The longer I sew, the more I realise that one sewing machine will not fulfil all my needs. I am a varied sewer- clothes sewing requires a free arm, top quality straight stitch and the ability to do manual neat buttonholes. Quilting makes me long for space and power: a generous surface to sew on, dual feed to cope with the bulk and an accurate quarter inch foot. My Janome Horizon was a frighteningly large investment at the time, but its size and ability to sew through bulk with ease is unmatched by anything else that I have ever used and it is a great machine for sewing jersey- lightning stitch and variable foot pressure are both a bonus on stretch fabrics. However, it struggles with lightweight fabrics or sewing at the very edge of flimsy materials. The buttonholes are unreliable, it is a beast and when sewing something smaller and lighter, I long for a machine that I can feel more connected to. I also have a smaller Janome Jem from my pre sewing room days when equipment had to be portable and quick to tidy away. It is lightweight and useful for travelling to meet ups or classes. To add to my collection, I have a Singer Featherweight, bought for a bargain price a few years ago and it has beautiful straight stitch and I particularly like the general sewing foot. I can't deny that it is vintage eye candy and I enjoy it on an aesthetic level perhaps above everything else! It doesn't have a free arm though so sleeves and cuffs can be fiddly and buttonholes need me to master the separate attachment each time. I love them all, but none can do everything. I have had a yearning throughout all this time to have a good mechanical machine which will do a beautiful straight stitch with perfect tension and sew a buttonhole in four stages, each manually controlled. I've found it. In her hey day, she was quite the poster girl:
A Bernina 707 Minimatic, produced from 1967 -1971. She is likely to be a very similar age to myself. Relatively small, but very heavy. I bought her locally through eBay,with a lot of questions and from a genuine seller . I knew I had to allow for the cost of a service and I was right- she was clean but the mechanics were dry and a few drops of oil from me, even following the manual and the red dotted oil points were not going to do the trick. The bobbin winder was stuck fast too and that has been sorted, the machine is oiled and tweaked and she really does purr. I've tested her with a blouse sewn with a silky lawn- the sort of thing that my Janome doesn't do its finest work on and it was a total and utter pleasure. I really enjoy the connecting that I feel with a mechanical machine, it is a more intimate sewing experience and I would go as far to say meditative. I feel calm sewing on her- although that may be the pattern that I was sewing which was hassle free and has fitted with hardly a modification (more on that soon).
She came with her original paper work and a wonderful selection of promo fold-outs for related models- you can imagine how happy all that made me. Her vintage charm is a little different from Minty the Featherweight. Daisy reminds me of avocado bathroom suites and shag pile carpets but that's no bad thing, both those things have a happy place in my 1970s aesthetic.
Sewing is my main interest outside my family. I don't really spend money on much else so I feel I can indulge myself with my four machines (and an overlocker). It does feel a little like the equivalent male cliche of a mid life adult buying an excess of Bose stereo equipment or lots of cycling equipment. Sure does make me happy though!