Is it weird to prefer your backup machine?

When I started sewing I did lots of research about picking a machine. I knew I wanted something I could sew heavy fabrics on, and that I wouldn’t grow out of quickly. Various websites recommended getting one with a one-step buttonhole and stretch stitches for sewing knits. I ended up with an Elna 3210 which felt like quite a fancy machine for a beginner. I sewed away happily on it for nearly four years. I sewed knits, denim, and coating fabric and it managed them all. It didn’t get an annual service but I really looked after it; it got a thorough clean and a new needle for each project.

Elna 3310 sewing machine

But last year the Elna’s tension started to behave oddly and I finally had to get it serviced. Round here this takes at least a couple of weeks. I couldn’t bear to be without a sewing machine for that long so I got a more basic backup machine, the Singer Heavy Duty below. No stretch stitches, no one-step buttonhole. The only feature it has that the Elna doesn’t is the ability to move the needle right as well as left. It’s picky about bobbins, unlike the Elna, and not very good at winding them evenly. It’s also harder to clean.

Singer sewing machine

But where the Singer shines is that it’s really fast. I discovered I actually prefer a four-step buttonhole to a one-step. And as I’d acquired an overlocker not long before, I didn’t miss the stretch stitches.

When the Elna came back from being serviced (with a brand-new tension assembly) I thought I’d probably alternate them. But gradually the Elna’s been used less and less. I got it out to sew my current project because I had an idea that the slower machine would cope better with very flimsy fabric, and realised I’d forgotten how to wind bobbins on it. After three failures I resorted to the instruction manual.

It seems a bit odd that I prefer sewing on the more basic machine. And I’m still really glad I started sewing with the Elna; it has much better instructions than the Singer and it enabled me to sew knits long before I could contemplate an overlocker. If I had to cut down to only one machine it would definitely be the Elna I’d keep.

What do you look for in a sewing machine?

New toys

Thank-you all so much for the suggestions about accessorising the peacock print dress. I’m going to have to do some shoe shopping, such hardship!

For a long time now I have been putting off having my long-suffering Elna sewing machine serviced. The only place it can be done locally only services machines on a few days a week and always has a waiting list, and I can’t bear to be without it for the week or two it will take to put it in the queue and get it done. But it really does have tension problems. And I recently got paid for some teaching I did last term. So I bought this.

Singer sewing machine

It is exactly what I wanted in a backup machine. It’s a lot more basic than my main machine – no stretch stitches or one-step buttonhole – but it’s fast and it has the one feature I find the Elna lacks, which is that the needle position can change to the right as well as the left. And the feet and bobbins seem to be compatible. I took the Elna’s feet into the shop to try them out on different machines just to make sure.

I’ve sewed a little with it so far, and apart from the fact that the presser foot lift’s in an unexpected place I’m getting on well with it. Now I just have to haul the Elna in to the shop – I’m glad it has a sturdy case!