Here is what I wanted. The holy grail of quilters. Swiss made, stainless steel innards, guaranteed never to let you down… (just like the perfect man!) With trembling hands I turned the thin yellow pages until I found THE yellow page. The Bernina stockists page.
The nearest was in Camberwell. About 20 minutes away. At first they tried to put me off… “Second hand Berninas are very expensive, you know…” They must get sick of people ringing, expecting ultra cheap prices.
“I know. I’m coming in to you.” I got there with 10 minutes to spare. No mean feat considering it was peak hour on a Friday and I was driving down Burke Road. They met me with a lavendar coloured machine that looked pretty. It had all the right things going for it; until they couldn’t make the memory work. I rapidly went off it. If the experts couldn’t make it work, then what chance did I have? (I can’t even make my imac paragraph properly on my blog…)
Then the lady in the shop got all excited. She told her husband to bring out the Bernina in the box. When he was a bit bewildered, she sniped at him and he scurried off to do her bidding. (There was a very uncomfortable vibe between those two. They were obviously married, but his charming vague demeanor had obviously worn very thin over the years.)
They took out a red and white machine. Apparently a little old lady drove it to church every Sunday a woman bought it, then took it to a sewing class where everyone had an Aurora (around 4K worth) and she felt outclassed so she brought it straight back and traded it in.(I knew just how she must have felt.) The closest thing possible to being a brand new machine.
The lady was excited about it. She kept saying how this was ‘meant to be’… a brand new machine for the perfect person. Well, maybe she didn’t use the word ‘perfect’ but I’m sure that’s what she meant…
It had automatic needle threading. (Imagine the swearing that would save.) It had needle down thing. It had a memory that worked. It was red and white. It was shiny and new. It was $1400. I bought it. Here it is:
I brought it home and left it in the box. I was in a state of shock, I think. I ate Red Rooster, drank red wine and had an early night. It was all a bit much…
The next morning I arrived at class bright and early. I carried in the heavy box with ‘Bernina’ emblazoned on the side. The women in the room all fell over.
“What have you done?” they cried.
“The Lord helps those who help themselves,” I said as I started unpacking it.
“What are you going to name it?” someone asked.
I said that I’ll wait; that a name would come to me in time.
The teacher came over to help. She showed me how to thread it, thread the bobbin, use the needle up/down thingamy, change the feet, (it comes with half a dozen different feet. I don’t know what they’re for. But they’re all lined up in a little cabinet. I have a collection! But naturally it didn’t come with a walking foot. THAT was $100 extra),and generally got me up to speed for the day’s lesson. There was slight trouble getting the bobbin case in again after we threaded it but that was soon fixed and I was ready to go. I was psyched! I felt like a Grand Prix driver. Just eat my dust, other Bernina owners in the class!!! You may have far more talent and experience, but I have a new machine!
My sewing machine was still the poor relation of the others in the class, but at least now I was in the same century, and I knew that it could do all that I needed it to do. Deborah cleared her throat and began the lesson. I sat there expectantly, looking at what we had to do with the darning foot and free motion quilting. I couldn’t wait to put it into practice.
As you can see, free motion quilting is basically learning how to draw with the needle. By lowering the feed dogs that push the fabric through the machine, you can move the fabric under the needle any which way you like, creating all sorts of shapes and designs. We started with variations of the number 6. This would be easier if I had any talent with art, because you have to visualise the design on the fabric and then make it happen. My hand/eye co-ordination needs some work, but I was going with the flow. A happy half hour followed where my machine and I worked in perfect harmony. I wasn’t altogether happy with my wonky 6s but I was very happy with my Bernina. I was living the dream.
Until the machine stopped suddenly.
(To be continued…)