by Judy White
Quilting in the Garden September 2016 (Judy is third from the left)
Oh my…Lora and Lisa, the founders of Material Girlfriends are each such incredibly talented women, but they just wouldn’t be where they are and sewing a straight ¼ inch seam if it wasn’t for their village! I know they’ll admit it and laugh, but it’s true…there is a LARGE village behind them, cheerleading and bragging (Carolyn and Doris), proofreading patterns* (Judy, Teresa, Katheline, Diana, Dianne, Jennie), testing patterns (Georgette, MG Slave Weeks), feeding them (retreats and MGSW), it goes on and on. After reading “Making My List, Checking It Twice”, parts 1 & 2, I was thumping my head and wondering if they’d paid attention in the featherweight class at all??
I should probably tell y’all, I’m their Judy. (The one on the left.) I’m that woman, no, not THAT woman who finishes every project and has it to show at the next class or guild meeting (and by finished, that’s the top, with all the applique, piecing and embellishments attached, quilted, bound AND labelled!). No, I’m the other one…that woman who has a little of everything, including the tools, to fix stuff. The other one you want to sit next to because she’ll help you solve…Stuff. Stuff, like the sewing machine that’s got an attitude and has a thread in her crack that’s really uncomfortable! When we meet for Material Girlfriend Retreats (or Slave Week), they bring their tired, their poor, their huddled masses of thread nests, gears and flywheels yearning to breathe and run free…Ok, just a little literary license there…So after being their Judy for years, they told me I should teach a class on maintaining Singer Featherweights…And they all came! We had fun, but did they listen and remember to put some basic sewing machine tools on their ‘Making My List’ List?? No…Oh my thumped head!
Sew Sewists**, take care of your machine! Especially if she is a vintage girl, like a Featherweight. (If you have a newer machine, follow your manufacturer’s directions for maintenance and cleaning!) She is your main tool in this quilting process, and deserves a little attention at class or retreat (or Slave Week)!!
Judy’s Bare Essential Tool List
Reading glasses and a cleaning cloth: If you can’t see that bit of thread stuck in that crack, how are you going to get it out?
Screwdrivers: Good quality blades that FIT your machine’s screws, usually a 3 or 4 inch and a micro screwdriver for changing bobbin tension (YES, you CAN do that!)
Brush: A double ended sewing machine brush, bristly on one end and paintbrush shaped on the other end, for cleaning DRY linty places. Use a rag or q-tip for oily or greasy places.
Tweezers or a hemostat: For when your fingers are too short or won’t fit.
Dentist’s pick: Yup, just ask at your next cleaning…the hygienist will scowl and ask what you’re going to use it for? And you answer, of course, that you need it for cleaning your sewing machine. (She’ll be relieved that you’re not scraping your own teeth.)
Makeup mirror: Makeup? Naw, sew in your jammies. Use it to put under your needle shaft when you can’t find the hole to put the needle into. Or better yet, a Mechanic’s Mirror…That little mirror with a swivel on the end of a stick…so you can see in and around and chase little bits of thread and lint.
A spare lightbulb: Unless you have a LED light.
Bright flashlight: No the flashlight on the iPhone is not enough to see into the dark crevasses of sewing thread knottiness.
Sewing machine oil: In a refillable oil pen.
Extra needles: Shall I tell you a story about the needle that was rusted into the needle shaft? Change your needles!!!!
Bobbins: 6 of them. Wind 6 bobbins with the thread you’re going to be sewing with and clean and oil your machine after they’re gone.
Corkscrew: One with a bottle opener also, so you can choose.
Makeup Bag: NO, not for foundation and mascara, that stuff stains fabric! Put your tools in a pretty makeup bag and it’ll be a pleasure to pull it out after using 6 bobbins to clean up your most faithful sewing buddy.
Happy Machine, Happy Sewist. May all your seams be nested, and not your thread!
The Featherweight Whisperer
*Did anyone else notice that we should remember to bring a peddle to class to use with our sewing machine? Yup…They might peddle Material Girlfriend patterns, but I’ll pedal my bike back to pick up the pedal to use with my sewing machine! Proofreading is SEW hard! I’d rather SEW!
**We used to see SEWER when referring to a person who sews, but that can just come out all wrong and confusing if it’s pronounced in plumbing way…Sewist is SEW much nicer! But alas, the spellchecker wants to make me a sadist, sexist, or just sweet.