Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Thu May 17, 2012 8:56 am

Cat, I'm glad to see you get a machine. It's a rewarding skill. It will make you happy. You can't say that about too many purchases. Sure, I own a seam ripper. They are necessary sometimes. BUT Most of my ripping is done with various box cutters. You know, those things with a replaceable razor blade. After lots of practice you'll know when to use each tool. Making costumes I've found it's sometimes easier to get the big sharp scissors and cut along the seam on both sides. (If you can spare an inch or 2 of the fabric.) I never bother changing the color of the thread for BM costumes.

THREAD!! That reminds me. This is GREAT! I occasionally pick up those giant cones of thread at garage sales or 2nd hand stores. (Tug on the thread to test it's strength). I had every intention of learning how to use my serger. It's cheaper to buy bobbins than it is to buy thread. Buy bobbins on eBay, wind them from giant spools and use a bobbin on the top of the machine as well as the bottom. My silly purchase of those giant spools has morphed into a lifetime supply of thread.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby delle » Thu May 17, 2012 3:11 pm

What a GREAT tip, Ratty!

I have a huge-ass bag of the cone-spools that came with my serger. Way more than I'd ever use in it. And am always looking at them a little wistfully, wishing they'd fit on the post of whatever other machine I'm using.....

Now I won't have to do that anymore!!! :D Nice :D

In return, here's a little trick I learned that really helps those of us who are a bit klutzy in the needle-threading department, and can't find a threader:

Everybody knows to wet the thread. Actually, the real magic happens when you put a spot of spit ON THE EYE of the needle. The wet just sucks the thread right through!!!

And I like to think that if you have just the right amount of alcohol content in said spit, it won't end up rusting the innards once set in motion. 8)
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Thu May 17, 2012 4:08 pm

One other strange and wonderful tip. I didn't even have to buy bobbins. The ones from my old Kenmore fit my new, (cheap), Singer. A very pleasant surprise. :P :P
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Drawingablank » Thu May 17, 2012 4:21 pm

Here's another tip - if you are too lazy to wind those cones onto small spools, they sell a cone holder that clamps onto the edge of your sewing table. They also make them that screw into the table permanently but that is more for industrial machine tables.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Thu May 17, 2012 4:25 pm

Wow thanks DAB. I will definitely look into THAT. I never buy 'retail' but maybe I can locate it on eBay or on clearance somewhere. Thanks. I'm going now to look it up.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby delle » Thu May 17, 2012 4:39 pm

Yeahhhhhhhhhh. I'm STILL kicking myself for including that with the Juki I sold. I keep thinking to look for another, but never seem to actually get around to it. Every time I get close to looking into it, I start to think that I'm pretty sure my dawg could fandangle me something suitable from stuff we've got lying around, and so never take the other step.

So bobbins it'll probly be for me for a while....
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Thu May 17, 2012 4:55 pm

I just searched 'thread spool holder' on eBay. I am making myself one from a coat hanger and some other piece of poop lying around. Thank You for opening my eyes!
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Drawingablank » Thu May 17, 2012 8:22 pm

No problem, most of my sewing experience is with industrial machines which used those so I actually have more experience with those than with the regular spools.

The main thing is having the wire loop that the thread runs through be elevated enough to feed the machine with no tangles and be above the cone - the cone itself doesn't need much support.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Thu May 17, 2012 9:37 pm

Project #2: Success! I converted the skirt of a prom dress into a black velvet cape! Thanks, Ratty, for inspiring this particular project with some of your posts. The dress was fully lined, and I wanted to keep the cape lined as well. I opened the dress up down the back and cut off most of the bodice, a few inches above the waistline. I sewed the lining to the outer fabric right-side-out along the sides, using the seam allowances that were already there (now, though, I'm thinking of unpicking those seams and redoing them, because they're a bit too visible and crooked). The part I'm really pleased with is the top -- 2 inches above the waistline, I sewed the fabric and lining together inside-out, so the seam is hidden inside. Then I topstitched along all the princess seams in that 2" of bodice to kind of fix the lining tightly to the outer fabric and stiffen it a bit. The result is a nice little collar that stands up! I'm so happy -- I lay awake for ages last night planning it, but I was still pleasantly surprised when it worked as I had imagined.

Now, I want to get a frog closure to sew onto it tomorrow. I'm trying to decide if I want to add any other decorative flair or just leave it as is (once I fix those nasty side-seams, that is).

This success was a nice pick-me-up at the end of a rather rough day :)
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Sail Man » Thu May 17, 2012 10:29 pm

EspressoDude wrote:you only need straight stitch and zig zag..no more. Stay away from plastic parts like gears. Stay away from "electronics" What is your budget? Go to a sewing machine repair place and ask them what to buy.(or not buy) Answer is probably your grandmother's sewing machine.

Don't buy new from a department store..Those machines are made with one thing in mind and that is today's profit...not your satisfaction.



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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Thu May 17, 2012 11:43 pm

Yeah Cat!! It sounds great and you should be proud. I would consider top stitching those side seams like you did the collar. I also made two capes tonight. Both from skirts and both very comfortable around the neck or shoulders. I'll put pictures on my 'start with what you have..." thread. They aren't fancy or elegant but you know me. Rip it up and sew it.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby theCryptofishist » Fri May 18, 2012 9:06 am

I saw some neat technique with an embroidering machine some years ago, and I've never got over it. So there, I'm that little bit disappointed that newer machines carry the POS designation...
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby AntiM » Fri May 18, 2012 9:25 am

I lust after a programmable Viking, but it is $5K.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Fri May 18, 2012 9:35 am

I lust after my old viking that I rode till it died. That monster would pull a a 6 man tent under it's needle. My new (crappy) Singer does everything great except the feed dogs are so weak. I have to 'pull' fur through as I sew it. Oh, and it's as noisy as a jack-hammer. But I do love the 100 stitches, self threading, free arm, easy to change the presser foot, easy bobbin winder. It goes back to Costco as soon as I find something better.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Fri May 25, 2012 10:02 pm

I'm still loving the machine delle sent me! It's sturdy enough to withstand my abuses and generous enough to forgive my manifold sins and wickedness :)

I have a poor attention span and a tendency to impulsiveness, so I really suck at reading instruction manuals when there's a shiny new toy making come-hither eyes at me. I tend, instead, to use such a manual as a troubleshooting reference. As a result, I have had to learn the hard way things like:
    - Don't mess with the bobbin tension without a good reason
    - The thickest thread isn't always the best. (I may have a latent Y chromosome...)
    - Very few problems are best solved by brute force; usually, it's best to go back and read the manual.
    - Unexpected loud noises usually indicate that you're doing something wrong.

Anyways, despite a scary moment where I thought I might have actually killed it (I opened the bottom, and the guts fell out onto the table, we've kissed and made up, and we're very much in love again.

My third and current project is a tutu. Basically, I'm following Ratty's idea of threading strips of fabric through the grommet-holes in one of those holey belts. I found a crapload of cheap fabric at a thrift store -- an entire bolt of mint-green tulle, and another of teal/aquamarine/whateverthefuckyoucallthiscolour organza for $6 each -- plus a holey belt in my size for $1. While it's a no-sew pattern in principle, I've learned that organza is a moopy bitch, and needs to be forcefully hemmed. I've got to make 16 strips of organza, one bolt-width long, hemmed up both sides. I've just finished #8. Yay me!

The result is going to be the giantest, poofiest tutu ever -- tea-length, twice as wide as me (you'll see me coming from far away), bluey-green, sheer, shimmery... I'm satisfying my inner 4-year-old who signed up for ballet classes and was horribly disappointed to find that tutus were not part of the bargain. But I'm going to have to butch it up somehow if I'm to be at all comfortable in the thing. I'm thinking of cutting up an old jean jacket and making a shrug to pair with it. Something like this, without the horrific "CockSParrer" :shock: logo. Or the studs, probably.

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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Fri May 25, 2012 10:38 pm

That sounds like great fun. Remember...Always be prepared to rethink the whole project. I sometimes have to rule out plan A, B and C before it falls together. Keep us posted.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby AntiM » Sat May 26, 2012 6:20 am

CockSparrer? Oh, that has possibilities.

I made a big wide tutu, the type you tie onto wide elastic. Took it out of the bin on the playa and it was all static. Tried to eat my head, then wrapped around my arms like an octopus. Larry and Genius were laughing at me. Never did wear the darn thing.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sat May 26, 2012 9:31 am

AntiM wrote:CockSparrer? Oh, that has possibilities.

I made a big wide tutu, the type you tie onto wide elastic. Took it out of the bin on the playa and it was all static. Tried to eat my head, then wrapped around my arms like an octopus. Larry and Genius were laughing at me. Never did wear the darn thing.


:shock:

Hmmm... I'll try spraying it down with water. I'm allergic to anti-static sheets, so they won't be an option. I guess I'll have to have an alternative to wear. Or become more comfortable with pantslessness :wink:

Wearing a skirt that appears to be a predatory, 96-tentacled creature intent on eating my head might be kinda fun, too. I can pretend it was a deliberate choice on my part... until I can't.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby AntiM » Sat May 26, 2012 11:02 am

I might try to wear mine on my head, since that is where it wanted to be.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby EspressoDude » Sat May 26, 2012 3:56 pm

That is one sick patch...I love it..
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby The CO » Sat May 26, 2012 6:30 pm

I've got a 73 monkey wards, and it is a workhorse. The only plastic is the carrying case and the belt.

It has made 11 kilts so far and rocking it. It's capable of different stitches with the insert cams, but I don't have them....

The more you sew... the more you will sew. Working on 2 kilts, a laptop bag, and a new line of grocery totes. Each new product gives me an idea for another.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sat May 26, 2012 11:11 pm

I promised my partner a couple of new grocery totes. We have a couple that we were given a dozen years ago, and they're finally dying. We've not been able to find any of similar design since then, and my partner is, well... particular about things. So I'm going to try and make a pattern out of one of those. I also want to get some old sheer curtains from Goodwill or whatever and turn them into reusable produce bags.

I can see how sewing gets addictive... always another project calling out!
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby AntiM » Sun May 27, 2012 5:23 am

I haven't been sewing a lot lately, but beware of fabric hoarding! Happens to the best of us.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby EspressoDude » Sun May 27, 2012 5:50 am

yeah AntiM...

see something thinking "Oh that would made a nice..."

Finally taking the piece of silver leather I got about 7 months ago and making a pair of shorts based on levi 501's disassembled. I made a pattern about 7 yrs ago and made black leather shorts..now silver.

Motivation: a new piece of basketweave embossed black leather......
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby AntiM » Sun May 27, 2012 6:39 am

Ooooh.....
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby catinthefunnyhat » Sun May 27, 2012 9:31 am

Silver leather shorts! Amazing! :mrgreen:
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Sun May 27, 2012 3:37 pm

When you mentioned 'fabric hoarding' I looked down shamefully. I have TWO entire rooms dedicated to costumes. One for the finished products and one waiting to be made. I'm sick. I admit it. Can't stop and can't catch up. At least the kids can't move back in.
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby delle » Sun May 27, 2012 3:45 pm

Ratty wrote:When you mentioned 'fabric hoarding' I looked down shamefully. I have TWO entire rooms dedicated to costumes. One for the finished products and one waiting to be made. I'm sick. I admit it. Can't stop and can't catch up. At least the kids can't move back in.


I just read this out loud to my husband and pointed pointedly at your picture and declared: "I've found what I want to be when I grow up".

Thank you. It's been a long time coming!!!!
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby Ratty » Sun May 27, 2012 3:53 pm

You may want to rethink that. (Make that 3 rooms.)
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Re: Sewing-Machine Recommendations for a Klutzy Beginner?

Postby AntiM » Mon May 28, 2012 5:12 am

I have it in one room, unless we count the full closet in the downstairs bedroom, and the costumes hanging in the basement hall because they're too long for closets. And part of Larry's closet and half of mine, and the drawers in our dressers dedicated to costumes and the bins in the lean to... oh crap, yeah. Me too.
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