the years and your Singer is gorgeous! What a lovely piece to own. Thanks for linking up.

  4. Love those old Singers - they're such lovely pieces of furniture. Being new, I'm on my first machine bought for quilting - a Juki. I think I just got lucky, it's a workhorse and, so far, no issues and FMQs really well. I woud love a Sweet Sixteen some day ...

  5. I have had my Athena 2000 for 44 years before she started making some sounds like a rock polishing machine. I took her in and the repairman said it needed new bearings. I began to look for a new machine, but I was frustrated with the prices in comparison to their features. The Athena 2000 was the first machine of its kind and expensive at the time, but certainly well worth it. I love the bobbin refill feature!! My new machine is an Emerald 850 and when my bobbin empties, I have to unthread and take the bobbin out and do the bobbin winding!! When you are used to the ease of threading the bobbin in the bobbin shaft without taking it out, you sure do get spoiled. On my new machine, it does have a feature that helps thread the needle. That has been nice. But one thing I really miss on my new machine is the darning where I could move my husband's jeans when he wore a hole and just fill it in with thread with the darning feature. I haven't been a quilter, so I don't need all of the embroidery features that the new machines have on them. I love sewing for my grandchildren, making purses, bags and cloth boxes etc. But I really don't need the long arms etc. I'm thinking that I'd like to replace my Emerald, but I would sure LOVE to find a used Athena 2000 that is in working condition. I'd take the old singers any day. If someone has a good suggestion for a good machine that describes my sewing style, I'd love some feedback.


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