Friday, March 20, 2009

The Story of a Sewing Singer

This week proven to be a new opportunity for me to learn about sewing machines. Two months ago we priced sewing machines for the Hope House. The problem in pricing sewing machines was we asked someone who didn't know anything about sewing machines to go out and price them. So this week I consulted everyone I knew that knows something about sewing machines to help me. I had a big cheering squad.

This blog entry is about how to buy a Singer sewing machine in Cajamarca, Peru. I will shorten the story as much as possible and stick to the important details.

First of all, there are as many sewing machines as colors in the rainbow. Endless. But, all the sewing experts I know here voted time and time again for the oldest Singer pedal version. Metal. Heavy duty. Doesn't breakdown easily. It works if the electricity goes out. So I quickly crossed off the list the newest and priciest sewing machines. With one of our loan recipients we spent all morning on Thursday hunting down old sewing machines. We must have walked through every dirty, busy market street; strategically I followed Charo so that she would ask the price and the vendor wouldn't give us a gringo price. We found a couple of "oldies, but goodies." But, in order to work a little faster these sewing machines need a motor, which is sold separately and in a completely different part of the market. More walking. I arrived home absolutely exhausted with pounding feet that day.

The next day, after motors and machines were priced, I was armed with my money belt ready to make the purchases. My sweetheart Hugo came with Charo and I to make sure we were getting the real Singer deal. First we went to buy the motors. We had to go to three different stores because a) the first store had a motor that smelled awful b) the 2nd store only had one motor in stock that actually worked c) the 3rd store gave us a good deal on the motor after much negotiation.

We then headed to the potato section of the market. Located in a small, dark little workshop is an old man that knows everything about Singer sewing machines. He was our man. He must have showed us how 5 of the machines worked so that we could choose the best one. The first one didn't work so well. The 2nd one worked perfectly. The 3rd one needed a new leather cord for the pedal. He switched it out and made it work. I thought we would be there all morning. The last step in the whole "trying out every Singer machine" was switching our 2nd machine for a newer table, as we bought the Singer machines with tables because then they can work with the pedal when the electricity goes out.

We had our 2 working machines and an old man with a wheelbarrow. That is all you need to get Singers from point A to point B. We made the careful wheelbarrow trek through the market and squeezed our Singers into a taxi. It was smooth sailing. We arrived at the Hope House and installed the two machines. And that is the end of the Singer sewing machine buying adventure.

Stay tuned next week to see these old beauties in action during our first sewing class in the Hope House!

Paz ~ Nora

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