Full Metal Jacket

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When I find a super high quality vintage item, I start feeling a lot of feels.

Part of me is obviously psyched to have scored a great item I’ve been on the hunt for. Part of me actually goes insane as I become paranoid that the price was wrong, or somebody’s about to scoop it right out from under me. But once the item is safely in my hands there’s that other part of me that is slowly getting really angry.

Angry that so many things nowadays are of such poor quality. It’s so unnecessary, it helps no one other than the people who are making money manufacturing/distributing products that they sell KNOWING they will not last. Planned obsolescence sends me into a rage spiral of crankiness. Maybe it’s a side effect of growing up in a household where we fixed things that were broken instead of buying new things. When something breaks in an unfixable way it’s somehow more frustrating. Like, if something breaks and I CHOOSE not to fix it or don’t know how, that’s on me. But if it’s been designed in a way that CAN’T be fixed…that’s just…rude…and incredibly frustrating. AT LEAST LET ME TRY.

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Let’s step back in time for a second, get to the root of this frustration at modern day ridiculousness.

The first sewing machine I ever used was my moms. It was a 1970s era Kenmore (ie Sears) machine, which is part of the reason I’m so excited about scoring a Kenmore for FREE a couple days ago on Craigslist. My mom got that machine in the ’70s before I was born, and used it to sew clothing for herself and then for me, my sister, my brother and many many cabbage patch dolls. I started sewing on it around age nine and used it all the way through high school at which point I received a sewing machine of my own as my graduation present.

I started Norwegian Wood on that post-high school sewing machine and was extremely sad (and yes, ANGRY) when about two years ago I took it in to be repaired and they told me it simply wasn’t worth it. My machine was half plastic, with some metal interior parts, but generally the fact that it had any plastic in it gave it a pretty short lifespan.

My moms machine from the ’70s however? STILL KICKING IT.

I was literally using it this past July while visiting. With a little bit of maintenance it would be running as good as ever.

WTF IS EVERYTHING SO SHITTY NOW? WHY DO WE ACCEPT THIS? CAN WE ALL PLEASE AGREE TO TRY TO STOP BUYING THE SHITTY THINGS SO THEY’LL STOP MAKING THE SHITTY THINGS?!

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So in between high school graduation and current day I had of course picked up a few industrial machines for Norwegian Wood. Industrial machines, in general, are well made, solid metal workhorses. Almost infinitely fixable. They have big heavy engines, require sitting in a pool of oil and are fussy as hell and often do only one thing, but do it well. I love my industrial machines. But they are in Montreal, and need to stay there for now. And I am in California, and need to stay here for now.

So what’s a sewing machine-less girl to do?

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I thought about it long and hard. I thought about my planned obsolescence rage. I knew I didn’t want to buy some cheap plastic “temporary” machine to tide me over…just more garbage to end up in a landfill, and it would likely not even work that well. So I turned to Craigslist to try to find something vintage.

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I was on the hunt for a decent/reliable brand, something under $100, and something ideally…you guessed it, mainly metal.

Normally I stick to my direct area when searching for free stuff. However, after a recent exhilarating but ultimately fruitless lead on a killer free rug in Oakland I had decided to also include Oakland in my regular searches. I mean…the IKEA’s over there anyways, cool people live there, it’s JUST A BRIDGE… WHY NOT. This is how you know the Craigslist free section addiction has gotten stronger but WHATEVS…FREEEEEEeeeeee

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ANYWAYS, boring long story short, I saw this listing about 16 minutes after it was posted. Sent the person a message, got a reply and the next day we were hauling this bad boy up a rocky flight of stairs on the side of a hill using a dolly. It was only when I got home that I discovered JUST how good of a find this piece was.

Basically it seems like this machine has almost never been used, but was lovingly maintained and cared for by someone who may or may not be a supermom/supergrandma. It runs like a DREAM, lots of power and without sounding creepy (and by that I mean this is going to sound SUPER creepy) it’s just….SMOOOOOTH.

ALL the original accessories are there. All the original instructions. All the tiny boxes of attachments. No rust. Tiny drawings.

A PERSONALIZED NOTE FROM JEAN SHAW, THE GODDAMN DIRECTOR OF THE HOME ECONOMICS LABORATORY!

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I know I’m nerding out pretty hard over this but honestly, it feels like Christmas morning that one year where you got the My Little Pony Castle that came with surprise stickers or something.

Simply put, I could not have found a better machine for my needs right now, thank you serendipity! Since we’re still producing NW in Montreal at the moment, my sewing needs in California are simple and personal. HOWEVER, this is a machine that I will be keeping around for a long time…and hopefully taking in for repairs for many years to come.

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