Friday, July 6, 2012

Fate? Destiny? Love at First Sight?

I think it was meant to be. I am now the proud owner of a vintage White Model 2335 sewing machine, complete with cabinet. This is my story.

Several months ago a member of the Oakville Sewers Forum came to inherit the White 2335 in a sewing machine cabinet. Having no use for it, but wanting to find an owner who would have need of a sewing machine, she inquired within our group. We were unable to come up with an owner.

Last month I taught a sewing course for absolute beginners. Some of my students did not have sewing machines. I encouraged them to ask around of relatives or friends who may have one sitting in a closet somewhere. I was delighted that this yielded two machines. But there was one student who's machine was broken and not worth the cost of fixing. While we had loner machines at the facility, this meant the student did not have a machine to practice or use at home after the course. My idea was to offer the student the White 2335. But first I want to check it out to ensure it would be suitable.

I arranged to pick up the machine in my van. It was heavy and with a lot of difficulty I maneuvered it into the back and laid it on its side, hoping that would not be damaged in any way. When I arrived home, I was so eager to try it out that I didn't wait for my husband to come home to help me. Struggling, I managed to get it into the house.

I opened up the cabinet, and pulled the machine up to the operating position. It is the heaviest machine I have ever laid hands on. But it is a beautiful turquoise green with little signs of aging. It is the colour of the refrigerator we had at home in the 1950s. The accessory box is in mint condition with all the original attachments. I was also pleased that the previous owner kept the manual as these often go missing. I felt a pang of nostalgia.

I replaced the light bulb and was disappointed that it didn't work. I tested the bulb, replaced it again, but it still didn't work. I brought out my portable Ottlite and decided the light bulb wasn't that important.

I knew the machine would need oiling and removed its top. I was delighted to see that there were no plastic cams (these often wear, crack and break in the older machines). Every part was metal and it was very clean inside. Still I oiled all the parts that needed oil and replaced the top. I did the same with the head plate, bobbin casing and then the undercarriage. Everything looked very clean and moved smoothly. I admired the workmanship and robustness of the inner workings.

Now it was time to see how she sewed. I set up the machine to wind a bobbin and was disappointed to see that the bobbin winder rubber ring was split open. With a some fiddling and patience I was able to get a bobbin wound and set within the machine. Following the instructions, I threaded the machine and tested it out. The tension was off. I adjusted the upper tension. It was still off. I adjusted the bobbin tension. Now it sewed a perfect seam.

Still it was noisy. I stitched a fair bit and as the oil worked its way through all the joints, she started to quieten down. I tried to stitch faster. She flies like the wind. And the stitches are perfect and accurate. I tested the zigzag stitch. She sews them perfectly. I change the width and length and still, she delivers lovely precise stitches.

As I sit at the machine and put her through her paces, I marvel at how well she is designed. The cabinet is the right height for sewing--unlike the sewing machines of today that are placed on desktops that are too high. She is set into the cabinet so that there is a very large flat area around her to make for smooth sewing. I think of the hundred of dollars I spent on custom sewing cabinets, templates and flat beds for my machines and here she is with her flat bed built right in. Instead of a foot peddle that wanders all over the floor, she has a knee control bolted to the side of the cabinet so that stays in place. She comes with a straight stitch plate for accurate straight stitching on the finest of fabrics. The height of the feed dogs is adjustable. She can sew with two spools of thread and a twin needle. I'm lovin' this.

I read through all of the manual to learn all she's capable of. While she is strictly mechanical and does only straight stitch and zigzag stitch, she does them extremely well. I could be very happy sewing on this machine. Hmmmm. I run out to Fabricland and pick up a new bobbin winder rubber ring and a bottle of oil. She's ready to go to her new home.

I contact the student's mother and we arrange to have the machine delivered. In anticipation of her leaving, I look online to see if there's another White 2335 out there in need of a home. I start thinking that although I have five machines (at last count, three of them vintage) I could still use one just like this. I check out eBay listings but they are too far away and too expensive to ship. I find a similar model in Burlington (next town over) through Kijiji  and not too expensive. I decide that I will go have a look at it once this one is gone.

Then I received a voice mail from the student's mother. She says they have decided that they don't want the machine after all. They prefer to have a portable that can be taken to classes. I am disappointed for the student, but I understand. That is why machines like this one are not wanted any more. But secretly I am relieved.

I tell my husband what happened and he asks if I need help taking it to the local thrift store. I say, "Not yet dear."

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Something original to say, I hope

I cringe every time I receive a newsletter that begins with something like:

I can't believe the year is half over.

I can't believe it's July (or month of your choice) already.

Time has gone so quickly.

It's almost Christmas (Thanksgiving, Labour Day or other holiday of your choice).

Please, newsletter writers, begin your topic with something besides how quickly the time goes by.

And proofreaders everywhere, don't let your copywriters print this stuff. And if you have some president, CEO or other self-important boss who insists that this is the message he or she wants to convey despite your sage advice, remember, there's a special place in communication hell for them.