Sewing Machine buying

I’m going to say something that may be counter intuitive to my ethos: Don’t buy that sewing machine.

What?! I thought she was a sewing teacher and trying to get more folks sewing.

I am and I do with a caveat.

A pair of white hands steady a fabric as it is fed through a red and white Bernini sewing machine
A student using my now “vintage” Bernina

I don’t want you to buy the mini sewing machine or that hand held glorified thread stapler machine, if you want to hem something yourself (instead of pay the dry cleaners or a seamstress like myself) you are better off doing it by hand then trying to make those things work. Glue and Iron on tape only work if the item is not going to be heated again, and if that works for you don’t forget to press with a scrap cloth/parchment paper or teflon pressing mat. Glue on the iron is a PITA!

A grey haired femme stands behind a short haired kid at a white sewing machine helping them guide a roll of fabric to be stitched.
Teaching all kiddos how to run a sewing machine can unlock their creativity

If you want to gift a machine to a budding sewing or fiber artists there are entry level machine in the 100-200 dollar range, they will be fine for a few years or less but FYI servicing/fixing them will most often be the cost of a new machine. Vacume shops that sell and repair machines sometimes have used sewing machines if new isn’t an option, as do garage and estate sales but then you have to pay to have it serviced if it’s not working. 

I don’t tell you this to talk you out of it, I WANT to get more people sewing. Here is what I want you to do:

  • Find your local sewing machine dealer, these will probably be more aspriational machines, as the price points are much higher. Ask if they sell used or trade in’s. Often the shop offers classes with new machines a win win. 
  • Find your local vaccume sales and repair shop(s) and ask if they sell sewing machines new and used, you could score a great deal and know it’s been cleaned, oiled and serviced. 

You might notice I didn’t suggest any big box craft retailer other than Costco (due to their return policy), it’s because they aren’t focusing on machine sales anymore. Sure they sell machines, but some of these retailers used to have dealerships inside their doors with folks who know what the uptake hook is and why you thread the machine with the presser foot up. Often you have a sewing superstar behind the cutting counter but I can’t always count on it.

I want to set you up for success not frustration at a dead end. The folks who know sewing machines are a specialized bunch who are often behind a machine. If you are lucky enough to have a machine head at your local store treat them well, it’s not easy working craft retail.

So get out there find you or your loved one a new or new to you machine and get stitching! If you need a little help threading you can always watch my machine threading video here.

May your bobbin always be full signature sign off

Using a basic block EasyT to create a dress

I was gifted the class the EasyT by a few years ago. I created woven and knit teeshirts and dresses cut to my own measurements. When my mind wandered to caftans thanks to the hashtag Caftans and cocktails it came up with a shape I couldn’t quite find in a store bought or indie designer pdf. I began looking at that self drafted block and wondered, What IF I…..

Go to Zede and Mallory’s blog to read how I turned a simple block into this.

Lauren looking at camera with hands in pocket of self drafted pool or beach dress in white cotton

Washi Dress Expansion Pack

Wow it is so hard to photograph navy sheer brocade! But I think it was finally managed. Having sewn the original Washi Dress pattern with a successful full bust adjustment or FBA, and loved the shape on me I was ready for more. So when Rae of Made by Rae, gifted the expansion pack for testing the extended size range of her Ruby pattern I couldn’t wait to try to make the dress into some tops.

Lauren standing staring at the camera with one hand on her hip and another resting on a chair with navy long sleeved top, hot pink skinny pants and grey boots.
Messy living room photo shoot
Lauren in a navy blue empire waist blouse with gathered sleeve and neckline bow with her hands on her hips looking to the right
Trying hard to capture the flora pattern.

This fabric was picked up in Downtown LA at a discount fabric seller, I didn’t know what to do with it but my fabulous fabric finding friend said I should get it, the price was right, and I rarely put a good fabric or friend down. I love to fabric shop with others, if you can I highly recommend it. I am so glad I listened because the drape of this fabric made it perfect for a Washi top. The construction of this was seamless and fairly quick project for such and elegant wardrobe addition. I have already mentioned that I did a full bust adjustment on the Washi dress which the expansion uses the bodice and skirt. If you are larger than a B cup I would recommend you do an FBA as well. I did a rough cut how to video on how I do them here. A simple guide would be half an inch for each cup size above a B but your individual data points ie: measurements, will help you choose the right amount for you. Everyone’s body is unique and you are trying to make a two dimensional pattern fit your three dimensional shape.

Lauren is wearing a navy blue shirt with neckline bow tie and yellow lanyard while sitting on a couch making a glamor face.
Here’s me wearing it at Craftcation 18′ with amazing filters thanks to my glam squad Rita

I love the way this top came together. I had to serge all the pieces because the fabric did unravel while I worked and if you haven’t worked with elastic thread in your bobbin before it can be tricky. I used Gutterman brand and had a bobbin case with decreased tension just for the shirring portion of the top, then a quick blast with the iron or steam and BAM! gathered back and cuffs. That way when I was constructing the top I had thread in the bobbin and the case had the proper tension, when I moved on to the shirring I took out the bobbin case and bobbin and used the loosened bobbin case and a bobbin hand wound with the elastic thread. Lengthen your stitches and take your time.

May your bobbin always be full signature sign off