Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In with the Old, In with the New

So several weeks ago (um, about seven) I made mention of my birthday gift to myself but never followed up.

Well, here it is!

Treadle Head

I randomly search Craigslist on occasion looking for a cheap serger. Assuming that most such items are listed by the children of mothers who sewed and might not know there's a difference between a sewing machine and a serger, I always search on both terms. Well, the week before my birthday I did a search and came up with this beauty.

Turning 34 was difficult because I'm basically in the last good year of my fertility and have not had a real boyfriend in more than six years, much less am anywhere near finding a partner to raise children with. I have known for many years that having children is something I will have to do by myself if it's what I want, but knowing doesn't make it easier to do. This is the year I'm supposed to make the decision, and I still don't feel prepared. So, it's a hard year.

When I posted the article on my birthday dress post about 34 being the most expensive year of your life, Vicki said I should *make* it the most expensive year by splurging on myself. Excessive shoe purchases notwithstanding, I am not much of a splurger, but this sounded like excellent advice.

When I was growing up, some family friends down the street had a treadle sewing machine in the front hallway. I LOVED it and always wanted to play with it, but knew I wouldn't be allowed to. Now I have a treadle machine all to myself that I can play with whenever I want! It's gorgeous. I assume it's from the 20s as it has the Sphinx decal from the Art Deco craze for Orientalism. It is in working order (though unfortunately the tension and stitch length knobs are completely immobile; if anyone has any ideas for loosening them I'd appreciate it, because the tension is set tight and the stitches tiny) and absolutely gorgeous. It's not in mint condition, which is infinitely preferable to me. I want a machine that was *used* by generations of sewists before me. I want to see their dreams and fancies etched into the wood and worn into the decals.

The sellers were entirely sweet; they delivered it to me for $15 extra, set it up, brought me a photocopy of the manual, and showed me how to use it. What's amazing to me is not how different it is from an electric sewing machine, but how much it's the same. It operates identically, even to winding the bobbin!

The head folds down so that it just becomes a little side table, perfect for serving drinks from at a party. And check out the tiny casters! I just love everything about it. I don't know that I'll actually use it as a sewing machine, but if we have a long power outage over the winter I'm set.

Treadle head stowed

Then last week I was idly searching for a serger again and somehow came up with an eBay listing for a White Speedylock 1600 listed at $75 with a buy-it-now price of $99 and, most importantly, a seller in the DC area who was willing to do a pickup to avoid shipping charges. I had decided I'd spend up to $100 on an impulse serger purchase, and there it was staring me in the face. I'm sure I could have had it for the $75, but the auction didn't end until Sunday night and I wanted it for my long weekend. I did the buy it now and the seller, another wonderfully kind person, met me at a metro stop (she lives in the far suburbs, outside metro's reach) on Friday, which was my day off. I serged all weekend long, I tell you what. I've already managed to serge through a pin (oops) and KNOW the day of doom is coming when I slash into the middle of a garment with the knife, but oh the beauty of my seam allowances!

Speedylock Serger

And just so it doesn't feel left out, here is my first love: my Bernina 1008. The pastel 80s paint splotches are god awful and I wish it had a few more decorative stitches, but after 10 years of sewing on a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad New Home machine every day with the Bernina is a dream come true. I've had it for four years now! Time flies when you're not sewing on a Machine of Doom. Really, I cannot say enough foul things about that old New Home. Blood, sweat, and tears don't even begin to cover how frustrating it was. But all that is behind me now, and ahead of me are miles and miles more with my 1008.

Bernina 1008

31 comments:

Christina said...

Great splurge items!

You know, my trick on Craigslist is to search for "surger" in addition to "serger" - it often works!

Little Hunting Creek said...

Happy Birthday! You get to splurge all year, right? Why not? What will you get next? What's left?

Melissa said...

Congrats on the two new machines!!!

Don't be worried about not finding "Mr. Right" yet. Ladies are having babies well into their 40's so don't feel panicked that your fertility will just stop once you reach 35. Remember, "best things come to those who wait". :-)

Enjoy your new goodies!

Lindsay T said...

Yes, there are plenty of us who had their children after age 34. I wish I had the right words that would put your mind at ease...

Rachelle said...

My mom just passed along my great-grandma's old Singer treadle machine, so I feel your joy! :)

If you want to find out what date your machine was produced, go here:

http://www.singerco.com/support/serial_numbers.html

Lots of people have kids later in life; I'm planning to be one of them! I'll be 36 on my wedding day next year, and we plan on having our first child as quickly as possible thereafter. Heck, my sisters-in-law are a few years older than me, and both of them have had their second children in the last eighteen months. Their pregnancies went fine, and their babies are healthy, even though they're both near 40.

I think what I'm clumsily trying to say is that I think you have time. :)

badmomgoodmom said...
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badmomgoodmom said...
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badmomgoodmom said...

I feel your pain about turning 34. When I was 25, I was warned that my medical condition was highly correlated with infertility and to start trying early.

I also read that, for most women, fertility begins to decline at 31 and "falls off a cliff" (researcher's words, not mine) after 36. I was frantic when birthdays 32 and 33 went by and I remained childless.

I did have one child shortly after turning 34, and I smile graciously when mothers on the playground give me the, "You have only one?" question.

Mr Right may or may not show up, or he may show up too late. That's why sperm banks exist. You control the things you can control, and let go of the rest.

And congrats on the new machines. I wrote a post about how much I hate my new Bernina and wish I hadn't given my New Home to my daughter. I loved my NH and am only slowly making peace with my Bernina.

http://badmomgoodmom.blogspot.com/2008/06/my-star.html

Adriana B. said...

The moms in my moms club are all in their late 30s early 40s. One lade just had a child (naturally) and she is 44. Age is rather relative when it comes to fertility. So, don't panic!
I actually learned how to sew on the very same vintage machine you bought. It belonged to my grandmother or her FIL, I cannot remember.It was a flashback for me to see it though, after so many years...

colour by number said...

I have to tell you--I have friends in the same boat as you with the kid thing--first of all, most of us didn't meet our hubby's until 30 and up (I'm 40 and still going to friends'weddings!)--some of us have kids and some not--even the unmarried.It depends what is right for you--in today's society, nothing is off limits.My single girlfriend at 38 just had twin boys. Now my kids are always on loan for a weekend if that helps with the decision. lol Good luck!

dakota said...

Hi there,

I've been lurking for a while... love your blog. You make such cute things! I had to comment on the treadle. It looks like my Mom's machine, the one I learned to sew on, and I have such fond memories of it. She unfortunately sold it when she moved last time, had I known I would have asked for it. My aunt has an old machine like this that was electrified, but it's just not the same.

Anyway, about the tension and stitch setting... the knobs on both machines I've sewn on were stuck too. Perhaps a little sewing oil worked in there would do the trick?

BeeBee said...

Happy birthday, from another Libra. Check on SG for help on your treadle. JennyG/Sew Classic can probably help you with this. So can NeedleBar, the antique sewing machine website. They're a little picky with rules, but very knowledgeable.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on all of your great finds; they will surely be put to good use. I have always been a possibility thinker; I so wish I could impart some to you! In my 20s/early 30s I was happily fully engaged building my career (with precious little time for sewing I might add!) I married my husband when I was 36 (after many years of dating) and had my wonderful son at 42. Possibility thinking; if you are truly worried, you can have your own f. situation evaluated. Everyone is different; you may have more time than you realize! L.

Karen said...

Perhaps you can silence the ticking of your clock with the whirr of the serger? :) Like everyone has said, 35 isn't a cut-off point these days, so give yourself time to work out exactly what you want. There is still hope that you'll trip over Mr. Right one of these days, but having met you, I also think you'd do fabulously on your own with the mom routine.

Sometimes the self-bought birthday presents are the best. Congrats on both - and I'm sure you'll do a little sewing on the treadle, just because you won't want to see it sitting there, feeling neglected while you lavish all your attention on the other machines.

The older Singer (1940s) I got recently doesn't have any fancy stitches, but it's sturdy and I found out recently that it sews leather better than my new machines. So the new arrival may have an unexpected talent.

Sew4Fun said...

Congrats on your purchases! It's ok if you want to hug them, stroke them, call them by name. :) No one is watching or listening. LOL!

Hey and don't stress about making decisions re kids. Things have a way of falling into place.

Anonymous said...

Responding to the baby question nicegirl (well yes, I like the things you make and share your enthusiasm for the machines too). My babes were late arrivals,my thirties, in fact there was a medical term bandied about during pregnancy which translates as 'geriatric mother'. I was not pleased about that! a friend unintentionally got pregnant in her late fifties, believing herself over the menopause. If its writ in the stars it will happen!

Amber said...

Hooray for new sewing machines!

Jill B said...

Yeah for You on all counts!

Tiger Feet said...

I totally hear you in regards to singledom... I am 37 and finally reconciling myself to the fact that maybe I'm meant to be single. It sucks, but the single men in LA aren't interested in relationships, or they say they are, but then when they wake up one day and realize they are in one they panic.

Like everyone else here I have cousins / friends etc who've had unexpected babies in their late 40s, so it's not quite as bad as you think.

Sewfast said...

Happy belated birthday and congratulations on your new toys! Your new treadle looks very similar to mine that I inherited from my Grandma. She actually had power plumbed to it (Grandma was very forward thinking), but it still can run on treadle power. A little WD-40 might loosen those tension knobs for you so you can adjust them. Best wishes on whatever you decide regarding children. My daughter is almost 28 and working on her masters degree. I fear I will never be a Grandma, so if you need a Grandma for those kids of yours, I would be happy to spoil them for you! Mary

Mely5862 said...

Your comments really struck me. I am in the same boat as you and reality can hurt. But, I try to remember I'm living the life many women have dreamed of and was out of their reach. Choose what matters the most. The rest can wait.

melissa said...

ooh, congratulations on your new purchases! You really are treating yourself, both look great!

And on singledom - for what it's worth, don't settle. If a man's worth the hassle, you'll know it. Before meeting James, my longest relationship ever was 2 weeks.

Marty's Little Corner said...

Congrats on your birthday gifts to yourself. There is a yahoo group for those old Singers. A little Breakaway oil won't gunk up your machine like WD-40 or 3-in-1 oil will. There is also a wefixit group on yahoo that helps with repairs on old machines.

As far as having children, I was 35when I adopted my DD. She's 20 now and thinks most guys are jerks. My DH was 45 at the time. Told me that she would rather adopt children and raise them by herself than to be married. Don't wait for Mr Right. If it's meant to be, he'll show up whether you have children or not.

Dana said...

Your new treadle looks much like the one I inherited from my grandmother, but I have only 2 drawers on each side. I need to put a new belt on it - have the belt and all.

After a childless divorce (OK, he acted like a child), 35 hit me hard. Shortly thereafter Mr. Right showed up and we married at 36. My boys were born right be fore my 40th & 45th b'days. With the help of fertility docs, lots can be accomplished.

I had set a deadline of 35 for myself, but DH showed up right afterwards. Enjoy the time you have for yourself... when your kids get here you'll wish you had that time again. ;^)

perlchyk said...

I also have a Bernina 1008. Have you replaced the shuttlecock (the thing you put the bobbin in that also comes out for oiling) with the metal one, or did yours start all metal anyway?

My machine totally failed this spring with alarming noises and the inability to take up bobbin thread. After panicking and taking the machine pretty much apart, I decided to try a new one, and this solved my problem.

So, if you've got the plastic one, just a heads up.

Nancy K said...

My dh says that our shoe repair man loves his treadle machine and her uses it more often than his newer machine. Anyway, if no one has given you a recommendation on loosening the controls, dh says go to the auto parts store and get P-B Blaster. He says that you should make sure you thoroughly clean it off after you get the knobs loose. Hope it works.
Your machine looks like a beauty.

Vivienne said...

I'm 35 (with no kids) and I've seen that fertility graph! In fact I wish all my fertitily doc-visiting, IVF stressed friends would stop showing it to me.

I think you should reset your "now or never" age to 37 and save every penny you can from now till then.

Lisa said...

I just came across your blog for the first time as a beginner sewist, and my heart went out to you. You are only 34 - it's not all over. I had a baby 8 months ago and there are many girls in my mothers group (in Australia local councils put you in touch with the other first time mums in your neighborhood) who are in their late 30s and early 40s. I'm 31 and I am one of the youngest in my group.

Please don't give up hope. You've still got time - he's out there somewhere!

Elizabeth said...

I am delurking to respond to your comments about the tock ticking. I was in the same boat as you. No man who wanted to get married, and me getting older. I unexpectedly became pregant at age 38, gave birth just before my 39th birthday. My son is a great joy to me. As a single parent and with the support of my family, I am raising this little boy. You can do it by yourself. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If you want to talk offline, email me at eword10 [at] yahoo dot com.

sewducky said...

happy Belated B-Day!

I had to delurk just because I love treadles. I sew on one as my main machine and I just drool over them, even now. So pretty!

Debbie Cook said...

Commenting on your comment to me ... It looks like this is a back-clamping presser bar, like mine. Does the presser foot screw onto the back or to the side? That's your answer. Changing out the bar is very easy ... finding the replacement bar takes a little patience, but they can be found.