Tag Archives: sewing machines

Retirement Sewing Room

My sewing room/workroom has always been a large basement bedroom downstairs. I have a large window that looks out on the garden, a store room, and a large closet. When I was working I was always in “make it work” mode. I also got stuck in a rut. It was not very conducive to try different space use things out. Why bother painting when the room gets trashed with dirty tents and gear?

Retiring gave me a chance to rethink my space. One of the goals of retirement was to find my joy in creating again. So what would that look like? More/better storage, a cutting table, freshening things up and slightly improved organization was the plan.

I have a huge cutting mat. It’s 70 x 48 and it’s 35 years old. It’s pretty worn. It will be hard to replace as I have not seen one that big in years. I saw an IKEA hack for a cutting table that looked amazing. My hub builds furniture for fun and hates IKEA, so I ordered up my own version of the IKEA Kallax hack table. My cutting mat is on the top which is perfectly sized to fit. The table is custom height for me. The cubbies are customized for storage bins and it’s on wheels. The best part is you can break it down into two cupboards if you don’t need the cutting part. It’s fantastic and I love it.

I wanted a sunny color. I wanted yellow: not too yellow to affect my color use but enough to augment daylight and be a happy color. I’m thrilled with my paint color. I put up some new shelves and my prayer flags. I acquired a bookcase from my retired husband that fit perfectly under the window. Last but not least, I played with various floor plan configurations of cutting table and machines. The fact that I sold my walking foot industrial made it much easier to squeeze four machine into the space. The table being on wheels is excellent.

What would complete the dream is a suite of industrial machines: a cover hemmer, a serger, and 5- or 6-thread flatlock.

Machines currently in use from L to R: Artisan needle feed, Babylock 644 serger, Elna 780 and a Brother 3550 coverhemmer.

Sometimes I am annoyed that I didn’t do this sooner, but as I’ve mentioned before I’d kind of lost my joy. Why would I be motivated to spruce it up when all I wanted was to close the door at the end of the day.

My Machines, part 4. Long overdue update.

I sold one. I retired two, one to the recycling bin. I bought three… all somewhat specialized for the garment end of things.

First off, it was so sad to retire the 1987 first generation Babylock serger to the recycling bin. It was beyond repair, rebuild, or service. Every piece of metal in the thing was worn beyond repair. Every time I tried to use it something wouldn’t work. I turned to one of my trusted advisers, Ron of A1 Sewing Machine, for a recommendation. He recommended a Juki 644 as a reliable workroom 3/4 serger and he was right on. Sometimes you don’t realize how old and worn something is until you replace it with new. Helpful hint: you can write on your machine with a dry erase: this is the current needle installed. Trust me on this: If you are battling an old machine or one that just never works quite right, quit torturing yourself, especially if you are working professionally. I hate spending money and kick myself every time I hold off getting the right tool.

Juki serger, reliable workhorse

Next, I sold my Pfaff combo serger/coverhem. I had originally purchased it for the triple needle coverhem function, but I never loved the performance of the machine. When I heard that Brother came out with a top cover hem home machine, the 3550, that was it… ordered one sight unseen. This machine is amazing and easy to use once you understand the learning curve that all coverhem machines come with. I absolutely LOVE being able to provide an ultra-professional, finished look when I am altering activewear, baselayers, sweaters or other fleece, softshell garments.

Grey side is top cover stitch; navy is the underside, three needle cover hem.
Brother 3550 Coverhem, top spreader removed.

Why stop there? With retirement looming, I wanted to replace my trusty 33 year old Bernina while I am still working. While it’s very reliable, mostly, once in a while I get a vibe that it might croak on me. I was able to find an Elna 780 floor model and my-o-my it is rather amazing. I appreciated the control and features that I use specifically on garment projects. The harp space is huge and it does everything but make toast. Maybe I am modern but I like the ease of computer controls for eyelets and darning. It has a very wide stitch – up to 9mm for some functions which is very handy for certain repairs.

I still have my needle feed and walking foot and several other machines stashed away.