By Edie McGinnis
I find that I have become a technology junkie. I love my Smart Phone, my iPad, my computer with the big screen and my Garmin. I can barely imagine a world without Internet access and being able to chat with people half a world away. Information is a keystroke away, and Google has become one of my best friends.
Things have sure changed since I was a kid. Boy, have they changed!
When I was in high school, I learned to type on an Underwood typewriter. It was one of those old manual machines that required the typist to physically grab the little bar at the left end of the carriage to do a carriage return. The keys where I placed my fingers were blank. We had to learn what keys were which by looking at our typing book. The hunt-and-peck system didn’t fly in this class.
There was one feature I really appreciated about a typewriter over a computer. There was no AutoCorrect. When I typed a word, it remained the word I typed. If I wanted to change it, I had to get out the Wite-Out and paint it on the offending mistake. The usual result was a terrible mess, and I often threw in the towel and started over.
I am dreading the day that some man (you know it will be a man!) decides that the computer inside my sewing machine should be as smart as my phone and have an AutoCorrect feature. And if the machine designer goes by the rules that all garment makers live by, I am deep trouble.
I can see it now.
I get out my quarter-inch foot, put it on my machine and begin to sew. However, every seamstress who knows anything about sewing knows that she doesn’t use a quarter-inch seam allowance, it’s 5/8”. The machine would AutoCorrect my seam allowance. It would be straight and true and wrong. Just like trying to type Walmart on my smartphone and it turns into Walmary.
I’ll bet it would be nearly impossible to chain piece. If the smart computer could sense that I was coming to the end of the piece of fabric, it would just know to stop sewing. It might even decide to backstitch.
Maybe an alarm would go off if the two pieces of fabric I was stitching together weren’t aligned perfectly. That could either be a good thing or a bad thing. Good if it would make my block better, bad if I was trying to fudge things a little.
Oh, and think about pins! Surely there would be a warning that my needle was coming up on a straight pin and that the way was not clear. An electronic voice should come out of nowhere, “Obstruction encountered.” The worst of that scenario could come once the pin had been pulled. “Recalculating.”
A smart sewing machine? Maybe I should say, a smarter sewing machine? The one I have already tells me when it would like a drink of oil. The bobbin winder stops automatically when the bobbin is full. It will remember the last stitch setting I was using. And there is a stitch regulator that I can use when free-motion quilting so my stitches will be nice and even no matter how inept I am.
We are getting closer and closer to smart sewing machines. And while progress is usually a good thing, once my sewing machine starts nagging me and saying, “recalculating,” you can bet I’m going back to sewing on my no frills, no bells and whistles Featherweight.
Besides, I don’t need a sewing machine that nags. I have a cranky old cat for that.
Edie McGinnis is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Friday.