Thursday, August 11, 2005

Garage sale finds

I am an inveterate tightwad. I got it from my mother, who got it from my grandmother. Mom dreams one day of being photographed by a fashion reporter, not because she has any particular concern for fashion, but so that she can brag about how much she didn't pay for whatever she was caught wearing. Her outfits typically come in under $10, shoes and all.

One mark of a determined tightwad is a propensity for shopping at garage sales. The neatnik in me tries to keep this habit to a reasonable level, but my mom's thoroughly hooked, and she has the stacks (and stacks and stacks) of stuff to prove it.

Occasionally, we find amazing stuff at garage sales, though, and it tends to fuel the flame.

Once, for instance, we found a serger sewing machine, one of those pudgy, miniature affairs with four needles and probably forty stitches designed for stretchy and fussy fabrics of all sorts. The serger was a bargain at $40 (only $1 per stitch!). We got it home and set about cleaning it up. With a few exceptions, it's hard to do much permanent damage to a sewing machine, and we've revived quite a number of garage sale machines that have gone on to lead productive second lives.

We brought the machine home and the hand wheel wouldn't turn all the way around, so we started by oiling everything and picking the thread and other junk out of the bobbin case. The previous owner had plainly been sewing brown corduroy and burgundy velvet, and there was plenty of evidence of both projects down there gumming up the works.

As I fished the brown fuzz from beneath the bobbin, I noticed a penny, way in underneath. No fingers, tweezers, pliers, or picks could quite extract the itinerant Lincoln, so we decided to turn the entire machine over and take the bottom off. It made a tremendous clatter when we turned it over, and we exchanged nervous glances. Could the entire mechanism be loose? If so, we were in way over our heads.

Four screws later, we had the answer. Removing the bottom cover revealed about $1.45 in very small change, mostly pennies and nickels! Our theory is that somebody's toddler found a ventilation slot and decided to sock away his life savings there. The next time his mom turned it on, she got a rude shock as it made a terrible noise and ground to a halt.

I don't think anyone has sewed on it very much, but the serger works fine now that we got her $1.45 rebate out from under the mechanism.


Anonymous Krystle said...

Ha! Sewing machine doubling up as a piggy bank. Too funny. While I was researching what is wrong with my sewing machine, I came across some pretty interesting stories of a variety of things being found in a sewing machine. My favorite: gummy bears (!)

07 March, 2011 16:22  

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