Declaration of Independence from a Tyrannical Sewing Machine

I have made a decision.

I’m not going to work on any more sewing projects until I buy a new machine.

A few years ago, my mom bought me my first sewing machine: a Singer Simple. She said that she went with a cheap, basic machine because I was new to sewing and she didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a hobby that I might end up disliking. My mom is smart and practical like that. Immediately, I had problems with the machine’s bobbin case. The lower thread kept knotting up, getting tangled around the bobbin and breaking, and the bobbin mechanism would occasionally jam. I assumed that this was all due to my lack of experience with using a machine, so I wrestled with it, fed the fabric more carefully, slowed down my sewing speed, and patiently threaded and rethreaded and adjusted and readjusted. I had raging fits and ended up spewing a slew of foul words at the machine during every project, but I managed to get through many projects ranging from clothing to curtains to a toddler-size quilt. In spite of all the struggles with the machine (and the struggles with baffling patterns and disagreeable fabric), I still fell in love with sewing.

Now, after using the infernal contraption for a couple of years, I’ve started having even more trouble with it. I’ve discovered that the bobbin case and mechanism rattles around a lot, and the jamming, thread-breaking, thread-tangling, and other issues have worsened. It’s so bad that projects end up taking longer than they should because I spend so much time fixing the bobbin and ripping out mangled seams. The machine has chewed up the edges of expensive fabric and destroyed countless yards of thread with its antics. Frequently adjusting the thread tension has helped, but it’s only a temporary solution and it’s not a guaranteed method to achieve smooth sewing. Something else always goes wrong. Cleaning, oiling, tightening, and swearing at the machine haven’t improved the situation either.

I’ve wanted a shiny new machine for a while now and I’ve really had it with this machine, so I’ve been looking around and reading reviews online. On a whim, I searched for reviews for the Singer Simple. I found out reviews for this machine are consistently negative and the few positive reviews are from casual users (or possibly Singer employees) who claim to use it just to whip up a pair of curtains or hem a pair of pants. The main complaints are that the machine frequently jams and tangles the thread, and the bobbin case is poorly designed — apparently, the half-moon bobbin mechanism and dinky bobbin case cause the rattling, tangling, and jamming, just as I suspected.

That has lead me to where I am today. All projects are on hold until I can get a better machine. Why should I keep putting up with this awful machine? I’ve heard good things about Janomes, and the Janome DC models are particularly appealing to me. Right now, I’m looking at a Janome DC2010 or a DC2011. Both are far more expensive than my cheap little Singer, but considering how much sewing I do, how limited I am now by my Singer, and my far-fetched dreams of having a home sewing business, a pricey Janome could be my ticket to better sewing. At the very least, I’d have less frustration. I’ll probably get one via a local sewing shop; I love supporting local businesses and I know that this one particular shop always throws in free repairs/service and other goodies. If I have to, I’ll order one online.

I also want to pick up a serger. I don’t need anything fancy, but I’d love to finish my knit shirts. I think a used serger would at least get me through those and give me a chance to experiment with a serger. If I like it, I can upgrade later. If it doesn’t seem very useful, I won’t have a huge loss.

Here’s to better sewing!

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