Monday, October 4, 2010

Super Start to Sewing

My last post raised a very good question...What supplies and cool tools do you use?  What do you need to get started?

As with any hobby, there are endless possibilities and price points!  And of course these are just suggestions and my own opinions based on what I have experienced so far.  I tried to break it down as to what I think are must have's.  Tomorrow, we can cover cool tool's that just make things a snap! 

These are the items that I absolutely wouldn't go without:

1)  A great rotary cutting mat 

I have two, both of which are by Olfa.  A 24 x 36 and an 18 x 24.  I have them placed together on my work table so that my entire surface is more slip proof and "self-healing".  I also use a scrap of shelf grip liner underneath them.

2)  A rotary cutter

Also from Olfa, mine is just like this one with the 'trigger' that you hold to extend the blade.  It also has a safety lock and can be for a lefty or a righty.  This tool is an absolute must! 

3)  Rulers

Omnigrid rulers rock!  I use the 24 x 6 for larger cuts.  My favorite ruler is the 12 x 6.  Me thinks you should have at least these two.

4)  Scissors

In my opinion, nothing beats a pair of Gingher's.  They remind me of the kind Grama would have!  They come in all shapes and for all purposes.  Here are the ones I have:
  • Classic Embroidery scissor, which are my favorite and great for snipping threads close as they curve up at the tip. 
  • 5" Knife Edge, which is an all purpose pair. 
  • Applique scissors, I use these the least but they are great to have on hand.
And just a little side note are granted a license to kill your hubby if he EVER uses these on paper, or to cut burrs from the dog or dig out a sliver!!  These are yours and yours alone!!

5)  Lighting

You can't sew if you can't see!  And I light my area up pretty well!  My favorite light is The Ott Lite as pictured above.  I believe mine is considered a "Task Lamp".  Here again, they have all different shapes, sizes etc.  Choose what suits your area and needs. 

6)  SewEZI Table

So this is not something you have to have, but something I would never go that I have one.  SewEZI tables are only available online as far as I can tell.  Your machine sits down into the table as opposed to up on the table.  To me, it makes this short gal more ergonomically correct and the work surface is nice and flat.  The plexi-glass is custom cut to your machine type, the entire unit folds down, is on wheels and comes with a cover.  This thing is AWESOME!!!

8)  A great Steam Iron

Now, I'm not talkin' a $10 "Oh, it will do" Iron.  I'm talking Cat's Meow.  It will feel like a ton of bricks compared to the rinky-dink kind.  There are lots to choose from. 

I have the Euro Pro by Shark.  Only because it hurt me to pay for the Rowenta.  I am very happy with it.  If I could change one thing about it though, the Auto Off feature times out too fast.  In it's defense, it heats up super fast.

My MIL swears by Rowenta.  If I had to guess, most sewers and quilters have a Rowenta.  Very nice.

Recently, I was introduced to one of these guys...The Oliso Smart Iron.  This bad boy is digitally activated to lift off the surface for scorch proof ironing!  Pricey, but waaay cool!  If mine ever poops out, this will be the one I save up for!!

9)  A Dream Machine

I have only been passionately sewing for a few years.  Umm...I've gone thru 3 machines...  :)  I did the "Oh, let's just get a basic machine..."  It was a Brother and under $100.00.  Afterall, what if it wasn't for me?  Well, it was!  So I upgraded to about a $400.00 Kenmore.  This just still didn't quite cut it for me...

Then the Angels Sang, Harps Played and very own Dream Machine in the form of the Janome Memory Craft 6600Can you hear the music???

I could go on for hours about this machine.  But here are the key features that I love: 

Needle up/down, lock stitch, needle threader, start/stop for foot free (pedal less) sewing, separate bobbin winding ability, pace setter sewing slide (this is great if you have a heavy pedal foot, you can just slide on down towards the turtle for added control), and the two most valuable features that I has a built in thread cutter!  The amount of thread I have pulled out from under a machine and cut -Woo doggies!  And then of course...the built in 'walking foot' or as Janome calls it, AcuFeed.  This is worth it's weight in gold for 'even feed' of bulky fabric/layers!  Wouldn't go with out it ever again!

Choose a machine that is good for you, and at best, will grow with you...and if you can't do so immediately, then just enjoy the upgrades along the way!  ;)

The best advice I can give you though - Get your machine from a reputable DEALER or SHOP!!!  Skip the big box stores and go to an actual Ma & Pop Quilt / Sewing Store and get it there!  They generally offer classes, repairs on site and will pretty well answer any questions you may ever have!  If you listen to nothing else, at least do this.  Forget about ever having to deal with some goofy kid who only wants to get out of work or got stuck in the wrong department for the day at the big box stores!  He or she probably couldn't sew buttons on their underwear let alone help you out!

Oh, I still have all three machines by the way.  They actually each serve their own purpose.  The little guy collects dust, the mid-grade is my 'Clear Thread' locked and loaded.  This is what I use when I am making purses and get fed up with changing threads all the time. 

P.S.  Most avid sewers will admit they have more than one or two machines!

So now that you are totally freaked out and thinking you will have to stand on a street corner to afford it smart!  One piece at a time!  And if you do hit the streets, just imagine the 'get up' you could sew for yourself!
She still looks that good!  What's up with that???

If you haven't already signed up for Joann Fabric's eNewsletter and Coupons as well as their standard mailing list, do it do it do it!  You will find both of these options at the bottom of their home page.  Sometimes I wonder HOW they make any money with the awesome coupons they have!  And alot of time, it's free shipping ...Perfect if you don't live close to one! 

With the exception of my SewEZI table (online only), alot of the items I have purchased came from Joann's, one at a time, with a 40-50% off coupon!  My iron was from Bed, Bath and Beyond with a coupon and my Janome was on sale right in town at our local Sewing/Fabric store.

Hey, don't think we're done yet!  You have more than 9 spoons or spatula's in your kitchen, don't you???


  1. I am going to have a big Christmas list this year. I still have lots to learn because I have no idea what a 'turtle' is. Anxiously awaiting the next post. Resisting the urge to run to the store. Thanks so much!

  2. Jane, some sewing machines have a little "slider" on the controls showing the turtle and the hare...slower/faster. Get it? That way you can slow the machine down regardless if you are full out flooring the gas pedal. I will take a close up picture of my controls for you :)

  3. HAHAHAHAHA!!!! Love your addition of Julie Roberts and the suggestion to whore yourself out to get the good stuff. You make me laugh :-)

  4. Jen, a girls gotta do what a girls gotta do! Even if it's for a pair of killer heals...huh??? hehehehehee!

  5. You really nailed the "need" list. I can't wait for your post on the "wants" of a quilter! That may take two posts!!!!! Great job!!! Oh, and I would love that Oliso iron. But maybe it's because of the color!!! I love yellow!

  6. You are one fantastic knowledge-flingin' fool! (Meant in the BEST possible way, of course.) Super helpful post as encouragement for those just starting out. (Another post which, I know, took you a long time to put together.)

    P.S. If I looked like Julia Roberts, I might consider doing A LOT of different things with my life!

  7. Jan, you should be doing the post...not me! But I think it's about ready, so we'll see how much more we can boggle Jane's mind :)

    MamaPea, yup another long one today and tomorrow. And I don't know about you, but I certainly never once in my life looked like Julia Roberts on a good day even! Her legs are probably as long as I am short!

  8. Guess who is going to be 39 on 10/14/10? 3 clues, she sews,cans and now hunting is on her agenga and she is oh so sweet!!!

  9. I think at my age if I looked like Julia I'd say the hell with clothes, anyways! Ok, so your post was exactly what I've been surfing for the past year!!! nice, to the point, photos, and gives me an idea of what to work towards (in terms of $$) as I progress! Thank you! And oh did you have to throw the "hover-iron" in there, I'm a knitter you know - for the first time I may be salivating at the thought of having to block something LOL

    And right now, I totally have the $100 intro Kenmore :)

  10. Ok MOTHER! Who did that for you? Was it Paula??? I'm taking your computer away!

    And you should know's 2-9. Or did you forget???

    Harumph!!! Dirty rat! :) xoxoxo

  11. Erin, I will Amen nakedness only if...ah, we can wish!

    The problem with sharing cool tools is that it's like spending money! Who wouldn't salivate over that iron??? See...I just spent your money! Sorry...

    Glad you liked the post :)

  12. I see we have in common that we are both vertically challenged! There was a time when I really disliked my short legs but then I decided to get sensible and realize that, hey, they reach the floor and do a darn good job of getting me around so what the heck! ;o)

  13. I figured I'd start leaving comments every time I look up your sewing posts so I can clog up your inbox LOL! Here's today's cruise-through... checking out your gucci machine, WOW! Such a Ferrari would be completely wasted on the likes of me :)

    Question, the table you have (I'm short too!) - does it shake at all? That's the one thing that drives me bonkers about my current setup.

  14. Erin, haha you are funny! As for the machine, you'd be surprised how 'fast' you'll get there and want a top of the line. All it takes is a few things that a standard machine wont handle with ease and you'll be cussing!

    My table never shakes. I can say this simply because I have never noticed! So that must mean it doesn't! Or I wouldn't like it if it did either.

    Did you try putting a rug under yours? I wonder if that would help absorb some shock.

    The SewEzi table isn't cheap. But I love it! And if you do change machines you can order new plexi-glass or if your are handy...cut yours to shape. Luckily my machines kept getting bigger so it was easy to keep cutting it out.

    So whatcha workin on??