Sewing requires some specialized tools, the biggest one being the sewing machine itself. If you're new to sewing, you might be tempted to get a machine as cheaply as possible. However, this is one of those cases where saving a few bucks now can end up causing you hours of frustration later. Purchasing a machine within your budget is necessary, but getting the cheapest (or free-est) machine out there is rarely the best option. We combined our own years of experience with expert tips from sewing machine sponsor, Janome America to bring you the top five things to keep in mind when shopping for a new sewing machine. We're talking here about entry-level or mid-range models for day-in-day-out sewing of clothing, quilting and home décor. We'll look at the top-of-the-line models that combine embroidery and other special features in future articles. Right now, you want to concentrate on ease-of-use, stitching precision, and reliability.
Janome America is one of the Signature Sponsors of Sew4Home. They've been with us since the beginning and provide all our studio machines. We are definitely Janome-aholics, and for good reason. Their machines give us the power, precision and stitch quality to create projects that look amazing every time. Whether we're doing beautiful edgestitching and topstitching, going through multiple layers like a hot knife through butter, or producing stunning decorative stitching and embroidery; we count on our Janome machines every day, and they never disappoint. Today, we're bragging about the newest Janome, the top-of-the-line Horizon Memory Craft 15000, which arrives this month at Certified Janome Dealers. Billed as the embroidery, sewing and quilting machine designed to take you Anywhere You Want To Go, this new model is a technological powerhouse... it can even connect wirelessly with an iPad®!
We get quite a few compliments on our samples and photography, which makes us blush and makes our day! Some of the most common notes are about how "smooth," "straight" or "perfect" things look, along with a request to know, "What are your secrets?". We're firm believers in surrounding yourself with the top tools to get the job done. Having the right tools on hand makes all the difference in how easy a project is to complete, as well as how good it looks when finished! We've found that spending a little bit more up-front can more than pay for itself in the long run. You save both time and money when the project turns out right the first time, plus there's no hair-pulling, no swearing, no hurling things out the window (all reactions we've been guilty of when a tool has failed us). Because we have three pretty pillows this week as part of our 10 Designers & 10 Collections series for FreeSpirit and Rowan Fabrics, we collected our fave tools for pillow making. Read up - gather 'em up - and make a prettier pillow.
We love all the soft stuff that comes from our friends at Fairfield Processing (the makers of Poly-Fil® and more). Today, we give you a little history about the family company where it all started and is still happening. Over 70 years ago, in 1940, Samuel Young started a company in Danbury, CT that specialized in processing natural fibers to be used in making hats and other items. He gave it the sensible name: Fairfield Processing Corporation. Twenty years later, working with his son Robert, Sam introduced an innovative polyester fiber that was perfect for stuffing toys. It held its shape. You could wash it. It was really space-age stuff! They called it "Poly-Fil" and it soon became the favorite filler for crafters everywhere.
It’s a wee bit of an understatement to say there are lots of sewing trims. In fact, if you were to lay all of the trims available end to end, they'd likely cover the earth! But choice is what we love, isn't it? It adds the spice to our sewing life. And, a room like our Romantic Bedroom Retreat, sponsored by Rowan and FreeSpirit Fabrics, cries out for some extra special embellishments. If you’ve been a Sew4Home reader for a while, you may have read our original tutorial on Terrific Trims. Since then, we’ve developed more project ideas using different kinds of sewing trims – some trendy, some traditional. A perfect example is the current Romantic Retreat projects for which we dove into the upholstery trim section to find an unbelievable assortment of tasseled and beaded trims and fringe. Another recent example was our experimental trim week with Simplicity; we designed two fashionable handbags (links are provided at the end of the article for these and other trim-focused projects) around “new” metal trims. This lead to our popular tutorial: Adding Metal Trims to Sewing Projects. Between these and others, we realized it was time for a Terrific Trims update.
Creating a lush and luxurious Romantic Bedroom Retreat is the perfect opportunity to incorporate a few of the wide variety of trims available. We added dense chainette fringe to our Coverlet and elegant tasseled fringe with crystal accents on both our Valance and Bolster. Plus we have piping and more in upcoming tutorials. These options just prick the surface of the variety of trims available both in-store and online. They always look so beautiful wrapped around their little bolts, rows and rows from which to choose. But many people shy away from using these gorgeous embellishments because they're unsure how to sew them in place. We have more information on the trims themselves coming up later in the Romantic Retreat series. Today, we’re here to help you understand how to use your sewing machine, and the specialty feet (as well as standard feet) available, to sew all kinds of trims.
Being able to draw a straight line to follow with a seam or make a series of dots to indicate exact spots for buttons, pleats or darts means you have to mark your fabric... often on the right side... often where it could be seen on the finished project! Sounds scary, right? Only if you're considering using a Sharpie®. There are special tools made precisely for fabric marking, and some of the very best we've found come from Sewline products, distributed in the USA, Canada and South Africa by United Notions, the parent company of Moda Fabrics. Our pals at Moda introduced us to Sewline last year, and after testing them on several of our own projects, we're here to recommend them to you.
When a really useful tool comes into our lives, we adopt it as a new convenience, then usually find it hard to envision more than just small improvements to its basic design. This is the case for most us when it comes to our trusty irons. Today's irons are the same basic shape and size they have been for decades. We accept them, use them and are pretty happy with how they perform. So, when we decided to review the Clover Mini Iron II as part of our latest Fabric.com series, we were, at first, stumped as to exactly how we might use this tiny little iron. Our current steam irons were doing a good job handling the pressing tasks we needed, and this product looked more like a cross between my brother's wood burning tool set (which I was not allowed to touch), and my own curling iron. However, once we played with the little devil, we came up with all kinds of ideas. As we often say, using the right, specialized tools makes things go more quickly, more easily and often... makes the task more fun!
One of the most important parts of sewing has nothing to do with your sewing machine at all. It's the pressing process. The better job you do pressing your project, the more professional the result. We recently discovered a specialty pressing tool that has become a new favorite: the Steady Betty pressing surfaces. Originally designed for quilters, these boards are great for all kinds of pressing tasks. Their special surface gently holds your fabric in place, which means less stretching and distortion. And, they stay cooler than a traditional ironing board surface, but still allow enough heat to be delivered to the fabric. No more "ouchie" fingers when working with tiny binding folds or opening ¼" seams. Steady Betty has a wide variety of products. We took a look at their Original pressing board, the new Press & Pin board and a Pedal Betty, which keeps your machine's foot controller from creeping away from you.
Crazy Love by Jennifer Paganelli for Free Spirit Fabrics just came out the end of February and it has been flying off fabric shop shelves. The jewel tone colors and almost psychedelic mix of reds with hot pinks, orange with lavender and rich chocolaty browns sing in intricate patterns. It's an interesting design blend of classic, free-flowing bohemian shapes plus a hint of the linear symmetry of 1920's art deco. Sounds almost crazy, but it's love at first sight.