Thursday and still ditching. Not the most productive day of my life, but not the least either. Plus, who says you always have to be productive?
I managed to rid myself of a few more things, including a pair of worn out Keen sandals that may have a bit of life left in them (I'll let the Salvation Army decide) and a weird polyfleece hat/shell thing I think was designed to be worn under a helmet. I haven't worn it in years so out it goes. (Plus I no longer wear black.)
Meanwhile, I was curious about the insides of the Brother VX-1120 I found yesterday, so I unscrewed the visible screws and removed the plastic front. I'm not even sure if you can dismantle most low-end sewing machines these days.
It was sort of sad to examine the inside because it looked so cheap. As you can see, there's some metal in there but an awful lot of plastic too.
I oiled the moving parts (with the exception of the belt area of course) in
hopes I could get the thing to engage just a bit more smoothly. I also cleaned
the entire bobbin area, which had fuzz in it.
Then I put it all back together. This amount of cleaning and oiling would make a huge difference in a vintage metal Singer, but in this Brother, it made no discernible difference at all. My biggest gripe with this machine, as well as other new(ish) plastic sewing machines I've sewn on, is 1) how roughly they start and 2) how stiffly the handwheel turns.
1) With cheap (or poorly maintained) machines, there's often that moment where you half step down on the pedal and you hear the motor engage, but the needle doesn't start moving right away; there's a delay. It's hard to sew a single stitch, or to backstitch with full control. If you've ever sewn with a Singer Featherweight, in contrast, the start-up is very smooth and nearly silent.
2) Sewing machine handwheels got small in the mid Sixties (I blame the Europeans) and they're still small. Once you get used to handling a black Singer's beautiful metal handwheel, which moves so smoothly and is so perfectly balanced, even the handwheel on a Bernina 930 feels too stiff and too shallow (like it wasn't meant to be handled very often, or functionality lost out to sleek design).
My best mechanical machines (and the ones I use most frequently) give me a feeling of absolute control over every stitch. There is no sudden start up or racing; when the motor engages, the machine immediately starts sewing as quickly or as slowly as you want. If you can't easily sew one single stitch and just one stitch, then you don't have full control over your sewing. Sometimes that one extra stitch can take you off the edge of your fabric, or spoil a perfectly topstitched pocket or collar.
I couldn't tell you what it is that makes some motors smooth and some motors rough, but clearly much of it has to do with the quality of the materials. Those old vintage Singers and Kenmores (among other great old brands) were silky smooth and had big, often very powerful, motors. Of course, those old metal machines were also heavy. Plastic is light, making many new machines very portable. Even the machines that were considered portable in their day were about as light as those portable television sets from the 1950's, i.e, you could carry them from one room to another, but you wouldn't want to go much farther than that.
In closing, I bought another Brother pedal for $15 because if I want to give the machine to someone, I want the machine to be complete. How would you like someone to give you, say, a kitchen appliance without its power cord (but with instructions on where you could buy one)? Not very classy if you ask me.
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!