Saturday, April 07, 2007

Sew what: my adventures with Gertie

Let me introduce you to Gertie. We met back in the winter of 1996, brought together by my friend Karen, and have been sewing partners ever since. As I got to know Gertie, I found out that she was born in 1954 in Karlsruhe, Germany. While she is generally sweet and easy to work with, Gertie can at times be cantankerous and unpredictable. Sewing with her is always an adventure, no matter what project we are creating.

Did I mention that Gertie is a Singer 401A? That's right, a sewing machine. Karen was going to get rid of an old sewing machine at a yard sale but told me I could have it if I didn't mind that it had sat out in the rain. Free is always the right price for me, so I took Karen up on her offer and found that even though all the varnish on the cabinet was peeling off from the rain damage, the machine inside was sound and in good working condition. I liked it right away because it was older than but similar to my mom's Singer that I had learned to sew on. I named it "Galloping Gertie" after the bridge of the same name, because I loved how the machine vibrated when I sewed a straight, fast seam.

Right before Jimmy was born in 2003, our apartment was flooded when a hot water heater two floors above burst. Gertie sat in a couple inches of water for two days before I rescued her and took her to the Singer service center. There I was told that they couldn't completely get the water out and so Gertie would eventually start to rust from the inside. We had renters' insurance and my claim adjuster offered to replace the machine along with the rest of our damaged property, but I couldn't just scrap her like that. So I had the service center clean and tune her up, and she continued to perform well, albeit with occasional hiccups (like when I was sewing Jimmy's Halloween costume).

This week we've been working on a new Easter dress for me, since it's high time for some cute maternity clothes to wear on Sunday; I've been eking out the last bit of wear from my pre-pregnancy wardrobe, but that's just not working any more. Gert has been her usual cantankerous self, but today I found a tip online that might help (thank you, Google!) about cleaning the hook area, which is where the thread from the needle hooks the thread from the bobbin. Wish us luck, as we still have to sew the skirt to the bodice of the dress, and then hem it.

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