My old sewing machine

I bought my sewing machine when we were living on Merry Island in 1983. I took a Home Ec class in junior high school, but other than that I had never sewn anything before. And honestly, I don’t even remember why I wanted a sewing machine! I was 22 years old. I lived on a light house. What in the heck did I need a sewing machine for? No matter. I dug out my trusted Sears catalogue and picked out a basic entry-level Kenmore. I still have it. It’s older than Michael.

I’ve sewed a lot of things on that old machine over the years. Back in our square dancing days, I sewed my own dresses with rows and rows of gathered ruffles. I set in zippers and made button holes. I hemmed and sewed trim. I set in sleeves (never very well) and fought with yokes and cuffs. All with my trusty Kenmore. I never thought the old machine was the best one around, but it did what I needed it to do.

It has definitely developed some persnickety quirks over the years. It is very demanding of high quality thread. Nothing less than Guteman’s thread for this machine! It doesn’t tolerate even the slightest fuzz build-up in the bobbin area. I have to brush out the lint every 30 minutes or so of sewing. If I don’t, the threads will tangle in the bobbin, resulting in a greasy monster of a mess on the back of my fabric. It sometimes has trouble remembering what the tension setting is, and breaks my thread for no apparent reason.

One time I loaned it to a friend, and it came back with a broken fly wheel. In order to stop the needle from going up & down when you wind the bobbin, you have to disengage the flywheel. Ever since my neighbor borrowed it, the flywheel has been stuck – which means that every time I wind a new bobbin, the needle goes up & down and the machine rattles and shakes like it’s having a convulsion. LOL! Yes, I learned the hard way to never loan your sewing machine. This same neighbor also borrowed and broke my blender. Sigh.

The old Kenmore does just fine for regular old sewing as long as I keep it cleaned and treat it nicely and am patient with it. But lately I’ve been wanting more. I’d like to do a small bit of machine quilting…something I wouldn’t even think of attempting on the old Kenmore (a healthy fear of a greasy tangled mess on the back of my quilt!) So my quilts are hand quilted and/or hand tied. Which is lovely. I will NEVER stop hand quilting and hand tying. But it would be really nice to have the ability to do some machine quilting, too. Without fear. And maybe some machine appliqué, too. Definitely.

So I have started a savings account and begun researching towards a new machine. I hardly know where to start! We have one quilt shop in town, Bear Paw Quilts and they sell Berninas. I haven’t tried one yet, and I’d like to look around and see what else is out there. Right off hand, I’ll admit that I’m intimidated by all of the fancy electronics on some of these machines. I’d definately like a more user-friendly bobin system (a LOT more user-friendly!) And an accurate 1/4″ guide is a must. 

Something else I often think about is a treadle machine. If I had a treadle sewing machine, I would set it up out at the cabin. Can’t you just see me on Sunday afternoons, sewing away out at the lake? Bliss!

Anyway, if anybody reads this blog and has a comment about what you are using, please write in and tell me what you like/don’t like about your machine. And what you sew on it!


  1. I too retired a Kenmore several years ago…It served a great purpose – got me to LOVE sewing. I now adore my Bernina. I bought a lower end Bernina (still cost more than my first car!!), but it is just fabulous. Like Kara, my girlfriend has a husqvarna and she loves it. If you want to have a look at my Bernina (and try some of those fancy settings :-), just let me know… is time for us to have a quilting day again anyway!!

  2. My Kenmore is being retired too, although a bit earlier than yours! It has only lasted me four years, but that is what happens when you encourage it to sew through leather and the odd bit of fur….

    I just bought myself a husqvarna while out on holidays in Nova Scotia and brought it back here as a piece of luggage. It is beautiful!! I don’t know a thing about quilting, but the manual that came with it talks about quilting a lot.

    Have fun picking out a new machine!

I'd love to hear your thoughts!