Dec 27, 2011
Readers, I was both excited and troubled by a feature I saw in the most recent (January 2012) issue of Consumer Reports magazine. Their annual "25 Great Gifts" list included -- are you sitting down? -- a sewing machine!
Actually three sewing machines (presumably you'd choose only one): The Brother Innov-is 40, Pfaff Select 3.0, and the Bernina Activa 230PE.
Now, I am unqualified to comment on the quality of these machines, having never seen any of them in person, let alone sewed on one. I'm thrilled that a sewing machine made the cut as I think it reflects on a renewed interest in home sewing. But the idea of purchasing a sewing machine as a gift (i.e., for somebody else) worries me.
And don't you love how Consumer Reports lists the BMW sports car (below right), which costs $49,525 as "for someone super special" as opposed to "from someone very rich," as if the cost of a gift reflects how much we value the recipient -- precisely what Madison Avenue tries to guilt us into thinking every year. In this rotten economy it seems particularly tone-deaf.
I have seen so many threads on the Pattern Review message boards where someone (usually the husband of a sewer) is requesting advice on what sewing machine or serger to purchase for his wife. And almost invariably the responses come in four-to-one that if they really want their wife to have the machine of her dreams, they should purchase a gift certificate from a reputable sewing machine dealer and let her choose the machine herself.
I am of the same opinion though I'm generally opposed to the idea of purchasing new things (other than socks, knit briefs and undershirts), given that most the Western world, and certainly the United States, is awash in perfectly good second-hand stuff. And while the Bernina Activa is probably a wonderful machine, spending $1350 for a sewing machine seems like a crime whose victim is the customer. I'm open to having my mind changed, of course, but come on, that's a lot of money. Personally, I'd rather have the cash. (In fact, I recently read on some blog that the way to tell if something is worth (to you) what you're spending on it, is to ask yourself if you had the choice between receiving the money or the item, which would you choose? Think about it. Would you rather have someone give you $1000 or get, say, a flat-screen TV?)
Friends, I open the floor to you (not literally; I'd hate to have you drop into a pool of hungry crocodiles).
1) Do you think you can ever buy a sewing machine -- wait, let me restate that: do you think you should ever buy someone else a sewing machine? Unless, of course, you know exactly what model they want and it can be returned (if need be), and they can find support nearby for the machine should they need it?
2) Have you ever received a sewing machine as a gift? If so, were you happy with the choice made on your behalf or would you have preferred another? (Be honest!)
3) Do you agree that buying a sewing machine for someone else is not equivalent to purchasing them a DVD player or a set of knives (then again, for the serious cook, perhaps knives aren't such a good idea either)?
A sewing machine as a gift (for Christmas or any other time) -- Yea or Nay?