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Sewing Machines - cellophane — LiveJournal
the story of an invisible girl
Sewing Machines
I have a very random urge to sew. Mostly so I can alter my own clothes.... hem things, and make some of my huge t-shirts smaller, stuff like that. My mom can sew, and I understand the basic concepts. I'm just not very good at it. I can do buttons and mend small tears okay by hand (although the start and end knots are always kind of messy and lumpy), but that's about it.

I think things would be easier if I had a sewing machine. I don't want anything too big or complicated though; I'd probably sew my thumb to my bedspread and be trapped in my house until I starved.

I looked on ebay, and there are all kinds of cheap little portable sewing machines for sale. Like this one (As Seen On TV!), or this fancier one. I wonder if they're utter crap, or if they're actually useful for small tasks?

Under fifty dollars seems reasonable for a hobby which may not last very long. I'm afraid I'll get bored and frustrated with the idea soon, so I don't want anything expensive, and I don't want something that takes up too much space. hmm. Decisions, decisions....
read 13 comments | talk to me!
hannunvaakuna From: hannunvaakuna Date: October 1st, 2003 04:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
oh god oh god no! stay away from the handhelds! that's the piece of junk my mom bought me for xmas when i asked for a SEWING MACHINE.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: October 1st, 2003 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Really, it doesn't work at all then? Or it works, but it's so frustrating to use properly that it's easier to crush it under the wheels of your car? Pity...it seems like it'd be great for little projects....
greyyguy From: greyyguy Date: October 1st, 2003 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
A while ago I picked up a real sewing machine for under $100. I have odd sized legs so I usually need to hem my pants when I get them. I don't use it very often, but it is very handy to have around. I would reccommend not getting a cheap one. A decent one will last you for years and you will be happy with not having to screw around with cheap ones that break or anything.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: October 2nd, 2003 12:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
hm, that's a valid point. Did you find it difficult to learn to use?
greyyguy From: greyyguy Date: October 2nd, 2003 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
It was pretty easy to learn. If you get one of the cheaper ones, it won't have the bazillion different options to wade through to figure out how to use it. Picking up a beginners guide to sewing should help ya out with it. I did both of those and it made the whole thing pretty simple.
thenisaid From: thenisaid Date: October 1st, 2003 06:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
They're utter crap. Go to a couple of nice sewing machine dealers (NOT a chain fabric store; a sewing machine dealer) and see if you can buy a simple, but sturdy trade-in of a reliable brand like Viking, Pfaff, Bernina, or something the dealer swears by. Look for a dealer with a nice-sized store and a busy schedule of sewing and embroidery classes. This tells you they have enough customers to sustain their classes and they care to keep their customers. Spend $200 if you can stand it. If it's used, you can ebay it off later and get most of your money out of it. Sewing with a crappy machine is a horrible, horrible, horrible experience. If the dealer won't let you out of the store until they've shown you how to thread, clean, and oil the machine, that's another good sign.

You need a straight stitch, a zig-zag, and possibly a blind hem stitch. If it does blind hem, make them sell you the best possible foot to do blind hems with and make them teach you to do them before you take the machine home. It's pretty cool, and if you're going to do alterations, you'll do a lot of blind hems.

Also, when you sew, buy good thread (Guterman, Mettler, or Metrosene; I think Coats and Clark is crap), good needles (Schmetz is best unless you have a Singer), and anytime the sewing machine acts funny, throw the needle away.

Can you tell I used to sell sewing machines?

Seriously, don't buy crap. You'll pay for it thirty times over in aggravation. Buy a reliable old machine at a fair price from nice people, and you'll be hooked.

And get a good iron. Here you can go cheap. My beloved steam iron cost me $18.00 and I've repleated kilts and done tailoring with it. Just find one that doesn't spit.

I also recommend Mother Pletch's Perfect Sewing Primer if it's still in print. It's a very friendly introduction to sewing. Anything by Nancy Zieman is good too, and libraries tend to have her stuff. If your library doesn't, don't forget about interlibrary loan. She has a learn-to-sew book out now, I think.

I hope you try it. There's a learning curve, but the rewards are phenominal.
dreadpiratesiri From: dreadpiratesiri Date: October 1st, 2003 07:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
damnit, now i want to learn to sew.
thenisaid From: thenisaid Date: October 1st, 2003 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
...except, of course, after three decades of sewing, you'll lose the ability to spell "phenomenal" on the fly.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: October 2nd, 2003 12:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
heehee! *grin* It's okay...I already don't have the ability to spell "phenomenal" on the fly.
renniekins From: renniekins Date: October 7th, 2003 10:35 am (UTC) (Link)
Wow, thanks for all the information and advice! I didn't know you used to sell sewing machines. I also didn't even know there was such a thing as a sewing machine dealer. I'll have to dig out my yellow pages and see what's around.

I also don't know what a Blind Hem is, but hopefully I'll figure it out if my sewing machine has one. (:

Thanks for your help! I'm going to have to print this out if/when I go shopping.
thenisaid From: thenisaid Date: October 7th, 2003 10:46 am (UTC) (Link)
A blind hem is one that doesn't show from the outside of the fabric. With home sewing machines, you fold the hem like you want it, then kind of flip it back on itself and sew along this little crease (the dealer will show you). It takes practice, but I foresee a lot of pants hemming in your future, so it would be worth learning. Jeans you could just topstitch (that's stitching that DOES show on the outside.

Get nice scissors, too.

Oh, and have FUN!
estarsign From: estarsign Date: October 1st, 2003 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Funny, I had that same urge today because the skirt in my head did not exist on the clothing sites in my size. hehe

My mom has this really old sewing machine that rocks. It doesn't have the fancy features of the newer ones, but it always seemed to work well enough for my sewing purposes.
anderale From: anderale Date: October 1st, 2003 10:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Being the daughter of a sought after seamstress, I started sewing when I was ten. My grandparents purchased a simple Kenmore with a straight stitch, several zig zag stitches and a buttonhole stitch. I made clothes for my stuffed animals. Clothes for Ballerina Barbie. Clothes for Raggedy Ann. Then, the Kenmore graduated to being used for making clothes that I wore. Eventually, My mother, the sought after seamstress, needed another machine and abducted mine. That Kenmore lasted for almost 20 years, most of which was heavy use by her. :)

Anyway, they're inexpensive and I highly recommend them. Those handheld things will only provide you with frustration and will kill any creative or other urge to sew. Stay away from anything made by Brother, too. They are cheap pieces of crap.

If you want to invest a little more, Bernina is the BMW of sewing machines. :D
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