With all the talk about gear I am always hearing about DIY gear. So, I looked into it a little more. This led me to want to try some out. So I decided to buy a sewing machine. Lots of people told me to get an older one simply because they are built to last. The gears inside the older ones (and I mean old, some are from the early 1900’s) are metal. The newer ones being built today and sold in department stores (such as this one) is made with plastic gears. I have heard that these will strip out and just run down very easily and quickly. So naturally me being my hard headed self I went and got one form the department store. (Actually it was due to my lack of patience of going out and finding an older one. This is how department stores work though……convenience is what we are paying for.)
Anyway, this is the most that I have had to do with any sewing machine. I had never messed with one, or even knew what any of the parts were called or did. When I was standing in Wal-Mart looking over the handful of machines they had, I had no idea what I was looking for. The reason I ended up with the Singer Simple is because another newbie in a forum I was in had gotten one and was fairly pleased with it. So, there ya go.
Just copying from the site, some of the features of this machine are:
-23 Stitch Patterns
-Adjustable Stitch Width & Length
-Automatic Needle Threader
-Class 15 Bobbin
-Automatic 4-step Buttonhole
-Extra-High Presser Foot Lifter
-Heavy Duty Metal Frame
-25 Year Limited Warranty
Upon unwrapping it from the box, it was simple enough to figure out. There were a couple of informational booklets, warranty & registration cards, and a plastic cover for the machine. Then of course there was also the machine itself and a cord with a pedal attached. The cord plugged into the machine and ran to the pedal where another cord ran out of the pedal and plugged into the wall. The on /off switch is a simple toggle switch on the side next to where the cord plugs into the machine.
Then it got complicated. I didn’t know anything about the rest of it. A DVD came with the machine that instructed me on the basics of the machine, how to wind a bobbin and insert it, and then how to thread the machine and get started.
I bought a couple of yards of just plain fabric at the store and 11.5 yards of some 1.1 oz ripstop. I cut little sections of the regular fabric and just practiced sewing some straight lines. I also played around with some of the different stitch patterns. After a few days I decided to try and sew on a little of the ripstop. I first attempted some stuff sacks. They turned out half decent. I made some all different sizes. Some for sleeping bags, some a little smaller for hammocks, and some small enough for tent stakes.
Over the course of a few weeks I decided to try and sew some small hammocks for my kids and for my wife. (This fabric wouldn’t hold me up.) They are actually very simple to make since all I did was sew a seam along each of the edges. They turned out well, and led me to attempt a bug bivy.
I had purchased a few yards of silnylon and some no-see-um mesh. I made a bug bivy similar to the MLD Bug Bivy. It was quite a bit more difficult sewing the mesh to the silnylon, but I eventually got it. It did not turn out to be the prettiest thing but it did turn out, and it weighs 8 oz on my scale!
So far I have not had any problems out of the machine that were actually problems. The first night I had it I thought I had messed up the timing on it, but the next morning I just realized that I did not have the bobbin pressed all the way in while trying to use it. (Boy did I feel dumb!) Anyway, so far I like the machine. While I don’t know enough about the machine to say if I would recommend it I can say I haven’t found any reason not to. It seems to be durable enough for what I am using it for so far, and it seems to run pretty smoothly. The only problems so far have definitely been operator error.
Some future projects I have planned are some down (backpacking) quilts. I plan on buying the materials from Thru-Hiker using plans similar to Neatomans DIY Quilts. When I decide to do this I will definitely post the progress and results here. Until then……..