right now

right now

Nov 5, 2010

Sewing Machine - We're going to try and work things out

I had a nice afternoon with my machine! We got to know each other a bit, I told it I would try my hardest to understand it, as long as it would just give me a sign that it still wants to be with me!

We only broke 2 needles!

But together we hemmed a stack of jeans that have been waiting for a year! I know some of you will cringe, but I absolutely love ripped up worn out hems dragging on the ground (how 90's grunge of me!), so I always keep the factory hem at the bottom!

Now here's the cool part: both needles were broken on the first pair. After that first pair, instead of stomping off mad, I pleaded with my machine, put some safety glasses on, and learned how to quickly lift the presser foot up as I hopped over the side seams - woohoo, we rolled right through the other pairs! I know that my machine isn't designed really for so much thick denim, but it's over now! I rarely even do this so I'm looking at least a year into the future before I need to sew jeans again.

After realizing that the feed plate thingy wasn't jammed full of thread this time, the bobbin didn't freak out on me through the whole ordeal, I had an epiphany: I'm going to learn to sew on this machine! When I was so frustrated, I thought "if only I had a better machine"... but then I knew NOTHING about sewing machines. Now that I have been reading about and pricing them I pay attention to things a little more. I dug out the manual, and was surprised to learn my machine actually has plenty of stitches, does embroidery, and I still have a baggie full of the feet, etc that came with it. I also took note that the $99 I spent on it in 1992 (wow, that's 19 years ago!) is probably the same thing I would be buying for $250 now.

It was then that I took a break and checked the blog for comments, and overwhelmingly, y'all are telling me what I already suspected, that I should continue to save my $$ for something better than another entry level machine and I realized I should really try harder with this one, at least then when I do make the purchase I will know better the functions I need/like. This may be futile, but after this afternoon I owe it to the old Monkey Ward Yugo to give it another go! Plus, I really do like that it is STURDY, those plastic new light machines are going to take awhile to grow on me, I don't know why I'm so terrified I'll break them, must be jeans flashbacks!

So, much to the kids' dismay, when they got off the school bus today we headed to the fabric store (I want to add that JoAnn Fabrics here is terrible, understaffed and rude every time I go there - if you are in the local area drive the extra distance to Hancock), and I picked up a few things to get me started - more machine needles, for one! I almost fell over the first time I learned what a cutting mat was and saw the prices, but today they were 40% off on rotary cutters and mats so I bought the largest mat I could afford, along with a rotary cutter. I think I got a pretty basic cutter, but since I don't even know how to use it yet it will do for awhile! I did purchase my first pair of dedicated scissors last month, I used my last pair to cut everything from paper to tomato stems, yep, there I said it! These should really be locked up from myself LOL.

I'm not sure what my first project will be, but you can be sure it won't involve denim! Probably an apron or something of that nature, I have a few patterns and several yards of fabric bought on sale a few weeks ago. I also have picked up a few library books and am learning all kinds of stuff - like what interfacing and bias tape are... now that I know how basic that stuff is that I didn't know what they were, can you tell what a beginner I am?

I rented the kids a movie to keep them occupied this evening, and sitting on makeshift sewing table are screwdrivers, canned air and a lint brush, and I'm going to sit down when I'm done blogging and give my Yugo a spa day and hopefully turn her into a good impression of a Subaru, wish me luck!

Sound like an exciting Friday night? You betcha! And if things take a turn for the worse, I'm going to hit the bottle of bourbon I bought for making pound cake! See, I'm prepared either way!
Beginners' Basic Sewing Notions

P.S. Overheard in the car today on the way to the fabric store-
Finn: "where are we going?"
Loch: "the dumb sewing store"
Finn: "why?"
Loch: "mommy thinks she can fix that thing, but I bet she won't remember to fill up the gas can"
Me: "I'm done mowing the lawn for this year, we don't need gas"
Loch: "dontcha need it for the sewing machine?"

(LOL! I thought to myself that if that thing had a gas engine, I bet men would sew!)


  1. Ok Erin, here is what to look for on your next trip to Hancocks:

    Jean A Ma Jig

    I will email you a link so you can see what it is. Might save you a few needles!

    Also, not a bad idea to work that machine out some more and save your pennies!

    And as for light weight machines...HA! You have never tried to lift mine! It's a tub o lard! Hea-vy! You wouldn't be breaking it anytime soon!

    I love your pink mat! Yepper, they are expensive aren't they!? But you will love it with your pretty new rotary cutter too! Keep your fingers away from that thing! Did you get a ruler too? I don't want you cutting without that for a guide! Seriously...

    Jack and sew! Priceless! If sewing is like darts, pool and beer, you will probably sew straighter half in the bag!

  2. I saw that thing today! I DO need a ruler, but I'm working the coupon thingie so will get that at Hancock, sale + coupon!

    My kids have been making me crazy and now their movie is already over and I haven't started yet! I'll be putting them to bed then fixing a cocktail and cleaning up the machine then!

  3. Was just going to write what APG said. You need one more purchase, m'dear. An acrylic ruler to go with the mat and rotary cutter. You'll need it to make the bag you're thinking of and almost anything else. They are not cheap but you'll have it forever. I'd recommend one 24" x 6". They come lots shorter and narrower but if you start with only one, the 24" x 6" will enable you to do almost anything. It'll be a little long and awkward for small cuts but you'll need the 24" length for most projects.

    Also for working on jeans, do you have heavy duty needles to put in your machine? They will stand up better than "regular" ones. Won't break as often.

    When I clean my machines (not often enough, shame on me) I am AMAZED at the stuff and junk caught in there. Keeping your machine cleaned of lint, fuzz, threads, and dust will go far to making it behave like a good little machine.

    I'm so impressed with the way you're tackling this whole thing. But then it's the thorough way you do everything!

  4. Thanks Mama Pea for the ruler measurement! I did see them on the sale flyer for next week. I have hubby's socks to keep me busy until then! I'll be honest, it's NEVER ONCE been cleaned!

    I've already cracked the bottle, going to clean the machine and I'm listening to your local radio show on the internet while I work! I can't call in though since my cell is not cooperating!

  5. Yup the 24x6 is the way to go! Use them coupons! Then my next fav is the 12x6 for the smaller stuff.

    Pipe cleaners work good for getting in those grooves under your machine and bobbin area too.

    And I have a solution for your unruly kids tonight...give them the Jack instead! ;)

  6. HA!!! I spent all night sewing keychains and learned quickly to walk away from the wine glass if I was intending on sewing a straight line. Sometimes the oldies are the goodies. I've tried to find a year on my baby, but haven't been able to. I bought her very, very used about 7 years ago, had her cleaned up and she's never let me down. She weighs more than my son, but she's a beast and I love her. Maybe I'll stick a picture of her up on the blog tonight.

  7. You definitely need to get a ruler for the rotary cutter. I love my rotary cutter, ruler and mat.

  8. I second the "Jean-a-ma-jig". And my favorite ruler is the 12" x 6". It's the one I use 90% of the time.

    I'm off to finish a quilt project right now....and grabbing a drink on my way to the sewing room!

  9. The hubs bought me a sewing machine for Xmas last year and I'm still learning how to sew. It's really hard, and I get really frustrated. Hopefully it'll get better and I'll stop cursing at it. LOL.

  10. I bought one of those cheap machines too. A dear friend that knows what she's doing says I will NEVER enjoy sewing till I take the plunge and buy a good machine. Eesh. Sounds like you're gonna be doing good. And the bottle buddy would definately help with the broken needles!
    Have fun (just not TOO much!)

  11. While I was working doing alterations, I learned a neat little trick about those pesky jeans hems. Take a hammer to the side seam and pound it a few times! Makes the fabric "softer" (for lack of a better word) and easier to sew. Also "walk" your needle over the side seam instead of sewing over it.

  12. That's great! Good for you! And my son DOES sew! When he was around 5 or 6 he wanted to make a teddy bear - like Fisherman Bear on Little Bear? We got out the sewing machine and made the cutest darn thing ever. My HUSBAND was appalled! Not because Tanner was using the sewing machine, but because he might INJURE himself?!?!? This from a man that let his son start fires, hammer nails, cut wood with the handsaw and even use the weed wacker! sheesh. I mean really. And in a away, that sewing machine is like driving a Fast car. Petal to the metal, baby!

  13. Erin-
    I'm so impressed and encouraged by your learning to sew. I would like to get a lot better at it as well. I'm going to start keeping my ears and eyes open for some kind of classes here, but I don't know that I'll find anything like you mentioned in your last post. Plus, I'm pretty sure my husband will ground me to the house if I try to add anything else to my overloaded schedule! :)