Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Finding the right sewing machine fit

I just wanted to take the opportunity to say how wonderful it is to have many different options available when purchasing a sewing machine.  Being new to sewing, I didn't necessarily know which machine features would be important to me.  I have been blessed with having a lot of sewing shops in my area who are staffed with employees with at least a few hundred years of experience under their belts (cumulatively, obviously).

To anybody considering a sewing machine purchase, I can't recommend highly enough to do your research.  Grab some fabric of the same type that you would like to sew and test it out on a variety of machines.  Some of the stores in my area also offer a generous trade up policy where you can get the full value that you paid towards a new machine within a year of purchase.  Many stores may also offer trade-in values for an old machine (regardless of condition) toward a new machine.  Free, unlimited classes on how to use your new machine can also be an excellent perk.

If you are interested in vintage machines, there are some excellent ones out there too.  I personally prefer the newer computerized machines because they seem more familiar to me with my affinity for gadgets, computers, and modern convenience.  There is just something magical about the old machines though.  I can't wait to get my hands on a Singer Featherweight and see if it really is as amazing as people tell me.  I hope to be able to report back on it soon.

Consumer Reports can get you on the right track as can websites such as Pattern Review have user written reviews and message boards to ask questions.

Most importantly, remember that there is no single sewing machine that will be the right fit for everybody for every type of sewing.  It just doesn't work like that, and just because a particular brand has achieved near legendary status, it doesn't mean that it is without flaw.

As of the writing of this blog entry, I own machines from Pfaff, Bernina, and Baby Lock.  I have owned Brother and Singer machines too.  All of them have good and bad aspects, and NONE are perfect.  An older machine might not have as many bells and whistles as a new, computerized model, but that in no way makes it a lower quality machine.  Figure out what you want to do, and find a machine that can do it well.

I love sewing and all of the tools that I use to create my projects.  So many sewing machines, so little time.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Traveling

I apologize for not posting any updates recently, but I have been busy preparing to travel and then actually traveling.

Before my trip, I decided that I wanted a new bag to take with me.  I had looked in several stores for something that I liked.  I didn't find anything, so I opted to make my own.  Using Studio Cherie's Travel Duffle pattern that I picked up on Craftsy, I crafted an awesome bag.  It fit in the overhead bin without issue, and there was nothing like it that we saw.  I made a couple of tweaks to the pattern including adding a zipped pocket on the 2nd end, using double folded cotton in place of jute for the handles, and substituting lighter weight dream cotton batting for more rigid, shape holding batting.  It is totally washable and folds almost totally flat.  I love it.  The main fabric is Cartas Marcadas from Alexander Henry and Cross Town from the Sweetwater's Hometown collection for Moda.

Sitting at the gate waiting impatiently to board the plane.

My travels took me to Dallas, Texas.  I had the opportunity to visit two wonderful stores.  The first was CityCraft.  What a great store it was, so much thanks to my amazing sister-in-law for the recommendation.  They had an excellent selection of high quality fabric imported from Japan as well as great pics from Alexander Henry, Michael Miller, Art Gallery Fabrics and more.  I picked up a half yard of each of a few different fabrics.  They offer some cool looking classes too.  If I lived in Dallas, I'm sure I would be enrolling in some.  

The second store was The Quilt Asylum in McKinney, Texas (a northern suburb of Dallas).  This shop ranks at the top of my list for all of the fabric shops I've visited.  I was floored when I first walked in because everything is well illuminated and well organized.  They had fat quarters for just about everything I looked at.  There were also many pre-cut options for those of us who use them.  I picked up a bunch of fat quarters, yardage, and a jelly roll.  Like CityCraft, the store offers some cool classes.  Most of the classes are quilting based, but that is to be expected of any store with quilt in the name.  I can say with almost 100% certainty that I will be returning to the store the next time I'm in the Dallas area.

Some of the fabrics from my trip to Dallas.

Now that I've returned, it is time to get down to work on a baby gift for a friend and finishing a couple of quilts that are in progress.  I am also testing some potential new items for my etsy shop.  :)