Friday, March 22, 2013

Sewing again!

It's been a while and the itch to sew has been begging to be scratched
for a couple of weeks. 
I need to finish this skirt for my daughter that I started a couple of years ago!
Fortunately, it's a style that doesn't require a whole lot of fitting ---
nor is it a tailored skirt so it will still work for her.

I will get better pictures of the entire skirt once it's finished and pressed.
Right now it's in a rather wrinkley state.
The skirt is a bunch of 2.5" strips of 100% cotton fabric
serged together into one rather large tube.
The pattern maker recommended using a serger so sewing AND finishing 
all the seams (I think there are 52 strips in this version) 
can be done with one pass, saving oodles of time.

The strips alternate and you decide which ones will be
the inside of the box pleats.
I chose the darker fabric to be the inside portion.
The box pleats are stitched closed for the top 6" of the skirt.
I'm topstitching the closed pleats in the first photo.
My machine is a BERNINA (I used to work for them
so I still have a tendency to type their name in all caps per their
preference and demand) and I'm using foot #10 Edgestitch Foot 
which makes topstitching a breeze.
I keep the guide you see in the middle of the foot
sliding along the seam.
The needle position is 3 clicks to the left of center.

Here's my baby:
This used to be the high end Bernina back in 2001!
My Mom bought this for me because there was no
way I could have forked out that kind of money.
Even now the thought of replacing it with the current high-end
chokes my brain!
But I can dream, can't I?

My 180 also has the embroidery module, but the programming
is so old tech that it's not easy to use the current
digitized embroidery patterns, unless I get the Designer Software
which isn't cheap.
But then, nothing in the world of Bernina is cheap.

There, I'm able to type the branch name without using all CAPS!
See? All caps.
Even in memos for internal use, the word was all caps.
But notice the name of the machine model is all lowercase.
Guess it's an artistic thing ...

The third line gives you a hint as to why nothing in the Bernina world
is cheap.

Their machines are still made in Switzerland.
Switzerland never joined the European Economic Community
and their franc has been very strong against both the euro
and the dollar for decades.
Hence the higher cost to obtain their exports.

But I do love the brand.
I know there are quality machines sold by other brands
and those brands have their extremely loyal customers.
But I can't imagine myself sewing on anything other than a BERNINA.
My 180 is 12 years old and stills sews beautifully.

Which brings up the subject on what to buy in a sewing machine.
You really do get what you pay for.
If you buy a cheap machine to learn to sew on
the chances are high you will get frustrated and quit.
I've talked to a number of women who have tried to learn and gave up.
Almost 100% were using cheap machines.

Cheap machines are loud. They clang. They bounce.
Their timing is easily knocked out, and once the timing is
out on your machines, your stitches will look like crap,
if it stitches at all.

Even the high-end quality machines can have their timing knocked out
and require a professional service person to get it back into perfect timing.
But quality machines hold true timing much, much longer!
I sewed for years with my 180 without ever having a timing issue.

BTW -- fixing the timing requires specialized tools so 
don't bother watching YouTube videos or reading "how to"
guides on the internet, unless you have an older mechanical model.
The older machines which much easier to fix at home.
Today's computerized models require a professional
if you want it done right.

Now I realize that most people who want to learn to sew
aren't completely sure that they are going to love sewing
and will spend the rest of their lives putting their machine to use.
So the thought of forking out anywhere between $500 - $10,000
on a machine seems a bit daunting.
Perhaps even ridiculous?
But there's the rub ... try to learn to sew on a $100 machine
and I can promise you that you will more than likely toss the thing out 
within a year. And never sew again. Which is sad, really.
There are so many wonderful things to do with sewing machines.

So my advice is to look at several different options.

#1 is to learn to sew at a store that will let you use one of their machines.
#2 is to find a teacher that will teach you on her (or his) machine.
#3 is to find a good used machine.

A used machine is a good way to get started down
the road to a life time of sewing bliss.
You'll be better off purchasing from a dealer, 
but you may find a jewel at a garage sale or on Craigslist or eBay.
Do your homework researching which makes and models hold
their value and quality over time.


3 comments:

Ginger Davis Allman (The Blue Bottle Tree) said...

I grew up listening to my mother swear every time she had to do the mending. She gave me a cheap $100 machine when I graduated from high school and I taught myself to sew on that. It jammed, it wadded up, the tension was always OFF. It drove me nuts. But I just assumed that's what sewing was like. Finally I got enough pride in myself by age 30 or so to buy myself a Viking. And all of the problems magically went away! This thing always makes nice smooth lines and rarely jams. Heaven. But then I got spoiled. I worked in an alterations shop for three years and had my own BERNINA. That, plus the industrial sergers and gravity press iron, really spoiled me. Of course I can't afford to get my own Bernina now, and have to settle for my lower-end Viking. But there is NO way I would ever go back to a cheapie machine. Between those and the appalling quality of commercial patterns, no wonder people don't sew anymore!!

Which is a tragedy because I think sewing is a fantastic skill to have. As you and I both know, it makes shopping for our kids easier. Lanie had to have a dress for my brother's wedding and I just couldn't justify the expense of a fancy dress. Plus I procrastinated til the day before we left!! So we hit Plato's Closet (2nd hand store) and found something right away but it was too big. I took up the back seam and converted the ties to shoulder straps and in about an hour she had a perfectly fitting dress just for her. For $12. Win!! Maybe if I do that a lot I can afford a Bernina, you think?

Cindy@NorthofWiarton said...

Hi Hillary, I wish I could sew.

I have nominated you for the Liebster Award:
http://justnorthofwiarton.blogspot.ca/2013/03/the-liebster-award.html

KC @ genxfinance said...

If it;s your passion, go for it. The skirt for your daughter looks really nice.

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