The Sewing Machine Debacle

I got a call from my local Bernina dealer, today. It seems as if I speak to them frequently (I love that store), but even more frequently since I started taking my sewing machines to them for repair.

This call had to do with the gorgeous Morse Fotomatic IV I took to them a couple of weeks ago.

This beauty looks good, acts bad.

A broken machine hook gear. No parts available.

I feel moved to look at the percentage of success I have had with sewing machines — all claimed to be in “excellent working order” — from eBay or even from my local, old fashioned sewing machine repair guy. And please do note that I did not purchase any machine without doing hours and hours of research on said machine, first. Also, I only purchased from eBay sellers with at least hundreds of sales with zero negative reviews — BUYER BEWARE, MY FRIENDS:

From eBay:

  • Great But Defective: Bernina Nova 900 (bent frame / frozen drop feed dogs)
  • Awesome!: orange Husqvarna 2000

    Long awaited Viking SL 2000 6430.
  • Wonderful (now belongs to my mother): Singer Featherweight 221
  • Unknown: Orange Viking 3600 (Still haven’t fired her up)
  • Even Worse Than Stated: Singer Featherweight 221 For Parts / Repair (metal eaten away on body)
  • Dammit: Singer Featherweight 222 (bad motor)
  • Lying Bastard: Singer 320K (will soon find out – suspect 100% futzed hook and bobbin)
  • Such A Dissapointment!: Morse Fotomatic IV (bad machine hook gear)
  • Otherwise Awesome: Bernina 730 Record (broken buttonhole mechanism)
  • Dammit: Singer 201 (bad motor, broken light)
  • (Seemingly – haven’t sewn with it yet) Even Better Than Stated: Singer 99K Hand Crank
  • What Did I Expect?: Minerva Straight Stitch (broken wiring)
  • Perfect And Yet So Boring: Pfaff Passport 2.0
  • Perfect, but not a sewing machine: Singer Spinet sewing cabinet. AWESOME and EMPTY BECAUSE: NONE OF MY WORKING VINTAGE MACHINES FITS HER.
  • Works, But, Uh…: Unbadged, left-homing Japanese Zig Zag

From the sewing machine repair guy:

  • You Seemed So Trust Worthy!: Singer 301 (broken light)
  • Works. Whatever: Pfaff 1215

From Craigslist:

  • This Is Why I Can’t Have Nice Things: Pfaff 262 (except for the embroidery unit, attempts to unfreeze of which left the machine in complete disrepair)
  • Makes A Better End Table: Singer cabinet that came with Pfaff 262 (no lift mechanism of any kind)

I mean — this is clearly not the way to add the “Machine” to “Cloth & Machine” (the name of the business I founded over the summer).

In fact, I day dream about Bernina 750’s, and Bernina 500 models. I fantasize about Babylock Destiny’s and also, of course, about Pfaff Performance 5.0’s. And  I wonder what to do with 15 sewing machines, only 5 of which are in salable condition.

I have always loved old things — I’m sure this is one reason the first sewing machine I ever purchased was a Singer 500A that lived with me for more than 20 years. But that baby gave me a false impression: I used her as a door stop (for years), she sat in the garage (for years), she lived – uncovered! – on the top shelf in the spare bedroom (for years). she was not used, oiled or serviced for about 20 years and she still, when I finally fired her up, sewed a beautiful stitch.

Oh sure, you LOOK good, and your UK seller CLAIMS you work. But the wood inside your base is splintered, your U-shaped metal base is bent, and You. Do. Not. Sew.

I must admit that my Viking’s stitch is beyond compare. I also like the embroidery stitches I can get with the Colormatic Cams for this machine. I *love* the color of her paint.

But I think I’m about done with old fashioned sewing machines. I mentioned that I sold my Bernina Artista 180 to help fund these purchases, and I miss her. I miss her 9mm stitch width, her seemingly endless needle positions, her needle up/down button, and her free arm mechanism.

My Bernina store has a 750 that is mine for about $3K, but my Sewing Machine Debacle has ruined additional sewing machine purchases for me for the moment. I could do it, but the thought of shelling out another dollar for another sewing machine just makes me feel faintly sick.

I mentioned this to Paco this evening and he hugged me and said, “I love you.” Which was just what I wanted to hear.

Earlier this summer I considered the idea of going through a sewing machine repair certification course, but in working on these machines myself (to what little extent I feel qualified), I realized that I do not enjoy it.

So the actual selling of machines as a line of products is almost certainly out. I am still considering selling the rare exceptional vintage machine I run across — I do love them so — but I feel that will likely be some kind of one-off.

Anybody have any suggestions for the machines I purchased which are too imperfect to sell through a Cloth & Machine store front? My only idea is to donate them to a local reuse art charity. I don’t want to sell them on eBay for fear some other impulse buyer will fall in love with the romantic idea of them and shell out hard earned money for a very large paper weight.


1 Comment

Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.

Prolly sullivanreply
October 01 at 05:10 PM

They’re so dang cute!

Leave a reply