Category Archives: Tools
By Raden Payas
Sewing may not be a hobby for everyone but for those that wish to learn how to sew may benefit from a sewing machine that offers basic functions but with updated features that will help the user improve her craft. With so many sewing machine models and brands in the market, how does a novice sewer choose the best one? Which one is the best machine for beginners to use? Here is a list of the best models and brands that you may want to check out:
- Singer 4411 – this is a basic sewing equipment that has all the functions that a beginner should master before taking on a more complicated model. It has 11 stitches to choose from, with a heavy duty metal frame, stainless steel bed plate, an easy to use bobbin system with a clear cover and a high speed of 1,100 stitches per minute. This Singer sewing machine is also available in model 4423 with 23 stitches and 5532 with 32 stitches.
Singer is a popular stitching machine brand that is trusted by so many homes and owners all over the world. It is smart to go with a popular brand so you can be assured of quality. This beginner sewing machine has a 25-year limited warranty on its head, 2-year limited warranty on its electrical system and a 90-day warranty on labor.
- Brother CS8000i – is not just a basic sewing machine for beginners but it is also a quilting machine. Has an oversized table for large sewing or quilting projects. Its LCD display selector will allow you to easily choose stitches and adjust sewing speed. Features an automatic needle threader, easy threading system, ease bobbin winding and a light that will shine over your sewing.
Brother is another trusted name for high quality and affordable machines. The CS6000i has a 25-year limited warranty and free customer service via phone for life.
- Husqvarna Emerald 116 – this sewing machine has the most basic features making it the most practical choice for a beginner. It has simple knob controls, built-in threader, a one-step buttonhole maker and a hard cover to keep the machine away when not in use. Offers 16 basic stitches, a variety of presser foot selections included in your purchase, automatic bobbin thread pick-up, a slim free arm and a clear bobbin cover. This machine does not need oiling and has a stylish Swedish design.
Husqvarna may not be a popular brand in the US but it is known for heavy duty and affordable sewing and quilting machines for beginners and professional sewers.
- Janome 2212 – with a clean and easy to use design. Has dials that easily selects the speed and the type of stitch that you wish to use. With 12 stitches, stitch width and length adjustment options, a drop fed for free motion sewing and quilting and a four-step button hole system. Comes with a 25-year warranty.
Janome is a popular brand known for simple, easy to use and efficient sewing machines with practical features for beginner sewers.
To know more, you can always check if what is the best sewing machines at our website.
Ladies, you WANT this machine for Christmas. It’s the Janome CoverPro 900CPX.
I got mine this past summer for giving t-shirts that professional twin-needle top-stitching finish. No one will know you made it yourself. I’ve made several knit tops for work and everyone I’ve shown them to work stunned that I made them myself.
Right out of the box, this machine sews like a dream and it’s already threaded.
You’ll still use a serger for seams. The CoverPro is for hemming, however there is a chain stitch, too.
If you’re looking for an affordable sewing machine for beginners or entry-level sewers, then the Janome 2212 might be the one you are looking for. Despite the absence of fancy features and top-of-the-line technology found in more expensive models, it is built to last and makes sure the job gets done.
The Janome 2212 is very basic and lacks the digital found in today’s newer models. With its 12 built-in stitches, this sewing machine lets you get your job done well and even add a touch of creativity to it. Stitching becomes a simple task because of the dial pattern selection, as well as the stitch breadth and length adjustment features. If a sewer needs to be versatile in sewing different types of garments using different sewing types, here is when the drop feed and free are features come in. Working at a speed of 860 stitches per minute, this sewing machine guarantees a faster yet neater stitching experience. Thread winding becomes easy and convenient due to the machine’s push-pull bobbin winder. The built-in thread cutter and the snap-on presser feet allows for easier operation all in all.
The following are all the features of the Janome 2212:
- 12 built-in stitches
- 860 stitches per minute sewing speed
- Built-in thread cutter
- Four step buttonhole maker
- Free arm sewing
- Front loading bobbin
- Manual tension control
- Snap-on presser feet
- Turn dial stitch selection
- An inexpensive machine – the Janome 2212 is probably the most affordable entry-level sewing machine you can find in the market
- Easy to use – beginners are not going to have any problems using this machine as it is not at all complicated to use
- 12 built-in stitches – this feature offers variety and creativity for sewing projects
- Since it is mechanical, it doesn’t spawn much issues like those of electronic sewing machines
- For people who love fancy and modern features, this machine is not advisable since it only sports basic features
- The stretch stitching feature is non-customizable
The Janome 2212 Sewing Machine is a great machine, with lots of positive reviews. It is a great machine to use by beginners, intermediate sewers, and even by advanced sewers who want to have a lighter and portable machine to work on. With such an affordable price as sold in low price, the Janome 2212 is a great option for sewers looking for a basic, lightweight machine.
The Janome 2212 gets a 5-star rating. Click below to see all the features of this very affordable, entry-level sewing machine.
Rotating Cutting Mat
I’ve been wanting one of these rotating cutting mats even since I saw Jenny Doan from the Missouri Star Quilting Company use one in her YouTube quilting tutorials. Olfa makes both a 12″ and a 17″ square one.
I saw them at Jo-Ann’s, but it was $84.99. Are you kidding me? I decided to get one a few weeks ago when they had a 40% off all rotary cutters, mats and rulers. $50.99 is a little more reasonable, but sheesh, they’re still making a gang of money. The overhead on notions is like buying diamond jewelry.
Fiskars makes some, too, in an 8″ and 14″ size, but since my other cutting mats are Olfa and I like them, I didn’t want to change brands.
They’re easy to use. When you need to rotate it, just ever so slightly lift up on a corner and turn it. I was concerned that the rotating thingy in the middle would make it bulge or wobbly, but that’s not the case because it’s recessed into the dense foam mat under the cutting surface. It’s very stable and solid.
If you don’t have a Jo-Ann’s near you or you can’t wait for their next sale or coupon, I found a cheap source on Amazon.
Let me set the scene here, or as Sophia would say, “Picture it…” You’ve been sitting in front of Pinterest for the last 3 hours looking at quilts. Stop, stop, stop! Which one of you just said, “pfft”? Ok, 5 hours. You’re getting ideas not only for patterns, but for colors palettes. Red, black, teal… Tangerine, lime green, white… you get the idea. But when it comes time to actually go to the fabric store, you can’t remember all those beautiful color combinations.
I did it yesterday, myself. Spent about an hour staring at bolts of fabric, finally decided to get a cart, put a few bolts into the cart and there I was doing it again… straying from my original plan of sticking to one color scheme. I have THE hardest time only selecting a handful of colors. There are so many beautiful quilts online and the prettiest seem to be the ones with a few bright colors, but my mind goes crazy when I’m in the store and I just can’t stay on-task.
I’m good at co-ordinating colors once I have a focus fabric, but I suck at coming up with original color themes. Before I know it, I’ve got a cart full of fabric because I like ALL the colors, yet I have no idea how I’m going to use any of it. Yea, I know, that’s how stashes are built, but I need to get a handle on the spending.
This morning I thought, what if there was a cool tool that I could use to create color theme ideas for quilting? What if there was a way for me to track the colors I see from all the talented quilt makers I see on Pinterest?
I just love the colors in Vanessa’s quilt. Teal, cherry, black and white theme.
I have a color picker that I use for website graphics. It’s a pretty slick little eye dropper that grabs both the RGB and HEX values of a color from any image on my computer screen. So I picked up the colors in Vanessa’s block quilt and put them in the color tool over at http://www.colorcombos.com/combomaker.html and here’s what I came up with…
Is that slick or what! SewQuickly, baby!!
Right now you can’t save your color combos, but you can download a .png file of them. If you register on the website with your email address, they will notify you when the program is updated to allow saving your color combos.
UPDATE: Friday, January 19, 2013 – A couple days after I wrote this and explained how to use the color picker that I used, the stupid thing decided to stop working, after all these beers. So I had to hunt for a new picker. I found one called Color Cop and will work just fine. (download link below). They have some nice reviews on all kinds of pickers and they’re free, but free comes with a price is you don’t pay attention.
BEWARE when you install Color Cop or any others; read the dialogs on the screen and uncheck any checkboxes that want you to install toolbars and/or replace your default browser home page or search engine.
ColorCombos tool: http://www.colorcombos.com/combomaker.html
Free Color Pickers: http://www.techsupportalert.com/best-free-color-picker.htm
This morning I was Googling for some cheap fat quarters. I saw over on the QuiltingBoard forum several posts mentioned that Walmart and Big Lots had them. I rolled my eyes because I knews they’d be pure trash because no one wants “cheap fat quarters”. We want “fat quarters cheap”. My bad for using the wrong search terms.
I had a great shopping trip to Walmart this morning. Is that an oxymoron?
Anyhoo, so I took a trip to Wally World and check out their FQ’s. Don’t even waste your time. It looks they are printed on the poorest quality muslin with bargain basement cheap dyes… that have been rolled in the dirt… then hung in the sun to fade. They’re worse than Jo-Ann’s FQ’s.
Speaking of the devil, here is my stash of Jo-Ann’s FQ’s. I used to have another shelf of them, but have been slowly using them up when quality doesn’t count. Some of them are over 10 years old. I’d get like 50 packs at a time when they went on sale for .99 each. I can’t bare to part with them, but every time I go into that cabinet to look for something, I come away empty handed either because nothing in there suits me or I can’t bare to use that cheap fabric.
The only other place close by is Beverly’s. They’ve got quality FQ’s from top fabric lines, but $2.99/FQ is not cheap. I only buy them when they are on sale or I really, REALLY need just a little chunk of something.
However, I did find a few other gems like basting spray. Most quilters swear by 505 basting spray.
It’s great. It sticks well and it’s reposition-able, BUT if you try to reposition it on cotton batting, it will pull off a layer of fuzz with it. The other thing I don’t like about it is the price. I got some at Beverly’s. I don’t remember the price, but it was approaching $20 for a 10.93 ounce can.
I had some Dritz basting spray that I really liked. It repositions easier without pulling all the fuzz out of the cotton batting. Only thing is, I couldn’t remember where I had bought it and I’ve had that can for several years.
Low and behold, WW had it! A 10 oz can was only $8.47! I almost did a happy dance in the isle. Yes, of course I snagged a can of that goodness.
Sewing Machine Needles
This is another pet peeve of mine. I use 80/12 sharps and I have the hardest time finding them. Everyone’s got Universals, but the sharps are a rare find. Guess what else I found at WW? Schmetz Microtex Sharps 80/12 for $4.67. But instead of being next to all the other Schmetz Universal needles, I found them by the Singer needles by the Singer sewing machines.
I’ve been using my 120″ tape measure for years. I like it beause it’s extra long, but I’m used to wearing one around my neck and that 120-incher drags on the floor. I miss my old yellow cloth 60″ one. Accidentally sliced it with the scissors. Oops. So I picked up a new one today, too. Only thing is, I don’t think I’m going to like it. It looks like it’s made out of vinyl and I don’t like stuff sticking to my neck.
Oh! And speaking of scissors, I did a post yesterday about them. Skip Jo-Ann’s. WW has a better selection of Fiskars scissors at cheaper prices.
I just LOVE this collection of FQ’s.
If you know of a place that sells “fat quarters cheap”, whether it be brick and mortar or online, leave a comment.
Know this; the kids and spouse will attempt to use your fabric cutting scissors for all sorts of things. Hide them. Guard them. Lock them up. They must be kept sharp and ready at a moment’s notice. They are for cutting fabric only.
If you’re just getting started quilting/sewing, I recommend getting:
- Comfortable, sharp dressmaker shears. No need to spend more than $15-$25.
- A small pair of thread snips/clippers.
Buy On Sale
If you’re having a hard time parting with $25 for a pair of sewing scissors and if you have a Jo-Ann’s or Beverly’s near you, use the coupons from the Sunday paper. If you have a smartphone, you can download an app. I know Michael’s and Jo-Ann’s have Android apps. I don’t think Beverly’s does, but they do honor competitors’ coupons. If you buy online at Amazon and you have a credit card that can link to Amazon, you can use your credit card points to shop. 1 point = $1.
UPDATE: I just found some direct links to current printable coupons. How sweet is that! We don’t need no stinkin’ newspaper or smartphone. But seriously, I couldn’t live without my smartphone. Sad, I know.
I basically use one pair of 8-1/2″ Fiskars Razor Edged scissors. I’ve had them for many years and they stay sharp right to the tip. They’re nothing fancy, but they always get the job done. The closest thing they have to them now are these…
Notice the bent angle on them. This type of design is typically called a “dress makers’ shears” because the handle and blade are not inline with each other which allows the blade to remain flat on the table top surface when cutting fabric. So when shopping for a pair of scissors for cutting fabric, look for the words “bent” or “dressmaker”. You’ll be hatin’ life if you get anything else. Oh, and comfort-fit handles, especially if you’ll be cutting thick fabric.
Fiskars makes some good scissors and they’re really isn’t any reason to get something more expensive unless you sew have a reason for something else.
Gingher makes some pretty fancy-pants scissors (up to $200), but I just don’t care for their handles. Too thin and uncomfortable. I do have a pair of their nylon handle featherweight shears. They’re useless for cutting thick fabric. They actually have “give” to them and it’s like trying to cut with rubber blades.
Kai makes some pretty decent dressmaker scissors. They’ve got very good reviews.
Small Thread Snippers
For thread snipping, I use Gingher Featherweight thread clippers. My mom got them for me for Christmas over 20 years ago. They still make them. I LOVE them. They’re razor sharp… well, they were until some little grandson cut Lord knows WAHT with them and now they have the tiniest little nick in them. grrrrr
The little Gingher stork scissors (embroidery) are also good for snipping thread and are also very sharp. I have a pair. The design is very comfortable. It’s like they become an extension of my fingers.
I also have a pair of pinking shears, but I never use them. Beats me why I have them. Must have been one of those “I NEED these because they’re on sale and my mom has some…” type of purchases.
HOT TIP: It’s OK to have a couple glasses of wine when using scissors. Just don’t run with the wine.