Monday, August 31, 2009

My mom will get it (redux).

Although practically perfect in every way, Muffin Uptown has a very short fuse when it comes to balky mechanical equipment. I warned her about this when she asked for her first sewing machine. As those of us who already own these contraptions could easily have told her, sewing machines exist for the sole purpose of testing one's certitude in a higher, beneficent being. Anyone prone to crisis of conviction would be better served at the mourner's bench than in front of a sewing machine.

And MU's constancy? Well, she loses her shit when a zipper gets stuck.

She's building an ambitious art installation that involves PVC piping and yards and yards of fabric, and had a meeting scheduled with her advisor on Tuesday to evaluate her progress. It's been going well. So of course, the machine inexplicably stopped in the middle of the next-to-the-last, nine-foot-long seam.

She telephoned me at work to test both my diagnostic and prognostication skills. Normally so articulate, she was struck dumb in the face of total mechanical malfunction.

"Mom! My sewing machine is all messed up. The wheel thing won't turn and it doesn't work. Well, it will turn--but it's really, really hard and when it does, the other thing just moves back and forth, instead of up and down and nothing is happening. This is really making me mad. What's wrong with it?"

Click. Click. Clickclickclickclick.

"What is that noise? What are you doing?"

"I'm turning the other wheel thing. But nothing is happening. Why won't it work? This is really making me mad."

"I think you should stop doing that--it isn't supposed to make that noise. Check the needle and make sure it isn't bent. Look for knotted up thread behind the bobbin. Check the presser foot."

"Presser foot? What's that?


Ultimately, she was reduced to finishing her project on my sewing machine--a Singer 301A, circa 1956. There was a lot of inarticulate moaning and groaning about that, too.

"Does your machine even work? It's old."

Later, during her project review, she detailed the difficulties she'd had to her professor and complained of having to finish her sewing on a "Triangle Shirtwaist Factory sewing machine."

"That sounds cool." her professor said, "I don't think I've ever used one of those before."

Originally posted January 23, 2008.

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