Friday, February 12, 2010

The Drunken Box Stitch: Sewing Part 1

I forgot to take Sewing 101.  I even didn't take Home Economics at my high school.  Yet here I am trudging my beautiful, but flawed Singer Inspiration 4210 to sewing group the 2nd Thursday of each month.

Sewing is thought to be a lost art.  According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary online, "sew" is the verb for uniting or fastening things.  This art is thought to go back as far as Paleolithic times as in 30,000 BC.   Sewing is actually an acquired skill that is needed for important occupations such as taxidermy and shoemaking.  The act of using a needle and thread dates back to 12th Century.

Needless to say I am not sitting around with a bone needle and animal sinew for thread.  Yuck.  Although I do some pretty sloppy hand stitching (hey, I am short so I need to hem a lot) and some adequate cross-stitching, I have moved on to a sewing machine.

Starting in the 1750s many patent for mechanical sewing machines were developed.  Many of these machines did not functional as anticipated.  The first functional sewing machine, as in one that actually worked, occurred in the 1830's.  Finally in the 1850s Isaac Singer invented a machine that worked and it had a needled that moved up & down by using a foot pedal.  Guess what, our machines to this day still use a foot pedal.  Only we can now plug these puppies in the outlet.

Gone are the days of machines that were simple in nature.  Now there are machines with fancy gadgets, 200 different types of programable stitches, and monograming.  That means there are more things to go wrong.  For instance, my Singer ended up in repair just a few weeks after buying it--something to do with timing.  I was trying to make burp clothes for my baby while 9 months pregnant and the needle kept breaking. (Apparently I was nesting because after I freaked out about not being able to finish the burp clothes, I went into labor).  Now I have a needle tension issues along with bobbin winding problems.  Singer has always been a trusted brand. My mom has an awesome singer from the 1970s. My friend has a Singer that was her grandmother's.  So if those ancient (sorry Mom!) machines still work wonderfully, why is my new, shiny, pretty machine working so poorly?  As with anything, money is involved.  Okay, maybe not.  The repair shop informed me that the Singer name was recently bought by a different company and hence the change in quality.

I do not fancy myself a seamstress.  However, there is a stitch among our little sewing group know as "the drunken box stitch".  The creator: me.  It isn't exactly something to be proud of seeing as I referred to this horrible, out of sync stitching on a tote bag I was making.  Box stitching is a stitch that well, looks like a box or square with an X in the middle.  These stitches are great for attaching handles onto the body of a bag--it makes it strong.   My box stitches do not even look like boxes.  Here I have a machine that allows for a straight seam and I cannot even sew straight.  Can I blame my astigmatism on my inability to sew in a straight line?  Actually, I think it is because I gab too much and get distracted.

Now the real question is:  What do you know about Brother & Bernina?  Any recommendations?


  1. Forget the Brother model that I use at JMA. It is constantly needing attention and jamming up. I am not prepared to condemn all Brother models, but certainly the one I use.

  2. I have had the same Sears Kenmore for about 35 years and it required one visit to the repair doctor for minor repair...something with bobbin tension...I'm not sure if the problem was with the machine or with me !


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