Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Mini Sewing Basket

After posting a survey over on our facebook page yesterday, it seems that people would love to see more step by step sewing tutorials. Do you guy's agree, or is that all the Facebook crowd, and you're like "bitch please, I can't sew!"

Well, I thought, if we are going to be making some beautiful things together this year, these are the items that I think that every one of you need to have in order to keep up. You know, besides a sewing machine.

If you don't have a sewing machine, I highly recommend hitting up garage sales this spring. The older machines were made out of metal and therefore are about 1000 times more bad ass than the newer, plastic versions.

Think of it as your great uncle's Buick vs. that hipster's Smart Car. Yeah, the Smart Car might have some cool features, and it's lightweight and compact, but can it take the abuse that the Buick can, or is it going to die after you run over a pin go up over the curb.

In terms of sewing machines, you always always want the Buick. I can't say that I've worked on a lot of newer sewing machines (but if some magical Sewing Machine fairy is out there and would like to show me otherwise, I'm more than willing to take your sewing machine for a spin) but the few that I have had not had the endurance for layers, materials or say...if you abuse it or something. Yeah. (Although my mom's machine did meet a sad demise after the family dog got tangled in the cord and freaked out and ripped it to the ground) Example, I love making denim patchwork quilts, and my mom's fancier, newer machine (the Smart Car) couldn't handle going through four layers of denim. My old metal machine (the Buick) kicked it's ass and asked for more.

So instead of going out and buying a brand new machine, try to find an older Kenmore or something and pay to have it refurbed instead.

Then, you need to have a little bundle of go to goodies. You'd think that after sewing for over 10 years, my collection would be far more extensive, but these are the items I can't live without and still to this day have to go out immediately and buy another one if I find my old one is missing. These do not include the basics like thread, fabric, machine, iron, know...that stuff. These items all end up Joann Fabric's 50% sale at least once a month, and you can usually add a coupon for your total purchase on top of that.

1.) Magnetic Pin Cushion & Variety of Pins
I will never, ever, ever go back to a basic pin cushion. I can't do it. I love how if I drop a pin on the floor, I can hold my magnetic cushion over an area and it will pick them up for me. Totally rocks. You also need a variety of pins for your various projects.

2.) Dedicated Sewing Scissors

AKA Mother F'in Ginghers.  Yes, they are very expensive scissors, but they'll last forever and it's very easy to tell that they are not to be used for anything other than fabric. I always stack my coupons on these (because, yes I have like, four pairs, because I lose them and re-buy them and then find them again) Scissors used only for fabric ensure smoother cuts and better overall products. These bad boys could also rule the world is they wanted to.

3.) Invisible Zipper Foot

We've already discussed my love for invisible zippers, and as you know by now, if you want to follow my tutorials, you're going to need to know how to put an invisible zipper in. View that tutorial here.

 4.) Fiskars Rotary Cutting Set

I use this every time I sew. I almost never use my little rotary cutter, but I always use my mat to make sure I don't gouge my brand new table when cutting fabric. I also use my ruler almost always for things like pillows, etc. If you were to supplement these out, you could easily use a yardstick and maybe something else for cushioning, but since I occasionally quilt, I like the hard plastic and the fact that the mat has measurements on it, so I don't have to individually measure and cut out a thousand pieces.

5.) Hand & Machine Needles

 The last thing you want is to be 90% through your project when your needles break. You can pick these up at Wal-Mart for under $1 so do yourself a favor and grab a couple backs to throw in your box.

6.) Extra Bobbins

I always prefer to have an extra stash of bobbins so when I'm switching thread I don't have to unwind a whole bobbin's worth of thread. Waste not, want not. They aren't expensive, just make sure you have the right size for your machine. I usually have between 5-10 on hand, and 2 are always full of white, 1 is full of black, 1 is cream thread, and the others are blank so I can fill them with colors I may need.

7.) Seam Ripper

Because let's admit it. We all mess up. My mistakes usually involve copious amounts of profanity. Because I'm a classy bitch like that.

8.) Tape Measure

You know, to measure shit. Girl can't DIY without a measuring tape, and she can't sew either. The difference is that a sewing tape is flimsy so you can wrap it around things instead of your house one that is too stiff. No. You can not use your house tape for your sewing tape. Plus, you can buy the breast cancer one, and then it's pink.

9.) Safety Pins

You'll be amazed at how much you'll actually use these things. You'll use them for mapping pieces out, pulling elastic, and it's just good to have them in the house because you'll steal them for everything else too.

10.) Hem Ruler (AKA Seam Gauge)

I am really lazy and almost never use mine anymore. I have learned on my machine where I need to fold things to achieve the hem that I want. If you've never really sewn before, you are going to need one of these BAD. It will guarantee that your hem is level with itself (but your garment will only be level if it was level in the first place) and when I was learning, I used mine for everything. We will do a tutorial on how to use one of these if need be.

Okay, so maybe it was more like 13 or so things, but 10 had a better ring to it, don't you think? And some of them are optional if you're feeling especially bad ass.

So what do you think? Are we ready to bust out some adorable home decor this spring? And yes, it's January and I'm saying spring, because I don't want to deal with winter any more. Deal with it.

What are some things you'd like to learn to sew?


  1. Teach me to sew Emma!

    Also, I had my mom's Kenmore sewing machine up until last year. It was older than I was, and it was a serious tank. I loved it hard. And then one day, the motor died. SAD. And I got a new machine for my birthday. I do love the new one, but I don't use it for heavy sewing, and I don't think I ever will. Just medium to small amounts. I'm pretty good at bs-ing my way through sewing felt costumes and pillows. That's about it.


      If anything happened to my old clunker I think my heart would shatter into a million pieces. I'm glad your machine can handle some heavy duty stuff though- at least you'll be able to power through some stuff!

  2. Emma, I will have to run out and get a magnetic pin holder, my husband claims he (or rather his foot) can find any needle/pin that's ever been dropped. So to save him that pain, that looks like a good idea. The only one I disagree with is the zipper foot, cause I AVOID zippers at all costs!! Probably haven't fought to put one in in oh, thirty years.But each to his own. I agree about the old time sewing machines, my mom's machine weighs a ton, and she had asked the repairman about getting something newer and he totally agreed with you! they just don't make them the same.....

    1. Magnetic Pin Cushions will save your life! My mom had never heard of them until I brought one home, and she stole it from me! They are so good at finding pins you didn't think you dropped. I avoid traditional zippers as well- I only use the invisible zippers because I think they're about 10x easier to install, and since the list will give people what they need to sew how I sew, everybody needs one! ;)

  3. Great article. Loved that you included pictures. Can't wait to see what you choose for the first project. Keep me in the loop. I might want to do a guest spot. Seriously, I won't try to take over your blog. Trust me....LOL

  4. Zippers scare me. So that's a tutorial I'd be all over.

    My seam ripper is my bestest friend.

  5. I mostly fall securely into the "bitch, please, I can't sew" category, but I was thinking just last night that my new love of Spoonflower and need to come up with lots of projects that involve only small amounts of pricey fabric might well compel me to make 8 million pairs of pants for this baby (I have made pants before--very basic, elastic waist pants. So I know that I can manage it, as long as I can sew the legs together the right way). Perhaps I should work towards a grand goal of 4 pairs of matching pajama pants for next Christmas for all the boys! So I will be revisiting this post at some point when I get brave enough to dust off the sewing machine.

    1. Gretchen, if you can make elastic pants, you can make ANYTHING I post on here. Pinky promise- because elastic pants are how I learned to sew.

  6. This post made me laugh! :) Love your style! I have my Mom's old machine and can sew basic stuff. Makes me so proud when I accomplish something and know that my Mom would be so proud of me for using the old dog. I don't really "like" to sew but it always makes me think of Mom, so it gives me a good feeling. I'd like to learn the zipper thing...that's something I've never attempted. I did recently find the tutorial on Pinterest for hemming jeans and keeping the original hem/stitching and OMG, it's so amazing! Even the hubby was impressed at how good our daughter's jeans looked after I hemmed them! Have you tried that yet? It's flippin ah-maze-ing!

  7. I desperately want to learn how to sow. I'm grateful that I have almost everything on the list. (Warning: Shopping trip imminent!) My biggest complaint about DIY blogs is that the featured projects, while inspiring, aren't inclusive. This idea of "making some beautiful things together" certainly appeals to my budding creative side. Especially if you include tips to personalize/customize for the timid.

    Your invisible zipper tutorial link links to joann's website and not to your tutorial. :( FIX PLEASE! And this clueless chica certainly would appreciate a seam gauge/hem rule tutorial. Just saying.

    1. oh shoot! Thanks for letting me know, I will fix it as soon as I get home. In the mean time, head over here to view the tutorial.

  8. I agree with Gretchen that Spoonflower is my new favorite place! They inspire me to make a bazillion pillows, even tho that'd leave no room for me on the couch. Also, would love to see some of your mom's DIW ideas, as her house is (almost) as cute as yours, Emma! (lol).

    1. I lovvveeee Spoonflower. LOVE THEM. I keep telling CQ to make a blog, but she won't do it!


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