Buying Stuff – Does It Platform Intent?

I was thinking about this the other day as I gazed slack-jawed at running tights on the Internet, wondering how many pairs to buy.

The truth is, I haven’t been running in weeks. Or, wince, maybe months. But if I bought some new running gear, I’d definitely haul my behind outside. Wouldn’t I?

I wonder if the same rationale applies to sewing. I don’t mean the spontaneous splurges on fabric; I’m talking about the big investments.

toshiba sewing machine

I first started sewing on a secondhand Toshiba to test my commitment to this new hobby. I didn’t want to spend hundreds of pounds on a machine, only to watch it gather dust. Once I was certain that my new love was consistent as well as passionate, I invested in a Bernina – a machine that has proved to be loyal and true. (Can you tell I had a flakey man sending me drunk text messages last night? I have no patience any more for flakey men…)

bernina sewing machine

Buying my sewing machine and then my overlocker were my messages to myself. You’re in for the long haul, girlfriend. Time to take this seriously.

Do you feel the same way? Have your investments been worth it or have they become expensive clothes horses – you know, the objects you toss your clothes over in a neglected corner of the bedroom?

Okay, time to peel myself out of my own bedroom and go for a run!

cardiff half marathon


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26 Responses to Buying Stuff – Does It Platform Intent?

  1. Fiona says:

    Dear Karen – I think you should read this hilarious article by Hadley Freeman in the Guardian about sports clothes which will make you think twice about buying those running tights!

    As for sewing, like you, I started out with an old Toyota machine and was persuaded by my boyfriend to invest in the wonderful Bernina, which has been my best friend ever since. The following year came the overlocker. I really think these investments encouraged me to sew more, because I felt like I had reliable tools at my disposition and could therefore tackle anything!

  2. I want to hear more about the flakey man …..

  3. Fiona says:

    Don’t buy the running tights, stitch them!
    Mine are the Avery leggings from Helens Closet, it’s an excellent pattern which makes up in just over an hour and only uses a metre of fabric.
    I to have been there and done that with a flakey man

  4. I started sewing on an ancient very basic straight-stitch-and-zig-zag machine. When it died, I got another, and am currently on my third. This one does more stitches, but I don’t use any of them. I sewed for forty years, [including making operatic costumes, school productions, wedding dresses etc]before affording a very basic overlocker. I’ve acquired some vintage machines, and adore the buttonhole attachment for my treadle, but I think most of the expensive stuff is window dressing. Then again, I can’t afford it anyway!

  5. peggyleah says:

    I’ve found that buying the tool or item (running tights) doesn’t make it
    happen. Start running first. See how committed you are, then make
    the investment. Surely you have something that would work in the
    meantime…and we all want to know about the flakey man!

  6. jennmcmillan says:

    The first sewing machine I bought myself was a basic Kenmore machine. It lasted me a good 18 years (through college, marriage, kids, etc.) and it wasn’t until last year that I longed to get a newer machine – not to have a “new” machine, but to be able to have the advanced features that a computerized machine has, and that I felt I needed to up my sewing technique game. And I spent almost an entire year looking into ALL of the models on the market before deciding on a specific machine, and then bought a new-to-me version of the Janome 6600P (which was the one I was looking at).

  7. Debra Grizzell Parker says:

    Love your posts! My husband just bought me a sewing/embroidery machine, Brother. Cost many thousands of dollars! His question to me, prior to the purchase, was will you use it!!!! Well, I have used it daily! Love my new machine.

  8. Jane W. says:

    My first sewing machine was a super-basic Bernina. A floor model, bought during a sew n’ vac liquidation. I’ thought that owning a Bernina would grant me magical sewing skills, It didn’t! Five years later I sold it and bought a friend’s used Bernina. Everytime I use it I think of her, and the good vibes come from there.

  9. Olivia says:

    I’m always very wary of being someone with ‘all the gear, no idea’ …. I mean sewing things, not running tights although as it happens, the same probably applies! I did loads of sewing on my beautiful, hardworking hand-crank which belonged to my mother and her mother before her, I only got an electric machine so I could do buttonholes and zigzag … since then I’ve upgraded to a slightly better second-hand Janome which is great. I bought an overlocker (secondhand, again) but to be honest I now realise that I could do most of it on an ordinary machine. However, I do find it difficult to know what to ask for at Christmas and birthdays, so my sewing kit has been filled out with items like a tailor’s ham (recommended by you!), pattern notcher, thread snips – managed without all these before, but they’re nice to have.

  10. PsychicSewerKathleen says:

    I’ve spent thousands of dollars on machines too! Are they worth it? For sure they are 🙂 Sewing is my single indulgence at 63. I love it. It’s good for my aging brain, it’s my meditation, my creative outlet and as a bonus I get to wear clothing that fits me great, out of fabrics I love in styles that suit me. I don’t know that my $$ machines necessarily nudge me to sew more but they certainly make the experience more pleasurable!

  11. JenNYC says:

    Having new, fun exercise clothes does inspire me to get to the gym. This is one of those instances where pre-buying can motivate the activity IMO. But, consider making your own tights. They are really, really easy to make–especially with a serger. I’ve made several now, as well as bike style shorts. You would think that all stretchy things are the same, but being able to customize the fit makes them even better. My favorites are Jalie patterns, especially Cora, but Isabelle is a close second.

  12. erinalter says:

    very similiar. when i was curious about sewing as a hobby, i borrowed a friend’s super cheap machine. i made a top and decided that i would indeed enjoy sewing. so i bought a bottom of the line pfaff. i sewed on that for about 7 months and then decided to take advantage of a program the dealer offered, where i could trade up, and bought a middle of the line pfaff. and that is what i have continued with. everynow and then, i consider if i should upgrade further. but when i think about what i actually sew, and *want* to sew, i really don’t need anything fancier.

    i did almost the same thing with a rowing machine, having my eye on a truly gorgeous number. so i bought a cheaper version to begin with. it turns out, i like sewing much more than rowing….

  13. StitchNSew says:

    I confess to buying all the pretty shiny craft gadgets. I don’t regret my sewing machines but I do have gadgets and tools I have never used which on second thoughts I didn’t really need

  14. I used my mother first sewing machine for years, until it finally decided to stop working (an old metal Elna that was 40 years old when I was given it as a young teenager) and then bought my first machine in my early 30’s. I bought my overlocker after spending years making clothes and its been a brilliant investment, making sewing jersey so much easier.

  15. Jen says:

    I think I was very lucky – my mum gave me her old (1960s) Bernina when she bought herself a brand new one in the 1980s. I’d grown up with it and it just did everything I needed. When it finally started to die about 10 years ago, I found, secondhand, the same 1980s Bernina that my mum has (and in my head is still the latest model – brand new and shiny!) – I snapped it up and have loved it ever since.
    I don’t have enough time to sew at the moment and my biggest problem is that I buy fabric thinking that ‘if I just buy this beautiful piece of fabric and this pattern, then surely I’ll manage to find the time to make it up?’ – I don’t – my stash is growing… I think what I’m actually buying is the hope that I’ll have some time to sew?!?! I think it’s a bit like the running leggings…

  16. Janet says:

    I started sewing clothes as a teenager back in the 1960’s, on my mother’s hand turned , straight stitch sewing machine. I bought a Bernina Minimatic 807 in the 1970’s, with which iImade clothes, curtains, bedspreads, cushion covers and so on for my house, and am still using it today for the same sort of item, and for machine embroidery. It does straight, zig-zag, and a few other stitches, but nothing very fancy. A few years ago I bought a Janome which has a much bigger number of special stitches, which I enjoy playing around with from time to time.

  17. This has been so timely. I have sewn for the last decade on a very simple janome. And I love it. It just works, without fuss and without drama. But I’ve been starting to think that maybe it’s time to upgrade, and to admit that I definitely am keeping sewing and that I want to try bigger and more difficult projects. But I feel such guilt about even thinking about replacing my old machine.

    I suspect I’ll stay with it at the moment. It’s been with me since university and has never had a service, has never broken down, and just works. When that starts to change then that’s when I’ll reconsider. Except…. I say all this while thinking about jean-making and the likelihood of my machine coping with denim, and suddenly I’m moving towards replacing it again….

  18. Candie says:

    I have been adding to my repertoire of dependable machines over the years so that when I retire (within the next two!) I will be set up to do whatever I want to do and it will all be bought and paid for, also my excuse for buying fabric.

  19. I have started sewing a few years back on a basic Husqvarna, thinking I would upgrade when I was certain I was going to stick to sewing. Well.. there is no doubt I’m hooked, but I found myself content with my fairly limited machine. Have also been battling against my desire to invest in an overlocker, telling myself it’s the perfect excuse to practice “proper” finishing like flat felled seams and whatnot. Surprising since I do love a shiny new toy. Does it mean sewing is making me wiser? I hope not!

  20. Robin says:

    Sewing is my primary hobby, but I am so happy with my inexpensive Brother that I have no real reason to consider a pricier or more loaded model. It came with several feet, and I have since bought others that are fun to experiment with. It is also very lightweight, so I can set it on the floor easily to make room when altering patterns or marking cut fabric.

    As to special gear, I don’t exercise anymore because I work for an airline, and get plenty of exercise lifting bags and marshaling airplanes in my company provided uniform. So I get to save all of my sewing and cash for making travel clothes! If I ever get back into fencing, I have already fixed my competition uniform, so again, no latitude for special gear, investment in a good uniform was made years ago. Glad to hear you are thinking about running again, hope you make it out the door, your long time readers know how much you enjoy it!

  21. I’ve inherited a 1987 Bernina sewing machine from my grandmother. It is perfectly adequate for what I do. I did indulge in a new Bernina overlocker about five years ago and I’m really not sorry about buying it. Generally when I shell out money for something, I tend to use it. My most recent purchase was a guitar and I’m surprising myself by actually learning to play. But exercise equipment seems to be my Nemesis….. The orbital trainer we’ve bought secondhand, has been relegated to our pool house, so I can’t even use it as a clothes horse. There is a whole set of exercise DVDs that I have optimistically bought only to realize that I don’t have the basic co-ordination to manage even one minute of dancing or kickboxing. So I admire your decision to take up running ! Enjoy!

  22. liamarcoux says:

    I sewed on a my mom’s 1980s department store Singer for the first few years, and was given a heavy-duty Singer right around the time I started sewing jeans, and an overlocker a couple years after that (my birthday and Christmas are near neighbors, and my family is very generous). And the longer I saw the more I’m willing to invest in quality fabric!

    There’s the quote by Thoreau – “beware all enterprises that require new clothes”, or something like that. Except of course I love new clothes. : ) Also, I don’t generally believe in aspirational buying, but I was also given a beautiful wooden salad bowl recently (haha, I feel absolutely showered in gifts, writing this up) and my salad-eating has increased by a thousand percent!

  23. Jen says:

    I absolutely love my Brother PE 770.. I recon it is the best machine out there! It is also my best seller sewing machine by far on my website.. Definitely recommend it!

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