Friday, September 17, 2010

Napkins and Sewing Machine Talk

Yesterday I dusted off the sewing machine and made some napkins. Because I really try to keep the paper towel usage to a minimum around here, a new stack of cloth napkins is always a good, worthwhile sewing project for me.You old timers will remember the fabric from its former life as a pantry curtain in my old house. I had put off cutting into into it because, well, I liked my pantry curtain. But, I have no pantry here so it was just fabric that was taking up space.

Usually when I make napkins I use whatever simple and quick tutorial I can find, figuring they don't need to be fancy. But this time I stepped it up a notch and used this tutorial over at The Purl Bee. I really love the way the corners came out:(As a side note: We used these napkins last night at dinner and not only did no one notice the professional looking corners on the new napkins, but they didn't even notice we were using new napkins or that they were made from our old pantry curtain. Clearly I'm the only one that appreciates details such as this.)

I would have liked to do a different, more decorative stitch around the edges but sadly my machine gave up on decorative stitches a long time ago. The zig zag is as fancy as it will allow, and even then it doesn't always do that well.

Which brings me to the next topic of discussion:

Within the next six months to a year or so, I'd like to buy a new sewing machine. Right now I'm using a Singer Simple which behaves very much as it's name suggests. When I was first starting out, it was wonderful and all I needed. But now, I don't always feel like it wants to do what I want it to do. It can't handle anything too complex, it's loud and clunky, and it has trouble with anything beyond a straight stitch. Because it's so temperamental, it makes learning new things hard and incredibly frustrating. Whenever I have a problem I'm constantly wondering whether it's my error or that of the machine. I've done all the at-home maintenance that the manual suggests and I could probably spend $50 and take it in to be serviced (its innards may just need tightening, who knows?), but I don't really know if that would be worth it since I just don't love this machine anymore (plus, its original price was only $99). So now my questions to all of you who sew out there: Do you love your machine? If so, where did you get it and what was the cost? What's the average cost of a *good* machine? Can I get a good one for under $200? I've seen some nice ones at Target, could I get one there or am I better off going somewhere more specialized? Any and all input is appreciated.


Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

I had to laugh when you said old timers because i thought you meant, well, like me. The fabric dates back so I thought I was old enough to recognize that fabric...then I read on. :-)

You know I seriously wanted to learn to sew more. Everyone told me to buy a Janome. So I did some googling and found it was really a great machine. So then some one told me they had one and they were upgrading to a fancier model. She sold it to me for $50. I have not opened it. how bad is that?

Tammie said...

peggy: ha ha ha. the fabric has a vintage look to it so it makes sense. (that's how you should refer to yourself from now on, not as an old timer, but as a 'vintage model.' HA!)
ive heard good things about janome. i just did a search and they have a model thats right at $199.
i had really hoped to keep my machine forever, im really not the type of person who constantly need newer and better, but lately im just so disappointed with it.

you know though, ive heard of women who still sew with their moms old machines from the seventies. i think maybe they just dont make things like they used to.

Carla said...

I have my mom's 70s machine and it still works! It ways about 350lbs and isn't very easy to use though.

mandy said...

i bought my bernina 830 for $220 on ebay. this is an old machine but runs like a champ; i've sewn through thick handmade paper, leather, denim, this swiss lady rocks.
all the parts are metal. i take it once every few years to the bernina spa and it comes back better than anything you could possibly buy new in that price range.

i recommend it on some extremely high bernina cult level.

i got that good deal after looking on ebay for over a year and finally a whole bernina store closed...score. in such a big city you may have look finding a quality used machine on craigslist.

mandy said...

p.s. dig that napkin fabric.

nevertravelled said...

I love that fabric!! My mom made me two sets of four napkins from really beautiful fabric last year, and I would like to make some more from cute fabric like this. I will be looking up the tutorial!

I'm thinking birds. Your fabric is making me think *vintage* birds. :)

Dani said...

First off, cute cute cute napkins.

Maybe what you made for dinner was so good that it prohibited anyone from noticing?

I have a Janome and love it. It is so smooth and quiet. Really, for a machine it's the quietest I've heard. I got it from my mom (totally unused, still in the box) and know it wasn't the cheapest on the market. I know Janome has a variety of machines in different price ranges...worth a look.

Karen said...

I think sew mama sew or the purl bee had a blog post a year or two ago about the best sewing machines available at different price points. I'll dig around and see if I can find it.

How is it that there are like a hundred ways to do mitered corners, and yet I remain committed to my terrible method and therefore always screw them up? I'm going to try out the method you linked to.

Tammie said...

dani: ha! we had Subway. :)

karen: these napkins were super easy and the directions were very clear. highly recommended.

~ The Jolly Bee ~ said...

I'm am totally loving that fabric. Totally. Whatever you do, don't get a Viking Husqvarna. I bought a new one on-sale for about $200 last year and it sucks. I'm ready to toss it and go back to my trusty old Singer from Wal-Mart. It hasn't failed me yet -- I just thought I would upgrade.

Tammie said...

ooh thank you all so much for your input. i definitely have some research to do!

Theresa said...

Up until christmas of last year i sewed everything on my mom's ancient singer. It was old when SHE got it... so there's no telling really. The for christmas, Mom got me a new machine so she could have her old one back. It's a VERY SIMPLE brother. I think it was like $80 at walmart. It's not the best machine, but it's so much better than the ancient temperamental singer, that it doesn't really bother me much. It just has a few basic stitches, but so far it has done everything I needed it to with very few problems. It's a good BASIC machine for very basic sewing. I want a new one, but not to replace the little simple one. I'd like to hang onto it. Right now, I'm holding out for a machine with all the bells and whistles. I want a serger and an embroidery machine. but I'll probably never be able to afford either. :(