These are the hard-working machines in my shop:
The heart of the business — my Baby Lock 10 Enterprise needle embroidery machine. It is connected directly to my computer where all the designing and digitizing takes place.
My two White 534 sergers are real workhorses. I have had them for more than 30 years and, being completely mechanical, have never needed any maintenance except oiling and changing the blades every couple of years!
I also have a little mechanical Elna that, along with the vintage machines below, can tackle the harder jobs like jeans and coats.
And no shop is complete without a blindstitch hemmer. Tacsew makes one of the most reliable hemmers available for drapery work. I was lucky to find this one barely used on eBay.
For all the basic sewing, the Viking Sapphire has been my assistant for 20 years.
And the latest addition to my arsenal — the Sailrite Ultrafeed Walking Foot LSZ-1. Originally marketed for making sails/awnings and other boating supplies, it easily handles leather (my newest passion) and I’ll be making totes and other small leather goods.
The Vintage Machines
After sewing for nearly 50 years, I’ve finally come to the realization that the electronic/computerized sewing machines with all the fancy stitches and options, just aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Guess I’m a very slow learner!
I’ve always been fascinated with vintage sewing machines and have amassed a nice collection. Recently, my Viking Sapphire went into the dealer for servicing but I still had a ton of sewing work to do. So I took out two of my old mechanical machines and boy was I amazed. They practically glided over my fabrics without missing a beat. I tried everything from silk to lightweight leather and they sewed beautifully without a hiccup. They each have a choice of basic stitches including straight, zig-zag, over-edge and blind stitch hemming and each stitch can be adjusted to different widths and lengths. Of course, the old machines use metal bobbin cases and bobbins, which are so much better than the darn plastic ones. I got to thinking: why hold onto a temperamental electronic machine that doesn’t do half of what these vintage machines can do?
Now when my sewing students ask for recommendations on a good machine to buy, I wholeheartedly endorse a good quality mechanical machine, and they are often found at thrift shops, yard sales and auctions.
Here are two of my great old machines: A Bernina Mini-Matic that I found at a thrift store for $20 with all the attachments, bobbins and lots of different feet:
And my all-time favorite: A vintage Brother that I found at a Goodwill store for $30. Except for some paint chipping on the base, it was in perfect condition and came with a ton of accessories and the original instruction book! Eventually I will make a custom sewing table with the cutout so it sits flush on the table.