A few months ago I went to a humungous church rummagesale, where back in one corner I found the only real bargain in the place. (This was the sale charging four bucks for tatty used t-shirts.)
A whole box of this great sewing magazine for three bucks. Which I am still making my way through. (I like to savor each issue.) In issue number 39 (February/March 1992)
I found reviews for two new “top-of-the-line” sewing-and-embroidery machines, and one of them sounded terrific. The Singer Quantum XL-1, which they declared “is indeed a quantum leap beyond any of Singer’s previous machines.” The list price in 1992 for this first of the Quantum line was – are you ready? - $2499. That’s the equivalent of almost $4300 in today’s dollars! Wow, I thought, maybe I can find one of these puppies at an estate sale or something to augment the capabilities of my much-loved Singer 201. So I’ve been looking.
I'm not sure how long they made the XL-1 before it became the 1000, and beyond. The current version appears to be the XL-6000. I kept an eye on eBay, where recently an XL-1000 went for $1200! A bit discouraging for someone who begins to flinch at anything that costs more than a fiver. But I kept looking, and saved a search on Craigslist. Meanwhile I kept picking up great pieces of cotton fabric to play with.
Last Sunday my Craigslist search paid off. An XL-1000 up in Portland for $100. How fast do you think I replied to that ad? The answer: faster than anyone else! I hopped in the car and drove up Interstate 5 in the pouring rain. Which is when I realized the fan in my car was kaput and the only way to keep the windows from completely steaming up was to leave the windows open. Brrrrr!
I got lost, even with my GPS, Gretel Pemberton Smith, telling me where to go. She was unaware of all the road work happening everywhere. Or at least everywhere I wanted to go. We persevered, found the address, where we met two lovely young women named Heather. Yes, both of them. One of them inherited the sewing machine from her grandmother ten years ago and hasn’t been using it. Her grandmother sounded interesting. They told me granny’s name was Florence, which she didn’t like, so she renamed herself Greer and went by that the rest of her life.
We plugged in the machine and turned it on. A touch screen lit up. I sewed a few inches. She purred. Done deal. One of the Heathers even toted her down to my car and heaved her into the trunk. This is one solid sewing machine – weighs at least as much as the 201 and she’s made of solid iron. My $100 also got me a fabulous rolling case (which alone would cost $100 or more retail), a bunch of presser feet, a cool pair of thread clippers on a retractable clip, and three boxes of Gutermann thread.
Getting home from Portland proved even more challenging. Neither Gretel Pemberton Smith nor I knew it was the day of the Portland Marathon and we landed smack dab in the middle of the route, trying every way we could to get around the blocked off streets and back to the freeway.
The learning curve on this baby will take some time, but I have completed one small project. I've been wanting some kind of small trash receptacle to keep on my desk and decided to make one of fabric. Found a pattern on Pinterest, picked out two pieces from my stash, and off we went. And oh, my, can this baby sew! Look, she'll even make a wavy topstitch with the touch of one button!
And the icing on the cake? She threads the needle all by herself!