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PatternReview Blog > In Stitches: Sewing with Ralph Nader
In Stitches: Sewing with Ralph Nader By DianeSev on 1/10/12 2:48 PM

By nancy2001

Welcome to another installment of "In Stitches", the new PR humor column!

We've all had them happen...funny sewing incidents.

Maybe your first pair of pants looked like something a clown might wear. Maybe you cut out a dress without realizing that those big circles might look like bulls-eye targets. Maybe you had the sewing day from hell.

In this month's column, nancy2001 shares her experience with DH and the Bernina 1008, a tool that was NOT the machine of her dreams.

nancy2001 models her Self Drafted Pattern: 45793-1012.
She didn't sew it on a Bernina 1008!

Several years ago when I was learning to sew, my husband bought me a manual Bernina 1008, the very same machine the high schools used -- just before they kicked sewing off the curriculum for good. The 1008 was a trade-in for my very first machine, a three-week-old computerized Bernette that was fun to use but lacked oomph.

The 1008 cost an extra $400, which my husband eagerly paid because he was impressed by its “reliable, Swiss-made workhorse” review in Consumer Reports. The 1008 was exactly the type of no-frills product Consumer Reports loves. If the 1008 morphed into a human being, it would be Ralph Nader -- crunching granola in a twenty-year-old suit, eager to spoil the fun -- and one more presidential race.

As soon as I brought the 1008 home, I knew I’d made a mistake. Gone were the Bernette's automatic needle threader and all those handy pushbuttons. In their place was a collection of 19th century mechanical levers set in a hunk of cold, hard metal straight out of Charles Dickens. The two-hand contortions required to sew a reverse stitch were beyond me. But I thought I might master the six-step manual buttonhole -- all I had to do was chain myself to the sewing chair and practice it ten thousand times.

Nothing was technically wrong with the 1008, but every time I used it, I felt deprived. Millions of women were happily stitching away on sleek, computerized models and turning out flawless keyhole button holes with pushbutton ease. Yet here I was -- struggling with the handwheel and manually threading needles with a magnifying glass. Surely, I’d been cast back into the Stone Age with nothing but an awl and a wooly mammoth hide.

I racked my brain when inspiration struck -- I would create a "disinformation campaign" designed to turn my husband against the Bernina. I waited until my husband was in a particularly good mood and then channeling Lucy Ricardo I asked him, “Did you know the 1008 wasn’t assembled in a Swiss factory but thousands of miles away? And that solid-metal body just refers to the machine’s exterior. Most of the interior parts are actually made of...,” I paused for emphasis, “plastic.”

Of course, whenever there was a problem - no matter how trivial - a burned-out light bulb, a broken needle, or even a thread nest, I brought it to my husband’s attention, careful to hide my glee. And then there were all those totebag projects I made with half-a-dozen layers of the heaviest canvas I could find just to prove the “reliable, old workhorse” couldn’t handle them.

After a few weeks the message finally sank in. My husband no longer believed the 1008 was a miracle of Swiss engineering -- but a lemon like Ralph Nader’s Corvair. And I began to search for the perfect computerized sewing machine -- a high-end, gently-used Viking.

Dear Reader, I had it by Christmas.

Read nancy2001's sewing machine reviews.

Read nancy2001's pattern reviews.

Read November 2011's "In Stitches": Polyester Plus Hot Iron Equals Molten Goodness.

Do you have a funny sewing story for In Stitches? We'd like to hear about it in your own words. Send your stories to [email protected]. Stories should be between 350 and 500 words in length. Include your real name and PR name, and attach pictures relating to the story.

If we select your story to be published, you'll receive a Friends of PatternReview membership (or an extension to your current membership).

29 Comments      Login to Add a Comment    
SavesIX said... (2/14/12 1:36 AM) Reply
I'll be real careful how I say this, but I like the Corvair and I like the mechanical Berninas. Neither is a lemon; both may have been maligned. Bernina's latest model is a very interesting machine, of course, but it costs as much as a small car. But not as many will be made, so it probably won't stay current as long as the old work horse models. My machines range from hand-cranked to treadles, to a "Husqvarna 1+" (Viking) which has software (floppy disks, see what I mean?) It's all interesting, but then, I'm a mechanic.
dianelwilson said... (1/29/12 7:00 PM) Reply
That is why I make the decisions on what goes in the sewing room. He makes the decisions on computers and TV's and such. It works out well for us.
TJSEWS said... (1/25/12 4:13 PM) Reply
I echo Squirellypoo's sentiments. I did not find the story entertaining and I too felt sad.
Sibilance7 said... (1/24/12 3:58 AM) Reply
I've never noticed this feature on PR before, but somehow, the corner of my eye caught "sewing with Ralph Nader," and I knew that I *had* to click through to see what this was all about! Thank you for an entertaining story!
rebelina said... (1/23/12 8:31 AM) Reply
Being a fan of mechanicals, Corvair vans AND Nader, I'll just say that husbands have no place in picking out a machine for their wives.
Phillis2 said... (1/20/12 12:47 PM) Reply
Nancy, Good story and you look great in that jacket. I remember sewing classes in junior high (circa 1965) on Singers but I truly learned at my Mothers knee. She sewed on a factory Singer that must have weighed a ton! A year after I married I gifted myself with a Bernina 1530 and have been using it for 25 years. I take it for maintenance and cleaning about every two years and every year they want to buy it from me. I read Consumer Reports before I purchased Bernina and was also impressed with it being Swiss made. It's truly a work horse and I've had no problem with it in all these years. I don't know what Vikings are all about but I can give nothing but praise for Bernina products.
kimbatwl said... (1/19/12 7:45 PM) Reply
This is a fun piece of writing, Nancy. The Ralph Nader/Consumer Reports comparison was spot on.
Mermie said... (1/18/12 5:11 PM) Reply
I have a computerized Bernina as well as an older mechanical Bernina and love them both and wouldn't live without either one of them. Great story Nancy. Sometimes we do have to use subtle psychology and I'm for whatever works!
squirrellypoo said... (1/18/12 5:27 AM) Reply
This story actually makes me sad - I have zero love for computerised machines, having sewn on a lovely vintage, metal machine for my entire career. And I can't help but feel sorry for Nancy's poor husband - he sacrificed a lot of money to buy a well-reviewed, sturdy machine by a good brand, and all he got was constant complaining in return. :( This was not the feel-good sewing story I was expecting....
Frozzy said... (1/17/12 2:57 PM) Reply
Great story! Will have to remember that when gently "steering" the DH in the appropriate direction, that I would be actually channeling Lucy - too funny!
whatlarks said... (1/17/12 1:58 PM) Reply
Do you still have the Bernina 1008? I'm looking for one for myself!
Mufffet said... (1/17/12 1:27 PM) Reply
HAHHAA....great article. I agree about the glitz as I love it too, and you know it takes all kinds of people and they love all sorts of machines, and we can all laugh, share and treasure our diversity! :)
MSpilner said... (1/17/12 11:42 AM) Reply
having always sewed on older machines--even the one I am using now which seems awesome to me is a 30 year old Singer (which does sew button holes easily!) but I have no idea what a self-threading machine does?!! And I am certainly curious, since at 59, the eye of the needle has certainly gotten dodgey!
Elisabeth Lee said... (1/17/12 10:09 AM) Reply
I thought I needed a computerized machine to compliment my 1008. I purchased a used Bernina Artista 200 with all the bells and whistles. While the 200 is a great machine, I find myself using the 1008 with its precise stitch and ability to stop on a dime unlike the electronic machines. I miss the needle threader & of course and the needle "up/down". Researching other mechanical Bernina machines, found that the Bernina 1030 has a needle up/down via the foot peddle and also a 9mm basting stitch. Perfect for sewing up those muslins. After my Artista would not sew through fabric thickness while attempting to sew a keyhole buttonhole on my beautifully tailored wool blazer, back I went to the 1008 for a perfect buttonhole. But, we all have our preferences...and I am making a mental note on your art of persuassion....think I'll test that on my husband tonight :)
Richard in A2 said... (1/17/12 9:46 AM) Reply
It was a cute article but somewhat lost on computerized machines sit around while I sew on treadles...
Michele W said... (1/16/12 10:50 PM) Reply
Oh how I understand! I have the Bernina 1005, and while it can sew through a bullet proof vest ;^) I finally bought myself an electronic Janome this year. What a world of difference! I'm devoting my new machine to garment construction, but when it comes to handbags the Bernina is just the right machine!
Nancy Rhodes said... (1/13/12 8:03 AM) Reply
Marketing strategy accomplished... And a Good Laugh sharedx
lamstu said... (1/13/12 6:09 AM) Reply
What a great story! I bet your DH has a funny take on that one too :)
Pj3g said... (1/12/12 7:05 PM) Reply
My comment was deleted so I'm back to say AGAIN that I LOVED Nancy's story!!! And I thought it was so funny too!!!
EleanorSews said... (1/12/12 5:39 PM) Reply
Nancy, delightfully written. And yes, I recall more than one such campaign with DH, getting him to see my point. Sometimes you just have to do what you have to do. That's for the smile!
Deepika said... (1/12/12 4:42 PM) Reply
Nancy, I enjoyed reading your story. Very funny. To everyone else, we started In Stitches column to share some funny stories from our members. If stories like Nancy's bring a smile to anybody's day, our goal is accomplished. Perhaps we should have explained what the column is all about. So that's totally our fault. And that's probably why some members didn't quite understand the spirit of this post. That's why we decided to deactivate some of the comments posted earlier. Hope everyone will keep sharing the funny moments in their sewing room with us.
LauraTS said... (1/12/12 4:20 PM) Reply
So now PR is deleting comments that are critical of the post? Poorly done.
trumbelina said... (1/12/12 4:11 PM) Reply
I love subtle manipulation. Well done.
koshermama said... (1/12/12 3:15 PM) Reply
I'd take that Bernina over anything. Nothing beats the beautiful stitch that it makes, that you can still get parts for an older machine... I have three older Berninas: an 801, an 830, and a 1230. They may not embroider, but they make the prettiest seams and buttonholes. I'll buy that 1008 from you if the price is right.
French.Seam said... (1/12/12 11:31 AM) Reply
It was a fun, entertaining story. I didn't find it demeaning to anyone. You guys?! My OH thinks he knows best, and I've learned that I have to use reverse psychology on him, too. I have to plant an idea in his head & make it seem like HIS idea before he'll accept it. Oh, and I love how elegant you are in the photo Nancy
threadandthumb said... (1/11/12 7:17 PM) Reply
I thought it was entertaining! And I channel Gloria Steinem daily. I just bought my own second Viking yesterday - a serger. It's perfect! Like my old Viking 330 ; )
Eme said... (1/11/12 6:02 PM) Reply
Hilarious! Love the Lucy references! :))))))
Laurie Lou said... (1/11/12 12:54 PM) Reply
Touche' I loved this story and could relate from the very beginning. I think it is romantic to be in love with the old mechanicals but...when it comes right down to the convenience of the new models...Well life is just easier. I can tell by your story, you love your husband and his principles...I love the RN story I too read all his reviews of products in the "old days".
CrisB said... (1/11/12 6:01 AM) Reply
I have a Bernina 1008 that I bought to take to classes after my electrical board was overloaded and had to be replaced in my Bernina 150. This happened in a class where it seems all the irons and machines were on the same circuit. I actually like this machine and it is a good addition to my sewing room. I do buttonholes on another machine and it doesn't sew as precisely as my 150 which is only a problem with hems and top stitching but it is a great machine.

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