My Machines

I love sewing machines. I have eight, and I’m still pondering the need for more.

My machines (in order of acquisition):

1. Janome Combi 10. The first machine I bought myself, back in 1985. I love this machine and will never part with it. It’s what I’d class as a semi-industrial — solid steel body, very powerful action, but limited stitch range with electric cams. It also has a two-thread overlocker on it which I use quite a lot. The main drawback is that the needle only has one position (centre), so not good for quarter-inch seams (though I now have a special foot that gives me the proper seam), but quilting with the walking foot is a breeze, even over the bumpiest of seam allowances. This is the machine I use for laundry bags, where the size of the seam allowance isn’t critical and the overlocker stops the internal seams from unravelling in the wash.

2. Janome MemoryCraft 8000 — the very first embroidery machine on the market. I bought this in 1991 and it was my main squeeze for over two decades. The adjustable needle position is great for patchwork, and the embroidery motifs decorated many a T-shirt, napkin and pillow case. Unfortunately the computer is getting very temperamental now and I’m not sure how much longer it will live — I can’t even get it serviced because the techs can’t interrogate the computer properly.

3. Brother SuperGalaxie 2100, bought in 1999. Another embroidery machine — truth to tell, I haven’t used this machine very often, but I keep it for some of the embroidery designs, which include scripts, monograms, quilting and applique motifs. It’s not a good patchwork machine, even with a quarter-inch foot, so it only gets used for the decorative stuff.

4. Singer 99K from July 1928, in a bentwood case. This was my paternal grandmother’s sewing machine. I don’t use it often as it really ought to be re-wired (nothing dangerous, just old) but it’s portable and it has a sweet straight stitch.

5. MyLock overlocker — this was my mother’s machine, and I inherited it after her death. I took a course on overlocker basics in 2017, but I haven’t used it since then. It’s an absolute bitch to thread and it’s very temperamental. If I didn’t have the Combi I’d be tempted to trade it in for a new air-thread machine, but I can’t justify getting another overlocker. As it is, it sits in a corner, sad and ignored.

6. Janome Horizon MemoryCraft 9400 QCP (what a mouthful!). My newest sweetheart, bought in June 2016. I love this machine and have used it almost continuously since I brought it home. I can get an accurate quarter-inch seam, I can quilt without tucks and I can even do a binding in one step. The only problem I have with it is that the numerical stitch directory on the lid is completely different from the folder-based options on the touchscreen, and the patchwork and quilting folders are under “dressmaking” (the T-shirt logo). I recently got the software upgrade so I’m trying out basic ruler work.

7. Pfaff Passport 2.0. I bought this from a friend in 2017 — she needed the money and I needed a machine that weighed less than 15 kg. It’s really nice to be able to pick it up and not worry about overbalancing or straining something! It’s a good piecer and I’ve started using it for my once-a-month AHQ sewing days if we’re doing quilts.

8. Singer 201K bull neck treadle from early 1955, in a parlour cabinet. I bought this just before Christmas 2017. I had been looking for a 201 for some years to replace the one my parents threw out in the late 70s or early 80s — it had belonged to my maternal grandmother and was never used after my mother got an electric Singer (which, I remember, had plastic cams that you had to insert to get the different stitches). Sadly, I had no idea at the time that I was going to become so involved in quilting just a few years later — if only I’d known I’d have taken it myself. I still kick myself every time I think about it. When I mentioned to some friends that I was looking for a treadle machine, I was directed towards Rosemont the Patchwork Shop in Mogo, NSW — they had cleaned and restored this one and the sale was to benefit a children’s charity.

I know that “Eight is Enough” but I’d like a Singer Featherweight (hard to find in Australia, and very expensive) and either a Singer 301 or 404. You never know, one may turn up when I least expect it.