Thursday, September 9, 2010


At my daughter’s house, away from my sewing studio—and my Bernina—all week. I brought along a sack of yellow fabric I’ve been collecting for three months, and I cut 3-, 6-, and 9-inch squares for the Yellow Potpourri quilt from Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts. I was anxious to start on this one because the fabrics are SO pretty! I’ve never made a yellow quilt before, and I actually have a yellow bedroom to put it in. (Actually, the walls kind of look like aged tan parchment paper.) I figured that since the square is the simplest of shapes, I could put this together even without my own equipment.

Well, it hasn’t been easy. I suppose it’s good to be reminded how lucky I am to have a nice Bernina (even if it is old), and a sewing studio with a design wall. Here, I’ve been using a double bed with a fuzzy brown blanket, below, for my design surface.

And I’ve been sewing on my daughter’s FREE sewing machine. Yes, she got it for free from someone who inherited it and never used it. It was purchased at a major discount retailer—no, THE major discount retailer—and was new in the box. I was pleasantly surprised at the decent stitch quality, but it sure is difficult to use. How sorry I am that I didn’t bring a machine with me! I have a Singer Featherweight—surely I could have fit that in. Now I know why so many people get frustrated when they sew. It’s because they have to do it on cheap machines. It’s just not fun when it is physically impossible to sew an accurate seam on the machine you’re using. But I am plowing ahead .... As I feed the fabric under the needle, I’ve been holding it down with a pin and pushing it in toward the presser foot on the left. The feed dogs just work poorly and pull to the left. The picture below shows the edge of one block, and I can assure you this is not how I usually sew!

So after sewing on this thing for a few days, I offer to you the following list: “Top Ten most annoying things about cheap sewing machines.” Please make comments and offer your own additions.

1. Small work surface.
2. Poor lighting.
3. No specialized presser feet.
4. Cannot choose the needle stop position (up or down).
5. Presser foot lift lever in an awkward position.
6. Reverse in an awkward position.
7. Feed dogs feed fabric poorly. This machine actually pulls to one side.
8. Motor grinds and stalls.
9. Speed difficult to regulate.
10. I have to live with the knowledge that the back of my quilt top is definitely not as nice as the front!


  1. I'm glad you're getting to sew, though, even if it's not on your own machine.

  2. Genevieve's bathrooms need cleaning, so I might actually do some housework over the weekend. Or not. It can wait a few more days....