Meet Betty.

I’ve been talking about getting a sewing machine for probably going on 4 years now. Or getting my mother’s sewing machine fixed. You could say that Betty’s adoption took a bit of a meandering path. Originally I took mom’s old Singer to the repair shop and learned to great sadness that it was busted beyond repair. (This after lugging the thing across 2 states and 4 moves.) One of the old metal parts cracked and is no longer available. Perhaps an old salvaged piece could have been found but that was not considered until the old machine hit the dust bin and a late internet search didn’t produce any positive results.

So I hemmed and hawed, did some internet searches on reviews about sewing machines and it seems that generally speaking, for someone of my caliber of sewing (near non-existent) a good basic machine would do. Talked with my mom about it and she gave the sage advice, “Spend 100$ more for a better machine, they’re constructed better, last longer and you’ll use the thing forever.” Still I hemmed and hawed. I mean, here we are planning a few more moves, who knows about what sort of space we’ll have and do I really have the moola to spend? Yeah, hemming and hawing for certain.

Then two further things happened. 1. I went to my friends 10 year anniversary and 2. cleaned out the basement storage area. Seemingly unrelated, eh? But it is amazing what you can forget that you remember you have when you stub your toe on just the right tupperware container.

10+ years ago I started a quilt for a wedding present. Using my friend-down-the-dorm-hallway (that’s how long ago it was) Amy’s sewing machine and her rotary cutters because she’s super nice I made about 3-four square squares and then the wedding occurred, the end of the year happened and things got put away until “later this summer when I’ll have more free time”. The above picture is about an appropriate capture of all the progress made 10+ years ago.

Unearthing the fabric and attending the anniversary I recommitted myself not to the insane asylum where I probably belong but to finishing this long overdue “first quilt” in the yellows and purples favored by my friend all those years ago. I think she’s still a big fan of purple, it’s rare to fall out of sorts with your own personal hallmark color, isn’t it?

Where to begin with it though? Only 2 sewing machines did I know of that I could use, my mother-in-law’s, which although it would be wonderful to spend hours on end chilling in Lexington with her in her well organized and lovely-lighted workspace this was going to be a project that I knew would take more time than the gas back and forth was going to make worthwhile.

Quite unexpectedly my angel of a sister-in-law, hearing my plight, offered up her Singer sewing machine which I thoughtlessly did not get a picture of before returning. The machine looked to be a bit younger than my mothers but had the same awesome light mustard yellow casing of my mothers and was that sucker not HEAVY. Singers are meant to last. Anyway, I got a quick lesson on usage from her and brought the thing to my home front. Couldn’t work on the quilt for a week or so due to a crazy idea of working a whole bunch of shifts in a row and when I sat down to it, I just couldn’t seem to thread the machine properly. I was feeling a whole bunch of tension and dreadfully afraid of breaking the machine and my sister-in-law’s faith in me.

Did you know that to get a downloaded owner’s manual costs 10-15$ for old machines? Yeah, looks like they are still getting their money’s worth dang it. So I had the “bright” idea of going to the local sew and vac shop to peruse and look at the models there to see if I could figure out what I was doing wrong and talked to the owner for the longest time.

He was so helpful and the sewing machines were SO on sale and he’d even throw in a heavy duty carrying case for 1/2 off and a serger foot (for the real detail oriented stuff I’m *sure* to get into) for silly cheap as well and did I know that they service all the machines they sell and would I like a cup of coffee while I think about things?… Did that friendly older man have my number or what? In a nut shell, that’s how Betty came home with me.

Did I mention that I spoke with Ryan before and after and he laughed his head off at me. He seemed to know that even though I was just going in to “try and figure out what was going wrong with the loaner machine” that I was definitely going to come home with a machine all my own. (Same thing happened basically with Hilde, I’ll have to take photos and introduce you to her later, although I think I’ve mentioned her before.) I really wish my hubby would warn me about my big spending. I tend to be frugal generally but when I spend, boy do I spend.

Now I cannot promise a rock star quilt here. When I cut the pieces 10+ years ago instead of repeatedly using my template I would use the piece I cut before as the template for the next so there was a gentle progression of shrinking amongst the yellow squares especially before I wised up and cut the purple ones correctly. Then I had the idea of making some squares dual color along the bias and well just cut the ones I had from corner to caddy-corner. and sewing them together along the hypotenuse. Yeah, that makes them even smaller because I haven’t allotted for the seems. As Ryan puts it, “What could they really be expecting from a VA original and first?”

I’m totally going to bill it as a very “modern” quilt pattern. Like my cooking, I guess my sewing is “Zen” in style.