I’ve written about overcoming my fear of them (just about), Val once held my hand whilst I wrestled one into submission in the pursuit of some pyjama bottoms and my yearning for a barcelona skirt I’ve made myself is still strong. I’ve reached a crossroads -I think it’s time I had my own sewing machine.
I have to admit I’m still rather wary of the needle and the calculus-like workings of these miraculous machines but the potential for making small twirly skirts for small twirly daughters is undeniable and very alluring. Crochet was my craft nemesis for thirty years. My urge to make a woolly flower was so strong that my treadle trepidation was forgotten. I’m trying to design my own crochet shawl just now and last night I crocheted part of a slipper boot so I think the hooky hurdle may be conquered.
I think I’ve chosen one. It’s basic, several people recommended it on Twitter and, well, it’s duck egg. blue. DUCK EGG BLUE.
What advice might you have for a person embarking on such a crucial craft relationship? Do you have any sewing machine-related tales (please omit any involving smoke, flames or stitched fingers until I’m feeling a little more brave)
Images from here
Note: I have drawn the winner of my Country Living bookazine and antique necklace giveaway and will announce it in my next post, Many thanks for all the entries x
oh that's cute. advise. mmmm. don't use cheap thread. oh and don't cut up the children's old clothes whilst they are looking……
Wow, that machine is identical (apart from the colour) to my machine – which is actually a Janome. If it is indeed the same machine (I'm assuming it's just been rebranded/coloured for JL) then it should see you ok. Yes, it is basic, but I've managed to wrangle a double sized patchwork quilt through mine, 6 years old and still going strong!
Go for it! I've heard those John Lewis machines are great – I think they are made by Janome which made my lovely machine.
My advice is to buy fabric you love which will make you cherish your new clothes. Even the simplest of garments can be transformed by fabulous fabric.
I have a Brother sewing machine. It's a few years old but it's much better than the 1970's Kenmore I was using before that. I love that they're made with computerized settings these days, I think it's harder to go wrong…and boy, did I go wrong with that old machine. All the time! 🙂
If it's duck egg blue you absolutely can't go wrong, everything will be divine. CJ xx
Indigo Blue says
Pity you do not live closer as I am organising some sewing machine starter classes in my local area.
It is probably a Janome as has already been mentioned but please make sure that it has a proper foot pedal. My daughter was bought a purple sewing machine from John Lewis by a relative and the foot pedal was not a full voltage one but more like a kids toy version which we were in fact up grading her from.
She now has a midi jernome which I bought in person. You can get lots of attachments online, and it might be worth looking at the Jernome website. If I can help in any way let me know, I am a textiles teacher with a fashion background and used to passing on how to make friends with a sewing machine although they are generally in the same county but I am game if you are!
Have a good weekend.
French Knots says
I have taught a few people to sew who have bought JL machines. The model you have chosen is better than the cheaper one they do which is a nightmare to thread and woefully underpowered. There are lots of great dressmaking tutorials to help you build your confidence, the more you sew the more you'll enjoy it!
Welcome to the dark side! I agee with the other comments – steer clear of cheap thread, change your needle and clean your machine regularly (I use a small paintbrush to get those bits of fluff out from the bobbin, throatplate etc), look for natural fabrics – in colours that you love. Cheap nasty fabric will only make cheap nasty clothes, and start saving your old bedding – it is great for testing patterns and practising with.
I bought a reasonably priced sewing machine on offer from a store but haven't had the guts to use it yet!Maybe you will lead the way!AriadnefromGreece!
Celia Hart says
I'd go for it, reasonable price and does all you need plus probably more.
I have 4 sewing machines
1 very old Singer (late 19th C)
2 slightly less old Singer (early 20th C)
3 1970s Singer, electric, does zigzags!
4 a 1980s overlocker* that lives in a box in a cupboard
I would never part with 1, 2 or 3 they are all a pleasure to use 🙂 but 4 quite frankly scares me sh**less.
*free to a good home if anyone wants it
How exciting, have fun is the most important thing. I used to make lots of my clothes in my late teens and early 20s and even made my bridesmaids dresses. My machine has been in the loft for years. I am with my crochet where you are now with your sewing! How funny! I look forward to seeing your journey. I agree re the thread and keeping the lint out of the workings x
Ellie Foster says
Speaking from experience, buy the best machine you can afford. I have a mid range Janome which I love – it has a variable sewing speed so can never run away with me. If there is a sewing machine shop anywhere near you, do go and visit. I am really lucky that there is one across the road from us and they were so helpful, letting me try a few models out. I would also suggest using Gutermann thread. Also, make sure you get lots of spare bobbins because I have found you can never have enough! Lastly, just to help your confidence, consider having a couple of lessons, if you haven't done that already. I had been using my machine for years, but not to make clothes, which I was scared of. I had eight lessons and am now able to make a tote bag, an A line skirt, a tunic dress with set in sleeves and have just made a pair of long shorts!
I hope you have a wonderful sewing journey!
Go for it! Every time I visit a fabric shop I wish I could make my own clothes, curtains, cushions . . . Mastering the sewing machine is definitely the way to go!
Emma, congratulations on your decision to purchase a sewing machine. No home should be without one, and I expect that your home is going to find so many opportunities to sew.
When I had a peek at the JL link I thought…that machine is a beautiful color, and its profile looks a lot like my very own little Janome.
I rehomed my 1968 vintage heavy Singer portable a few years ago when I decided to buy the lovely Janome, having done all sorts of research…as you have. What tipped me towards Janome was a couple of very long chats with my buddies at the Purl Soho shop where the back room hosts regular sewing classes. Their machine of choice is trusty Janome.
Seeing your sewing enthusiasm is encouraging me to perhaps set my busy knitting needles aside for a bit and let little Janome take the stage.
Happy sewing! xo
I have four sewing machines and have been scared to use them all! I have overcome my fear of machines since attending free lessons locally. I have made a pair of pyjama bottoms a Scottie dog doorstop, a zipped pouch and an alteration to the sleeves of a much-loved top. I enjoyed using the machines on the course so much that I am buying one of them when the course finishes. The machines were nothing fancy and easy to thread up/change bobbin etc. They were John Lewis Special Edition machines. 🙂
You won't regret buying it; for inspiration and tutorials Google Tilly and the buttons. You will be quite the expert very soon!
The House with the Blue Door says
I've had my sewing machine for over 25 years which is going strong, and a very old hand-operated one which still works well. Over the years I've made clothes for myself and my children, all our curtains and cushions, and many other things. I'd agree with the advice not to use cheap thread, but if it's duck egg blue, what are you waiting for? 🙂
I do try but my machine hates me! chews up and spits out anything that I offer it! decided to stick to knitting for the forceable future!
I cannot advice you on what sewing maching to by, but a duck egg blue one sounds absolutely lovely to me! You will like the machine! I love having one to make pillow cases, curtains and when I was a bit younger even my own clothes.
Mrs. Micawber says
Definitely buy the best you can afford – also the simplest you can get for the money. You don't need a lot of embroidery-type stitches (in my opinion at least). Forward, reverse, zigzag, and a good buttonhole function are worth any number of fancy stitches.
Take your own fabric along to test the machine. Bring several bits of various weights and drape, including some knit fabric (like tee-shirt or rayon knit). Sewing stores always seem to have heavily-starched stuff that any machine will sew on, but you want to know how it will perform in the real world. What happens if you try to hem a stretch fabric? What if you want to work with a delicate open weave? Make sure it can handle the fabrics you are most likely to work with.
(Have just peeked at the link to your chosen machine and find that it looks very like mine, a good basic machine with not too many bells and whistles. I have to admit though that mine cost a lot more than that, fifteen years ago. Not sure why.)
A small but good collection of presser feet is very helpful – a foot with a wide opening for zigzag, an overcast foot if possible, and a zipper foot are very helpful.
Get the best needles you can afford too – and if you're going to sew with knit fabrics, splurge and buy some good-quality stretch needles (Schmetz is a good brand here in the US).
And yes, never buy cheap thread. 🙂
P.S. I love those illustrations – the top two aren't even looking at the machine! I'll bet the only one who can sew a straight seam is the bottom gal.
Terry Baker says
Great to see that you're about to take the plunge – beware it may become a new obsession! Do buy the very best machine you can afford, even if its not duck egg blue! I've had students on classes with the fancy coloured ones and I'm afraid they've had some tension problems and trouble with anything more substantial than light weight cotton.
With your wonderful recent post about your beautiful feathery machine embroidery you could try Backstitch's stunning new feathery fabric- it's even available in that duck egg blue you hanker after. Just go for it! Look forward to hearing about your sewing adventures.
Saffa Barkhordar says
Love the duck egg blue sewing machine you've picked out Emma, I am still saving for one myself 🙂 Like you I have the urge to make with fabric many things, especially a big patchwork and gifts for the family. Have a fun time with yours, its good to concur fear even in same steps I find, Safxxx
Now a whole new world will be opened up to you — have a wonderful time!!!
Annie Cholewa says
You are going to have so much fun!
I can only echo the other comments … no cheap thread, decent quality fabric, frequent needle changes, and a small assortment of different needles and machine feet the various sewing jobs should see you right.
Rachael Ainscough says
Good luck with the sewing machine Emma. I'm envious that you have found a duck egg coloured one. The colour itself should soothe you into calm creativity. If not. Give me a shout and I'm not far away. I bought mine with my mum in my early 20s. It's still going strong and has made children's school play costumes, Halloween costumes, curtains for my house, maternity dresses and ball gowns. The best was working with Leah age 9 to make a patchwork pillowcase for her newly decorated bedroom. Enjoy and when brave enough teach the children too.