26 March 2019


Lizard and I attended a quilting/sewing/crafting expo over the weekend, hoping to pick up a new sewing/quilting machine with a bigger throat than the tiny little Brother I bought at a local department store when my prized Viking Husqvarna from about 1984ish gave out two years ago. Now that Lizard is retired, he is ready to try to start quilting again.

He was diagnosed with (an extremely aggressive form of) Parkinson's back in August, and one of the things he's been doing to try to help fight tremors is art therapy: coloring. (Sue Coccia's coloring books are phenomenal!) (Oh, and some of her designs have been printed on cotton fabric, too, and guess who is the proud owner of a batch?)

Lizard used to doodle all the time. He still does once in a while. Now he's hoping to design his own line of coloring books one day. Doodling helps him as much as coloring in tiny spaces. I have thoroughly believed for years now his doodling could be transferred into free-motion quilting.

I struggle with free-motion quilting because the throat of the Brother machine is so tiny. It took me years to work up the courage to use free-motion quilting on a quilt to be given away, and it seems like the day I finally decided I can free-motion quilt, my Viking Husqvarna bit the dust. Three times. Our local quilting shop was able to repair it twice. They couldn't find the necessary part the third time.

They offered us a pretty decent trade-in in 2017, considering my machine won't work at all now. But I just couldn't make the financial commitment to the new Viking Husqvarna, which was about three times the cost of the one I bought back in the 80s, which also, incidentally, came with a 25-year warranty. Each time the local quilting shop repaired my machine, they gave me another six-month warranty. You'd can't say I didn't get my money's worth. Oh, how I miss that machine!

The new model doesn't have a 25-year warranty, and it's completely computerized.

We took a look at the newest model while at the expo. Yes, I gave it a test drive.

It's a very impressive machine. But even the model without the embroidery is super expensive. I've always thought I don't need a machine to embroider. I LOVE hand embroidery. I just don't always have time for hand embroidery.

This year's latest and greatest Viking Husqvarna has an automated presser foot. That's right. You don't even have to lift or lower the presser foot anymore. While I was watching the demonstration (this time by a woman older than me), I kept wondering what our world has come to when we can't even lift our own presser foot.

Two years ago, I was miffed by a much younger sales person who innocently and pointedly asked why I wanted to be able to adjust the tension manually.

"This machine does everything for you," she proudly announced. "You don't have to spend time setting the tension anymore. You can spend your time on the sewing, instead."

I can operate a computer just about as well as anyone in the IT department where I work. I can even Photoshop on my iPhone. I am not adverse to technology. But I grew up sewing with an old Singer that had belonged to my grandmother and that my mom gave to me because I liked sewing better than she did. I had to do everything on that dinosaur, and I enjoyed it!

I used the Singer for more than a decade until a tiny $1.25 part broke. Because the machine was so old, it couldn't be fixed. The part wasn't available anymore. It's not like the machine was new... It had quite a few years on it, and I bet I put ten times the miles on it my grandmother did.

This also was pre-internet. Probably by about two decades. I couldn't get on Craig's List and track down someone else's old machine they didn't want anymore. I actually bought an even older machine a couple years ago for $200 from a former co-worker and just have never had the time to pick it up from clear across the metro. How sad is that?

I bought the Viking Husqvarna back when I was making $3.10 an hour, and I made payments for six months. I didn't take the machine out of the packaging for about a year because I was scared to death I'd break it. Not everyone had computerized sewing machines back then.

I selected the Viking Husqvarna because it came with the 25-year warranty, and they promised they'd keep making the parts for a quarter of a century.

Now, the same company that owns Singer owns both Viking Husqvarna and Pfaff. And they don't offer 25-year warranties. Go figure.

The other day, Lizard and I saw a Mercedes Benz commercial that made me want to make a Viking Husqvarna commercial...

Mercedes Benz said they listened to their customers and incorporated suggestions and demands into their vehicles.

"Viking Husqvarna, can't you make a sewing machine with a large throat that doesn't have automatic everything? I don't need an automated presser foot, and I don't even need the computer screen on the side. I just want to sew, piece and quilt. I don't need to be hooked up to wifi to run my machine."

Do you think they might listen?

I filled out the questionnaire for the new Viking Husqvarna, and I suspect another salesperson will be contacting me in the next week or so. Then I test drove the Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen again, third time since my Viking Husqvarna went kaput. It would cost less than the Viking Husqvarna but take up about four times as much space. It won't sew. It won't embroider. It won't do buttons and buttonholes. But I could knock out a quilt a day, and my drawing skills hopefully would mature and expand beyond imagination.

Then Lizard test drove the Handi Quilter Simply Sixteen. And he kept on driving it. Something about that machine set his soul on fire, and he had a really good time playing with the fancy variegated thread, making gorgeous impromptu designs. He didn't want the floor model, which was reduced by about a grand because the proprietor didn't want to have to pack it and haul it back to the shop at the end of the expo. Buying a floor model that has been heavily used for three or four days would be the same as buying a used machine. One of the buttons wasn't operating properly, and the drawer they were going to throw in for free had been damaged and would not close all the way. You never know what you're getting when you buy used. I'd rather buy new.

I kept thinking the Handi Quilter, even though it won't do as much as the Viking Husvarna, might be better for us at this time in our lives because it's something Lizard can do and perhaps even do really well.

And even though I hate rolling up a quilt to fit through our tiny little Brother machine, I've have done some magnificent quilts and dresses with that baby. I have mastered it the way I mastered my old Viking Husqvarna. It has limitations, and I can still soar.

I filled out the paperwork for the Handi Quilter and expect to be called within the next week or so, even though I made it perfectly clear I am not going to make a decision until the next expo, which will be in a neighboring community in June. The same Handi Quilter rep will be at that expo, too.

I went home and finished another quilt, start to finish, on the little Brother, in less than 30 hours.

Then I looked up the big Brother to the Brother I've been considering for at least a year. It has a larger throat and does only straight stitching. For about a fourth or fifth of the price of the Viking Husqvarna or the Handi Quilter. Then I looked up the Juki I've also had my eye on for a while because it's so highly rated. I've never tried a Juki, and I don't know anyone who owns one. But it's at or near the top of every "top ten" list of budget-priced mid-arms. The Juki is a hundred dollars more than the big Brother, and it sews only straight seams.

I think I could get by with one of the mail order models until we decide if we want the Handi Quilter. I could still use the Brother for anything I can't do on the... okay, I think I'm leaning more toward the Juki now. The Juki. I think I'm going to adopt a Juki, and I will be a parent again. And I won't have to roll the fabric I bought at the expo into a tiny wad!

Yes, I'm pretty proud of myself that I spent only about $48 at the expo. Especially when I paid the admission price with the assumption I would be walking out of the building with a bigger debt than I really wanted.

1 comment :

  1. Going out without a bunch of debt is a win. Yeah, many companies don't listen. They just do what they think is best and then go to it. Auto everything is the result.


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