What contains computer chips, an LCD touch-screen control panel, USB ports and the capability of connecting to the Internet?
The answer: today's high-tech sewing machine. The same advances in digital engineering found inside the latest personal computers and electronic entertainment gadgets also drive the modern sewing machine.
Not surprisingly, sewing machines are catching on as Mother's Day gifts. The bells and whistles actually make sewing easier than ever and let Mom customize what she creates with her new machine. She can personalize a pair of jeans with her daughter's name, turn ordinary T-shirts into glam garments, and whip up fabulous decorator pillows, thanks to modern advances in sewing-machine technology.
Simply put, today's sewing machine is a high-tech wonder-and best of all, you need no special knowledge of technology to put it to work. "If you haven't seen sewing machines since high school Home Economics you'll be amazed at how far they've come," said June Mellinger, Director of Education for Brother International Corporation's Home Appliance Division.
Today's sewers and embroiderers take to their computers to hook up to the Internet and download the latest embroidery patterns, or create their own heirloom stitches using templates from inside their machines; create portraits of friends with optional software, family members and pets using thread as paint; and customize gifts with names, faces, messages and unique designs.
Many are inspired to go online and communicate via chat-rooms, blogs and podcasts across the globe, sharing stitches, patterns, and how-to information.
The new technology also does away with the tedium once associated with stitching. Many of today's machines feature automatic threading, cut threads and craft perfect buttonholes. Some machines even let you design your own unique stitch.
And it's all done at "warp" speed. "Sewing today is so fast, people are amazed," Ms. Mellinger continued. "Some machines sew up to 1,000 stitches a minute. What used to take hours to do now takes minutes."
All that's fine, but according to Ms. Mellinger, the real "wow" factor is how the machine lets you customize your work. People enjoy giving gifts that are as unique as the gift giver, without needing an engineering degree.
"You can really personalize what you do on your machine, and that's what Brother users find the most thrilling," she said. "With the help of optional software, to be able to take a snapshot and let the machine turn that into an embroidery pattern is pretty remarkable-and what's even more remarkable is how easy it is to accomplish, thanks to Brother's technology."