Okay, sew what’s next?

You bought a sewing machine so you could do something to help with COVID-19. You made many, many masks which are still being worn by grateful family and friends. Frankly, you’re masked OUT!

You discovered you actually enjoy sewing and are now wondering, “What else can I do with this thing?”. Wonder no longer, my new sewing friends. I’ve got your back. Today, I’m going to highlight 3 resources to assist in expanding your sewing machine knowledge.

  • Sewing machine manufacturer websites and social media
    The big brand names all have websites with machine info, manuals and support links. Even if your machine is slightly older, you may find a manual under “retired” machines on the support page. Educational content produced by machine manufacturers varies. In my opinion, Baby Lock, Bernina and Janome do a really nice job of producing instructional videos/tutorials and project ideas. Be sure to check out your sewing machine company’s Instagram and Facebook pages for project ideas and additional how-to videos.
  • I spy a similar machine with a different name
    As with cars, sewing machine companies make machines with different models and brand names. Take Brother, for instance. Brother machines are sold through dealers and mass merchandisers. Brother even makes computerized machines for Baby Lock. A Brother SE625 purchased from Wal-Mart is an economy version of the dealer level Brother Innov-is NS1750D. The Innov-is is equivalent to a Baby Lock Verve (also a dealer only machine). It’s still a great machine, but comes with fewer stitches, fewer accessories and fewer bells & whistles.

    What can you do with this knowledge? Head over to the Baby Lock site and watch the instructional videos on the Verve. Take the time to find a local Baby Lock dealer, who will usually be more than happy to answer basic questions you might have, especially if you purchase extra machine feet and accessories from their shop. Yes, Baby Lock feet fit Brother machines and vice-versa. Hint #1: Baby Lock Category G feet will fit the SE625. Hint #2: Non-branded accessories made by Brother may be cheaper than branded ones. All it takes is a little time to educate yourself and comparison shop online.
  • YouTube it!
    Many sewists share videos about their sewing machines from unboxing to advanced techniques. Sure, some are better than others, but I always manage to learn SOMETHING. Simply search by manufacturer and model name.
    While you’re at it, check out these YouTube channels:
    Missouri Star Quilting Company
    Sewing with Nancy (search “Sewing with Nancy full episodes” in YouTube search box)
    Crafty Gemini
    Professor Pincushion

Note: Your local fabric store and sewing machine shops are also excellent F2F resources for sewing instruction and machine questions. I compiled these resources because so many of us are still at home. While sewing machine shops and some fabric stores have reopened in my area, very few F2F classes appear on the local class schedules. Most events are held virtually and I’m told they will be virtual until at least January 2021.

Until later – happy sewing!


The forgotten joy of hand-sewing

Last week a co-worker asked me shorten some of her daughter’s pleated school uniform skirts. When I agreed, my plan was to replicate the existing hem by finishing the raw edge by serger and then using a blind hem stitch on my sewing machine to complete the hem. Great plan in theory, but not when it came time to execute the plan.

I hemmed the first skirt by hand and will probably do the same for the remaining skirts. Why?

Well, besides the fact my mom and home ec teacher drilled into my head that a hand-sewn hem gives a quality look to a garment that no machine can ever match – there’s simply too much fullness in the skirt that needed to be eased in at the hem. I practiced my blind stitch by machine many times before I gave up and pulled out my hand-sewing needle. Why? the practice blind hems by machine weren’t that great.

I completely stitch the entire hem by hand in less than 45 minutes. I cued up a favorite podcast, threaded the needle and quickly found my zone. Surprisingly soothing and really relaxing – just what I needed after a day spent dealing with technology. The finished result was much more to my liking.

Don’t think this means I’m going to start binding all my quilts by hand. Nope! Only the ones destined to be displayed in a quilt show. But garment hems – absolutely!

My top 3 reasons to participate in a virtual sew along or quilt along.

I’m currently a participating in the Lori Holt Quilter’s Cottage sew along sponsored by the Fat Quarter Shop. This is my third Lori Holt quilt project and my second “in real time” sew along. Bee Patriotic was my first experience. I had fun and learned a lot.

Participating in a sew along isn’t hard, but it does require a little advance work on your part. Time spent gathering materials and pre-cutting/organizing the pieces means all you have to do is grab that week’s baggie and start sewing. Take a picture and post your progress to FB or IG when the week’s task is complete. Oh, and be sure to use the official sew along hashtags!

Benefits of participating in a virtual sew along:

  1. Social interaction and inspiration with like-minded individuals.
    Let’s face it. We’re all still kind of stuck at home. Some quilt shops might be open, but very few in my area have resumed in-person classes. There’s a Lori Holt FB group that is most helpful if you have any questions and several groups on IG serve as an outlet for show & tell.
  2. Learn new skills.
    Making those Bee Patriotic blocks in 6″ sizes was a stretch project for me, as was sewing the project using only my stash.
  3. Accountability.
    Knowing I’m supposed to make certain blocks each week helps keep me on task. I actually accomplish a lot more when I know I’ll be posting weekly updates to IG and a picture of the completed top to the FB group.

Since this SAL was scheduled to start right as the new school year begins, I spent a couple of days locating background fabric and pulling fabrics from my stash. I also took the time to cut all of the first 4 weeks worth of blocks. Now that the rest of the fabrics I need have arrived, I’ll cut the remaining blocks.

Does a virtual sew along sound like fun? If so, join me for Lori Holt’s Flea Market Flowers, scheduled to being January 2021.

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