Pfaff Passport 3 review

So, as usual, the blog has been some time in the writing. Why? Well, lots of reasons why, but those are for another post! Things are afoot with the cat breeding portion of my life, and we can expect the patter of tiny paws some time soon!

 

But what’s that got to do with sewing? Nothing at all, so obviously it’s completely relevant to this blog! And I will invariably talk about it, well, just as often as I fancy it!

 

Right, in a departure from the scheduled programme, I have decided to skip ahead in my sewing story to do my review of the Pfaff Passport 3. Why? Because I want to! Also because it allows me to show off some recent makes. Also because it’s an awesome machine and the whole world and his mum should know about it! Also, mainly because it allows me to show off! Have I mentioned I like to show off? Well, I don’t really, but these new makes are soooooo awesome that I just couldn’t resist!

 

Just to be clear, Pfaff provided the Passport 3 for the purposes of the review. However, as always, my opinions and generally disorganised thoughts are all my own (I’d worry if these were coming from someone else), and have not been altered or influenced by Pfaff or their provision of a sewing machine. Pfaff are really committed to accessibility, and gave me the Passport to evaluate it for them. They have been very supportive when I’ve had queries, and are generally trying to get it right, particularly for visually impaired people. I love them for this.

 

So, to the Passport 3! In a nutshell, this little stunner is about the best thing since sliced bread. In fact, it’s the best thing since unsliced, fresh, homebaked bread straight out of the oven… Cuz we all know that’s much better than horrible supermarket sliced! But I digress. It’s awesome!

 

It all starts with the packaging. Not that I would know about packaging you understand. To me, one box is as good as another. However, Mr Sleepy (because he’s still in bed… I really must come up with a name that sticks for him soon!) says it’s awesome, and he’s a designer, so he knows these things… Apparently! He tells me this frequently! He says it looks a bit like a suitcase, then he rambled on for a bit about the design, the features, the consumer thought process… I, like any well trained, attentive, fully committed partner, completely switched off, began to think about what I’d make for dinner, and said “uh huh” and “oh really?” at what I sincerely hope were all the right moments! They must have been, as he’s still here! Seriously though, when a sewist has a new machine sat in front of them, all ready to be ripped into to find the delights within that pesky box, are they really going to consider the design of the cardboard? Well, Pfaff clearly thinks so, as does my designer, so I must concur that this is a good thing. I shall do so whilst my greedy little fingers begin to work the flaps at the top of the box though!

 

Everything is really well packaged in the box. There’s nothing loose, nothing rattling around, and, just as importantly, not much excess packaging! No need to run away screaming. I’m not an environment freak, but I do care enough that I will buy recycleable where I can, will minimise my rubbish footprint on the environment, and will definitely get ticked off if there’s a bazillion bits of un-needed cardboard, plastic, foam filling etc in a box where there really doesn’t need to be! This obviously has everything to do with my environmental commitment, and nothing at all to do with the fact that I have unnecessary rubbish filling up my bin, and may have to take an extra trip to the local tip to get rid of it! Nuh uh! Pfaff didn’t send my blood pressure into the red, so again, another positive.

 

When you manage to shut your other half up (ahem, I mean lovingly listen until he’s done talking) long enough to pull the machine lovingly (Ok, quickly and greedily, but we’ll go with lovingly) from the box, the first impression I got was, “Wow, that’s solid!” The Passport purports to be very light and compact. Compact it certainly is, but light? Call me weak and weedy, (I’ll be offended if you do, but truth hurts!), but light is not a term I would apply to this. Mind you, I’m not sure I’d really want to. If a sewing machine was a feather weight, I’d be concerned about the quality of its innards, and how long it would last. Pfaff seem to have made a good compromise here. The Passport is nowhere near as heavy as other machines of its size, but it is definitly a very solid presence in the hand when it’s picked up. the hard cover doesn’t help its lightness, but it’s a really nice feature that they provide it along with the machine. If you bought this thinking it was so light that you’d be able to juggle 3 of them with 1 hand tied behind your back, you might be a bit disappointed. Please have realistic expectations, as a good quality sewing machine is never going to be super light. Because of this, I don’t look at its weight as a negative. As I say, it’s a good compromise.

 

The design of this beast has been really well thought out too. With the Brother, I had to stuff the foot pedal into the throat of the machine and secure it in place before I went anywhere. With the Pfaff, that hard cover that I was sorrt of moaning about a minute ago (not that I ever moan, you understand, I discuss… In detail… Often a lot…) is actually really innovative. It uses the dead space inside by having a foot pedal holder. I didn’t really know what this was at first, as, in typical fashion, I didn’t read the manual, but later chatting to others confirmed that I was right! Now, I do have a good reason for not reading the manuals. They’re printed. I’m blind. Problem there! Sleepyhead is dyslexic… Don’t we make an awesome team? I will sneakily fail to mention here that Pfaff manuals are available online, and that I’m one of those people who hasn’t the patience to read a manual from cover to cover. I only touch them for specific bits. No. That wouldn’t suit my purposes. Using the blindy status gets me off the hook, so use it I will!

 

Anyway, enough of this waffle, and back to the machine.

 

Removing the cover leads to a very, very compact beast of a machine. The plastic parts are thick and sturdy and don’t look like they’ll crack like some of the other brands do. the metal parts are all well polished with no sharp edges, and the moving parts move really easily. The one thing I really like is that the sewing bed has metal which extends right back to the limit of the throad of the machine.

 

Speaking of the throat, this is the one thing that might put some of you off. It is very, very small. Not small enough to make sewing projects difficult, but small enough that sewing anything of a reasonable size is hard. That being said, Pfaff make no bones about this. The Passport is designed as a portable machine, not as a do everything work horse, so it would be stupid to buy it for that. That being said, it does do a bit of everything, and does it well. As a beginner machine, you really can’t go wrong with this. Just don’t try and sew a king sized quilt with it!

 

This naturally leads me on to sewing, and this is where it really comes into its own. If you thought I was gaga over a quarter inch foot, just imagine the increase in general delight and happiness when I discovered the quarter inch foot… With built in IDT! For those not in the know, it is basically a built in walking foot. Why is this so great? Well, it provides really even feeding of fabric at the top and the bottom, so less slippage, yaaaaay! Slippage is such a massive pain! With this, I can be lazy (as if I ever would!) and not pin as much, another yaaaaay! I hate pins! I can now sew multiple layers still using the quarter inch foot, something I couldn’t do with other machines. As I’m on a role here, yaaaaaay! I can also use any other foot on the machine that’s compatible with IDT, so I can put in zips with a walking foot, can use the zip foot for sewing curves (more about this in another post), and can be a lot more versatile with how I use the machine. Let’s here it for the yaaaaaaaays!

 

For me though, and for anyone who likes to sew multiple layers really, really straight, or straight line quilt really closely together, having a quarter inch guide with a walking foot already on there is just about the awesomest thing since awesome was invented! I’ve done some really beautiful projects with this, and the finished results are really, really good. It does also come with a quilting guide, but it’s not great for me to use as it’s the wrong shape. It has a screw to hold it in place, so in theory, my Husqvarna quilting guide that I was able to use on the Brother should fit as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Well it does, but it wobbles from side to side as the screw mechanism doesn’t hold it well enough. This is the main thing I’d like to see change with this machine. Having sold my Brother, I’m now not sure how I will do wider line quilting. I’ve done it, but it wasn’t massively straight sadly. I’m planning to put some cable shrink plastic stuff on it to see if it grips better, so watch this space. Gotta love self alterations!

 

Anyway, back to sewing. It does it beautifully. It goes slow, but nowhere near as slow as the Innov-is 55, so it’s likely to be a bit more frightening for complete beginners. It also feels very different to sew on. Whereas the Brother gently eases the fabric forward in quite a forgiving manner, the Pfaff almost sucked it out from under my fingers. Not that it was going particularly fast, you understand, as when I started with this I really took my time, but it felt a whole lot more business-like about it. “Right, I’ve got a job to do. You’ve asked me to do it, so I’m gonna!” I was a bit scared of it at the start as it does mean business, but I really, really like it now, and actually get frustrated with other brands that don’t do it. I like to feel a bit of tension on the fabric as it helps me guide it better. It is pretty quiet even when working at high speeds, and the duel feed means that once you have your straight line, you pretty much don’t need to touch the fabric at all to keep it in line. The stitching is  really nice and even, and the quality is great. It’s got decorative stitches, but as with other machines, the manual doesn’t give them names so I don’t know what they are. This makes me sad!

 

Accessories: Again, this is from memory, so apologies if I’ve missed anything. It’s annoying as I always forget to write down what they come with out of the box, and I like to use it for a few months before I review it. As I have a head like a sieve, by the time I come to review, I’ve forgotten most of it! Anyway, it comes with the standard foot already attached, and has a non IDT version in the box, basically the same foot but it doesn’t have a slit cut out of the back of it. To be honest, I’ve no idea why you wouldn’t want to use the IDT, but there you go. I’m sure somebody somewhere has a reason. Then you get some fancy stitch feet, a button hole foot (automatic, another yaaaaay!), an adjustable blind hem foot and a zip foot. So you get enough for the basics, but not much more. This made me sad. I wanted the quarter inch and the button sewing foot at least as standard, particularly as Pfaff makes such a big deal about being quilter friendly. I do hope they take that on board! It also comes with an extra thread spool, so I’m assuming that it twin needles, but there was none in the accessories. There’s a handful of bobbins, a cool quick unpick with the lint brush built into it, a quilting guide, thread spool caps, some needles, and I think that was it. Pfaff didn’t bother with the little accessory bag, opting instead for a resealable plastic one. No big problem in my book as everything gets dumped into the little compartment anyway! Speaking of, theirs is really surprisingly big and roomy, and they haven’t wasted the space at the back either, giving you a tiny little lidded compartment behind the free arm. I really, really like this, as I’d always considered that bit wasted space on other models. Obviously it has a free arm (I don’t think any of them don’t!), and it does have a speed control.

 

Accessibility: This machine is pretty good. It has raised buttons for everything. The start and reverse buttons are really clear, and located within easy reach on the front of the machine. The other buttons, keypad, tie off etc, are higher up. they are raised, but slightly less prominent. This didn’t bother me at all, but may some, for example diabetics with less sensation in their fingers. The buttons were small. Everything beeps when it is triggered, but the beep is a small pip rather than a big, positive one. Again, it wasn’t a problem on this end, and I like it because it’s discrete, but for an older person with hearing problems it may be an issue. Setting the stitch width and length is also easy, although it’s worth remembering that the first time you press a directional button, it beeps, but doesn’t log the press. I suspect this is because the machine is making sure you actually want to move the width and length before it messes up your current settings. If you alter a value then decide a few seconds later you want to change it again, you will need to do that initial press before anything happens. I’ve found that the easiest way to know if things are being logged is to place a finger on the needle shaft and feel when it starts to move in response to my presses.

The Passport has a tie off function which is prominently located and easy to find. I use this a lot, as tying off is a nightmare for me. It also has built in thread snips so anyone who struggles to cut it won’t have to worry any more. Needle threading is more tricky than on other models, but once you get the hang of it, it’s not difficult. I’d suggest that you would need a reasonable level of dexterity to do it easily, as you need to guide the thread through some pretty small hooks. Over all, it’s an accessible machine with some minor faults which happily don’t impact me, but may for others.

 

Neat features: This baby has loads of them! It has automatic button holes which are awesome. It has a little tucked away stitch guide which makes its home inside the front of the machine, so there’s no extra bulk to carry! Obviously the IDT (built in walking foot) is unique to Pfaff, and is really the major selling point for me as it enables me to quilt much more accurately, and using the normal feet I already have, without worrying about a big, bulky, squeaky walking foot. It has adjustable foot tension. I’ll not lie. I’ve never used this because I’m too scared to mess with it, but others have and they rave about it, as it enables you to sew heavy and lightweight fabrics with ease.

 

Automatic thread cutting: This deserves a category all of its own because it is soooooooo amazing! you buy a sewing machine. It has a thread cutter on the side. You think, that’s just fine. Cutting thread only takes a minute. Then you use it. you quilt loads of little lines. You end up with nice, close threads on the end, but big dangling tails at the start of each new line. You wonder idally about the amount of thread you waste doing this. But hey, everyone does it. Then you curse as you accidentally sew those tails into your next line of stitching. But hey, it’s a sewist’s curse… Then you use a machine which has automatic thread snips. You reach the end of a line. You press a button. The machine makes a very satisfyingly mechanical, industrial sort of whirring and clunking (yep, I know I’m wierd, but this kind of thing does bring me happiness!). Suddenly, no more thread. You start your next line. Because there’s only a tiny bit hanging out of the needle, you get no hanging tails anywhere on the work. “Nice,” you think to yourself, “But a bit of a luxury. I like it, but I don’t need it.” Then you go back to your other sewing machine that has no snips. You start to sew. You sew tails into your work. You get tails caught up in the feed dogs, making wrinkles in the work where there shouldn’t be wrinkles. You get tangles. You echo quilt off a bit of thread that got accidentally sewed in, rather than the actual stitched line. You curse yourself, the project, the machine, the world, the universe in general, and you vow never, ever, ever again to use a machine that doesn’t have snips in it… Ever! As long as you both shall live! And that won’t be long if you have to use a machine without snips, because you’re so cross that he’s gonna get it! Even if he’s just opened the door of the sewing room to offer you a cuppa… Ahem, no, I am not speaking from personal experience there… Honest!

 

In a nutshell: I love the Pfaff Passport 3, and can’t recommend it highly enough. It has some little niggles like my thread guide not holding well, the lack of supply of a quarter inch foot on a machine that is geared for quilters, and the slightly limited accessories in the foot department in general, but the thread snips, the IDT and all the other cracking features more than make up for that! If you have something in the region of £550 and want a really solid machine that will withstand going to and from classes with you without breaking your back, but will still let you explore your projects at home, then it will be money well spent if you put it on the Passport 3. I couldn’t be without mine now! I actually want a bigger model so I can sew larger things!

 

Now to the show off bit! Here are some makes that were done completely on the Passport 3. The hold all was a bit tricky to get through at the end due to its bulk, but not impossible. As you can hopefully see, the Passport does some beautiful stitching, and the finished quality is really good.

I’ve also done an unboxing video on Youtube.

Apparently, unboxing is all the rage now. I wouldn’t know. I’m not hip, but my hip designer told me to do it, so I hear and obey! I’ll be doing an actual sewing video with it as soon as said designer has a minute to help me film it, so again, watch this space!

 

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Brother Innov-is 55 Review

Huzzah! It’s that time again! Time for more ramble! It’s been a while now, so I figure you’re all recovered enough to read some more rubbish, so here we go!

Oh how I wish I was clairvoyant. Why? Quite a few reasons actually.

1. It would make me look insanely clever!
2. It would enable me to say “told you so!” much more often!
3. I would now be reviewing the Pfaff instead of the Brother that I’d promised you!

And why number 3, I hear you ask? Well, come on then, ask! I’m clairvoyant, you know, so now that I’ve told you you’re going to ask, you really should to avoid showing me up for the fraud I clearly am not! I don’t even know the meaning of the word!

Well, the why is thus. Because yesterday I attended an all day workshop in which I made something really, really wonderful (obviously it’s wonderful as I made it! Never mind that it might look like a 5 year old’s attempt at drawing, I made it!), and I want to share with you all! But as it was done almost exclusively on the Pfaff, it’s not appropriate yet. Because I learned loads of new way to use feet yesterday though, I’m bursting to share! Ah well, never mind. Next time!

So, to the Brother Innov-is 55. I will start by saying the same thing that I probably will at some point in every review post. Whether companies have given me something to review or not will not change my opinion, or the way it’s come across, one iota. Companies may not like it, but I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth! Ahem, sorry, been watching a bit too much CSI I think!

So, with that in mind…

The 55 was the first machine I ever called mine, and I loved it… There’s a good reason for that past tense, but more on that later! It comes with a whole load of accessories that really do see the basic sewist set up for almost any task. It has a few bobbins so you can get started immediately. From memory, it also comes with: 3 spool caps (small, medium and large depending on the thread reel size you’re using), an extra spool pin, a little fluffy thing that I think goes under the thread on that extra pin, a net for stopping metalic or slippery threads reeling off too quickly, small and large screwdriver and a round one (don’t ask me what that’s for!), spare needles, 1 step button hole foot, monogram foot, zigzag foot, blind hem foot, overcasting foot, standard zip foot, button foot (this one for fitting buttons), and a lovely little bag to put it all in… That lasts about 2 seconds because it’s made of very cheap plastic which puckers really easily. In my personal opinion, the whole set up would have felt much more quality if they’d left this out or replaced it with something better. Of course, every machine comes with a sewist’s best friend, the quick unpick! Brother’s one is easy to use and really nice and sharp.

Really, the wealth of accessories that come with the machine are beyond fabulous. Brother doesn’t disappoint in this regard, and they do get top marks here from me.

When I bought the machine, Brother were running a promotion which meant that I got their quilting kit free. This consisted of an extension table, a walking foot, a quilting guide, a free motion foot, and, my favourite thing of all time, the QUARTER INCH FOOT!!!!! Seriously, if I could have this things’ babies, I think I would!

All that being said, if I’d bought these accessories in the kit, they would have cost a whopping £150! Seriously? £150 for 3 feet, a bit of metal bar and a plastic tiny table? I’d not have been happy if I’d paid out full whack, but as they were freebies, I couldn’t complain! As I mostly do quilting, I’ve actually found them invaluable. The walking foot does require you to unscrew and remove the ankle of the machine, then screw on the beast of a foot, then fiddle to get another section over the needle bar, and it needs a bit of practice, but once you’ve got the technique, it’s quick and easy to fit. Don’t ask me about the free motion foot. I’ve never touched it.

The quarter inch foot and all the others snap onto the ankle of the machine with relative ease. Again, if you can’t see it, there’s a bit of practice needed to line things up, but once you’ve worked that out fitting feet is a breeze! The zip foot is fiddly, but all of them are so I don’t hold that against them. They come away with the press of a button.

The interface of the machine is pretty easy to use. On the right, there’s a keypad made up of large press buttons. Whenever you turn it on, it always defaults to the same stitch and the same menu screen, so big brownie points there in terms of accessibility. The machine gives a really defined, positive beep whenever a button is pressed, so there’s no danger of not knowing you’ve triggered something.

There are preprogrammed stitches, so that you only have to push one of the keypad buttons when the machine first comes on to select from 9 of the most popular stitches and 1 button hole. Again, this is a feature that I love, as it means when you first get it, you only have to remember 10 stitches rather than the few hundred million that it seems to possess! Perhaps I’m stupid, but I know it takes me a while to remember everything, and this feature enabled me to use different settings straight away. The default stitch length and width always reverts to the same when the stitch is changed, so as long as you can remember how you altered it for certain projects, then it’s completely repeatable.

Stitching is pretty good on this. When piecing thin layers of cotton, there’s very little slippage, and I sew difficult, slippy mesh to thick velcro with little to no struggle from this beast. Quilting with the walkking foot is also pretty smoothe, with minimal slippage.

The speed control is perhaps the 55’s most attractive feature. At its slowest, it will inch and crawl along so minutely that even a brand new beginner can sew with accuracy and confidence. I used this a lot in the early days. When you want to go faster, the machine copes with everything… Other than quilting. Go more than halfway with the slider with the walking foot on and the fabric slippage increases exponentially. For a blind person, having a slow speed when learning is essential, and it is probably for this reason alone that I would recommend a Brother as a starter machine, as no other that I’ve come across will go so slowly.

Now to the negatives, and I’m afraid there are a few.

Brother’s engagement: This was a big one for me. Their manual isn’t very accessible, and they don’t have an easily accessible stitch list. I wrote to them, as did my mum who is also blind and who got one of these on my recommendation, and all emails were ignored. Even when we spoke to Brother reps in person, we have been promised that we’ll get what we need, and yet there’s been no communication at all on their part. I also wrote to them explaining that I often use feet in a very different way than you’d expect (more on that in another post), and asked whether they’d be prepared to engage with me to find innovative ways for blind people to use them. At the time, I thought their machine didn’t have any massive negatives, so wanted to work with them. Again, I was totally ignored, whereas other companies have been only too happy to help. I know they don’t have to do anything for me in terms of giving me feet, but I bought their machine. the least I should be able to get is an accessible stitch list!

The walking foot: In recent weeks, I have grown to almost hate this thing, not because it’s bad, but because it isn’t versatile at all. The closest stitch I can get is half to 3/4 of an inch which is no good for close quilting. I use the quilting guide to echo quilt, and the edge of the foot for running straight lines, but as it’s so bulky, I’m limited in how close I can get. It also makes threading the needle bar hook by touch very, very difficult, almost impossible, as the prongs that attach to the needle bar stick out and confuse the issue It is sooooo noisy when used at any speed other than a crawl, and it creaks and clanks something terrible. This is not unique to my machine either. The squeaking of a Brother in full quilting flow is very, very distinctive!

Quilting guide: Speaking of this, what on earth were they thinking! It’s tiny, and all scrolled back on itself, and completely nonfunctional. It sits really close to the needle, so if you want to quilt on the right hand side by touch, your fingers will get pulverised by the needle bar, and if you want to work on the left hand side, it violates one of the non-negociable rules when a sewing machine is in motion. Fingers must always be behind the foot. You’re still close to the needle, but at least you know you aren’t going to sew yourself. This guide doesn’t allow that luxury. I ended up changing this out for a Husqvarna guide which I now use upside down so that the downward facing point runs directly in my stitch line. It’s a loooooong guide and really minimalist. Thank goodness for common sense!

Tangling: You can guarantee that if you start a seam with an elastic stitch, about 50% of the time your thread is going to snag and nest underneath, or get caught in the feed dogs. Not the end of the world, but a real pain. I find that if I start the fabric further forward this issue goes away completely, but I then have an 8th or so of an inch at the start of my seam which isn’t sewn.

All of that being said, the Innov-is 55 is a cracking little machine for the money. You get a lot of bang for your buck, and it’s versatile enough to enable a beginner to do basic quilting, quite advanced dress-making and a little name embroidery. There’s loads of decortaive stitches, and the amount of basic and advanced options in there means the machine will grow with you as you advance.

Do I regret buying the machine? Only because of the problems with the quilting foot and the lack of customer service from Brother. If I wasn’t blind, or more specifically a blind quilter, then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this as a really top end all rounder for relatively little cash. For visually impaired (VI) folks who want to be seamstresses rather than quilters, this beast will do you just fine, and will be a pleasure to work with. Just be sure you have someone around who will read the stitches to you until you learn them, because Brother sure as heck won’t!

So, that’s a wrap! Obviously it goes without saying that the views expressed here are my own personal ones. Brother did not ask for this review, and certainly didn’t supply any of the equipment mentioned to make it possible. Well, they did supply it, but I paid for it, so it doesn’t count!

Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Hit me with it!

The Terror of Tutors

Well, it looks like it’s that time again. Time to listen to some more of my inane ramblings! Sorry it’s been so long, but the flu is awful, and I promised to demo at a big quilt show which, on top of the flu, really knocked me for 6, so I’m just getting back to the land of the living now!

Sewing in a shop is one thing. Even sewing on someone else’s well loved machine is Ok. But sewing on a brand new one, when neither of you know anything about it? Well, that’s very different.

Silly (name due to him going to work with the workshop keys and forgetting that a collection driver was coming to, well, collect, something within said workshop which he couldn’t get because the keys weren’t there) is a good lad really. Note: Silly certainly wasn’t the name I was using for him at 8 this morning when said collection driver arrived! Initially, our spare room was full of spare bed. And boxes. And more boxes. And then some boxes for good measure. Oh, and his old dining table just randomly in the middle of it all! “Why don’t we take the bed down and put it in the loft?” I suggested. “Then we could use the table for the sewing machine. We don’t have guests that often, and even when we do, we could just put a matress down on the floor.”

Now, the trick with dealing with the knuckle draggers is to make sure that they think every new idea is theirs. If it’s theirs, they will not resist. I promptly employed distraction techniques. Noooo, not those ones you naughty lot!!!!! I offered him a cup of tea! Suggested he might like a beer! Sat with him while we watched TV rubbish!

“Hmmmm,” said he eventually, in a rather thoughtful tone. “Why don’t we take the bed down and put it in the loft?” Yes! Score 1 for women-kind! Who’s the daddy! Ahem, I mean mummy. Oh, it just doesn’t sound the same, does it?

“That’s a great idea!” I enthused, and we sprang to it!

After some frantic activity, lots of rearranging and lots of swearing (on his part of course, not mine as I’m way too polite to do that!), it was done. I had a table. I had a machine. I even had a thread box and threads! I set it all up prettily. I should have taken a picture or something as it’s the one and only time it’s ever been that way! I have this problem where I tend to breed meyhem and distruction wherever I go!

Threading was reasonably easy thanks to H’s instructions. So was sewing actually. I wish there was a funny anecdote about how I sent bits of needle pinging round the room as they broke one after the other, or the machine jammed, but actually it all worked like a dream. After some initial support from Silly, I was up and running. But what should I sew?

For a while, I just put lines of random stitches down fabric. Then I started to look at the accessories that came with the machine. There were loads! Bobbins! Yaaaay, go me! I knew what a bobbin was! But what was the rest of this stuff? Loads of little metal bits. I knew they were feet, but who in their right mind needs more than 2! Ok, 4, let’s not forget the animals! I had about a gazillion! I snapped them onto the machine, sewed… And got no difference at all! what was the point? The mind was boggling! Then there was a huge long doodad that I knew was something to do with buttons! But could I get it to work? Could I heck! Even reading the manual didn’t help. Overcasting foot? Sounds like a thing you’d use for a fishing rod! And last time I looked, tuna in my house came from a tin, not from my sewing machine! Blind hem foot? Hey hey hey! Was someone trying to be funny here? Man, even my sewing machine mocks me! Monogram foot? Whaaaaaaaaat?

A few days later, I was back on the phone to H. “You know all that stuff you told me in the shop about the machine? Well, I’ve forgot it all. Pretty please will you agree to teach the idiot how to use her machine?”

And thus, the lessons started.

I toddled off to the shop a few days later for what I was told would be a brief and simple look at the machine and its foot. Well, H obviously speaks a different language from me, because brief and simple it was not! I have to admit, at some points I really did think it was a different language, with the amount of sewing terminology raining down on me!

Somehow, more due to H’s amazing patience and even more amazinger teaching skills, I managed to absorb at least some of it. I learned that a 1 step button hole is perhaps the most awesome thing in the whole wide world! I learned that, no, a zip foot could sadly not be used to sew Silly’s mouth closed when he was not saying what I wanted to hear. Apparently that’s considered illegal. Sometimes, this country’s legal system is very, very disappointing. I also discovered that a quarter inch foot is out of this world! Seriously! Like maybe as good as posh chocolate! Nope, I kid you not. That little foot rocked my world. Who cares if you can only do straight stitch with it (actually, I do quite a lot as it’s limiting, but it doesn’t serve my purposes to admit that just yet!). Who cares that you can only do set seam allowances! The fact is, it has a guide in there, and that guide enables you to sew in a straight line! And straight lines are awesome if you actually want to sew something together! The world loves straight lines, so I do too! No more wonky, wiggly catastrophes for me! I’d done it! I’d cracked the problem! I’d…

“Hello? Earth to Carly!” I snapped back to the lesson with a guilty apology, but now I was really excited. I was desperate to sew something up! But what?

“Um, H,” I said, “I’m not an artsy person. I’m not creative. I can make things, but I do best by copying. Any ideas for a starter project?”

She thought for a while, then admitted “I think you’re at the point where we need to meet with your tutor. She’s a really good quilter…” And then she told me all about what she’d done. This lady has done loads of quilts, written books, teaches classes all over the place, teaches at some of the largest quilting shows… So no pressure then! I have to admit, my heart sunk a bit. She wasn’t going to want to teach a complete beginner surely! Nah, no way!

“Oh well,” I thought, “I’ll meet with her anyway and she might at least give me some ideas!”

The meeting was scheduled for the following week, and I’ll admit to experiencing trepidation for the whole of the wait. She was SCARY! Someone with that much experience was down right terrifying, when next to me who has only just learned to sew a straight line! I felt like I was going to a job interview or something as I prepared to head back into the shop.

Sarah has told me I’m allowed to tell you all what she’s called… So she’s called Audrey and she works in Scandanavia! Oh wait. Audrey’s not a very Scandanavian name, is it? All right, all right, so you’ve caught me! I fibbed, all right? She’s actually called Sarah Wellfair, and you should all go and buy her books! They’ve got lovely patterns in there for awesome bags, quilts, tea cosies… All sorts! And they’re idiot proof. I can say this for certain as I’ve made some of them! you’d better buy them cuz she said she’d give me a fiver for every million sold! Nah, just kidding. She didn’t offer me anything! She’s tight you see! Seriously though, if you were thinking about having a go at bags etc, they’d be well worth a look. And that’s genuine. She hasn’t asked me to advertise for her, but I think the books give you the ability to make some really lovely things.

Right, back to me now! And let’s face it, reading about me’s far better than anything else you had planned, or might need to do. Forget that screaming hungry baby! What do you mean your dog needs a wee! It’s all about me right now, so pay attention!

It seemed that Sarah and H had been doing a bit of conflabbing of their own, because, as I sat there quietly on the chair (yep, I can be quiet sometimes. Admittedly it doesn’t happen often, and is probably worthy of national notice or something when it does, but it is still a rare possibility), over they came. “I thought we could start by making this bag,” said Sarah without any preamble! “I’ve brought one so you can feel it and copy it as you go.” Without further a-do, the item under discussion was depositted in my lap… And my heart sunk all over again! It’s been sinking that much in this post that it should probably be tunneling under Australia at this point, but we’ll use artistic licence here.

To a beginner, the bag looked ridiculously complicated! It was quilted on the inside and the outside. Different quilting methods were used on the top and the bottom. It had inset triangles! It had loads of bits sewn together. It had handles that were all stitched too. It had a zip for goodness sake! And everyone knows how difficult zips are! I mean, everyone complains about how hard they are to put in! Everyone says, in knowing tones, “Oh, avoid zips at all costs”. EVERYONE! And here’s the super duper quilter extraordinaire deeming to stoop to new lows to teach this stupid beginner, and she’s asking me to do a zip! I’m gonna fail! This is gonna be sooooo embarrassing! Someone of her skill level’s gonna get sooooooo bored teaching me sooooo quickly!

“Are you sure?” I asked, feeling a bit, well a lot, panicked. “I mean, it’s got a zip! And it’s, well, hard!” Yep, go me, the queen of not saying what I mean!

“Piece of cake. Pretty easy really.” said she, and with no more than that, she took me off to choose fabric.

After a whirlwind cutting session in which Silly got taught the ins and outs of a rotery cutter (we unanimously decided that a blind person whielding a very sharp pizza cutter without a pizza in sight was probably not the brightest of ideas, particularly when cuts needed to be very accurate, and fingers or blood were not part of the bag design), Sarah matter of factly handed me 2 pieces of fabric and said casually, “Right, pin them together then sew them up”.

Panic set in. Pinning! I didn’t know the right way to pin! And she’d be watching me! And I’m sure there is a right way, but I don’t know it! And then I had to sew in front of her!

Hap-hazzardly, I shoved pins into the pieces, roughly lining them up. Then it was time to sew. Gingerly, I lined the fabric up and gently eased down on the foot pedal.

Now, the brother is a very different beast to Silly’s Bernina, so instead of jerking the fabric away with the strength of a kid grabbing a lollypop right before their sister gets it before them, it eased it gently out from under my fingers. My pace would have rivaled any snail. In fact, I’d stomp all over snails! Actually, I don’t like doing that. I’m the kind of stupid who feels really sorry for them. I once got very upset that we didn’t see a snail who’d climbed up onto the car before we drove off. We relocated him to the grass when we got home, but for the rest of the evening, all I could think about was poor Brian lonely and trekking through the grass, searching hopelessly for Mrs Brian and his little Brianinas and not finding them! Yep, I know. I’m hopeless!

Anyway, back to sewing. It took me an age, but eventually, voila! I held it up with a flourish! It was sewn! It had stayed together! I was da bomb! I was… Ouch! I’d pricked my finger on one of the pins I’d stupidly forgotten to take out. Bravely, I didn’t make a sound. There was no way my victory was going to be spoiled by letting el supremo quilter see me make a rookie mistake like that! Nuh uh!

Just as proudly as any rookie, I displayed my very simple, very basic work. With glowing pride I remarked, “There you go! And it even stayed together!” Oops! Way to undermine my pretence at being casual!

“Well,” said Sarah, “I reckon you can come along to a class now! If you can put in a seam, then I can teach you along with the others.”

And it’s only gone from strength to strength from then on. I attend classes weekly with some of the nicest, craziest, naughtiest women I’ve ever met! I make things, but I also make mistakes just like everyone else. I’m finding it really lovely to sew in company, and Sarah continues to think outside the box to find ways of me doing things. We’re learning together as we go, and it’s lovely that everyone’s as enthusiastic as everyone else!

In my next post, as it ties in with the storyline, I plan to do a review of the Brother Innov-is 55, both from a sewing and an accessibility point of view. Don’t worry though. My story continues, and that will also be a regular feature… Whether you like it or not! It’s all about me, remember?

Machine Mayhem

Well, as I’m laid up with the flu at the minute, and I don’t do inactivity or boredom well at all, you get the next installment earlier than I was planning!

Note: Laid up =sat up with a very moany Persian in the living room rather than in bed (the sofa is my bed, I mean our bed, as he refuses to let me be alone). He’s screaming his protests at being separated from his girlfriend who is desperate to meet a boyfriend as it’s that time of the year when she feels that kittens are a must! Never mind that my neuter was neutered as he refused to perform. Oh no. Now he’s the male jiggalo of the cat world, happy to take one for the team and bonk anything, and I do mean anything, that even looks like it needs it! Who needs the family jewels for that? Everyone knows that you’re more manly if you refuse to act when you’ve got ’em, then go all out to prove a point when you don’t! Only in this house! I swear, I live in a world full of crazies!

So, it’s my birthday! Yaaaay! That means I get presents! Oh wait, it’s not my Birthday and there are no presents here! Damn those flu driven hallucinations! I really wanted that pony!

So, we decided on the spurr of the moment (as we often do) that if I wanted a sewing machine, then we would jolly well go and get one! Right now! This instant! Well, after I could be bothered to drag my lazy, but very pert and beautiful and not at all wobbly or jiggly in any way, bottom out of bed! It was my Birthday after all. But where should we start?

Well, logic won out there. As I’d mentioned, Mr Fantastic (he can be called that today as he’s brought me honey and lemon in bed and told me he would cook tonight!!!) had a machine of his own and came from a long and distinguished line of sewists (no, I am no longer going to call us sewers… We do not stink, we are not a drainage system, and despite my post yesterday, we certainly don’t have anything to do with rats!). There was a little place in sunshineland (the happy clappy fictional name for the very boring town where I live, in an attempt to make it sound lovely and appealing and an awesome place to be!) that did all the servicing on their machines and did it well. Moreover, it was beside the premises of a seamstress who, I was sure, would also give tips on machines, and would fall all over herself in her agreement to teach me when I politely asked the question! After all, what seamstress doesn’t give lessons for a handsome pay out on the side? As if that wasn’t good luck enough, the chocolate on the cake (I refuse to say cherry as cherries are fruit, fruit is healthy, and healthy does not pass my lips!) was that they were both old neighbours of Mr Fantastic before I dragged him away to move into a new house so he could bring me honey and lemon in bed for the rest of his life!

So off we trotted, full of the joys of spring (Ok, I’ll admit to my exaggeration there as my Birthday’s actually in the thick of winter) and confident that our search would be over very quickly. By mistake, we ended up at the door of the seamstress first rather than the machine people. We knocked, politely of course as manners cost nothing, then waited. And waited. And then waited some more just for fun!

When she eventually opened the door, I explained my situation. In brief, it went something like this.

New sewist, wants to learn, oh, is blind by the way, wants recommendations on the best machine, wonders if you teach, if you don’t, who does?

The response I got was just like those cartoons where the deer in the headlights look comes over the character’s face and you get a long, drawn out “huuuuuuuuuuuh?????” She was clearly thinking “Whaaaaaaat? Um, what am I supposed to do here? I’m outta my depth and I don’t even have a flamin swimming pool! And it’s winter! Even if I did have a pool, why would I be in it! Oh right, back to the question at hand. Huuuuuuuuuuh?”

“Sorry, I don’t know of what machine you should use. And I don’t know anyone giving lessons in the whole of Sunshineland.”

What, really? Someone who uses machines all day every day, someone who makes a career out of using machines, couldn’t have an educated guess, a stab in the dark even (my punn genius knows no bounds!), at an appropriate beginner machine? And a seamstress, someone heavily involved in the sewing community, couldn’t think of a single sole person in the whole wide world who might give lessons, or know of someone who gave lessons, or who had an old friend of their aunt’s uncle’s cousin’s dog who gave sewing lessons? Riiiiiiight!

I quickly, but again politely, walked away before my ever so active tongue could give voice to any of these very prominent ruminations. Mr Fantastic must’ve done the same, as we both set to again with renewed viggor. Giving ourselves a good mental shake, and, in my case, a stern talking to that not everyone in the world was like this, we bravely ventured forth and knocked on the door of the servicing place. Here, we knew, we would find more sense. They knew machines inside out, intimately even *legal note, I do not have evidence to back this up, but who knows!*. They would be sure to know what I needed, or at the very least, could give some sort of recommendation.

A man came to the door. Let’s call him Machine Man, or MM. Again, I went through my little speech, feeling like a seasoned performer at this point. Sealions have nothing on me!!!

Again, there was a long, very pregnant pause. “It doesn’t exist,” said the lovely MM shortly.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked in no little confusion.

Helpfully, he clarified, adopting a professorly, man of the world, experienced tone. “Well, the machine you need doesnt exist. I mean, how would you even thread it! It would need lasers or something to tell you where your thread was so you could thread the machine. And it wouldn’t even need 2 it would need 4 so it could pinpoint it exactly. And I’ve never come across one of them. It doesn’t exist.”

I promise you, no word of a lie, I am not making this up! I’m not even exaggerating things in the slightest to make them funnier! This one has commedy value all itself!

“Um right,” I said slowly, sensing the increased tension in Mr Fantastic beside me, who does not like it when someone tells me I can’t, particularly when that someone is very, very wrong! Don’t explode, Mr Fantastic, I thought frantically as I continued to speak in what I am proud to say was a very calm, very reasonable tone. “But my mum sews and she’s blind. And there are some other blind people that I know of that sew. All I want is a recommendation for a simple beginner machine that isn’t too complicated to use. Can you recommend anything?”

“No,” he said firmly. “I’ve told you, it doesn’t exist, and I’m not going to recommend something you can’t use. That wouldn’t be right.”

And thus endeth my fashion career all over again! What is it with me and my short lived fashion explorations! Is it something I said?

We walked away from the house, returned to the car and sat in silence for just a moment. Then I ducked, covered my head with my arms, and attempted not to get in the way of the deluge of nuclear fall out as Mr Fantastic hit the roof. (Please note, no cars were hurt in the making of this purely hypothetical statement.) As I am hoping that this will remain a reasonably family friendly blog, I can’t possibly repeat what he said. Well, I could, but there are probably a million internet laws against content of that nature, and I like the internet. Suffice it to say that he was not a happy bunny at all. Nor was I to be honest. I’d only recently found out that sewing was a possibility, and now, here was I, facing the same kind of silliness and resistance to me trying something new that I get in almost every walk of life. I won’t whine about it as that’s not the purpose of this blog, but it happens time and time again, and is just one of those really, really annoying bits that goes with being blind. It sucks, but it’s as constant as my need for chocolate, which is about as constant as a human’s need for oxygen (probably more actually), so you need to just suck it up and get on with it.

And that’s exactly what we did… Along with a McDonalds milkshake. Well, it was my Birthday! But now, there was a fire lit under Mr Fantastic, and when that happens, there is only one outcome; the achievement of whatever it is that is proving so difficult. “Right,” said he, with the force of a hurricane, “We are going to the fabric shop.” I meakly complied, being that I’m so meak and mild mannered and wouldn’t say boo to a goose! Actually, I’d quite like to do that just to see what would happen! Just for fun, you know? Has anyone got a goose I could borrow?

So off we trundled to perhaps the only fabric shop in Sunshineland. It’s actually a cool place if you’re looking for cheap fat quarters, but that’s another story.

I did my little speech all over again, and this time it had extra flare if I do say so myself! I had a good grasp of my lines by this point and could add a certain je ne sais quoi to proceedings. I often do that, but at least this time, it was a positive one!

“Well,” said she, “I don’t know of any teachers, but I’ll take your details in case I do.” Well, that was very slightly more positive! I dutifully gave her the necessaries, then asked about sewing machines, but as she didn’t sell any and worked mostly with one brand, she didn’t have the rounded knowledge that I was after. She did, however, give me a bundle of scraps to practice on after I’d asked nicely if she had any. Given that Mr Fantastic was determined I’d get a machine, I knew I’d be needing these later on!

They say that Google is a man’s best friend. Oh wait, isn’t that a dog? Or diamonds, considering that I’m a girl? Well, Google sounds almost like Diamonds, so it’ll do. We did what all good, propperly taught, hip young people of today do (yes, I am young, and I’ll not hear a word to the contrary thank you very much!) We got out our phones, started typing furiously, and came up with some results of other nearby places that we could look. Who needs recommendations from actual people, huh? Who needs to ask actual real live people where we should go next! That’s so last century, dahlink.

I’ll admit, I was feeling thoroughly disillusioned by this point, and really couldn’t be bothered phoning around to be told the same thing over and over again. But on the other hand, how else was I to get my machine?

Armed with a list of numbers, we got dialing… And struck gold. Well, I did. That’s why I’m rich, rich I tell ya! I wish I was!

It’s amazing how things just fall into place, but they do. The first number I tried was a shop named Creative Hands in Worcester. See, I can give you the name of that place because it’s not where I live, so all you mad stalkers won’t be able to find me there! Well, unless you turn up when I happen to be there… Hmmm, didn’t think of that little problem! If you come, please could you kill me with chocolate rather than that big insanely sharp knife that most stalkers use? The posh type would be preferable. Thanks! No cheap death for this classy gal!

Anyway, for the 4th time that day, I performed my speech, adding just a touch of dejection into the tone. I’ll pretend it was for the audience’s benefit, given that I’m a stellar performer and all, but to be honest with you, I was so fed up by this point that I was feeling a little sad! As I finished, there was another one of those pauses. Oh, here we go again I thought, and had resolved that I was going to hang up on these horrible, rude, awful people without even listening!… When the lovely lady on the other end of the phone said, quite matter of factly, “Well, we’ve never been asked that question before, but we’ve got a lot of machines here, so I’m sure we can find something that’ll work. Tell you what, give me a bit of time and I’ll pull the team together here. We’ll have a conflab and come up with some options for you. The person who runs the shop does the servicing and he’s in today, so we’ll get him in on it too. Come in this afternoon when it’s quieter, and I’ll sit down with you and go through them all. Then, if you like one, you can choose!”

I was shocked. What a turn around! Had she actually said that or was I just imagining it? They didn’t even say “But, but you’re blind! You can’t do that! What about health and safety!”

I stammered my thanks, hung up the phone, and relayed the news to the simmering volcano beside me. Thankfully, the eruption which would have rivaled Vessuvious was curtailed by this news, and the sunshine returned to Sunshineland! Well, it did if you could see past the wind and rain to glimpse it. And as I can’t see my own hand in front of my face, what hope did I have!

I duely showed up when I was told to, and there I found a shop full of happy, smiling people who were not only willing to help, but actually eager to explore things with me and were more than ready to accept the challenge of finding a machine for a new sewist who didn’t know what she wanted or needed, wanted something accessible, but couldn’t tell them how to make it accessible because she didn’t know what would be accessible and what wouldn’t because she was a beginner and didn’t know her arse from her elbow yet! (and breathe! Wow, that was a mouthful!) From the start, I loved their can do attitude. It’s right up my street. I’m happy to accept that I can’t do things, but only after we’ve explored all options first, and these guys hadn’t even begun to explore them yet! And oh boy, did they have options!

I was promptly deposited in a chair and the session began.

There followed a dizzying array of machines, with all the features being explored in detail, right down to lady H teaching me to thread and set up each one to see how easy it was to do. There was everything from baby basic beginner machines to massive bells and whistles embroidery ones. I’ll admit to some machine envy every time I see these. Ok, a lot of machine envy! Ok, enough envy that I want one, now, desperately, maybe even more than chocolate every time I see them. And that’s saying a lot!

Gradually, the choice was narrowed down, and eventually, I’d found it. The Brother Innov-Is 55 was my new baby. It didn’t cry, it didn’t wet its nappy, it didn’t even poo itself, so naturally, it was love at first sight!

I then very tentatively asked the elephant in the room question. “Is there an elephant in the room?” I said.

Nah, only joking!

“So, I noticed on your website that you offer lessons and, um, courses and stuff. Do you think I could, um, you know, join…?” My voice trailed off. I didn’t think I could hear the N word one more time without either blowing up or crying with sheer frustration, or both!

“Well,” said she slowly, “I don’t see why not. Maybe you should have a lesson with me first to get used to the machine. Then I can ask our tutor about what patterns would be best for you to start on. Then we can decide together whether you should do those in class or on a 1:1 basis.”

“What?” I asked, “You’re serious?”

“I’m serious,” said H, who had just taken on angel status with me for even contemplating this. I have since learned that H is no angel! Joke, joke! Don’t hurt me, H!

With my head still in a whirl, I paid for my machine then carried it out of the shop (Ok, I lied, the knuckle dragger carried it. After all, there needs to be a reason to keep one around, doesn’t there?). And then, just because we’re right classy, we celebrated with a meal in a rather posh Italian, sewing machine in toe! Yep, we know how ta rock that fashion scene! Oh yes we do!

But now that I had the machine, I actually had to use it. It’s one thing using a machine in a shop, on a nice big, clear table, with loads of supervision just in case something goes wrong or you forget something. It’s quite another when you do it on an old dining room table in the middle of a room full of boxes (we were still unpacking stuff at this point) with only your admittedly engineer partner for back up who cheerfully says things like, “Ah, it looks all right. Just see if it works. If it doesn’t we’ll try it this other way that looks right too. Manual? Who needs one of them? They’re for sissies!”

And so, the saga continues.

Speaking of elephants in the room, I’m sure I saw a pink one over there a minute ago! Flu halucinations are great!

Until next time!.

Welcome to Blind Stitch!

So you’ve come across yet another sewing blog, just one of the many thousands that are out there. What’s more, you’ve landed on the blog of a relatively new sewer, someone who may well have less experience than you do. So, why should you read? Why should you carry on wading through my wordy ramblings?

Because my blog is different. Yep, everybody says it, but I mean it.

But why? Well, the name might give you a clue, but to tell the tale, I’ll give you some background.

My name is Carly. I’m a physiotherapist (or if you ask my patients, a physioterrorist), a cat breeder (a normal one… Yes, we do exist!), the partner of a lovely lad and a newly fledged sewer. I’m also blind. See? Told you the name was clever! Or awful… You be the judge.

I remember being in school in a Home Economics class and coming across a cupboard full of large, interesting looking cases. “What’s in those?” the nosey younger Carly asked the teacher.

“Oh, they’re sewing machines,” she replied.

Instantly, my interest was peaked. I liked the sound of this. “When do we get to use them?”

“Oh, you don’t. They’re too dangerous, and anyway, if you need something repairing, there’ll always be somebody around to do it for you.”

And thus endeth my fashion design career, even before I’d started!

I don’t know why, but I believed her. Obviously, if this experienced teacher of blind kids said it was far too dangerous, then it probably was. This was strengthened by the fact that the same woman would happily let me, nay, encourage me, to cook with boiling water, spitting frying pans, hot ovens, sharp knives, and wouldn’t bat an eye.

I don’t know why this supposition wasn’t shaken by my mum’s Christmas present request of a few years ago, when she insisted that she’d like a sewing machine. Mum is also in the blind camp. “But why?” I asked her, perplexed.

“Well, um, lemme think… To sew things on?” And she did! Ok, the family gasped and shuddered and exclaimed about how dangerous it was when they watched her sew at high speeds with her fingers really close to the needle, but she still did it quite safely. Perhaps their reaction was why I continued to believe it wasn’t a skill set I could acquire. It’s odd, because normally I question things like this all the time, but with a sewing machine, even seeing my mum use one, it never crossed my mind.

One evening, as I sat companionably with the other half in peaceful domestic bliss (we’re still new enough to the relationship that this does still exist from time to time), he decided to get out his granny’s old Bernina (sewing machine brand for all the non-sewers, of which there is probably 1, reading this). He wanted to sew something up. I can’t for the life of me remember what, but I was surprised. A man? Sewing? But it was really hard! And he was, well, a man! A knuckle dragging, ug-shouting man! They weren’t supposed to be able to do this!

In some trepidation, I warned him to be careful. All I got was a laugh. “It’s quite safe you know,” said he, and then jammed his foot down on the pedal and sewed steadily at a milion miles an hour for the next few minutes.

“Did your granny teach you?” I asked.

“A bit, but I kinda just make it up as I go along. Can’t you use one of these?”

I opened my mouth to reply, then stopped. I couldn’t. But why? If some clutzy man could sew (he’s actually not clutzy at all, but hey, what can I say, I’m a stereotype fan) then why couldn’t I, a woman, the smarter sex, the domestic goddess, do this?

“No,” I said, feeling quite foolish now. “I was always told it was too dangerous.”

“Rubbish” he laughed, and promptly deposited the machine in front of me.

He set me up with a material scrap and the foot pedal. “Now, push your foot down and sew a straight line.”

I tapped my foot on the pedal, then yanked my hands back with a shout as the machine whizzed the fabric scrap out from under me faster than a rat up a drain pipe! I sat back, feeling a little shellshocked. What on earth had just happened! There was no way I was touching that hand mangler again! But hang on a minute. He could do it, and he was a fella! Womanly pride won out over caution. I was going to master this beast. I was gonna teach that sewing machine a thing or two about sewing, oh yes I was!

Tentatively, I pressed the pedal again, and the machine went more slowly. I put my hands to the fabric. Ok, I’ll admit I didn’t guide it. I didn’t have a clue what the term even meant in relation to sewing, but I felt it slide smoothely out from under my fingers. And there, sewed on it, was a very wavey, but perfectly stitched, line!

And I hadn’t sewn my fingers! I hadn’t lost a leg! I hadn’t even nearly died! Dangerous? Dangerous my foot! Hah! Do you see what I did there? Oh, the punns are flowing all right!

The man, (I will come up with a clever, whitty name for him soon that will allow me to moan about him whilst protecting his identity… He is quite dishy and if you knew who he was I’d have to fight you off,) was pleased as punch. Over the next few days, he tried to encourage me to use the machine independently, but I was worried, not that I couldn’t do it, but that I’d break it. It belonged to his granny, and quite apart from it being the most beautiful, solid piece of sewing machinery I’ve ever seen, it had huge sentimental value. But the more I played under supervision, the more my desire grew to know more. I could do this. I wasn’t losing body parts on a regular basis, and the satisfaction of sewing something up was huge!

Sadly, my Birthday rolled around. I say sadly because that meant I got a whole year older. Happily however, Mr man knew me better than I knew myself. Without asking what I wanted, he bought me a thread box, lots of threads to go in it, a rotery cutter and a cutting mat. Food for thought, thought I as I opened my presents. I suppose I’d better voice what he already knew then!

“I want a sewing machine,” I said with much more certainty than I felt.

But now came the next problem. How on earth did I choose one? What special features would I need? I knew there would be something, as nothing is ever fully accessible right out of the box. But considering I knew next to nothing about sewing, how would I know which bits would be accessible and which wouldn’t? How much should I spend? How was I going to learn?

I felt like a fish out of water, and as the day progressed, that feeling only increased.

The saga of my search for a sewing machine and a teacher is a long one, but the commedic value can’t be overlooked. I’ll leave you on the edge of your seats and continue my story in my next post. I might even tell you what the purpose of the blog is then too! now, wouldn’t that be nice?