Tag Archives: my sewing machine is my best friend

Review: The Janome AMH M100 Sewing Machine

19 Dec

Good morning, everyone! I have a review post today (if you’re not into reviews, no worries – I will have a ~normal~ post later this week, too! So much catching up on projects before the year ends!) – for a sewing machine! NGL, I am pretty excited about this little machine.

As you may or may not know, I started working for Craft South earlier this year. Craft South is an adorable little fabric/yarn/crafty store, located in the seriously hip 12 South neighborhood in Nashville, TN, and owned by our fearless leader, Anna Maria Horner. In addition to our sewing, fiber and other craft supplies, we also sell Janome sewing machines. Now, I am not particularly attached to any one brand of sewing machine – I have several different brands that I use at home myself – and I strongly believe that all brands are good brands, it’s just a matter of what fits best with your budget and needs. Whenever I have the opportunity to try out a new machine – especially one that’s perhaps a little more budget-minded than whatever I have on my sewing table at home (sorry, guys, but I LURVE me some expensive-ass sewing machine hahahaha) – I am ALL about that! This particular machine is especially delightful to me, cos it’s a branded Anna Maria Horner machine *and* it’s our future classroom machine for Craft South.

I will lead with a stock photo from the Janome website, because it’s much prettier than the pile of trash photos you’ll see in the rest of this post, lolz

AMH M100

This is the AMH M100 – designed by Anna Maria Horner, and manufactured by Janome sewing machines. It’s a reasonably basic machine – no crazy embroidery functions, a few decorative stitches – that is easy to use, has some fun features, and is just plan adorable! It’s a fairly small machine, and I think the floral design is so beautiful! There’s also a big honkin’ space that is perfect for having signed by Anna herself, and yes, speaking from experience here.

There are a lot of features about this machine – too many to put in a blog post (well, without making this post insanely boring), so I am just going to touch on the ones that I think are really cool, as a sewist and also a sewing teacher. You can always go to the website and get the full run-down, or, if you’re local – come in our shop and play with the machine.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The machine has 99 stitch designs – ranging from your basic utility stitches (straight, zigzag, button hole, etc) to some crazy looking embroidery stitches that are perfect for quilting and applique projects. They’re all based on Anna Maria Horner designs – so lots of hearts, swirls, girly things like that. I admit, I don’t ever use stitches like this in my projects, but they are REALLY fun to just sew samples on and ooh and ahh over.

As a sewer of garments, the stitches I use most are 00, 01, 04, 06, 07 & 18. That’s your basic straight stitch, the Lock-O-Matic stitch (it will automatically backstitch at the beginning and end of your seam, which I find especially useful for bra making), the triple stitch (which is what I use now for topstitching, instead of topstitching thread + straight stitch), zigzag stitches, and the button hole stitch. There is also a locking stitch (02, it’s the same idea as the lock-o-matic, except it locks the stitches by stitching in one place instead of backstitching), stretch stitches, overcasting stitches, darning stitches, blind hem stitches, the triple zigzag, and all those applique stitches. One thing I do appreciate is that there isn’t a mass overload of decorative stitches – just a handful. It’s not overwhelming, but there are a few cute options to play around with.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The little stitch card fits in a piece that clips to the machine, so you can keep it attached to your machine if you want to reference it. The clip also folds down, so you don’t have to stare at it if you don’t want to. Or you can take it off completely and lose it somewhere in your sewing space, which is generally what I do.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

There are several feet and accessories included with the machine – a straight stitch foot (not shown in this photo, but it’s attached to the machine), a clear satin stitch foot, a 1/4″ foot (PRAISE), an overcasting foot, a blind hem foot (which I use as an edgestitching foot), a zipper foot, a button hole foot, *and* an Even-Feed Foot. The Even-Feed foot is similar to a walking foot, except instead of “walking”, it clamps down on the fabric and moves it. I am told this is more precise than a walking foot, since the pieces are held together when they are moved. At any rate, that alone is a pretty sweet add-on! Those feet tend to be pretty expensive on their own.

The machine also comes with boring but useful things, like extra bobbins, spool caps, a seam ripper, etc. The Organ needles included are a new thing for me – I’d never heard of this brand before I started working at Craft South, but they are just as nice as Schmetz and soooooo much cheaper. I can get a pack of 10 Organ needles for like $2.30, WTF. Janome machines are made to work specifically with Organ needles – they will work with other brands, including Schmetz, but the needle-threader is calibrated to work with the eye placement of an Organ needle. So you can sew on the machine with any brand of needle, but you may or may not be able to use the needle threader if it’s not an Organ brand. I haven’t tested this theory bc Organ is all I keep in my sewing room now (and it’s all we have at Craft South, too).

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The front box opens up so you can store all your feet and accessories in one handy spot. This piece can also be removed so that the machine has a free arm – useful for sewing stuff with a small circumference, such as sleeves and pants hems.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Threading is super easy. For the needle, there are numbers and arrows to direct you the thread path (if you’ve ever threaded ANY sewing machine before, just know that they are all mostly the same in this regard), and then there is an automatic needle threader to pull the thread through the eye if you have trouble seeing / are lazy.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The bobbin winder also has a clear diagram. One thing I really love that about this machine is that the bobbin can be wound without the foot pedal – just unplug it and press the Start/Stop button on the machine. This is incredibly handy when I am setting up for class – sometimes I’ll have all 10 machines winding bobbins simultaneously and I feel like a little Sewing Machine Goddess hahahaha

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The AMH M100 has a drop-in bobbin, which makes it incredibly easy to thread. There is a little diagram on the case cover to show you how it is threaded – just a head’s up, 9 out of 10 of my students always thread it backwards the first time (actually, on my old Janome – I had it threaded backwards for like the first 6 months of use haha). The threading feels counterintuitive to what you’d think, but it’s necessary for proper tension. At any rate, you’ll know if you thread it backwards because your stitches will pull out very easily.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine
To thread the bobbin, you drop in your spool and pull the thread down, with the tail pointing toward the left…

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Then you pull it under the metal piece and up the channel, toward the 1…

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

And pull the thread down toward the 2…

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Where there’s a built-in thread cutter that will clip the tail to the correct length. Then you just put the cover on. That’s it! No need to pull up the bobbin threads, it’s ready to sew.

A word about drop-in bobbins: I’ve used both drop-in and front-loading, and both have their merits. The front-loading bobbins will give you a more even, precise stitch. However, they are also prone to tangling and creating thread needs on the underside of your work. The drop-in bobbins don’t give you quite as beautiful of a stitch (I think this is negotiable, though, since very few people are going to be able to tell the difference just by glancing), but they are a lot more user-error-proof. These bobbins in particular are known for being really really hard to mess up. We rarely have problems with the bobbin in our classes, unless something else is wrong (such as a dull needle, or incorrect threading). Our Janome rep loves to do this trick where she throws a big thread nest in the bobbin and sews a seam – the nest just shoots out of the back and doesn’t affect the stitching. It’s kind of weird and also really amazing haha. I think this sort of bobbin is really ideal for the beginner sewer, or someone who buys a machine for their kid and doesn’t want to mess with fixing it when they inevitably screw something up. Like I said, it’s really hard to jam it up, even if you intentionally shove a thread nest in it.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Here are the buttons on this machine. The Start/Stop can control the machine without the foot pedal – you just have to unplug it first. I will admit I’ve never personally used this button except to wind the bobbin, but kids whose feet don’t quite reach the floor love it. ha. There is also a backstitch, locking stitch (again, same as the backstitch except it stitches in one place to lock. This is really useful for those embroidery stitches), needle up/down, aaaaand my favorite button – the scissors! Press that little dude after you finish sewing, and it will raise the needle and clip your threads! Argh I love that feature so much! There is also a slider to control the machine speed.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The stitch buttons are in the green section. From here you can select your stitch, move the needle position, adjust length/width, make a button hole, and there’s also a “memory” feature for the scissors button.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The throat plate has a ton of markings for measurements, which are especially useful for quilting and applique. This is my only beef with the machine, actually – I absolutely hate the guide markings. I find them really confusing to see which one you’re using, and I don’t like that they are only on one side of the needle. This is easily solved by slapping a piece of tape on the machine along the markings, which is what I do for my classes.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

The machine also comes with this giant (removeable) tabletop, which is ideal for quilting.

Finally, here are some stitch samples:

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Just your basic straight stitch. The top fold is the bobbin stitching.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Here is the straight stitch with a triple stitch underneath. These stitches used the exact same thread – just basic polyester Gutterman, the stuff you use to sew a garment. This is why I love that triple stitch – it’s sooo much thicker than the straight stitch, but doesn’t require a special thread or needle.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

I also played around with some of the embroidery stitches.

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

And a few of the utility stitches (zigzag, triple zigzag, and stretch/lightning bolt stitch). Sorry the angles are so weird and artsy, it was really hard to take a photo without a huge shadow over it.

Here are some more photos of the machine working her glorious angles:

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

In conclusion, this is a fantastic little machine and I’m excited to bring these into the Craft South classroom! It’s very easy to use (as in, intuitive and user-friendly) and a solid little machine that doesn’t bounce around the table when you’ve got it on a high speed. It’s very similar to our current classroom machines, the Janome 4120 – the main differences that I have noticed thus far is that the AMH M-100 has less decorative stitches (and doesn’t have the stitch alphabet – which, let’s be honest, rarely gets used). However, the AMH M-100 does come with that Even-Feed foot. I love those 4120s and think they are wonderful machines, but I can’t wait to make our classroom just a little bit prettier 🙂

AMH M100 Sewing Machine

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post (no, I did not get a free machine either). However, if you come to Craft South and buy a machine from me, I *do* get a commission. If you’re not local and are interested in this machine, visit your local Janome dealer!

Giveaway + Review: Spiegel 60609 Sewing Machine

8 Feb

Spiegel 60609

A few months ago, I was contacted by Spiegel (yes, the catalog company!) about trying out a new machine that they were in the process of manufacturing. “Free sewing machine” is one of the quickest ways to grab my attention (don’t even lie, you’d do the exact same thing), and I was especially intrigued when they told me the price point was under $300. Y’all know I’m a diehard for my Bernina & Pfaff machines, but we all know that a budget is a very real and personal thing, and not everyone can afford to spend $2k+ on a piece of machinery – no matter how much you just looove sewing. I get that – I was in the same position myself for a very long time. That being said, it’s hard to recommend something at a lower price point when most stuff in that category is just pure awful. Even $500 is a lot of money for a lot of people, and that’s about the bare minimum that I could comfortably recommend for a new/non-vintage machine. Super bummer. Sewing should be for everyone, not just the people with bulging bank accounts.

All that being said, I am pretty excited about this Spiegel 60609 machine! I will admit that I was pretty apprehensive about it’s potential shortcomings before I had a chance to try it out for myself – yes, it is a beautiful machine, but it is a polished turd? I was lucky enough to see the machine before it hit the stores way back in November – I stopped by the Spiegel headquarters while I was in NYC and spent a couple of hours being wooed with sewing machines and chai lattes, yay – and I’ve had this particular machine taking up residence in my sewing room since December. We’ve had some time to really get to know each other, and things have been pretty awesome. Spiegel 60609 is good stuff, y’all.

Spiegel 60609

A quick overview of the machine – Spiegel 60609 is a computerized machine with over 350 built-in stitches, plus the option to download more stitches via iTunes and Google Play. It has plenty of standard and not-so-standard features – automatic start/stop technology (as in, you can sew with the press of a button instead of using the foot pedal), one-step button hole, speed control, twin needle capability, automatic needle threader, presser foot pressure dial, to name a few. It also has some very unusual, very cool features – it has a built-in Wifi station, which connects to the StitchCam located over the needle (!!!). The little gold shelf you see is designed to hold your cell phone or tablet, and there’s a Handy Hook that pops up to really secure things in place so they don’t bounce around while you’re sewing. Ideally, you’d have your phone up there to access tutorials on the Spiegel sewing app – but personally, I use it to watch Netflix while I’m sewing 😛 BECAUSE I CAN. Oh, yeah, and there’s a USB port in the side of the machine, which is super handy for recharging your phone after you’ve used up the battery on a bunch of X-Files episodes. Ahem. And the most important part – the stitch quality! It’s surprisingly good. Like, really really good. My only complaint is that the throat plate doesn’t have a lot of markings for seam allowances, but that can easily be rectified with strips of tape (or, in my case, Post-It notes).

Unlike most budget-friendly machines, the Spiegel 60609 actually has a heavy-duty metal frame (no plastic! Rejoice!) to keep it from bouncing around all over your table when you’ve pushed things to their highest speed. This metal frame extends all the way into the handle – so you can actually use it to carry the machine, instead of holding the whole thing like a baby (go ahead and laugh, but about a year ago, the plastic handle on my Bernina snapped in half and I dropped it on the ground. It’s fine now – it was fixed under warranty and the machine was not harmed, but MAN ALIVE that was a horrifying moment). It comes with an impressive array of included accessories – several feet (including a zipper foot, overcasting foot, blind hem foot, button hole foot, and non-stitch foot), extra needles and bobbins, screwdrivers, and quilting guides. It is my understanding that the machine was designed to be compatible with most standard low-shank feet (of course, neither of my machines have those kinds of feet – the Bernina is high-shank, and the Pfaff is one of the old German ones that *only* uses special Pfaff feet). I believe Spiegel is in the process of getting together a box o’feet that you can buy to use with the machine, though, if you’re in the same boat I am. I totally have a foot fetish when it comes to sewing machines, so I am pretty pumped about that!

The Spiegel 60609 retails for a hair under $300, and is available at Walmart (either in-house at your local store, or you can order online and ship free to your store) and also through Spiegel. While I do advocate supporting your local sewing machine store by purchasing through them, I understand that not everyone *has* a local sewing machine store, or can afford a $500 base model. Let’s be perfectly clear here – this is not a substitute for that high-end, several thousand dollar specialty machine. However, it is a great not-quite-so-basic machine that is perfect for a beginner, in a price range that works with a lot more budgets. Plus, it’s super pretty. Look at that fancy gold and white and tell me that’s not a beautiful machine. I dare you.

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

Spiegel 60609

This post would be pretty useless without some proof of stitch quality, right? Here are some quick tests I did. I realize now that I should have included some comparisons of Bernina vs Spiegel – I will next time!

Spiegel 60609
For this one, I lengthened the stitches by a couple mm and used a different color thread for the bobbin. The fabric is an old sheet, so it’s pretty sturdy.

Spiegel 60609
Here are the stitches on a much more delicate fabric – some *very* lightweight Liberty of London cotton/silk voile. Still no skipped stitches and no puckers.

Spiegel 60609
Finally, a sampling of some of the embroidery stitches and another shot of the straight stitch. Not too shabby!

Spiegel 60609

With all that being said – I’ve decided to partner with Spiegel, so expect more 60609 love throughout the year! I will be sharing monthly projects and tutorials, all of which are sewn on the Spiegel 60609, to show how versatile the machine is. That is, if I haven’t convinced you already 🙂 I will still be using my other machines as well for other projects (let’s be real, those are my babies and I ain’t planning on dumping them off!), so don’t expect this blog to turn into a giant sales pitch. But if you want to see more of what the machine is capable of doing – well, I have some plans in the works! 🙂

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Ok! I think I’ve talked long enough – let’s have a giveaway! Spiegel has generously donated a second machine which will be sent to one lucky winner 😀 Woohooo, thank you, Spiegel!! To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is a leave a comment on this post and tell me the first project you’d sew on your new Spiegel 60609. You MUST leave a valid email contact to be eligible (please please please. You can comment as anon and hide the email address so that only I can see it – but I need that email! Otherwise I can’t contact you if you win), but that’s it! This giveaway is open WORLD-WIDE and I will close the comments a week from today, on MONDAY, FEBRUARY 15, 2016 AT 7:00 AM CST. Consider it a belated Valentine’s Day gift 😉

GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED

Spiegel 60609

Good luck, everyone! ♥

Me-Made-May ’14 – My Pledge

18 Apr

MMM14logolarge

Hey everyone! Have you heard that Me Made May is open for 2014 and currently accepting pledges? Woohoo!! I admit, MMM is one of my favorite parts about keeping a blog – while taking daily photos can be a huge pain at times, it’s a wonderful exercise to keep myself on my toes as far as actually using and wearing my handmade wardrobe. Although the majority of what I wear is handmade anyway, I like this opportunity to find new ways to wear outfits and bring out old pieces that I may have otherwise forgotten about.

ha!

I’ve been thinking about my pledge for the past couple of weeks. Although I tend to wear mostly handmade (I rarely, rarely buy new clothes – they are usually thrifted, and even then, I’ve been slowing that game down dramatically – and try to make everything that enters my wardrobe), my supply is dwindling thanks to my ever-changing body. After swapping out my summer clothes and trying on everything, it’s pretty apparent that I’ve got a lot of wardrobe gaps that need to be filled asap. So, with that being said, I am modifying my pledge to suit my current closet statistics and try to keep things realistic.

‘I, Lauren of LLADYBIRD, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one handmade garment each day for the duration of May 2014, with no 100% outfit repeats.’

Last year, my pledge was no outfit repeats whatsoever. Y’all, that was hard. I quickly learned throughout the month that there are lots and lots of pieces in my wardrobe that simply don’t get worn anymore for whatever reason – either I don’t like the style on me, I don’t care for the fabric, or the fit is off (this is the main offender – the fit was good when I made it, but my body has changed and now I’ve got some glaring fit issues in many of my older garments). As a result, nearly every single one of those pieces ended up in the donation pile. I love the freedom of having an empty-ish closet that is no longer holding stuff I don’t wear hostage – but it also makes things a liiiiitle difficult when you’re trying to plan an entire month of only wearing handmade! Especially when you can’t dupe an outfit. So for 2014, I’m allowing myself partial outfit dupes – as in, I can wear the same dress during the month, but it must be accessorized/shoed/jacket’d differently. Hence the no 100% repeats. I think this is still enough of a challenge for me to really stretch myself, as well as find some wardrobe gaps to fill while I’m at it. I’m excited!

I call this look ~2nd Grade Teacher Chic~ ✏️

If you’d like to participate in Me Made May, you can view all the info here on Zo’s blog. If you just want to watch from the sidelines, I’ll be posting my daily outfits in the Flickr pool, as well as on my own Instagram. As with prior years, there will be a weekly round-up post every Friday in May. Expect to see lots of mirror-shots like the one above 😛

As a side note, I recently got a new phone that includes a panoramic camera (say what!) (yeah, y’all, I’m behind on the times). As I’ve been working on updating my sewing room – to remove clutter, reorganize what I’m keeping, and include an actual desk so I stop camping out at the dining room table – I jumped at the opportunity to take some giant, poorly lit shots. What do you think?

Sewing Room

Sewing Room

My sewing room is totally my happy space ♥

“How Do You Find The Time To Sew So Much?”

14 Aug

One question I get asked a LOT – in comments, emails, tweets, real-life conversations, you name it – is how I manage to churn out all these garments at a seemingly rapid rate. Apparently, “Uhhh, idk I guess I sew fast lol” isn’t a satisfactory answer, and after one too many gentle nudges from various people, I think it’s time to unleash a discussion post!

happy dayz

Contrary to popular belief, I do not have any of the following:
– A Vampire’s need for sleep, or lack thereof
– A collection of enslaved sewing elves tucked away in my sewing room
– A machine that stops time
– A job that lets me sew all day (but, I mean, if you want to offer me one…)

Guys, I work a full-time, non-sewing related job. I go to bed at like 10pm. I don’t have kids or a particularly needy boyfriend, but I do hang out with my friends, I ride my bike, and sometimes my after-work schedule means I don’t sew at all for an entire week. So where does the time come from?

Well, for one, I do sew fast. I’m sorry, but I just do! I’m very comfortable with my machines and most techniques I use, which means a lot more sewing and a lot less unpicking. I also just tend to do everything fast (people are very amazed when I join them for lunch and inhale my sandwich in less than thirty seconds), so don’t be discouraged if you’re not ol’ Speedy at the machine.

queue

Another big one is that I always have something in the works – once I finish a project, I immediately start the next one in my queue. The queue changes around based on current needs/wants or if I get a shiny new pattern that week… but the point is, I have a queue. Speaking of which, I found the easiest way to keep the queue in check is to pull out the patterns I plan on sewing and store them separately from the rest of my stash. On the front of each envelope, I pin a little swatch of the fabric I plan on using (see above photo). Much easier than yanking off the whole yardage and piling it on the table with the patterns… which was what I was previously doing. Anywaaaay, back to what I was saying – I literally work projects back to back to back. This means that during weekends where I have a couple marathon seshs in a row, I could easily end up finishing 2 or 3 projects – or even more, depending on how simple they are (knit tshirts, I’m looking at you). Obviously, I don’t want to post them all in a row – I think you guys would get real bored of my face real fast – so I try to spread them out a little. This is not always the case when I’m posting like I’ve got a fire under my butt, but a lot of times it is. Sometimes those Finished Objects are kind of old!

I know this is a sewing blog, but I want to point out that I also do this with knitting. What can I say – I really love knitting, I don’t want to *not* have a project in the works (same with sewing)! Not having any creative downtime may make me sound like I’m working some kind of bizarre sweatshop with horrible self-imposed deadlines, but honestly… I just really love making things, and I feel lost if I don’t have a WIP that I can tinker around with at any given time.

So anyway, here are some tips that will [hopefully]help you accelerate your sewing progress.

sewing room

#1: Have a Dedicated Sewing Space

I realize this leaves out a lot of people as not everyone can afford to set aside an entire room – or even an unused corner – dedicated only for sewing. That sucks! I’m lucky that I have the space (and I make enough money/live in an inexpensive enough area where the second bedroom is totally a dealbreaker when looking for places to rent), but I know not all of y’all have that kind of luxury. However, this is single-handedly the #1 reason why I can get so much done – I don’t have to spend half my time setting everything up and then later taking it down. My machines have their own tables and they are always plugged in, my ironing board never gets folded and stored, and my cutting table does not work part-time as a dining room table.

stash

Having a dedicated sewing space means that I can indulge in my favorite part of sewing (other than the sewing itself): STASHING. Wooohooo I love my stash!! Actually, my stash has shrunk considerably this year (this happens when you stop adding to it and start sewing from it!), but, it’s still a stash. My pride and joy when it comes to stashing isn’t actually my fabrics, though – it’s my stash of notions, trims, interfacings, linings, and all those other little sewing goodies that make you stop in the middle of a project because you don’t have one on hand. I won’t say I have enough stuff on hand to open a store, but I do have a lot. You don’t have to break the bank to build up a supply – just buy a little extra something or two when you go to the fabric store. For a few months, I concentrated on serger thread – I bought 4 spools of whatever color every time I stocked up on fabric. Eventually, I had every color of the rainbow – without having to drop mad $$ on it all at once. Most of my trims and zippers come from ~vintage~ stashes – the flea market, thrift stores, yard sales (I have friends and parents of friends who keep an eye out for me, too!) – which, if you’re not shopping on Etsy, old sewing supplies are practically given away. I have so much shit in my stash, I can make entire outfits without leaving the sewing room to stock up on something.

Obviously, pointing this out is not going to magically grant everyone access to their own sewing room (I wish!), but I do want to point out that this does give me quite a sexy leg up on the competition.

happy dayz
#2: UFOs Don’t Exist in My World

Ah, UFO – or, Unfinished Objects (altho if you want to talk about aliens, I’m down for that too), the bane of most sewer’s experiences. How many times have we started something, only to shove it in a box when something with a little more sparkle catches our eye? Guys, I know it is tempting to embrace your magpie tendencies – but it is murder on your productivity! Starting up a project takes precious time – from determining your chosen pattern and fabric, to cutting and marking the pieces, to all the boring pre-work like staystitching and fusing interfacing… and we haven’t even gotten to the actual construction! What is the point of wallowing through all that, just to set it aside and start the process over again? Not to mention, I’ve noticed a lot of people who tend to pile up UFOs rarely stop at just one.

To me, UFOs just contribute to wasting time. It’s one thing to set something aside if it’s frustrating you, but you shouldn’t make a habit of picking up a new project and starting over, because it can quickly get out of control. I made peace with myself a long time ago and decided to eliminate the UFOs in my sewing room and finish every.single.project, even if it killed me. Sometimes it does make me want to destroy things – but I soldier on and finish that fucking garment. Occasionally, it actually speeds me up because I’m so desperate to finish and move on to the next shiny object. So maybe in a way, it’s kind of bad for my productivity since I occasionally will find myself cutting corners in a desperate attempt to just be done. But on the flip side – I don’t have those half-sewn pieces creeping around my sewing room (is it just me, or do they nag at you and make you feel all stressed and sad? Say it’s not just me!), and I have a finished object to show for it! Yay!

muslin
#3: Make a Muslin

I know, it’s like toootally contradictory. When you’re short on time, ain’t nobody got time for a fuckin muslin. This is NOT even true and all of us need to collectively reprogram our brains, like, now.

Besides obviously avoiding the trauma of spending your time on something, only to discover it doesn’t fit – muslin-makin’ is also good for increasing your speed, as it will give you a chance to practice a little on the garment before you start hacking into the good stuff. This means you will spend less time pulling your hair out over the instructions – because, dude, you already did this! – and less time ripping out your seams when you inevitably made a mistake due to sucky instructions. I also feel pretty confident, post-muslin, in that I know the garment will fit (since I basically already tried it on), which means less futzing with the fit during construction-time. Of course, I do fit-check throughout my sewing process (and you should too!), but it’s one thing to put half a bodice up against your chest to ensure things are coming along smoothly, and quite another to suddenly discover you cut the wrong size… halfway through.

One point I do want to make is that muslins do NOT take a lot of time to put together, especially if you speed up the process. Unless the skirt is something that needs to be fitted, I generally only sew the bodice. I do include a sleeve, but only one. I sew all my seams with a long stitch so I can quickly rip them out if I need to (and it pushes through the machine faster). I don’t bother with facings, collars, or buttons, although I do baste in a zipper. Also, this should go without saying, but once you make a muslin and get your fit down, that’s it! You can churn out multiples of the same pattern and skip the muslin.

happy dayz
#4: Sew Whenever You Have A Chance

I’ll admit, this is probably gonna be real rough for those of you who don’t have a dedicated sewing space 😦 But I do think it’s important to maximize your time – so what if you only have 20 minutes to spend cuddling your sewing machine? You could use that 20 minutes to stay stitch some curved seams! Mark your pattern pieces! Thread your machine and decide what buttons you want to use this time! Skip ahead of your pattern and assemble the collar! The point is, there is SO MUCH that you can do in small chunks of time, so don’t waste it by subscribing to the thought that you *only* have x amount of time to do anything – think of it instead like you have enough time to sew your bodice darts, or prepare your sleeves to get set in, or whatever.

This is pretty dorky – and y’all are totally going to make fun of me for this – but I actually get a lot of my little sewing bursts done in the morning, before I go to work. I don’t necessarily get up any earlier than I need to (although sometimes I do, ok, sorry I’m a dork!), but sometimes getting ready doesn’t take as long as I need, so I try to utilize that time in my sewing room instead of just chasing Amelia around the house for 20 minutes. I set a timer on my phone so I KNOW when I have to drop everything (the timer is important, you don’t want to get carried away and make yourself super late!), and I actually listen to it when it goes off. I don’t try to rush myself – if I only have 10 minutes and I only get some stay stitching done, who cares? That’s one less seam I have to stay stitch when I get home, awesomeee!! Which brings me to my last point…

cat
#5: Enjoy It!

I treat sewing the same way I treat a bicycle ride – I’m doing this because I enjoy it, not because I’m in a hurry (if I was in a hurry, I’d take my car. Or shop at H&M. Whatever!). When I catch myself trying to rush through the process, I force myself to stop and slow down. Sometimes this can be hard because I’ve basically ingrained it in my head that I HAVE to post new stuff every week, and oh god people are going to stop reading my blog and the world will end and ughhh… but, you know. That’s not true. I’m sewing because I love the entire process, not just the finished piece (although that’s a nice bonus, let’s be real). In my experience, rushing only leads to stress, tears, and a lot of fuck-ups. Stop, take a breather, and just slow it down. It’s fine. I promise.

Anyone else have protips to share for increasing your sewing output? I’m still stuck on the couch and I’m bored as hell… let’s have a discussion!!

Merry Christmas To Meeeeee :)

28 Dec

Just dropping in to show off the Christmas present I bought myself yesterday!

Merry Christmas to me!!
Wait for it…

New sewing machine
Wait for it…

New sewing machine :)
Yay! My first Bernina – a 350 PE 🙂
I guess you could say I was real good this year haha 🙂

We’ve been bonding since yesterday afternoon, and I must say – she’s a sexy beast of a machine. The mechanics are incredibly smooth and quiet, and the stitches are freakin perfect. Just a gorgeous piece of machinery, and super fun to sew with. It came stocked with a knee lever for the presser foot and a free walking foot (which is golden, since my #1 sewing machine deal breaker is that I need a walking foot, no lie). There are two thread cutters – one by the bobbin winder. GENIUS. Why didn’t I think of that?! The bobbin winder is cool as hell, btw – it’s automatic, as in you don’t have to press the pedal to get it to wind. Again – GENIUS.

Since I’m awesome and live in Nashville, my local Bernina dealer is only about a 20 minute drive away. YUSSS! I’ve actually been plotting/saving for this purchase since October or so, but I wanted to make sure I could pay for the whole thing without financing (or any other debt, for that matter – had to pay off the credit card first!). And lucky me, they were offering $100 off during Christmas. So I was able to splurge a little and buy some bobbins and an invisible zipper foot as well 🙂

I know you can buy machines online these days, and in some ways they may be cheaper (especially if you don’t have to pay taxes – our rate here is 9.25% and, ouch), but I really recommend buying your machine from an actual local dealer if you have the option. There are so many perks, aside from the whole fact that you don’t have to worry about the machine getting thrown around during shipment (and waiting for it to ship in the first place! Argh!). This store offers free getting-to-know-your-new-machine classes, which I will be taking advantage of – I barely know a quarter of the features on my Pfaff, and I sewed with her for 5 years! I also get free maintenance, cleaning and repairs for 2 years on the Bernina… and a free clean-up/repair on the Pfaff, so I can sell it 🙂 Not to mention the small discount I get on Bernina feet and accessories since I bought a machine from them.

And look – I even got a Bernina seam ripper lol:
lol Bernina seam ripper
I’ve never bought a *new* machine, so I didn’t know they came with branded seam rippers. Ahh, I am tickled.

I just realized this sounds way too much like a sponsered post – it’s not 🙂 I paid for this machine with my own money and the discount I got was offered to anyone who buys a Bernina from that store 🙂 I’m just super excited about my new baby and I wanted to share the love!

As a side note… assuming my Pfaff comes back in good working condition (the repair guy said it probably just needs a new pedal, no motherboard problems like I originally feared), anyone looking to buy a 7570? Holler at me! Haha! 🙂

Coat: The Final Countdown

23 Jan


Yep. I’ve had this song stuck in my head all week.

Guys! I’m almost done with my coat! 😀 😀 😀 We are entering FINAL COUNTDOWN phase – all the pattern pieces have been removed from their respective fabrics, folded & replaced back in the envelope, and my cutting table is (mostly)clean. I just have a bit more hand-sewing to do and then it’s time for a coat fashion show! Yay!

Here are some in progress pictures to get you pumped & ready…
steaming the undercollar
Steaming the undercollar – I wrapped it around my seam roll & propped it up against my clapper. Doesn’t it look so smug & satisfied in that picture? How can a seam roll look smug, anyway?

catch-stitch at the seams
Part of what has taken me so long with this coat is all the hand-sewing involved – there is a LOT. I pressed every seam open and catch-stitched down both sides. This really helps eliminate bulk, which is really necessary with fabric as thick as mine. I also beat the shit out of every seam with my clapper. That was fun.

Ever wondered what the inside of a tailored coat looks like?
tailored inside of coat
Here ya go! I already sewed on the facing pieces, so no pretty padstitching pictures for youuu – but you can see how the front is interfaced with hair canvas. I told you – lots of handstitching! And look at my cute sleeve heads 🙂 I used Gertie’s tutorial for setting in tailored sleeves – I have done this before with my Lady Grey (and much success!). It is my favorite method for setting in sleeves and it makes everything easy easy! Got it right the first time, yeah!

back stay
Here’s the coat back – not much to see here, just a back stay. Boring!

collar - no topstitching
Collar is looking good, thanks to all that padstitching.

coat with topstitching
And then topstitching. I was a little apprehensive about doing this – I think topstitching can really make or break the look of a garment. Usually the latter – sometimes it looks kind of cheap. But I like the way it looks on the coat, which is good! Don’t wanna rip all those stitches out, el oh el.

So that’s where we are as of today! I actually dropped the lining in the coat yesterday afternoon, although you can’t see it from the pictures – all I have left is more hand-stitching. And sewing on the buttons. And then I’m going to throw a hissy fit because this whole week is going to be a balmy 60*. Lovely, but coat-wearing weather it is not.

One last thing…
featherweight!
Look who is coming home with me today 🙂

she's coming home with me today :)
WE ARE IN LOVE.

my bad

27 Dec

just dropping in to report…

featherweight!
i may or may not have put a deposit down on a singer featherweight yesterday :X

MY BAD.