Around Christmas of 2012, I was vying for a sewing machine, a Ninja or a KitchenAid stand mixer. But money was tight so we scrapped that. My husband then asked one day, "would you rather have a mixer or the sewing machine?"
I emphatically answered, "A sewing machine!".
One year ago today, I purchased my first sewing machine; a Singer Talent 3321. I had no clue what I was buying...we were in JoAnn and all I knew was that I didn't want the cheapest machine or the most expensive one.
As many of you know, I took off and haven't looked back! As a
My mom sews, not many garments, but she has always known how to sew. She used to give me fabric scraps and I'd make clothes for my Barbies. My mom was never one to make you come and learn ___. If you had an interest, she would show you though. She didn't make me learn to cook - and hence my kids ate a whole lot of Hamburger Helper when they were toddlers. I was interested in typing (she worked as a court reporter for awhile and therefore typed ridiculously fast!) and learned to type at 7. I type really, really fast now! I was less interested -then- in the things my mom was doing and probably way more interested in what my dad was doing.
I was never a "tomboy" but I certainly didn't take home ec in high school. I did take auto shop, wood shop and some programming classes though! :) I am a very technical person and to say I pick up on things quickly is an understatement. So while I may not be very developed on the creative side of sewing, the technical side? I'm all over that!
Some things I've learned in my first year and would tell other beginning sewers:
1. Sew what you want! If you are a beginner and you don't want to sew tote bags and pillowcases - DON'T.This was a HUGE source of frustration for me when I first found Pattern Review. I DO NOT WANT to make a tote bag, I want to make a shirt!!! :) (I'm a stubborn one if you can't tell.)
I don't do as well with books as I do with videos. So I didn't run out and buy all the books suggested and instead used my (fantastic!) public library to check out about 98% of the books suggested. Still, most of the things I've conquered have come from watching YouTube videos.
I have like 265 patterns including Lekala & Hot Patterns. I have 3 Burda Style mags. I have 6 totes of fabric plus some random boxes with random stuff in them, plus I've sewn a lot of things. I have bought a LOT of sewing goodies--A LOT. It was different when it was fueled with the money from crocheting...now I need to slow down a bit. So I am being more selective. 60% off notions? I am there. I almost always buy needles at these sales.
- Look at the line drawings!
- Pattern Review is invaluable but google a pattern too. Lots of people that are sewing are running a blog but not participating on the sewing site(s)
- don't overlook coordinate/sportswear/wardrobe patterns; especially if you're lucky enough to be in the US with Hancock and/or JoAnns stores nearby and catch a $1/$2 sale.
Yummmmmmmy. Don't you just love to fondle your stash? If you are a person that shops for fabric on a per-project basis, I am amazed at you. Amazed. That would drive me crazy because inevitably I'd know *exactly* what I want and then not be able to find it anywhere. ANYWHERE. I live by FabricMart sales. I can count the number of "bad fabric" I've gotten from there. Very little. Sure there were times I didn't read the description properly or just saw the color or print or something and then....ohh. This isn't really appropriate for me/my life/whatever. I very rarely buy fabric from JoAnn or Hancock. I just feel it is SO overpriced. And I have SR Harris. I want to marry SR Harris...whoever he is. :)
6. Invisible zippers are actually not the most complicated to sew!
Sure it isn't a centered zip but it actually goes rather well if you have an invisible zipper foot and baste the zipper in place first.
7. Pressing is everything. E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
I don't really "iron" and was not "ironing" (in my head) when I first started. But I kept reading about pressing, pressing, pressing. Oh my gosh. (Well, duh, you all know what pressing properly does to a garment.) I do not have an expensive iron. I have a B & D classic that is heavy as heck and gets hot and steamy.
8. Maintain your machine!
One day (I thought I blogged it), my machine went clunk. And stopped working. And I almost cried. Now I am sure to clean and oil it as I sew almost every day. Oh, and CHANGE YOUR MACHINE NEEDLES! I read a lot of opinions on this but what sealed it for me was; "new needles are a lot cheaper than sewing machine repair". Ah. That simple sentence changed it all. Yes. On sale I can get 5 needles for around $3-$4. Yep. I'd much rather change needles more frequently than have things go haywire.
Err...I was just going along and then realized I'd have nine things so thought I'd make it a list of 10! 9 is...uhmm...
9. Sew every day!! Even if it's just 15 minutes.
VERY often I end up not wanting to go to the basement (I can't wait to get a main floor room and should have just commandeered the sunny, huge living room that we aren't using). But then once I go down there, the energy starts flowing. Yesterday I didn't feel that well and only went down to wash towels. And yep, I spent about 15 minutes fiddling with the latest project.
10. The M word...Muslins. I do not like (in my toddler voice)!
I get the WHY...I do. I just can't. It zaps me of all the desire to work on THAT project. I'd have to be making something really important to me (and starting WAY ahead of time) and of fabric that I *really* love -- like it is truly ooak (one of a kind) or cost lots of money -- for me to muslin. I flat pattern measure, I tissue fit, I go. It mostly works out. When it doesn't, I move on.
Muslin. Don't muslin. Make the choice for yourself rather doing it because you "have to".
Sewing tools I cannot live without - and some that I know I want to get
- My spray bottle. Necessary during pressing!
- Seam gauges. I have 2 and think I need a third one. One at the cutting table, one at the ironing board and one near the machine.
- My ham. OMG why did I wait so long to get this thing?!!? I have to buy a seam roll!
- Set of clear rulers. I have a 3 of different widths and lengths. Invaluable. I need a French curve too.
- My cutting table. I would often comment that I hate cutting. No, I hated breaking my back leaning over the 29" dining room table. (the 24x36 cutting mat goes hand in hand!!)
- My serger. :swoon: It sat in a box for almost 2 months because I was afraid of it. I still have lots to learn but I couldn't live without it!
- Chaco liners. Goodness gracious. These things make me only want to sew dark woven fabrics. lol! I have 3. Two white, one yellow.
- Lily, my dress form. (Shhhhhhhh! I hope to get a Fabulous Fit System this year to make her a little more useful to me)
- Rotary cutters. I have 3. Meh. I like shears better.
Things I'm looking forward to in my next year of sewing
- There are several contests I want to enter this year on Pattern Review.
- I'm going to be a contest manager for the Vintage contest!!
- I'm going to buy a new machine this year (if you have recommendations in the $500 range, please pass them on!).
- I'm going to keep working on my skills and tackle things I've shied away from like welt pockets (even though my practice welts were a good start!) and silky fabrics.
- I'm going to make a lined jacket (already in progress!), I'd love to make a coat too (planned for next month!).
- I'm going to learn to do a
stupidlapped zipper and to get decent top stitching.
- I'm going to not covet 'every cool/nice/pretty garment that I see on the interwebs'.
- I will not buy every pattern that goes on sale. I will look at the technical lines and decide if it really is something NEW and DIFFERENT that I don't already have in my collection of 260 patterns.
- I'm going to purchase fabric a bit more judiciously. A bit.
And the blog? The blog will continue to be what it is.
- I am not a photographer and have no interest in learning photography. iPhone pics. That's what it is.
- I am not a fashionista - I don't know what's in or out...I just sew what I want to sew.
- I am not a writer. I am a scientist. We learn to write in short, concise, factual sentences. I have no flowy words. I write like I think.
- I will be adding my own little "feature". I'll do a little 'wrap up' of the previous month's projects on the first of the next month. I will periodically (quarterly?) do a review of how garments/fabrics are wearing. Something I don't think happens a ton in blogland but is so helpful when it does happen.
Here is a sneak peak of the in progress jacket (hope to be completed this weekend!)
Also...today is ALSO my one year anniversary in braces! Woohoo! This was a difficult decision to make as I had already worn braces as an adult. My teeth were mostly straight the first time and I did an okay job wearing my retainer and then I bent it. I didn't go back to my ortho and uhmm...yeah. My teeth shifted back and in fact were a bit worse off than before. They'd started rotating and doing other weird things. So at my dentist's urging, I went in for a consult (took me almost a year to do it though!). A year later, here is my own personal "Colgate" ad! :)