When Grandmother Ina left us, she left behind her treadle sewing machine. Once I retired, I declared that I wanted to learn to use it, so Mike serviced it for me and we bought and installed a new belt. That was 2007. At that time I practiced treadling but didn't thread the machine.
Fast forward to 2012 and I still hadn’t committed to sewing with Ina’s “New Automatic” sewing machine. Since I didn’t have my Bernina with me, I decided the time had come.
I was going to make an apron, but this cute little jacket pattern started singing my song. I remembered some corduroy stashed away that I thought I just had to have some 20 years ago. “Perfect!” I said to myself because, of course, the investment is depreciated out and it won’t matter if all doesn’t go well. The pattern, “A Little Somethin’ Jacket,” comes from CNT Pattern Company out of Aspen, CO.
So I carefully cut out the jacket. Then I was ready to start sewing, right? Wrong! I still had to learn to thread the old treadle machine. Luckily Ina left the manual in one of the drawers, so I commenced to read it. The first page reiterates at least four times that the first thing the new owner must do is “READ THIS BOOK CAREFULLY.”
“We give you this book, the most accurate, clear and complete instructions ever printed on, ‘How to operate and take care of the sewing machine.’ By carefully following the instructions YOUR MACHINE WILL ALWAYS GIVE PERFECT SATISFACTION.”
But the admonishment I particularly love is this one: “WHEN DIFFICULTIES ARISE, REMEMBER that your machine is seldom at fault and does not require the aid of a repair man. You will find on close observation that your trouble is generally due to your oversight or neglect in following out these simple rules.” Ha! So blaming the operator for failure is evidently a concept as old as technology itself.
Here are the simple rules:
An imperfect or crooked needle.
Cheap, inferior quality threads.
Failure to have machine properly threaded.
Needle not large enough for the thread.
Tensions clogged or out of adjustment.
Lack of oil or the accumulation of dirt and lint around the feed, needle well or the shuttle.
I am not patient with the learning process – never have been -- but I made myself peruse the manual. I learned to wind the bobbin and then load the bobbin into the shuttle. But when I tried to sew with thread, I had the biggest mess of loops ever! I read and re-read the statement that “trouble is generally due to your oversight or neglect in following out these simple rules,” struggling to keep frustration at bay.
Well – long story short, the problem was my failure to correctly pull the thread through the tension discs. Now on my fiftieth re-thread and perhaps just a touch angry, I gave the thread a firm tug with two hands when I came to the discs and could tell immediately that this was the missing step.
Then I commenced to sew on the “Little Somethin’ Jacket,” bringing the five pieces together as one unit. Now I’ll finish it on the Bernina.
We drove to the town house early yesterday morning. The day turned hot. Mike took a bike ride while I ran errands in town. The traffic was horrendous on Bridge Street, backing up for blocks. Note to self: Do not shop on Friday afternoons! KW