Thursday, April 21, 2016

Naming my Sewing Machines

For the last few years (basically the entire time since quilting/sewing became my most serious hobby) I have struggled with naming my sewing machines.  I very much want names for them so I can refer to them to my sewing friends (really my one sewing friend), husband and myself more easily than saying "the small Singer -- you know, the second machine I bought."

Briefly, when I had just gotten the aforementioned Singer, I was using Ginger and MaryAnn for my two new and beloved sewing machines.  Yes, based on Gilligan's Island.  I thought it was so cute and clever because I had purchased MaryAnn in a panic when my decades old Kenmore (the only sewing machine I had ever used to that point) broke down while I was working on the gift wedding quilt that got me into my new obsession with quilting.  She was a Brother SE400 that I picked up at Wal-Mart in my panic to keep sewing while my Kenmore was in the shop.  Well, I could not have been more thrilled!  

Don't get me wrong -- I love my old Kenmore.  It was my mother's sewing machine, which she handed down to me when I was in college.  And I think it sewed like a champ for her and I know it did for me for years.  About 22 of them, in fact.  My Kenmore has 10 different stitches, I think, though I had never used anything other than straight and zigzag.  And it has a very smooth start, which wasn't the case with another Kenmore my Mom had.  It was carted around through at least a dozen moves during my college and law school years and the early years after when I seemed to move every single year, and it always started up without complaint and just kept on ticking.  It was completely and utterly reliable.

But my Kenmore didn't show me what a delight sewing can be.  Not that it should be my sewing machine's responsibility, but my experiences just hadn't thrown me into the joy of sewing.  So when I got my Brother I was amazed at all the features available for such a reasonable price.  I went to Wal-Mart that day looking only for a baseline model to get me by until my Kenmore was repaired.  I assumed I would spend about $100 or $150.  I assumed all sewing machines were pretty similar (at least at Wal-Mart).  But even at Wal-Mart there is a surprising range of machines and prices -- that day I think they ranged from $90 to $375.  Looking at the various options and descriptions, I just became so excited when I read the lists of possible features.  The electronic touch screen and what seemed like loads of decorative stitches; the automatic threader and thread cutter; and maybe most exciting of all the built-in machine embroidery unit!  I got so intrigued and excited that I splurged and bought the most expensive machine they had -- the SE400.

And when I got her home, she was just as exciting as I could have hoped.  I had never seen or contemplated anything like all those stitches, automatic features, machine embroidering and such a smooth, quiet stitch!  I sewed the rest of that quilt on MaryAnn and just wanted to keep going.  I didn't need a name for her yet, though, as she was the only machine I was using.  (I never went back to the Kenmore, primarily because MaryAnn was so lightweight and easier to move and I didn't have dedicating sewing space yet, so had to get out the machine and put her back every time I wanted to sew.)  

After maybe 6 months or so, I saw a warehouse special at Amazon for a Singer 2010 for what seemed to me at the time an outrageously great price (I think it was $175), and I couldn't let the opportunity to get a couple hundred (!!!) decorative stitches.  So I bought myself a little treat pretty much entirely to get those fun stitches.  So when the Singer arrived, I felt these new friends with whom I was spending so much time deserved their own names to go with their personalities.  I got hung up on the idea that the Brother machine was my reliable workhorse and the Singer was for fancy luxurious stitching, so the Ginger and MaryAnn names popped up and seemed to fit.  

Over time, though, it became clear that those names aren't right for me.  I don't really care for Gilligan's Island -- in fact, I couldn't reliably even remember the name MaryAnn.  I kept having to ask my friends or family what her name was again in order to refer to my sewing machine.  And I definitely wasn't interested in using any of the other names from the show for my other machines (I have since acquired 2 more new machines and still have my old Kenmore).  So for a while I have been waiting for inspiration to hit.  I'm not sure I've been particularly inspired, but I have, I think, settled on the idea of naming all of my machines after my favorite fictional characters (generally from literature and movies).  So, here is what I've settled on for now, though I think I will have to see how they work out in practice:

Bigwig (from Watership Down) = Kenmore
Samwise (from Lord of the Rings) = Brother SE400
Amelie (from the movie) = Singer 2010
Dracula = Singer XL-550
Kyle Hicks Ringo (a mashup of Kyle Rees from Terminator, Dwayne Hicks from Aliens, and Johnny Ringo from Tombstone) = Singer 9985

I'm feeling pretty good about this right now.  Dracula and Kyle are the machines I'm currently spending most of my time with -- they are the ones that are kept out and accessible.  Dracula has his embroidery unit attached at all times -- I really have no need to ever use that machine for regular sewing, so it is dedicated to embroidery.  He sucks up more and more of my time these days as I recently purchased Embrilliance software and have been spending a lot of time experimenting with in the hoop projects, stitching on blanks, and playing with lettering and fonts.  Because of the complexity of things involved in machine embroidery, I also have the most frustrations with Dracula.  Lately I have learned enough that most days go smoothly, but I still have occasional tension and other learning curve issues that lead to broken needles, shredded thread, offset stitching, etc.  So Dracula seems to fit as he is a character I am bizarrely enchanted by and drawn to despite his clear problematic qualities.  And he's a bit fancy.  Like machine embroidery.

Kyle is my day to day sewing machine for everything else I do.  He's the newest machine to my household, but I already know I can rely on him completely.  And he can do it all -- he has tons of utility and decorative stitches and all the other automatic features I have come to rely on, plus an intuitive touch screen interface that I like.  He's easy to talk to and still so sensitive.  He really gets me.  Oooh, maybe I'll add a Ringo to his name for Michael Biehn's role in Tombstone.  I love him, too.  It's a little dark for a sewing machine, which is something that makes me happy, but I am also using Dracula...

No comments: