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I love all things sewing!  It's all about the creative journey.  All my blog posts are letters to my sewing alter-ego - Lola!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

What I Know For Sure

Dear Lola,
As you know, I was always a big Oprah fan.  I loved watching her ask her guests her signature question, “What Do You Know For Sure?”  The answers that people give when asked this question are amazing windows into their minds, hearts and souls. 

I recently got to thinking about what answer would I give when asked this question about sewing.  After 5 years of winding bobbins, rotary cutting, sewing classes and throwing my whole creative spirit into all things fabric-related –

What Do I Know For Sure?

Top of the Line Machines

Sewists discuss this topic often.  Many that don’t have a top of the line machine aspire to own one and then there are those who have one and know it’s probably more machine than they need 99% of the time.  There are also plenty of folks out there who are absolutely satisfied with the machines they use – top of the line or not! I firmly believe the sewing machine you use doesn’t have to be the top of the line.  I say this not to make any sewing machine manufacturers unhappy.  I say it because it’s true.  This is when I insert a disclaimer – I own a Bernina 830 – their top of the line machine.  It’s a rock solid piece of artistry in motion.  It will last me until the end of time and then be passed on to my heirs!  It has every bell and whistle, but to be honest I don’t ever touch most of the amazing functions.  Knowing I could use all the features is comforting though.  So if you are thinking of taking up sewing – you can do a perfectly wonderful job with a solid machine that doesn’t have it all.  I find that my “go-to-stitches” are straight, zigzag, blanket stitch, satin stitch, free-motion, and a one-step button hole.  If your machine can do these stitches – you have most everything covered.  Never let your "machine-envy" hold you back!  Sew and grow – it can be done inexpensively!

Tables Matter

The table where you do your sewing and cutting is as important as the machine.  For the 4 years that I have owned my big honking sewing machine, I had it sitting on a banquet table I purchased at Costco for $50 bucks.  This is clearly an oxymoron right off the bat – machine worth thousands sitting on a $50 table!  I knew I wanted to upgrade to a “real” sewing table, but let’s face it – I shot my entire wad on the machine!  I came into a little inheritance when my beloved Mom passed this year and decided to finally get a serious table for my serious machine.  This was the single best big-ticket purchase I have made for my sewing space - EVER.  My machine no longer vibrates; my arms and back no longer ache; my stitches and cutting are straighter; and my bigger projects are just plain easier to manipulate.  So if I had it to do over again, knowing what I know now – a solid table with a place to sink your machine so it sits flush is at least as important as the machine you purchase.  In this chicken/egg - which came first argument – I think rock solid table should come first!  Make room in your budget for a solid sewing/cutting table no matter what!  Mine is a Koala.

Small Things Create Success

It’s the little things that count!  Change your needle, clean your machine and oil it if necessary.  These little things make a huge difference, cost little and secure a lot!  They are sewing insurance.  Everything just comes out better whenever I do these things.   Treat your machine as though it is a beloved child or even better – a beloved pet!  Give it what it needs to stay maintained.  My machine has a program that allows you to enter the type of needle currently loaded – which is great – but it’s not enough.  I keep a VERY high tech Post-It note pad right next to machine and attach that magic little sticky to the top of my machine with the date I changed the needle on it.  I look at this note every time I turn my machine on and I am reminded when I last changed my needle.  I like to change my needle with every project – I know that makes me a needle junkie – literally, but I buy them whenever JoAnn’s has their 50% off the notions wall sale and stock up.  For literally just a few cents, I am sure my needle is pristine and my project is more likely to come to a successful end.

Be A Groupie

I love my solitary “me” time in my sewing space.  I accomplish the most when I am alone and if it’s not too late at night – I make far less mistakes when I am sewing by myself – I am less distracted!  Yet there is no substitute for sewing in a group from time to time.  The juicy tidbits of knowledge you can pick up from your sewing friends are invaluable.  The collaborative spirits of the classroom, block of the month club, or quilting bee make my overall sewing experience better.  Seeing what others are doing during show-and-tell sessions opens my mind in tons of new directions.  Recently in my Michael Miller Clubhouse, I learned I could sew over floral wire and organza!  I love that my class neighbor’s supply box will almost always have some ruler, cutting tool, or notion in it that I have never seen before.  I adore it when I learn some new way to work a tool I already have too! You will never regret the knowledge you can cultivate and grow from being in a sewing group.  There are lifelong friends out there to be made too!  Even virtual groups like Craftsy give you a great sense of belonging. Sewists are friendly and supportive toward one another – definitely be a groupie!

Avoid being the Subject of a Future Reality TV Episode

In the time I have been sewing, I have created lots of little projects:  baby quilts, burp pads, bibs, bags, totes, notebook covers, and aprons.  Yes, most of them are easy to sew projects that require little real serious sewing skills.  I know without a doubt, my finished products are not heirloom items destined for a showcase or museum.  I have created lots of gifts that have been given away, but I still have many of the projects I have completed stored in big Rubbermaid plastic bins.  After buying yet another bin this week for my quickly growing collection of learning opportunities, I now realize my sewing projects are not meant to be stored away in boxes!  It’s time I sort them, keep a few, photograph the rest and then give them away or even sell them!  Yes, they are reminders of wonderful sewing experiences – but just like life – we can’t carry all the moments in our pockets with us forever. It’s time for me to send my projects on to destinations known and unknown!  Besides, if I don’t part with all these finished sewing projects very soon; I may find myself featured in an episode of “Hoarders”! 

Hugs and stitches,