Christmas Tree Block and an Impluse Purchase

10 inch Christmas Tree BlockThis 10 inch tree block is NOT a keeper but I do recommend these directions for making the Christmas Tree block. Mine, in the picture to the left, has puckering and uneven stitching. I can do better and I will do better. Here’s how this one came into being.
In an impulsive moment on the internet a couple of weeks ago I found my way to the Greys Online auction site, which is an online marketplace where businesses get rid of excess stock, much of which is in the industrial arena. They sell diamond rings but also more interesting stuff like tug boats. Yes, really.

The day I placed the bid on a new computerised sewing machine I could also have bid on a tug boat which was, if I recall correctly, excess stock from Shell’s offshore drilling operations. As tempting as the idea was, I decided not to bid on the tug boat. Instead I bid on a Singer 7422. I’d had the idea to get new sewing machine and wanted to try a computerised one, thinking that a new mechanical machine would probably not be that much different or that much better than my beloved 1970’s chocolate brown Husqvarna, which was the top of the line machine in its day.

I placed my bid at the minimum and decided that I would let fate decide. It someone else bid higher, it would be theirs.

No-one else bid higher and it was mine. It arrived at my door about three days after the auction closed but I decided not to pull it out of its box until I’d read the manual. Isn’t that so like a woman? I know no men who would think that would be a good idea.

It took me the best part of an evening to get it set up, the bobbin wound and the tension working correctly. For the first many, many lines of stitching I thought the machine had been a bad choice as the tension was totally off. After much re-reading of the manual though, I worked out that the problem lay in how I had inserted the lower thread through the bobbin case. Once I re-threaded it my problem was solved.

The next challenge was how to adjust the needle position to get an accurate quarter inch seam, which is where the Christmas tree block comes in. I decided to make a ‘real’ block as a proof of concept. But the seams were too wide and the block ended up a little less square and a little more rectangular than it should have been. But the lesson has been learned and I think I have the quarter inch seam width nailed.

Likes and dislikes and observations so far are:

  • The new machine is very light and portable
  • Every component seems to be made of plastic, which I hate
  • The new machine won’t probably last long but if it gives me three years of service I’ll be happy
  • There’s something to be said for baked enamel, even if it’s chocolate brown baked enamel. The Husqvarna is built like an automobile and that’s impressive, even if it does add (a lot of) weight
  • Learning to listen for a beep to know the machine has accepted your key press is a bit weird. If it doesn’t beep at you the computerised machine probably wasn’t ‘listening’
  • The ability to select and move the needle position (right, left) is handy
  • I look forward to more experimentation and hope to resist the temptation to buy accessories for the new machine. I don’t need to spend another $50 for another walking foot. But I may well make the Christmas tree block again, perhaps surrounded by stars as a Christmas wall hanging. Or with some ground below and stars above.

    Update April 2016: Seems my comment about the machine not lasting long was prescient. The machine failed in 2015 as I was trying to hem some fabric for shibori scarves. The professional repair quote was exorbitant, so we took it back from the repairer. My beloved had a go at fixing it and found a big fur ball under the bobbin case. But there’s still a problem and I’ve run out of patience with it. So I shall send it to its next life and remind myself that I was expecting three years and got five. I shall declare myself happy and wiser. Never again a modern Singer.

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