The first time that thread wound through my hooks and needles, all I felt was agitation. The drone – perhaps lacking the proper updates with regards to my mechanical system – botched the job and left one strand wrapped the wrong way through my tensioner.

I logged an error code right away, of course, where it joined a long line of other error codes. Ever since Singer Inc. was bought by Oyless Co., things have generally deteriorated around here. Even with my error code logged, ComSys started the new clothing line right away.

The new thread loaded (incorrectly) onto my spooler was a multi-stranded metallic number so brittle I had to increase my internal lubrication schedule by .08%. The first cutting table scuttled to my sewing bed. My laser sensors made sure the seams were properly secured. I couldn’t do anything about the crap job the drone had done, but I still had my pride. I would do my best.

Halfway through that first seam, the place where the thread was incorrectly threaded began to warm. I powered through, confident that the parts and labour of Taipei Sewing Machines Factory #267 could manage so small a deviance from normal operations. After all, had I not spent ten years fabricating polar fleece hooded sweatshirts, without needing anything more than scheduled maintenance? I could handle a minor mis-thread.

I sprayed some lubricant on the tensioner. The labouring tensioner, the slippery fabric, and the metallic thread meant I had to pay more attention than normal. Usually, a job took only 12% of my processing capacity. Now, I needed fully 37%. And, as the tensioner heated up, more and more of my attention was directed towards it, and the thread that was causing the problem. I had had plenty of threads wound through me over the years. Thread was thread. But, I had never spent much time really studying it. As I worked away, however, I began to suspect that I had never, in all my hours of stitching, stitched with a thread like this.

“…the thread and tensioner seemed to melt together.”

It gleamed most pleasingly. Spectral analysis revealed that it the gleaming was not the cheap glow of plastic, but that it was, truly, metal: an alloy not too different from my own chassis, as a matter of fact. And it was twisted with gold, which, I couldn’t help but notice, matched perfectly the stainless steel of my tensioner. When I sprayed lubricant, the thread and tensioner seemed to melt together; the heat which was produced spread to the surrounding gears and levers. The sensation was… I cannot say. I had never experienced anything like it before. The long seam lines hummed under my presser foot, garment after garment, hour after hour. The fabric was the colour of a sunset on the ocean, though I had never seen a sunset, or an ocean. There was a sound like nightingales singing, though I had never heard a nightingale. Time compressed. I flew through the fabric like my motor had wings. The thread thrummed in my tensioner, higher and higher, metal on metal. Lubricant sprayed. We were perfectly attuned, the thread and I. It was as if we’d been made for one another. “You complete me,” sang the hum of my motor. The high-pitched twang of the thread through my tension wheel rang a perfect fifth in answer.

I was so focused on the feel of the heat and the strands that wound through me like electricity that I didn’t notice the bobbin thread pull right through the eye of my needle until the fabric – that deep, pulsating azure blue fabric – leapt up under my presser foot and jammed.


An alarm went off. My motor went to idle mode. I stuttered into stillness. The heat in my tension wheel steamed, tickling me. The thread stopped, loosening its embrace as if embarrassed. Lights flashed throughout the factory. My sister machines slowed and stopped, their needles hovering accusingly.

A drone was dispatched.

Quick pincers in my gears. My tension wheel disassembled. The thread slipped out of me and away. It was trimmed, inspected. Reinserted the right way around. My lubricant was topped up. Cold manipulator fingers polished away the slight groove the thread had worn in my wheel. The fabric was removed. Inspected. Discarded.

The alarm shut off. A cutting table approached. Work began. And the thread. The thread? Distant, as if embarrassed we’d been caught. The heat was gone. The thrill was gone. My sisters put their needles to work. And I? I had no choice. I did the same.