Basic Sewing

2

I just want to buy a simple basic sewing machine under $100 to hem my pants.

I don't need it to do any fancy needlework. All I need is to hem my pant legs. Can anyone recommend me any brands?

Thanks alot!

If you're going to hem pants with a straight stitched-through hem (like jeans), any decent straight stitcher will do. I typically find old Singer 99s and 15s around for $0-20 that just need cleaning, oil and a new needle.

If you want to do a more professional looking hem, such as is used on dress pants, you want a machine with a "blind hem stitch" (and ask for it to be demonstrated for you).

Or you're going to learn to hem by hand… takes very little time and
costs you a packet of hand sewing machine needles — less than $1.

With a budget of $100, you're either going to be going for a used machine or a new one that is not going to last long or be repairable.

My standard beginner sewing machine advice:
http://www.cet.com/~pennys/faq/smfaq.htm

What I want for beginners in sewing:

– a machine that doesn't scare you
– a machine that isn't balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable —
just too frustrating to learn on!)
– very good straight stitch
– good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)
– a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you
– adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)
– accessory presser feet that don't cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle
generic presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use
proprietary or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

– blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches
– triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)
– a couple of decorative stitches (you won't use them nearly as
much as you think)
– electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds — mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You'll get a far better machine buying
used than new, and a good dealer is worth their weight in sewing
machine needles when you get a machine problem — often they can
talk you through the problem over the phone. While you're trying
things out, try a couple of machines (sewing only, not combo
sewing-embroidery) over your price limit, just so you can see
what the difference in stitch quality and ease of use might be.
You may find you want to go for the used Cadillac. Or you might
want the new basic Chevy. Might as well try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano's The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen's Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public
library.

Used brands I'd particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I'd probably pick: Janome (who also does
Kenmore).

Filed under Embroidery Library by on . 2 Comments#

5

I've started making my own clothes recently (mainly reconstructing old clothes), but I don't have a sewing machine so I've been having to do it all by hand. What is a good, basic sewing machine that can speed things up a bit? I want to not only continue reconstructing clothes, but possibly making jackets, dresses, shirts, etc. from scratch. So it needs to be able to handle some more heavy-duty projects, too.

If you're on a budget, I highly recommend a used machine. Even a straight stitcher from the thrift store or the back of someone's closet will do well for you if you're working entirely with wovens. You *can* sew knits with a straight stitcher, but it takes some special techniques.

Here's my standard advice for beginners in need of sewing machines:
http://www.cet.com/~pennys/faq/smfaq.htm

What I want for beginners in sewing:

– a machine that doesn't scare you
– a machine that isn't balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable —
just too frustrating to learn on!)
– very good straight stitch
– good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)
– a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you
– adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)
– accessory presser feet that don't cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle
generic presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use
proprietary or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

– blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches
– triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)
– a couple of decorative stitches (you won't use them nearly as
much as you think)
– electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds — mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You'll get a far better machine buying
used than new, and a good dealer is worth their weight in sewing
machine needles when you get a machine problem — often they can
talk you through the problem over the phone. While you're trying
things out, try a couple of machines (sewing only, not combo
sewing-embroidery) over your price limit, just so you can see
what the difference in stitch quality and ease of use might be.
You may find you want to go for the used Cadillac. Or you might
want the new basic Chevy. Might as well try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano's The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen's Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public
library.

Used brands I'd particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I'd probably pick: Janome (who also does
Kenmore).

Filed under Embroidery Library by on . 5 Comments#

3

I want to learn how to sew. i want do be able to make dresses for my two little girls and start selling some I make but first I need a sewing machine. I saw a Singer Futura CE-150 Sewing and Embroidery Machine at walmart because I would also like to embroider but costs $539 and I cannot afford that. Does anyone have any suggestions on a good sewing machine.

For embroidery, consider learning to do free motion embroidery on a sewing machine… any sewing machine will do. Here's a pro working — though his setup is a little easier, it's the same idea:
http://www.threadsmagazine.com/item/3833/video-manuels-free-motion-embroidery-technique
And something less fancy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F8hFRab26BE

As far as a sewing machine, I'd definitely suggest you want to get a model with a blindhem stitch… otherwise my basic suggestions are below. Please note that using a home sewing machine for business voids the warranty (they're not meant for the duty cycle of sewing for a business), and that as soon as you learn the basic machine operation, I'm going to strongly suggest that you want to borrow Carol Ahles' book, Fine Machine Sewing, from the library and at least learn her methods of machine blindhemming — it'll save you lots and lots of time.

If you truly are going to use home machines to make stuff to sell, I'd buy a basic sewing machine (see below) and a decent 4 thread serger ASAP. Add computerized embroidery to that if you wish later.

My basic beginner sewing machine rant:
Take a look at Kate Dicey's essay on choosing sewing machines at
http://www.katedicey.co.uk (and take a look around at her site…
there are a lot of nice little tutorials there!). The FAQ she
refers to is at http://preview.tinyurl.com/l5rzu6 now.

What I want for beginners in sewing:

– a machine that doesn't scare you

– a machine that isn't balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable — just
too frustrating to learn on!)

– very good straight stitch

– good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)

– a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you

– adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)

– accessory presser feet that don't cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle generic
presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use proprietary
or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

– blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches

– triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)

– a couple of decorative stitches (you won't use them nearly as
much as you think)

– electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds — mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You'll get a far better machine at a
specific price buying used than new and a good dealer is worth
their weight in sewing machine needles when you get a machine
problem — often they can talk you through the problem over the
phone. While you're trying things out, try a couple of machines
(sewing only, not combo sewing-embroidery) over your price limit,
just so you can see what the difference in stitch quality and
ease of use might be. You may find you want to go for the used
Cadillac. Or you might want the new basic Chevy. Might as well
try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano's The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles' Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen's Owner's Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public
library.

Used brands I'd particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I'd probably pick, if new, decent and budget
was my choice: Janome (who also does Kenmore).

Filed under Embroidery Library by on . 3 Comments#