My mom was a sewer and a crocheter (I crochet too, but I prefer to call myself a "Hooker." Har har.) Her mother sewed and crocheted and made those beautiful oval or circular rugs you see in older folks' homes. And her mother tatted (as in making lace, not tattoos) and crocheted these amazing lacy-like designs that are meant to be draped over a bedspread or a quilt. I visited my parents' house over the holidays and now that my parents are empty nesters, they can bring out the heirloom crafts. On my old bed in my old bedroom is a twin bed-sized piece of tatting that's over 100 years old. Very elaborate.
Anyway, I guess you could say it's in my blood, so to speak. My mom used to sew all our Halloween costumes and make some of our clothes when we were little (and there were 5 of us. How??) Later on, she learned to crochet, and I guess she liked working with the very thin crochet thread because suddenly doilies started sprouting all over our house like mushrooms. Since doily = crochet for me at that point, I was totally uninterested. I still don't like doilies. Then, she made all five of us ripple afghans, which were awesome. I kept mine at the foot of my bed for many years. When I was 5, she made me a navy blue, puffy sleeved dress, with a mauve crocheted dress to wear over it. It contained a lot of double-triple stitches so it was quite airy. However, I was at the stage in my life where I wanted pockets on everything, so I'd shove my fingers into the spaces and pretend I had pockets.
I was uninterested in crochet for many years because crochet = doily and useless dust collectors. I wanted to learn to knit. When I was unemployed during the 2001 recession, I got one of those "Learn to Knit" kits from JoAnn, thinking I'd make a baby blanket. Well, I got some boucle yarn to go with it, which is about the worst possible yarn to learn on because it's fuzzy and stretchy. I casted on a needle and got no further than that before screaming FUCK IT! and throwing it into a closet for several years.
My elderly cousin Rosemary visited me from England a few years ago, and she knits like a machine. She doesn't even look at what she's knitting, she just goes. I discussed my knitting dilemma with her and she said she'd show me. I dusted off my crummy boucle yarn (literally) and aluminum needles and she started knitting like crazy. She was very patient and tried to show me but it was a disaster and she started getting impatient. Finally I said, "show my husband, he knows how to interpret these things for me." So she did. And my husband (bless his heart, as we say down here, which really means SCREW YOU!) knit a giant square quite expertly. And he was good at it, his tension was perfect. Naturally, he didn't show me how and soon pushed that knowledge out of his head in favor of Fantasy Football or mortgage rates or something. Then my friend Jamie tried to show me, only she brought me nice wooden needles and decent yarn. I was able to knit a very horrible looking square and realized knitting just isn't for me. And perhaps this is why all my ancestors crocheted, we must be missing the knitting gene.
I was browsing a weird outlet store that had discontinued items, broken toys, used books and other crap, and found "Crochet for Dummies." It was $3. Sold! And lo and behold I learned the basics of crochet. As for learning to actually do it, I consulted youtube and watched the Knit Witch about 1,000 times to learn the various stitches. Now I love to crochet. I'm still on the basics and I can't read patterns very well (that goes for everything, sewing too...I have some learning disabilities that probably play into that). But I'm making my kids and husband scarves! This is a Very Big Deal for me.
Anyway, back to sewing. When I was 6 or 7, my mom got me a kid's sewing machine. It didn't have a whole lot of functionality, but my mom got me some Strawberry Shortcake fabric to play around with it, and that's all that mattered. I think it was battery powered and missing crucial usual sewing machine bits...I don't think it even back stitched or had a bobbin. It was weird. And because it was so oddball, I had a hard time using it, and didn't use it much. But I still wanted to learn how to sew.
When I was about 11, my mom finally bit the bullet and got me a real, grown up sewing machine. It was a Singer 5-stitch, bottom of the line, mechanical machine. I also got a pink sewing box which was AWESOME and I have been unable to find any box similar to it since. It had a liftout tray with spindles for thread and long and short compartments, a sleeve for patterns, and lots of space under the tray. It was great, I used that case until college when it fell apart.
I hung onto my old Singer sewing machine even though I didn't sew for several years. After high school, I was busy with college and didn't have time. During college, I found that the motor on my machine had some problems, so I set it aside for a few years, intending to repair it when I had a chance.
Shortly before I got married, my mother in law got all of us daughters a Singer 5825C. The "C" means a classroom model. It's solid, I think it's of mostly metal construction, which is highly unusual. However, it cannot hold tension for a damn and I had a lot of issues the few years I used it. Perhaps it's a repair issue, but I think more likely it's a design issue. For a long time I thought maybe I had it threaded incorrectly, but no. Just a bum design.
I became very interested in machine embroidery as I began to sew more than just a hem or some basic alterations. I wanted a machine that was a combo sewing/embroidery machine mostly for space reasons, but I didn't want to spend a fortune for something I was just beginning to learn about (machine embroidery). I shopped around and settled on the Brother SE-350, which I LOVE. I finally feel like I have a real grownups machine at this point because I've never had more than a 5 stitch machine.
As I expanded my sewing capabilities, I decided I needed a serger too. I'd lusted after a serger since my high school days in Clothing class (which was the one class I always aced, there weren't many!). We had Bernina machines and a Bernina serger. I always wanted a Bernina machine but they're still a bit out of my price range. Someday. Anyway, for the last 20-odd years, everytime I saw a serger or overlock machine in a store I'd say to myself someday . . . . Well, that day arrived finally, so I got a Brother 1034D. I like it, it's easy to use.
Overall, someday I'd like to upgrade to a Bernina sewing machine, and probably a Yuki serger or overlock machine, but I can't justify their expense for the sewing I do now. Again, someday . . . .
I'll offer a more thorough review of my equipment in a future blog post. I like these machines that I have now quite a bit.