Discovering My Sewing Machine

Today’s my birthday and it has me thinking back to this time fifteen years ago when I treated myself to a new sewing machine. Only this year have I finally realized all it can do.

I decided one of my goals this year needed to be to learn more about the functionality of my sewing machine. When I bought it, it was state of the art. Well, it was for me. I loved all the fancy stitches it could do and dreamed of creating beautiful items with it.

Up until then, the Singer sewing machine I’d been using was a college graduation present from my parents, so it was about 26 years old. It still worked just fine but I was ready for something newer.

Biting the bullet

I’d been thinking about making the leap to a new machine for a while, but it finally happened as the result of an unplanned bathroom fix up. Believe it or not, the mirror in my guest bathroom came unglued from the wall and crashed to the vanity and floor. Have you ever heard of that? Scared me to death.

I had to replace the vanity top and the mirror, of course. Like what seems to happen with all household projects, this became bigger. I decided it was a good time to make other changes. Why not make my sewing room nicer while I was at it?

My sewing room was the biggest transformation. I loved the purple and green in my daybed linens so I decided to paint the room a bright green and use purple accents. I got new white furniture for storing all my sewing and craft supplies. I also got a new sewing machine cabinet and a folding craft table.

I’d been reading about these Koala Cabinets and knew they were exactly what I wanted. They fold up when you’re not using them so you can have more space in your room. They each even came with a cute stuffed Koala bear. Check the cabinets out for yourself. My cabinets are 15 years old and they’ve updated them a lot.

Choosing my machine

Now for the sewing machine. Even though I was years away from retirement, I wanted something I could use as I began sewing more and different types of things. I looked at the typical names – Bernina, Janome. I even bought a book to help me choose the best features.

In the end, I ended up buying another Singer. It had all the bells and whistles I wanted, plus it functioned much like my old Singer, with which I was already comfortable.

Don’t worry; I didn’t let it sit for 15 years before using it. I made relatively simple things – pillows, small quilting projects. But all I did was basic sewing and I never learned everything it could do.

Now I’m retired and I use it a lot. I haven’t necessarily changed the type of sewing I’m doing, but I’m doing a lot more of it. And there’s more I’d like to be able to do.

Learning everything it can do!!

A few weeks ago, I finally took out the manual that came with it and started reading. Seriously reading, not skimming as I’d done before. I became more familiar with the options and what I needed to do to make my machine operate in different ways.

My machine can do embroidery. I finally tried it!! I haven’t done more than practice, but I was able to figure out how to make it work. Nothing fancy at this point; no multiple color designs. But I was able to embroider a year and the grandkids’ names.

I was still a little frustrated, though. The manual was showing me stitches I wanted to do but I couldn’t figure out how. Later I realized I’d mistakenly assumed these stitches were embroidery but they aren’t. Yes!! Now I know how to do them. (But I haven’t actually tried yet.)

I’d also assumed my machine couldn’t do free form stitching. Everything I read about it said I needed to lower my feed dogs. For those unfamiliar with the term “feed dogs”, those are what guide your fabric forward while you sew. That’s why they’d restrict your ability for free form sewing.

After more reading and finally exploring the actual machine, I discovered I can lower the feed dogs!! Woohoo!! I haven’t tried any free form sewing yet, but at least now I know my sewing machine can do it.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

I also didn’t know enough about the presser feet that came with my machine. I bought a walking foot, only to discover I had one already. I just didn’t know that’s what it was!! Believe me, I’ve had lots of stupid moments during this discovery period!! 🤪

I’ve discovered compartments in my machine I didn’t know existed. They contain more presser feet and other tools I thought I didn’t have. (So now I have several little screwdrivers and lint brushes!!) Finding those compartments was also the key to locating the switch to lower the feed dogs.

One downside to waiting so long to figure all this out is I can’t buy the cartridges for adding more types of embroidery stitches. I can maybe find a couple on Etsy but they are asking for more than I want to spend. I’m not willing to invest more money until I’ve committed to doing more embroidery stitching.

Lesson learned – if you buy something computerized, make sure you know how it works and that you don’t assume you can wait before knowing what you need. I’m not sure I’m missing out on all that much, but it does make me kick myself that I didn’t check into that aspect early on.

My room now

In the future, I’ll write more about “my room”. I can’t seem to figure out what to call it because it’s used for so many things. It’s used for sewing, ironing, cardmaking, blogging, paying bills. Any ideas?

Anyway, for now, here’s a picture of my sewing cabinet when it’s opened up for sewing. I don’t have room to open the right door all the way but I don’t really need to. I love the section on the left as I can have my little iron handy and it gives me room to lay out instructions, etc.

There’s also lots of table space behind my machine for catching your fabric while sewing. I tend to “store” things there and once I start sewing, they get pushed off the back of the table!! Not handy when you’re operating in this tight space.

So, is there something you want to discover more about? Have you been stockpiling things waiting for retirement or tell yourself you’ll get to that when you have the time?

Believe me, the time won’t magically appear. Make time. I can’t get back those 15 years but I’m going to make the best use of my time from now on.

Before it’s time to buy a new machine. 🤣🤣