« Emergency post | Main | Human »

March 13, 2006

A letter to my sewing machine

Dearest Sewing Machine,

First, I think you should stop your mocking laugher. I cannot have a conversation with you, woman-to-woman, if you are laughing at me. Perhaps I can live with a smirk here and there, but this outright disdain does neither of us any good.

All set?

I realize that many of my sewing woes have absolutely nothing to do with you. Unlike knitting, which I was able to learn from a book, and which clicked in my brain immediately, sewing has been more of an uphill battle. That’s an understatement. I’m amazed that with a mom who’s a very capable seamstress, a great uncle who, to this day, is a professional men’s suit-maker, and a grandfather who was a furrier, I’m so clueless when it comes to sewing.

But I think you can really help me – cooperate instead of throwing a hissy fit every time I look at you the wrong way. Then at least I won’t have to deal with your tantrums, wildly leafing through your manual searching for the always-elusive answer, and instead I could concentrate on filling in the gaps in my sewing knowledge. Like, you know, the dangers of iron-on interfacing and stuff like that.

I know what you’re going to say. You’re right – there is absolutely no reason for you to play nice with me. For starters, I operate you while hunched over at the coffee table, the only surface large enough in my apartment. It’s an insult to your fine machinery, and you would be so much happier on a real table. But, as you can see, I live in the tiniest of apartments, and a bigger table just isn’t in the cards for us. Second, I know you’re jealous of the knitting. Not only does it occupy the majority of my hobby time, I realize you’re offended at the frequency I use you to finish up some knitting project – lining a knitted blanket and sewing knitting needle cases come to mind.

Considering that I want to attempt to sew a skirt one of these days, I decided it was time to butter you up. To make YOU feel special, to show YOU how much you’re appreciated. Then perhaps, just perhaps, you'll cooperate the next time I plop you on the coffee table. Deal? ;)

And so, I have decided to sew you a custom cover.

Oh, stop it! It’s not that big of a deal! Yes, it IS better than a romantic dinner. You’re making me blush ;).

It’s no secret to either of us that the cover you have now is truly unsightly, to say the least. It’s also slowly but surely tearing (cheap plastic and all), and has that giant hole in the top which gets your innards oh-so dusty.

Well, I picked up some lovely cotton at Fabric Place a while ago, stiffened it with iron-on interfacing (only for you, my darling), carefully measured you this way and that, and made you a truly custom outfit.

What do you think? Note how I carefully placed the opening to pull through your handle at just the right location, and how it completely closes shut when your handle is down. No more dust on the inside!


I hope this shows you exactly how I feel about you.

Will you be my friend?


Posted by Kathy on March 13, 2006 07:55 PM


Will you let me know how that works? I have some things I'm going to have to sew (& 1st, I'll have to learn how to operate a sewing machine) - if the talking nice to the machine helps, then I'd like to know. I need all the help I can get with sewing! :-) Beautiful machine cover!

Very cute kiss up letter. Now if I could write my husband one like that maybe he would start to pick up his socks himself. Mybe not ;)

Ohhh, you crafty chica! I knew you had it in you. What will you sew next?

Mmm ... you're not the only one. My late grandfather actually operated a sewing business and he trained my mom and all my aunts to be very skilled seamstresses. But I just don't have the really big drive in me to pick up what they have.
But you did manage to make something using that sewing machine of yours ... mocking or not. ;)

Ohhh, clever, sewing machine bribery. I think you're on to something here!

I really hope her new swanky outfit makes her behave a bit better.

Oh, lovely sewing machine outfit. Hope it helps. And I'm sure a new ironing board cover doesn't cost THAT much.

I love it. You are too funny. I have a similar machine with a similar sad plastic cover. You have done your machine proud.

Funny how many knitters have sewers in their background. My great-grandfather was a tailor and his daughter could sew anything under the sun, usually from remnants, and made all of us bright robes and picnic quilts in her trademark Hungarian color combinations and exuberant style.

Personally, I've found that a good zen feeling helps when approaching sewing machines, for they are prideful creatures, prone to sudden fits.

Good for you! You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar . . . sweet-talking never hurt anybody. Hope it works!

I remain pessimistic.


A Veteran of the Sewing Machine Wars

You know those friends who scowl around the internet sharing their own brand of optimism and cheer? The ones like Claudia? DON'T LISTEN TO HER! This is well within your grasp. You made that great cover! You can do the skirt. I believe in you. I AM optimistic. Call me anytime. Let me know if you need help. Especially if you want to figure out how to get the iron on interfacing onto your iron. I am really good at that. :)

I'm a mostly knitter/occasional sewer, but a friend of mine who's a real sewer taught me two things about keeping a sewing machine running.
1. Change the needle and use the right kind of needle for the fabric (Vogue Sewing pp 187-188). Most importantly, change the needle, because they dull, can bend and a bent needle will really stop a machine cold. Change needle with each new project.
2. Take it in for a cleaning/tune up every so often. She sewed enough that she did it twice a year. I go to the guy in Waltham on the main drag with the sewing/vacuum dealer/repair.

Geez, and I just keep mine in the box that it came in.

nice discussion with the sewing machine! mine comes in a case with a handle (inherited from my grandmother) so that's not such an issue. and don't worry about ironing the interface to the ironing board. i had to show my son how to mend a hole that he'd cut into his jeans, and had to iron the first patch on with foil inside the pant leg. the second one covered the first bit, so they stuck together. and he hasn't wielded a pair of scissors since! (he's 11, go figger)

What a great idea! My machine is sitting on the dining room table gathering dust as we speak. I hope your machine appreciates this peace offering!

Hrmm... Just last night, mine bit me. You see, I was using my very limited sewing skills to make a new duvet cover for my daughter's birthday (she'll be 7-- just so you understand my choice of fabric). My batting kept getting caught in the presser foot and next thing I know, I've got a needle through my fingernail. A few swear words later, I realized that the needle had pierced all the way through my finger tip.

I think my sewing machine feels the same way about poodle fleece as a lot of knitters feel about fun fur/novelty yarns.

Cute cover. I should make one for my neglected sewing machine too. :)

You manipulator of sewing machines, you.

Very cute fabric...very cute cover!

gee i wonder if this would work for me? i haven't had one session at the sewing machine where i don't want to throw it through the wall. one day i hope to sew someething up without cussing and tears. great job on the cover, should keep you in the good books for at least a year!

if that sewing machine isn't touched by your gift, then that machine is dead inside.

Well, all things being relative, you are a sewing GODDESS to me. There is no way I could make a sewing machine cover that looked that good, particularly since you make no mention of using any sort of PATTERN. If you want it knitted or cross stitched, I am your gal. If you want it sewn- forget it. I won't even begin to discuss with you the hostile silence going on between me and MY sewing machine right now. It has escalated to where she doesn't work for me AT ALL. So I leave her in the dusty basement with NO cover at all. So there.

P.S. My ironing board has been known to have interfacing stuck on it more than once. I've also had iron on letters melted on the bottom of my iron. Don't ask.

That was SO awesome. I hope your sewing machine loves you forever. Sometimes, the sweet talking does help. And with such a pretty cover, heck. I'd be swooning, too!

What a lovely cover! Now I think my machine is jealous. I better get to work.

Kathy - have you considered the possibility that you don't need no stinkin' pattern for your skirt? You don't seem to have any trouble working without patterns and their "rules," evidenced by 1)what you've sewn already, and 2) all the designs/modifications you've accomplished re: knitwear. Seriously. Look at the pattern pieces, skim the instructions so you have an idea of what goes where, and do it your way! Go to Threads magazine online or flip through it next time you go to the library to check out a book on designing your own clothes. I really think you are Beyond Patterns.

I love the fabric, it's so pretty. Just in time for spring! Could become a way to colour-coordinate the seasons.

And I was just thinking I should sew up a spinning wheel cover.
Hope this improves the relationship.

it took me an entire semester in junior high to sew an apron. Hand sewing? No problem. Machine? Um, well i've been trying again lately. I bought my husband's machine new needles last weekend and it even made a straight line for me. Sure, there were blobs of thread on the bottom-side, but i think we're on the right track. It's all about the tension, and i know tension.

Love the cover, very impressed myself.

A girl who can make a beautiful cover for her contemptfuous sewing machine should have no problem with a beautiful cover for her hips, thighs and maybe knees! Maybe the said machine wants a knitted cover - felted, lace or with beads!!

Yikes, maybe that's why my serger keeps eating my thread...I just throw a piece of scrap fleece over it and it wants to have nice clothes. Nice work on the cover! It's a great improvement.

Firstly, Paula Nadelstrom (I believe)does intricate quilting and piecing on her sewing machine. And in her tiny NYC apartment, she sews on the bathroom sink. (she places a board over it).

Secondly, though the machine is hidden, if this is a relatively recent Singer you purchased (like one from a big box store for just a couple hundred)... IT IS NOT YOU. It is the machine.

Still, I hope the fancy new duds help.

Wow, great cover!
Perhaps if you have some bricks you could put them under the coffee table legs so it's not so low for you. Or scrap the coffee table and get a real table. Where do you eat?

That oughtta do it! It's gorgeous and a girl always loves a new outfit.

Funny you should do this! I was thinking of making Betty (my sewing machine, named thusly because she is a White and I can't ignore a Golden Girls reference) a new cover to replace that yucky cheap plastic one that comes with her. Betty has been serving me so well lately, and she really deserves a new dress!

loverly! my sewing machine also received a new outfit - those sewing-machine-condoms that come with the lot just won't do. you are very good to her!

I'd like to think it is going to behave now, but you never no. They are a temperamental species!

Someone once told me that to grow good Basil, you know - like bushes of it that are higher than your knees, you must insult it every day as Basil is a plant of courage that has come to be a symbol of WAR. I tried romancing my sewing machine. I built an altar before her wherein I practically sacrificed myself every time I approached her highness wanting a simple straight stitch - she acted like a Barbie snob and laughed in my face. So, I took the Basil approach and put her outside where I passed her two or three times threatening to buy another machine that was on sale. Lo and behold, she straightened right up. Now, I approach her with the confidence of a sacrificial lamb and the violence of a woman on the edge and she seems to appreciate the contrast. Good luck.

You deserve a real dining table of some sort. Switch to that! I have an antique tea cart that I have used in small spaces as both a dining table and sewing table! My sewing machine hums and purrs, it loves being where the action is, and is rather miffed that I have lately spent most of my time knitting socks instead of sewing.

Trust me when I say I have family members who never utter a curse word until they get out their sewing machines and some of the things I hear make me blush. It isn't only you who has issues with sewing machines. I don't think of them as women, I think they are men, which as we all know are nothing but trouble. You should see my sign in my kitchen...."if it has tires or testicles, it is gonna give you trouble." I think sewing machines should be included in this also. Nice cover, by the way!

I had the same problem and I found the perfect table at Ikea--it has 2 leaves, with both folded down it's 12"x42"--with 1 leaf up it's about the right size for sewing and with both leaves up it's just big enough for cutting out. It has drawers on both ends middle part where I can store my sewing stuff. Can't remember what it's called, but it's what I got when I described what I needed.

However, I just went to Ikea's website and looked for it and can't find it. I just bought it about a month ago, though.

To cut down on spam, comments are moderated. You may not see your comment right away, but rest assured that it's been received and will appear shortly. Comments are closed a few days after posting.