Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Sewing Escapade

A little while ago I started hankering after a new skill; sewing. I started with hand embroidery to get a feel for the craft, but after spicing up a few items of clothing with lace, sequins and embroidery, I realized that it was time to take the craft more seriously.
I borrowed my granny's old machine (an Empisal Cresta 999A) from my sister and gave it a test run. It was a little too advanced for me. The tension was provided by a little wire attached to a knob on the front of the machine (which I kept catching my hair on) and the foot pedal was so sensitive that several times I felt as if I was going to be dragged off my seat and under the needle. I was a bit timid to fiddle with machine, but oiled it with such enthusiasm that the machine spat and sputtered as I worked.

 Above: Granny's old Empisal Cresta sewing machine. 
It's missing quite a number of bits and bobs, 
but being an older machine, it still runs strong.

Above: The little wire tension knob thingamajig. 
I had nightmares about this apparatus rendering me bald. #justsharing

It was then decided, between my boyfriend and I, that it was time for a machine of my own. Something sturdy, reliable and tough enough to endure the inexperience of a novice seamstress like myself. I hopped online, full of chirpy optimism about buying a new machine and crashed and burned a few minutes later.
It would appear that sewing machine manufacturers no longer produce basic, sturdy machines. Each machine I came across had more bells and whistles than Santa Claus's sleigh and in order to own one, one must sacrifice a kidney or two and possibly a lung. It was frustrating, to say the least.

I continued digging around, more out of determination than optimism. What I discovered is that Bernina, Singer, Elna and Janome are known to be the best sewing machines (that list is in no particular order, and it will probably vary according to what sources you use for research). Bernina and Elna are quite popular here in South Africa, so I started looking for second-hand machines. My idea was that the older models of sewing machines (made of good, solid metal) will be sturdier than the modern machines, which contain too many plastic parts for my liking.

I came across an advert for a 1968 Bernina 707 Minimatic. I fell in love... We're headed out to Hermanus soon to buy her. :)

Above: The gumtree advert for the 1968 Bernina 707 Minimatic


  1. Hi do you still have the empisal? Maybe the manual?

    I love my moms empisal cresta 999A but the manual got lost in the last 15 years. If you do have the manual and can maybe make me a copy I would really appreciate it.


  2. I'm afraid our manual's lost too. :( Have you tried searching for a PDF of one online?


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