5.24.2013

spy games: dallas edition


Howdy, hotel ironing board.  

(I'll be kickin' it Texas style through august. If everything truly is bigger in Texas, the next kalkatroonaan birthday celebration may actually end the world.)

Number one on the list of last minute mission supplies: an entire suitcase devoted to my truncated sewing studio. My Ricky Riccardo was shipped separately to me by Momma Ruggy, and I spent cocktail hour going Macgyver on its ass. Or, to be exact, its foot.  

Free for the night, I hit play on a most excellent episode of Thread Cult (#14), involving all manner of sewing machine knowledge from an obviously learn-ed man, Harvey Federman, the owner of Sew-Right in Queens. A delight to listen to. As I started my first seam of the evening, this statement came forth from my laptop speakers: vintage machines are only worth sewing on if they are metal, black, and pre WWII.


Hrm.

Cloth cut, makeshift table top set up, I plugged in my Ricky. Huzzah! The light blinked immediately on. Yet, another warning wafted through the air: many post WWII metal machines came from Japan, and were branded by department stores. They aren't worth the cost to fix them. I shuddered uneasily. You see, my Gimbels-branded, Japanese-made, beloved Kenny sits in NY, comatose; I can't bear to pull the plug.  Aright, I thought, I've got my Ricky, he works fine, maybe it's time to let Kenny go. I shook the image of Kenny's tiny, closeted sick space away, and gently pressed down on Ricky's engine.

Nothing.

As Harvey continued to wisely direct on all manner of new and vintage machine pros and cons, I fiddled desperately with switches and outlets and wheels. Occasionally I would sigh and drop my head: this poor white machine, with its made-in-japan stamp, it is not worth it. Thoughts of combing Dallas thrift shops or (shudder) getting a new plastic job (read: the cheap worthless kind) filled my weary traveling mind. I walked away to pour a glass of pinot to clear my brain. It didn't make sense! With his thirty pound metal housing of the wrong color, Ricky seemed impervious! Finally, a light shaking of the metal presser foot revealed a loose, rattling sound... 


Still enjoying the company of Christine & Co, I unearthed my handy machine screwdriver, which unfortunately was NOT a phillips head, and managed to pry the tiny screw off without stripping the damn thing. Harvey breathed: just because a machine is metal doesn't mean it's worth it. There are plenty of machines out there with plastic parts that are worth the money, and plenty that aren't. Holding my all metal foot, I scoffed, wrenched the plate off... and a plastic thingamajig promptly fell out.  

HARVEY FEDERMAN YOU GET OUT OF MY HOTEL ROOM.

Shoving fingers and screwdrivers into the tin nooks and crannies of the foot's guts, I realized the lone plastic part could only fit into one impossible hole.

Let's just say I had to sweet talk it into that spot with a long metal stick. It was quite naughty.  

As the show ended, so did my tinkerings. I poured another glass of vino, applauded the truly brilliant (and unsettling-- did an opposing spy install an observation device in my hotel room? Must check that out) episode, and patted myself on the back for being  Such. A. BADASS. Yeah, my machine was the wrong color! The wrong age! (hrm, sounds familiar...) But i beat the odds! I fixed it all by myself! And I even remembered to unplug the presser foot while I jammed metal and flesh into every steel corner for twenty minutes! Ruggy would be so proud!

With a force borne out of victory, I plopped myself down on the hotel-side-table-serving-as-sewing-chair. I carefully lined up my sweet Ricky with the edge of the hotel-dresser-turned-on-its-side-serving-as-sewing-desk. I leaned over to plug the foot back into the socket, and of course, found it already plugged in, as it had been for the last twenty minutes.

I'm assuming the fact that the thingamabob was plastic was my saving grace. Ruggy says I should've just jumped into the bathtub while I was at it. 

So, apparently, there's something to be said for plastic parts.

Touché, Mr Federman.

54 comments:

  1. Yikes! I had a brief stint as an "electrician wannabe" and I can say that you are pretty lucky! Glad you got it fixed though and I don't know who this Harvey person is, but I think he's a bit biased or something. Enjoy Texas and stay cool!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he has such a wonderful tone though, he's like a wizard...

      Delete
  2. Oh my, this is just the funniest story! You are wonderful. (And I'm very glad you didn't end up in the ER!) <3

    ReplyDelete
  3. First chuckle of the day comes from Oona. Thanks for not zapping yourself:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you're welcome! i must keep the chuckles coming sans injury!

      Delete
  4. Ohhh I loved this post. The excitement! The intrique! The will-oona-accidentally-off-herself, leaving the blogiverse bereft of a Krafty Kalkatroonan?
    Thank heavens for the happy ending!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I just did a check on my 1982 Pfaff, and right on the back of its off-white metal case it says "Made in Western Germany." Whew!

    I'll have to check out this podcast, although the thought that most vintage machines aren't worth the cost to fix is unsettling. Next you'll say that sewing your own clothes isn't worth the cost since you can buy a tee shirt for $5 (not You you, but You in the figurative sense)!

    Glad that you fixed your machine. I have a broken machine sitting in my car that I obtained purely for experiments...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ha! make sure it's unplugged whilst you tinker...

      the podcast is really fantastic, even when i disagree with the interviewee!

      Delete
  6. Welcome to Texas!! I live in Houston! Glad you survived the tussle with your machine :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. well thankya! i shot a commercial in houston once, they painted my nails red :)

      Delete
  7. I love this story, and I'm excited to check out this podcast (although not, perhaps, that episode).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oooh, but you must listen to this one too. he really has some great tidbits... just wacky how on the nose it was with my situation...

      Delete
  8. That's quite scary in retrospect. Someone is watching over you, because the world needs Oona's colour. Yeah!
    Also, duh. He's speaking to American audiences. How about the rest of the world?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. being american, i never even thought of that! of course. we are a country with blinders on sometimes....

      Delete
  9. I just started to follow your blog and imagine my surprise when I say the posting about this machine. This was the first machine I bought on my own and I sewed on it until I actually wore it out. It was a great machine and I loved it. I purchased mine in 1975 and it served me well. I hope your's continues to serve you for a good long time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. WOW! i've never seen another one of these, that is so cool! he's running like a champ and i'm trying out all the decorative cams soon. how did yours finally wear out?

      happy to have you here!

      Delete
  10. how timely, yet creepy! i zapped myself, luckily not toooo badly, when my husband was telling me over the phone how to use a screwdriver to fix our washing machine. yeahhhh, he's an electrician, and was assuming that my base knowledge was a lot higher than it was...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yeeeeeeeeeeeekkkk! base knowledge, that cracked me up. apparently washing machines are high on the list of home injuries!

      Delete
  11. Did it work afterwards though? I hope so after you risked your life for it, selfish little beast!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Woweee you are so bad ass! I wish I could fix sewing machines, I take it straight to the shop when anything goes wrong. You are a multi talented lady indeed!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. if by multi talented you mean stubborn, I'M YOUR GAL.

      Delete
  13. You're victorious for all of us that have given up at one point or another lol. Applause!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. and hopefully a shining example of what NOT to do with electricity :)

      Delete
  14. Sewing in a hotel room.Yes I do think sewing is an addiction.ha! I know that feeling when I'm on a trip and feel like I have to sew ...... That is a very snazzy looking machine!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. he's really quite cool, and very stocky. i likes him.

      Delete
  15. Well done. You are a superhero-plastic-piece-forcin'-BAD*SS! Now, please, do be careful. We need you very much alive for what we have in mind.

    <3 from full-moony Edinburgh,
    David & Debi

    ReplyDelete
  16. So, Harvey is my pretend best friend, and voices my internal monologue when James Earl Jones and my Swedish philosophy professor take their sick days. True. All of it.

    Anyway, you are such a BAMF, Oona. I expect you to eat Salt Lick and have Emporium Pie, because you are an American.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. i DO believe you. he is so warmly convincing, so easy on the ears, seriously, he had me talked into tossing ricky after only having heard him speak for 10 minutes.

      i need to know more about these foods. where do i find them.

      Delete
    2. Emporium Pies is on Bishop, and apparently the Dallas Salt Lick is in their airport (boo, Dallas).

      Anyway, there are no calories or personal standards when you're that far south of the Mason Dixon. Just saying.

      Delete
  17. I love your blog and your fashion sense!!! Very sharp!!! I live in the Houston, TX area. Welcome to Texas!!

    ReplyDelete
  18. If anything tears up again, Denton Sewing Center (which is a little north of Dallas) is great about fixing machines. While you're in Dallas, you should check out Golden D'Or Fabrics on Harry Hines. I have to say that Harvey is harsh! My machine is from 1956 and I love it:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh, yes, i've got golden d'or on my list! i'm headed to the garment district on my first day off. it appears to be located near a cemetery...

      Delete
  19. You keep that sewing machine in line- plastic parts and all!
    And thanks for the Thread Cult hot tip- I have me a new podcast!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. girl, it ROCKS. every single episode is a winner.

      Delete
  20. This is why I love generous bloggers!

    Thanks for mentioning the podcast. I love listening to sewing stuff as I sew and I was not aware of this podcast.

    I'm glad you saved Ricky! Mr. Federman's opinion is just that - An Opinion. and you know what they say about opinions ……………

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. you're going to love thread cult! even harvey ;)!!

      Delete
  21. wow! risking your life for a sewing machine! i'd say that sounds crazy, but i'm guessing more than one of us would do the same... and well, you're sewing in a hotel room. that takes all sorts of dedication. glad you didn't end up in the ER!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. me too. ruggy is glad also. and a little mad.

      Delete
  22. Ah, my husband tried this trick with a washing machine that he was convinced was unplugged. A visit to ER and an ECG followed and he has a splendid scar on his hand as a trophy. Thank goodness for plastic parts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. YIKES. i'm so cautious now, i'm even unplugging him between seams! glad your hubs came away with just a battle scar :)

      Delete
  23. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Whoa dude. But way to go for fixing it! Nice work!

    I'm taking ol' Harvey's words with a grain of salt. I can see where he comes from-- there are many, many people who think that anything old is automatically good/better when that's just not the case. That said, he's a retailer of high-end new machines, so he's obviously got a bias in that direction. I also disagree with buying new machines instead of servicing your old ones. Yeah, it may not always be cost-effective to keep fixing an old one, but at least you're keeping it out of a landfill.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ah, harvey! i agreed with a lot, and disagreed with a lot, but it was all entertaining. when he talked about newer machines doing everything for you-- like adjusting tension automatically-- i thought, well, isn't that part of sewing? or is that like washing a dish by hand when you could have a dishwasher?

      i loved christine's question about places that might take old machines for donations. there must be someone out there who'll keep them out of landfills, even if it's for parts. i have no idea what to do with poor kenny...

      Delete
  24. OMG! In 1983 I bought myself my first sewing machine, a Riccar, in a parking lot in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I love it! Last fall, now that I'm all grown up and filthy rich, I bought myself a anome, thinking that the technology available now would make this an awesome upgrade. Nope. I was disappointed, still am. My Riccar is a true workhorse, and can do 98% of what the Janome can,at least as well or better. Plus it has features that Janome doesn't, like a SKINNY free arm and a fabric tension thing-a-bob on the top left.
    Now I must travel to Kalkatroona since they sew with Riccars there!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. oh yeah, that skinny free arm is marvelous. i think it's the slimmest i've ever seen. and don't you love how the machine sounds??

      Delete
  25. While in the Dallas area check out Fabrique Fabrics. They have beautiful fabrics. I live in the Houston area, whenever I'm in the Big D, I always shop there.

    ReplyDelete
  26. You delightful lady, I am so glad you did not electrocute yourself! Enjoy Dallas - have some adventures for me while you are there :)

    ReplyDelete

i thankya truly for taking the time to comment, i love a good conversation-- and hope you know my thanks are always implied, if not always written!