Many, and I mean many years ago, when Moody Voodies was in its infancy, we used to sew everything by hand. Every body, every arm, every head, etc, etc, you get the idea. It was time consuming to say the least. Of course, our dolls were very different back then, and had a more rustic feel to them. We still actually have a few of those little fellas in a zip lock bag, maybe in the future they might be worth something!
At the start of our little enterprise, we had no idea if the demand for our dolls would actually be there, as we were far from being experts in the field. My only experience with a sewing machine was when I was at high school, and we had to make stuffed pillows for an art project. We all got to choose a design we liked to decorate said pillow, and I choose that
lovable cartoon cat, Garfield! It actually came out pretty cool. Not sure where it ended up, but I did impress my parents and grand parents with my new found skill! Fast forward (coughs into hand to muffle actually dates) many many years, and we as a fledgling business find ourselves needing by a sewing machine.
At first, we were a little reluctant to spend any large amounts of money on an actual sewing machine, opting for one of those hand held do-dars. Well, firstly no, just no! Those handheld machines are fine in a pinch, but for anything beyond a wobbly ‘not so straight line’ and they are pretty awful.
At that time in Moody Voodies history, we didn’t have much money (still kinda true) to spend on equipment, especially as we didn’t know if we could action make a living making art dolls!
So, for quite a long time we opted to make our Voodies out of other materials, including clay and sticks and any other adornments we could find. I’m sure some of those are still out there somewhere, as we still have one or two laying around that have survived.
Hand held Singer sewing do-dar
Eventually, we decided to take the plunge and buy our very first sewing machine. This was a very basic Singer simple machine. It was amazing! Coming from the handheld device to an actual proper sewing machine was truly a huge leap forward! It made making our rag/cloth dolls way easier than the previous method. A doll that would have taken several hours to hand sew and complete, now took just a few hours!
Similar Singer machine to which we had.
As for the Singer sewing machine, it was like I said, very basic. This was the older type of machine where the bobbins had to be placed in a metal housing then into the machine, which is a real pain to load. Also, no help getting the thread into the needle (best have patience and good eyesight for that). After a while, the muscle memory kicks in and you become faster at threading the needle and loading that pesky bobbin gadget!
For a starter machine, the Singer was perfect! Of course it did have its downsides, but most of those were probably due to the fact we had no real idea how to use it properly. It would often bunch up the stitches underneath (pilling), causing whatever you were sewing to be completely useless. I had, and still have absolutely no idea how to set the tension on those machines. Although this could be frustrating at times, it still beat sewing by hand or using the handheld any-day.
Our first machine lasted around a year or so (sew, pun intended), before the gremlins decided to make it break. We did use it a hell of a lot, but without regular maintenance these machines don’t last too long. After all, these are mechanical and all the moving parts need dusting, cleaning and greasing to run smoothly. So, there is your first lesson, clean your sewing machine regularly and get it serviced by a professional if you love it. And by you, I mean not me! Because of course I haven’t heeded any of my own advice. Oh no, I stupidly run these into the ground until they die!
Now, onto the second, third and fourth machine. After running the poor Singer into the ground we decided to do what most people do and research the internet. After finding out the earth was indeed flat (rolls eyes, placing hand on forehead) we opted for a Brother sewing machine. By all accounts and review after review the best budget machine we could find was the ‘Brother Project Runway CS5055PRW’. You can get this sewing machine almost everywhere, so we opted for our local Walmart as it was convenient, and if the machine broke it would be an easy return. We ended up killing three of these machines and still have the forth as a backup!