The sewing machine incident

For the last day of #blogjune

About three Christmases ago I think, but certainly on Christmas Eve, we bought a sewing machine. It was a Husqvarna Huskystar, which sounds quite manly doesn’t it, although apparently there are no manly sewing machines as I have discovered.

The summer before last I finally got the machine out and set to work making cushion covers using some vintage fabrics we had stashed away.


They turned out pretty ok as long as you don’t look too closely. They even have zippers!


After making the first couple of cushion covers I managed to jam the machine. In retrospect I know exactly what I did. Having read the instruction book before starting, I carefully threaded the machine and everything was working fine. But when the thread snapped and I rethreaded it I got a little overconfident, thought I knew what I was doing, and missed a step. The thread was bunching in a big mess inside the machine, although I could only tell that it wasn’t working and making a terrible groaning noise.

I tracked down a sewing machine repair place, rang them up to see if they could help, and took my machine straight down there. It was a very odd experience.

There was a woman behind the counter and another woman in front of the counter and they were chatting as I stood there with my machine. It was bloody heavy so I plonked it on the shop counter while I waited. And waited. It’s one thing for vendors to exchange chit chat with customers while you patiently wait to be served but it was a full five minutes before the woman in front of the counter walked around and joined her colleague behind the counter and it was only then that I realised they were both staff.

The senior one sort of tutted when she looked at my machine. She clearly didn’t approve of the brand or model I’d chosen, or maybe it was just that she knew I hadn’t bought it from her shop, or maybe it was just me. I explained the problem and the following conversation ensued…

  • Her: She’s jammed the machine.
  • Me: It’s my machine actually.
  • Her: See, she hasn’t threaded it properly.
  • Me: It was me actually. I must have missed that bit when I rethreaded the machine.
  • Her: How often does she use it?
  • Me: It’s my machine. I haven’t been using it very often.
  • Her: I don’t think much of her thread. See?
    She held up my clearly inferior quality thread so I could see more clearly why it was obviously rubbish. Memo, do not buy cheap thread at IKEA. The scary lady at the sewing machine shop doesn’t approve of it.
  • Her: Tell her the machine will be ready next week.
  • Me: ok.

I know that sewing is traditionally a female gendered hobby, but then so is knitting and, apart from one shopping incident, I’ve had entirely welcoming and positive experiences in the knitting world. That once was at a fairly traditional Melbourne yarn store where I went to buy some double pointed knitting needles. From the reaction of the sales assistant you’d have thought that I’d asked to buy a bra. It was only once though, and the staff there every other time I’ve been back have been charming and helpful.

Ridiculous nonsense isn’t it?

Anyway, Wayne and I have been thinking that it might be time to get into some stitching. We have several vintage shirt patterns and some cool cotton fabric, but unlike knitting where you can unravel your mistakes and start over, it seems like sewing mistakes might be a bit more serious and I’m a little wary of just diving into sewing a shirt without a bit of research first.


Peter at Male Pattern Boldness has ten top tips for getting started in sewing and recommends Diana Rupp’s Sew everything workshop for learning the basics. There was also an interesting discussion about why more men don’t sew for pleasure, following on from a post at Gertie’s blog, Do you know any men who sew.

ps: I wish there was a Gertie book for men, the women’s book is super. I also wish I was in New York so I could join Peter’s MPB Day 2013.

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10 responses to “The sewing machine incident

  1. What an experience! I think that may be a reason why more men don’t sew for pleasure. good luck with the sewing and the cushions look great. I applaud the zips!

  2. Oh dear, how ignorant! My husband likes to play with my sewing machine 🙂
    I picked up a lot of techniques from the tutorials on, I also shared photos of some my finished projects there, it’s a great community!

    • Thanks for the tip! I love the Ravelry for knitting community, wondered if there might be something like that for sewing.

  3. Oh, ridiculous! I find the staff in quite a few of the Melbourne sewing machine shops pretty obnoxious and unhelpful… They seem to know how to make you feel insignificant, no matter who you are!

    I love those cushions and looking forward to seeing where you go next xx

    • Indeed! Luckily we have the store where you work, every time I come in it is inspiring and fun which is what you’d think a creative business would be all about really.

  4. First reaction – Gah! *face palm* at shop assistant fail. Then wanting to slap them. But it has a horrible reality to it since I’ve yet to find any decent sewing machine shop person myself. Except the repair man who isn’t affiliated with any brand.. he’s good.
    Second reaction – Yay! Tony and Wayne doing sewing – wish I was closer to have a sew fest! I learned from my mum, reading books, trial and error and yes, blogs. Lots and lots of sewing blogs (including Gerties). I have Gertie’s book and hope to make some stuff from it.

    You might like to join the Me-Made-Living Group on Flickr: and watch The Great British sewing bee (has men who sew in it)

    • Penny there seem to be so many people who have had crap experiences at sewing machine shops! Thanks for all the tips, I did watch a bit of the Great British Sewing Bee on Youtube, it was wonderful, hoping it turns up on TV here.

  5. That conversation had Jeff and I rolling. I have gotten funny looks a few times in yarn shops, and when I go by fabric stores to get buttons, zippers, etc. I really do like that fabric with the red in it in your cushions. It reminds me of a lounge chair my grandmother used to have. You really are creating an itch with all this talk of sewing…

    • The red fabric is a great 60s vintage find. There was really only enough for one cushion but then we decided to do the back with some plain cotton so we got two!

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