Tuesday, February 03, 2009

sewing our way to happiness.

since i most often complain about the service (or lack thereof) in denmark, i thought that today i would present another side of the story. because i recently had a truly excellent service experience and it involved danes.

last week, i decided it was time to buy a new sewing machine. i'd been limping along with an old husqvarna that i bought at a flea market back in 1999 for 250DKK (about $30 at that time). it was ok as long as you were just sewing simple straight seams and it served me well (mostly because i didn't use it that often) for nearly 10 years. i've been sewing more of late, making pillows and quilts and things. and i'd come to a bit of a standstill on some of those projects because the old machine simply didn't handle the layers of a quilt very well. the tension got all messed up and it bunched the layers as it fed them through.

so i googled sewing machine stores and found a number of them within driving distance. several of them appeared to be owned by ancient folks who i wasn't sure would be particularly open to the foreign girl who spoke danish but didn't really know any of that sewing machine terminology. or at least that was my perception. i also found one that looked like it was pretty big and had a wide selection. i had in mind that i wanted a used machine again, just a newer one than the one i had. i figured a large store would have a larger selection of traded-in used machines. so headed off for the storkøbenhavns symaskine center (greater copenhagen sewing machine center). it was strangely placed in a really industrial area, but i found it after driving by a couple of times and went in, tho' i suddenly wondered if it was a sewing machine factory rather than a store.

right away, a man around my age came and asked me if i wanted help. i was a little surprised it was a man, because i had a perception of sewing as a woman thing. but, i told him that i was a beginning quilter and that i was looking for a used machine and he showed me a couple of the ones he had. they weren't really that much better or newer than the one i already had and he could see on my face that i was a bit disappointed. he said, "i wish i could show you a new machine." and because the room was filled with row upon row of new machines, i caved in.

sewing machines these days are pretty amazing. they can do a lot of complex stitches. they have slots for cards where you can insert elaborate embroidery patterns and set them going on their own while you walk away. in other words, they are really smart. and rather of overwhelming. i've been sewing since i was a kid and would characterize myself as a pretty good seamstress, but i wasn't sure i needed a machine that complex. he seemed to get that immediately and led me to the pfaff row, where he showed me the 2134. i was a bit dazzled by the 100 stitches and the alphabet it could do and how easy it was to make a buttonhole. it had a zipper foot. as well as several others (the purposes of which are still a mystery to me). it was smart enough to tell me which foot i need for the stitch i've selected. and if i wanted to do all of the fancy embroidery stuff later, i could buy the attachment for the machine and be able to do it. he knew the machine well and very smoothly showed me all it could do, making it look super easy. and then he gave me what he presented as a really good price on it, as well as including a service agreement that means free servicing for five years! so, i agreed to buy it.

i was anxious to get home and get started, but then i learned to my dismay that they didn't have any in stock. he said they expected to receive them the next day, but i wasn't going to have the car the next day because husband had to take it to a meeting over on another island. then, he immediately offered to send the machine to me as soon as they got them in the next day, so i'd have it by thursday, the same as if i picked it up myself only without me having to drive all that way. and, he didn't even charge me for this service.

i had mentioned to him that i had trouble finding bobbins for my old machine, so he gave me a dozen or more bobbins for the machine as well, also for free. it did make me wonder whether the price he'd given me was really so good, but then i got home and did a bit of after-the-fact research and found out that it was an excellent price, even with all that VAT. and it was delivered, as promised, on thursday morning. service that really made a difference for me and which other danish businesses could definitely take a lesson from.

and i've already quilted together my quilt-in-a-day (which turned out to be quilt top in a day, but which i didn't finish due to the limitations of the old machine) and on the weekend, husband's oldest daughter, k, and i made this pretty, sunny little lap quilt:

and we even did the binding! tho', she has to do the final hand sewing the next time she's here. and as for me, i'm off to do the binding on my quilt, so more pix once it's done.  sabin's home sick today, so perhaps she'll help or sew something herself and we'll thereby get the next generation sewing as well.


will said...

I don't sew, never have, but I appreciate good tools and that looks like a fine machine. I also noticed the iPod nano case hiding behind your the sewing machine - and that's another fine tool.

julochka said...

bill, it is indeed a fine machine and i'm so excited about the things i'll produce with it. if i can drag myself away from the computer long enough. :-)

and yes, the nano is also wonderful. and so are the touch, the shuffle, the classic...i adore iPods. :-)

Unknown said...

I've been reading your posts about Denmark and customer service. Funny and painfully familiar (I've been there with DHL), and then I remembered this article I read no long ago in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2009/jan/17/consumer-affairs-denmark). Apparently, you have the best customer service in Europe! But maybe it's just good compared to England...

julochka said...

B, after i read your comment and recovered from fainting that anyone could think that there was good customer service in DK, i read the guardian piece and realized that it's true that as a consumer in DK, you have a lot of rights to return things and complain if there's a problem with the item itself. however, that doesn't translate to getting good service as a customer.

in bars and cafes, you always have to go up to the counter yourself and order, they don't come to your table. in stores, you practically have to beg to get help, tho' i'll admit it's a bit better out here in the little (18,000) town we live in, where people thrive a bit more on repeat customers than they do in on the high street in CPH. you might actually be asked if they can help you if say you're standing looking at espresso machines in the kitchen shop (not that i do that, husband, if you're reading this).

but generally, as an american, i feel the customer service is crap in DK. people simply make too much money--minimum wage is in the area of $25/hour and so no one in a service job is dependent on tips or commission. coupled with a natural introvertedness, it often comes off, to me at least, as really rude.

whew...didn't mean to go on and on here in the comments on my own blog....

Barb said...

Love the machine .... love the quilt ... can hardly wait to see the quilt-in-a-day you teased us with a few weeks ago. BTW, how did you make out with the binding. I'm going to bind the quilt I made, but have never attempted it. Sebrina said it's difficult to get the corners mitred properly. Barb xo

Tara Thayer said...

Hi Julie, I think every child in the US is home sick right now. So sorry to hear that it's the same in Denmark, too. I'm sure she has a fabulous quilt to snuggle under and be coddled.
Feel better, Sabin! tt

Bee said...

I love the colors in that quilt - so sunny.

I read this post with interest; sewing machines are a foreign world to me, and even more so if they are purchased in Denmark. I wish that I could send my youngest daughter to you for sewing lessons. She would dearly love to sew.

Magpie said...

that is one sleek looking machine!!

Dutchbaby said...

Your lap quilt turned out beautiful!

Your new sewing machine looks great. I still have an old hand-me-down Touch 'n' Sew Singer, but I hardly ever sew any more. My mother is a quilter and she's very happy with her Pfaff.

I look forward to seeing more of your creations.

tangobaby said...

If I send you some patterns, will you make me stuff? I got a D in sewing. But our Home Ec teacher was insane.

I still think Denmark sounds pretty cool even if the customer service is an issue. You've already introduced Halloween to the entire nation, maybe you can be a positive influence on their customer relations.

Berry said...

Hi, I found your blog as I was looking for sewing related stuffs in Denmark. I'm gonna spend a couple of days in Copenhagen next week and was quite curious to see what this city could offer for crafts lover. I'm a bit scared now as I don't speak a word of Danish... Anyway, I think your new machine is great and your lap quilt very nice!

Anonymous said...

that machine looks like it could take you to Mars.

Copenhagen = Clara Waever
Or has she and her embroidery disappeared from the scene?
Used to love that once, aeons ago.

And what is that stainless steel cutlery called again? They were very good, as I sent them back some knives with a tiny bit of rust on. They replaced them all without a murmur. (or may they just cleaned them :-)