I have such a appetite and weakness for sewing books, that I've had to resort to the library so I don't go bankrupt between books and fabric. I wish there was a "fabric library"... where you never get charged until you actually make something!
The kind of sewing book I usually get is one of these two:
= big fancy coffee table book of haute couture, runway porn
= tips about how to tailor your clothes to make you look like you could be making runway porn yourself.
Since I have exhausted near;y every sewing/fashion book at the Central Branch, I'm getting desperate. Today, I pulled out a slim paperback, The Sewing Machine Guide, by John Giordano. The title made me think, "this is a boring nerd manual."
I flipped the book open, just to see if I could find my machine mentioned anywhere, and I read this sentence, under the listing, "10 Ways to Save for the Machine That You Want":
10. Sell Your Blood. Check with your doctor; you may have a gold mine running through those veins!
Holy feed dogs, this guy is the REAL thing! This book isn't boring, it's a passion play. John is funny, he is dead serious about getting you a good machine in the sea of crap that's out there, and he has some tips about buying sewing machines that would actually be good shopping tips for any major purchase.
He treats the buying experience like shopping for a car, which is the right attitude to have. Some innocents think you can pick up a machine from COSTCO for a $100-- well, they might as well spend their money on tequila, because you are not going to be able to sew a damn thing on a machine like that.
He takes a lot of time talking about used machines, and I'll tell you why: because the sewing machine business is going down the drain. You can barely buy a new quality mechanical machine anymore, b/c the computerized models are cheaper for the companies to make with the cheapest possible labor overseas. (Sound familiar?)
Computerized models are all the rage, but that's because the companies push them as if they are the only desireable alternative. (Think pharmeceutical company advertising.) Bullshit. Computerized sewing has definite drawbacks. Again, think of the car analogy. Having a completely computerized car would be spiffy, but there are too many cases when YOU want to have control of the accelerator and brake pedal.
The bottom line: If you can find a quality machine from the 1970s or before, BUY IT, because it will work better than almost anything you can buy today. If you want a NEW mechanical sewing machine, there is only one you should bother with: The Bernina 1008, the last mechanical model they make.
John isn't quite as blunt as I am, but it's obvious that he went to the Swiss Bernina factory as a homage to the one brand he still has faith in. He also tells you all the great used models that you should troll for on Ebay.
He describes sewing personalities, which was fun, and he has tips about saving your back in your sewing space which are brilliant and cost virtually nothing. He tells you how to take apart your machine in a way that is actually entertaining and useful. He is so fun to read that I found myself looking for his phone number, b/c I wanted him to come over and make ballgowns together.
If you are a boring sewing nerd, you will hate this book and think that John was not serious enough, and that the prices he mentions are not uptodate (they've gone down— again, b/c of the pressures mentioned above).
If you are like me, and consider yourself some kind of Coco on Acid fabric slut fashion/craft witch, then you will LOVE it. I would sell my blood for the ultimate sewing machine-- so I knew he was perfectly serious.