I am still, after many years, a novice quilter – I’m also the one who doesn’t understand why I have to iron everything, or why math ever has to enter the picture while I’m blissfully sewing away, making one crooked quilt after another. Which is probably why I’m still a novice. I put so much love and heart into my quilts, I hope it somehow compensates for the fact that you have to lean sideways to see my design.
I sew on a 1960’s mint green CAST IRON vintage Perfection sewing machine, and I’d like to tell you the story of my torrid and tumultuous love affair with my machine. She was named The Beast as in my friends would watch me sew and say “Good God, that thing is a Beast”. Damn right she is.
The true origin of my machine is mysterious and unknown. Some have said that stitches from my machine were found in the couture garments sewn for Jackie O during the Camelot years in the White House. Others have whispered about unconfirmed sightings of my machine in the jungles of Vietnam, patching and mending uniforms for our troops.
I remember my Mom sewing Halloween costumes for us when we were little. She was not the most patient of seamstresses, but The Beast was always faithful and tolerant of her temper tantrums. That was certainly good practice for when I came along. When the sewing bug bit me in my 20’s, I asked if I could borrow the machine. Eventually I had it completely refurbished to the glorious state she is in today. I have her cleaned and serviced once a month, and I sit by like a proud Mother Hen while my repairman gushes over her. We both have no doubt she will sew forever.
She weighs in at about 85 pounds, just shy of her fighting weight of 92 pounds. When I have to carry her, you will see me stopping and letting her rest every few feet. I am always careful to place her on a table that is suitable for her. More than once I have set her on one end or the other, only to watch her flip the entire table over as she is obviously unhappy with the spot I have chosen. This is just one of the subtle ways she communicates with me. She is rarely fussy and would sew through sheet metal if I asked her to. She sits proudly at the end of my dining room table, and we have dinner as a family together every night.
She has a great sense of humor. A friend was telling me about how when her machine runs out of bobbin, a little sad face appears on her sewing machine’s computer screen. I saw The Beast roll her eyes and scoff. I then explained that when my machine runs out of bobbin, she lets me know by pointing and laughing when I take out my entire piece and it is not sewn together. Ah, that Beast! So michevious!
She is no wallflower, never timid or submissive. When I press her pedal and stitches are sewn, you are sure as hell going to know it, and so is everyone within a half mile radius. Her sweet song has been described as similar to “the rapid fire of a Tommy machine gun.”
Obviously, I love my machine more than I probably should. I am sometimes surprised when I remove my fabric and it has turned out perfect, when I never imagined it would. Her spirit is strong, and she is loyal. I can’t ask for much more than that.