This winter I got serious about using a vintage treadle machine I'd purchased from a friend's grandmother. It's beautiful, it's over 100 years old, and I just loved the idea of creating things without electricity, just my own energy and an antique tool. Unfortunately, I had similar issues. The machine is pretty simple, mechanically speaking, I think it has more to do with my inability to maintain a steady speed on the treadle while at the same time feeding fabric, maintaining the proper hem margin, and pulling pins out. Sometimes I'd get a flawless stitch, other times it was back to the seam ripper.
Sewing machine repair is unfortunately not one of Dan's many specialties. He would cringe every time I asked him to come look at one machine or the other. He also understands how a tool can make a job a pleasure or a chore, and offered to buy me a brand new machine. I had extremely mixed feelings about this. I of course was in love with the idea of vintage machines, and felt if I could just get better I could make them work. But I didn't sew much because it was depressingly difficult. So we went to Joann Fabrics, and luckily enough, they had a decent sale on Singer sewing machines anyways! They had a number of machines, some were so pretty, some did more than I would probably ever use. I ended up choosing a machine that was in the middle, both price wise and feature wise. I liked it because it was the heavy duty model, and still adjusted by knobs rather than pretty touch screens, which I feel are more likely to wear out or have problems. It was the only one that was more of an industrial grey rather than white with pretty embellishments, but I was looking for function over beauty.
I'm happy to say I've gotten along quite well with my new machine! I'm becoming a Joann Fabrics junkie, a friend and I went and stocked up on patterns during a President's Day sale, and I love stopping in for fabrics for projects. I'm still working on simple things, I know a good way to frustrate myself it to pick something above my skill level and expect it to come out perfectly, so for now I'm having fun and honing my skills by creating things like aprons and simple fleece pants and tote bags. Somethings have turned out well enough I have even put them into my Etsy store! I have neck wraps scented with essential oils, an adorable apron with fun tomato prints, and tote bags. I made some by recycling old feed sacks, they are so nice and heavy duty, plus the sturdy plastic is water resistant so they are great for groceries- I think they will be a big hit at the farm stand when we reopen! Others I made with fabric, with the bottom made from old burlap coffee bags. I've had a lot of fun playing with patterns for the tops. I made one with a fabulous chicken print, and two with camo cloth on the outside and pink lining on the inside. Again, if they don't sell on Etsy I think they will appeal to lots of local folks! I like this pattern because it uses a pretty small amount of fabric, I can create it from all kinds of lovely leftovers from other projects or bits from the store's remnant bin. I also have a good number of new patterns to try- some of them are vintage reprints, so I can still get my vintage fix while creating something on a machine that runs like a dream! I'm excited to feel like I'm becoming proficient at a new skill, and am really enjoying my creations, and I hope others will too.