Follow These Tips to Choose Your Right Sewing Machine

Buying a sewing machine should be easy, the number of stores that can offer their services it you as far as these machines are involved should be plenty. The challenging part though is how you can find the right unit to fit your needs. Here are some sewing machine tips that should help you select one that it right for you.

Decide what kind of user you are first. It would be easier for you to find the right option when you have an idea of what kind of uses you have in mind for the machine. Anticipate your present and future needs as far as the machines go too to ensure that at the end of the day, you get one that will be most useful and functional for you.

There are a lot of things that the machine can be used for. Some would prefer to use it for making clothes for themselves and the rest of the family. Some would want to use it to make soft furnishing around the house. Others will want to use it for creative crafts as well. The important thing is you find one that is exactly right for you.

Set a budget and make sure that you get the top machine that you can find for the budget that you can afford. Remember, while features are good to have on these machines, it matters too that you will stick to those that you will use. Not every single feature that these machines are going to have will be useful for you.

It does not hurt to check out several machines before you purchase one too. KnittingPassion advises that people should have have a try before making a decision. This allows you to get a good feel of how they work and how they feel under your hands and feet. Thus, allowing you to decide which one will suit your preferences best.

Where Do You Find Sewing Inspiration?

Well as is one of my usual habits, I was zipping around BurdaStyle checking out the new stuff, when I found THIS question. Well, here is my answer:

EVERYWHERE! My mom was a seamstress, sew I was already sewing at age 6. I was 16 when I graduated from a fashion design college. In the 20+ years since, I have created tons of patterns and sew all my own fashions.

I not only create my own patterns, but I also design my own fabrics as well. I paint up watercolors and than get short runs of the fabric printed up. I get ideas for a lot of my designs from nature: birds, cats, the sky, waterfalls, trees – everything inspires me to paint. Than the fabric made from the paintings inspire the flow of the dress pattern as well.

Erte is one of my biggest inspirations. Much of my designs are reinterpretations of his designs. I just love his art deco and flapper styles.

Also, Japanese Kimono, esp those from the Momoyama period (1500’s). I love sewing kimono, because the lines are simple and allow for display of big bold fabric prints, which thus allows me to create huge print fabric designs as well.

Hawaiian Muu-Muus and caftans, and all sorts of ethnic and tribal clothing from Africa, China, Japan, and India inspire much of my designs as well.

Than there are TV shows and movies. Doctor Who, esp Tom Baker’s rendition of him, has inspired many of my outfits. Johnny Depp’s movies always send me off designing some re-translation of one of his characters. And of course there’s Vincent Price’s movies, and let’s not forget Harry Potter or InuYasha!

My biggest inspiration of all, though? hmmm. Let’s see. Looks around at all the glittery, sparkly, sequined, beaded, velvet. Yep. It’s not hard to look at me and not know I’m a Liberace fan. Nope. It’s not. If Liberace would wear it, I would too and probably already have. But since it’s not like you can head out to WalMart and buy Liberace-brand clothes, my only option is to sew them myself.

Of course all of that is just considering my clothes, but I also design and sew stuffed animals and dolls as well, and I get ideas for them from everything in nature as well.

What magazines, websites, books do you look at for project ideas?

Dover Books are my #1 source of inspiration. You see, I’m a life actor, which I means I CosPlay 24/7/365 and have for years. My daily wear consists of recreations of garb from the 1500’s – 1800’s as well as the 1920’s. Dover reprints tons of French, fashion illustrations, vintage paper dolls, Goody Lady, etc. Of course they are the ones who reprint Etre’s fashion prints as well.

National Geographic and Smithsonian Museum books are huge sources of inspiration as well. I get lots of ideas from cultural photos and antique paintings. I enjoy creating ethnic and historic bases patterns.

The 1960’s and 1970’s. I saved lots of the old sewing magazines from back than, and today I’m glad I did because I get lots of ideas from those.

Of course than there are books by Bryan Froud and Alan Lee, both amazing illustrators who’s faerie and fantasy art has been a huge inspiration for me.

And than of course there’s my #1 source of inspiration: comic books. Yep, you heard me: comic books! I’m a huge fan of comic books, manga, graphic novels, super heroes, etc, and well, like I said, I’m really big into CosPlay, so of course a lot of what I design was inspired by comic books.

What’s your take on this? I’d love to hear what you have to say about this post. Leave a comment and share your views!

Keep Your Sewing Machine from Jamming

Sewing can be a very relaxing hobby even for a beginner. Anyone who sews knows the rewards of completing a project and showing it off to family and friends. Most of the time the process is smooth, sometimes however, the sewing machine doesn’t seam to cooperate. It can jam or create what is known as a birds nest, which can be extremely frustrating. Check to be sure you are using the correct tools for the fabric you are using.

Know the type of fabric you are using. Some fabric is very smooth like a silk, while others have a rough texture. Remove any small threads that may be on the fabric before sewing. Trim back frayed ends so they don’t get caught in the machine.

After machine washing and drying the fabric, apply a spray starch and iron with a steam iron. The starch will give the fabric more stability and make a softer fabric easier to handle.

There are many types of fabric stabilizers. Some are tear away, but my favorite is the wash away stabilizer. After the project is finished, machine wash on a gentle cycle to remove. This also is an easy way to remove any markings you may have used on the project.

Different fabrics use specific needles. For example: if you are quilting, you are probably using a fabric that is 100% cotton. This fabric requires a #75/11needle. Needle sizes range from 60/8 to 120/19. The 60/8 is used for lightweight fabrics, while the 120/90 is used for heavier fabrics. Some fabrics are stretchy, so be sure to use a ballpoint needle.

When inserting a new needle, the flat side should be in the back. Always use a fresh needle when starting a new larger project. You can use the same needle for several small projects. Check the needle to be sure it is not bent if the machine starts jamming. Needles can bend or break when they hit pins used to secure the fabric layers together. If the machine starts jamming, check the needle, even if it has only been used for a short time.

Thread is very important. Most threads are made from pieces that have been joined together. This type of thread can get caught on the threads of the fabric because it is not completely smooth. You may be able to feel small bumps if you run your fingers along the thread. This is the most commonly used thread and works well most of the time. There is another type of thread that is one complete piece that works without jamming. It is about twice the price but if your machine is prone to jamming, try this thread.

There are two tension settings on the manual sewing machine (not an embroidery machine). The bobbin has a tension screw which seldom needs any adjustments. The thread, when loaded onto the bobbin should pull easily. The top tension is adjusted accordingly to the fabric and stitches used. Check the owner’s manual for settings. The thread should also pull easily through the needle. If it doesn’t, then the tension should be loosened. When sewing, stitches should lay flat and be smooth with no puckers. The threads should meet in the fabric, not on the top or bottom. If the bobbin tension is much looser than the top thread tension, the bobbin will spin and loops can form in the bobbin and cause a jam.

When you are sewing, let the machine push the fabric under the needle. Be careful to only guide the fabric and not pull or push the fabric.

Machines need to be oiled periodically. After several larger projects, oil machine according to the manufacturer’s directions. Sew on a paper towel or napkin for several passes in case there is some oil that dripped onto the sewing surface. While the machine is open, also check for dust, threads or small pieces of fabric caught in the feed dogs or any moving parts. Use a flashlight and a small paint brush to remove any dust particles or vacuum.

If you hear an odd noise from the machine while sewing, stop right away. Check your stitches especially the bottom, then follow the steps above to correct the problem.

If you have gone through the check list and the machine continues to jam or get a birds next, put in a new needle, especially if you are using a Universal needle. Universal needles are generic and are made to work with a wide variety of machines. The needle may look fine to the eye but could still have a tiny flaw.

Before starting a new project, take a few minutes and go through the list. This should solve most of the problems before they happen. Happy sewing!

How to Start a Sewing Hobby to Save Money

Do you panic when a button falls off your clothes, or you discover a small tear? If you ever discarded those garments in the past, now it might not be wise in these bad economic times. We will show how you may start a sewing hobby to save money. If you ever considered sewing as a hobby, now it may be the time to learn and save money for your family, in the process.

My sewing hobby has helped our family and other relatives save a lot of money by allowing them to hang on to their clothes after I repaired them. Years ago, I learned to use this art of sewing, during some personal bad economic times. Now, this sewing hobby helps me to save money, because I do not have much disposable income, and every cent saved helps to put more food on our table.

You too can start saving money just by learning how to sew a button that fell off from one of your garment, or to sew a small tear. After you learn the basics, then later on, if you want, you may try more intricate sewing projects. These are some of the basic starter items that you might need for this sewing hobby.

Family Member or Friend: If you have a family member or friend that knows how to sew, you might ask if you can watch them as they are working at this hobby. It is also a good idea to have them teach you some basic sewing stitches while you are with them.

Sewing Book: If you do not know anybody in your family or among your friends that sew, then, you need to find some instructions. A quick search of your local library, Internet, or a local bookstore will probably show you the basic information needed for this sewing hobby.

Sewing Kit: To help me and to continue my sewing hobby, my wife recently presented me with a nice Christmas gift. This was a nice gift of a complete mini sewing kit. It contained everything needed for my sewing hobby. The sewing kit included an assortment of needles, a nice variety of small spools of thread in assorted colors, a mini folding pair of scissors, etc. If you do not have a sewing kit, you only need some good quality needles, some spools of thread, a thimble to protect your finger as you sew, and a pair of scissors.

Portable Sewing Machine: A sewing machine is not really necessary at the beginning of your sewing hobby. However, I was very grateful to my senior citizen father-in-law for giving me this portable sewing machine, which he did not want any longer. Without his help I would not have been able to purchase one due to my limited budget. After reading the instruction booklet, I used this sewing machine to save time, when more involved alterations were needed on pants, dresses or shirts.

I hope that I was able to make you benefit from this small introduction to my sewing hobby, which may allow you to also save money in the future.

What to Put in Your First Sewing Kit

Sewing can be both a great way to showcase creativity and an effective way to save money. To make the most of your sewing projects, it’s important to have the right supplies. Taking the time to put together some basic tools in a convenient sewing kit will make your next project stress-free.

Sewing Kit

1. Buy a sewing basket, toolbox, or another easily-closed container to place your items in. Old cookie tins make an excellent storage for simple kits while stories like Joann’s and Michael’s sell organizers with a lot of compartments for avid sewers.

2. Get thread in white, black, navy blue, brown, and beige. These will cover the majority of your home repair needs. Only get other colors as required by specific projects.

3. Purchase a set of sewing needles from a craft story in a variety of sizes. Larger needles are great for thick wovens while you’ll want to stick to small needles when dealing with delicate fabric.

4. Seam rippers are great for alterations or fixing mistakes.

5. Invest in a good pair of large sewing shears to make projects run more smoothly. Make sure they are dedicated fabric scissors as cutting paper will dull them. Don’t be afraid to invest $20-$30 on a good pair of shears. A well-made sharp pair will last you decades and save you hours of stress you’d have if you tried to use a dull pair.

6. A smaller pair of embroidery scissors are essential for cutting threads or snipping other small areas.

7. If you plan on working with a lot of raw fabric, invest in a good rotary cutter. Again, this may run you over $20, but it is well worth it to splurge on a good cutter.

8. A pin cushion and a variety of pins are nearly impossible to get by without. Some cushions come with wristbands, allowing you to conveniently have your pins with you while you move around.

9. Tailor’s chalk lets you mark fabric temporarily.

10. An easy-to-read tape measure will come in handy for taking body measurements. Yard sticks are better when you need to make a straight line, however.

11. Safety pins are great for those times when you don’t have time to sew.

12. Basic shirt buttons are sold in a variety of colors and great to have on hand.

You can add more supplies as your needs expand. Hemming tape, Stitch Witchery, stain removers, and other supplies and notions are nice extras, but with these basic supplies you can complete a good amount of basic home projects.

Sewing Guide: How to Shop for Sewing Patterns

Shopping for patterns is the best part for me when it comes to sewing; however, I have noticed from many postings on sewing forums and websites that shopping for patterns is the worst part for some. There is no part of sewing that I don’t like, but I was dumbfounded at the fact that there are sewers who have a difficult time shopping for sewing patterns. I searched the internet both high and low looking for tips, and of all the free advice about sewing, there was only one article about buying sewing patterns: it was vague to say the least, and it had the usual regurgitated information that you can find in a half-written sewing book. Therefore, I decided to create this article in hopes to ease some of the stress and difficulties of searching for that perfect sewing pattern.

  • Know your measurements

Knowing your measurements or the measurements of the person you will be sewing for is one of the most important and basic steps to finding the right sewing pattern to purchase. As a sewer, it is your job to know what fits your body which makes knowing your measurements that much more important because you will be able to find patterns that will enhance the parts of your body you love as well as hide the parts you dislike. Should you have your measurements memorized? It depends on how good your memory is. Some memorize their body measurements and others simply like to write them down in their sketch books which probably comes with a section specifically for taking down measurements. Knowing your body measurements will not only make sifting through the hundreds of sewing patterns easier, but you will know based on the picture on the front of the sewing pattern envelope whether or not the garment presented will enhance your figure or make it look unflattering. Knowing your body measurement will save you a lot of time and stress.

  • Know your skill level

Knowing what your skill level as a sewer is also important to know when you walk into a store like Joann’s or Hancock Fabrics because sewing patterns are rated by sewing level: easy, moderate, hard. If you are a newbie to sewing and you are still struggling to thread a hand or machine needle, do not go over to the Vogue pattern’s section where it deals mainly with couture or purchase Wallies’ patterns that are specifically for advanced to expert sewers. If you are new to sewing, purchase a McCall pattern that does not require much technique and then build on your skills. Don’t take knowing your skill level as a means of sticking to what you are good at because there are plenty of times when I have walked into a sewing store or purchased patterns online that were too advanced for me, but I purchased them anyway because they were on sale and I knew with constant practice I could build my skill level. If you see a good price on a pattern, I say purchase it but don’t necessarily stress yourself out by trying to sew a pattern in which your skills don’t match.

  • Have an idea about what you want to sew

You will be surprised at this fact, but I know many sewers who go into sewing stores hoping to wing it or find that sewing pattern that speaks to them. Don’t go the ghost whisper route because you will be in the store all day, and you will have the workers looking at you closely the entire time. Have gist of what you want to purchase before walking out of your house and make a note of it. If you are going to a dinner party and you want to stand out, think about some dresses that fit into the idea of a “little black dress” or cocktail dress theme. Or, if you are going to the beach and you don’t want to have the same swimsuit as every other person on the beach, look for patterns specifically for swimwear. Having an idea about what you want to sew will also be beneficial when it comes to speaking with store associates because they have more knowledge than you about where specific patterns are located and if there are some available in the back that are not out front on the shelves.

  • Know how much you can afford

Knowing how much you can afford is probably self-explanatory, but I can’t tell you the number of times when I walked into a sewing store and did not have enough funds to purchase the pattern I wanted. Knowing how much you can afford will not only help you stay on budget, but it will also make sure that you can get that pattern your heart desires because if I have learned anything it’s this: popular patterns sellout quickly. Another reason to knowing how much you can afford is for price comparison. There have been plenty of times when I have gone into my local Joann’s and have seen prices that were both higher and lower than what they were offering; by doing a price comparison, you can get a better deal by letting the store know how much their competitor is selling it for. Never miss out on an opportunity to make a deal.

Although I have only listed four tips for purchasing sewing patterns, knowing these four will making shopping for sewing patterns less of a headache. If you are a novice sewer, then it will take time for you to find what is right for you when buying sewing patterns. You may use my tips and add on more that you have developed on your own, but the point is to get out there and have fun shopping for patterns because it really is a great experience once you get the hang of it.