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Sewing question - Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist — LiveJournal
Sewing question
Sew. I've been looking online for the last few weeks trying to find a camera bag and a better laptop back. It sucks super hard. Nothing is quite right or too expensive. Thus, I've returned to the belief that I should, in fact, just make my own darn bags.

To that end, Fox and I went to Joanne's lst night to get a quick introduction to their sewing machines. Um.. too many options? It's crazy, both the price and the number of options.

So, I'm hoping that many of the sewers in that read my LJ could chime in with recommendations for us.

    In the immedicy, we are planning on making he following things:
  • a rigid laptop and camera bag
  • Various skirts.
  • T-shirts.
  • various clothing repair, like hems and buttons.

The Viking machines that the lady at Joanne's showed us more machine than i think we'd use for a long while. I honestly don't think we need 18 different stitches and variable speeds beyond what the pedal provides. We saw a singer model that looked better, six stitches or so including button holes. But I haven't the foggiest.

Sew help? What is a good entry model that won't drive us crazy when we start making somewhat more advanced clothes/things? We're also hoping to keep tis relatively inexpensive. The Viking models we saw were just under $500. I'm hoping for no more than $300. Less would be nice.

I's tireds. Poe took all my foot space pst my knee. No ability to move means I can't sleep. She also wouldn't get off the bed even when I stuck my feet in her face.

Silly cat.

I leave for New Jersey tomorrow.
Damn Jersey....

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30 comments or Leave a comment
techdragon From: techdragon Date: June 25th, 2007 01:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Honest truth?

I do ALL my sewing on a Brother LS-2125 that I got from Walmart for $80. Vinyl. Leather. ..... Has lasted me 4 years so far. The key is using the right needle and thread not necessarily the machine.

My serger is a completely different sort of thing so I have a $400 Jacome that does so much more but the money was more needed spent in that case.
abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 01:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
So you're saying that machine is less key than correct equipment therein? What would you recommend then for what we want to do? i suspect that I will need a stronger needle and thread for my bags. Fox likely won't need anything special for skirts and shirts.

Can normal machines handle leather? I have a suspicion i may eventually want to make a leather bag of some sort in the distant future.
zesty_pinto From: zesty_pinto Date: June 25th, 2007 01:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
First cooking, then photography, and now sewing?

I wish I could give you some advice, but the only good knowledge source I have is from a knitter.
abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Um. Not sure what you're getting at with that first part. But! Yes, I am awesome.

I've considered learning to knit. However, it would be hard with one hand. I bet i could learn to knit with my toes, though. i have dexterous toes. I can play mortal combat with my feet.
nidea From: nidea Date: June 25th, 2007 02:10 pm (UTC) (Link)
I got my machine for about $200 at Sears. It wasn't their cheapest model, it was in the middle. It has lasted a long time (8 years?) with moderate use. I got it cleaned once after the housefire, but haven't done anything to it otherwise besides blowing the dust out now and then.

Ditto Techdragon; invest in good needles that are the right style/thickness for your material, and use good thread. Cheap thread is ok for quilts or something that doesn't get stressed by pulling on it, but not much else.

Garage sales sometimes have older machines that do maybe straight stitch and zigzag -- see how heavy it is. If it is super heavy you know it has metal parts. These machines are worth their weight in gold.

Buttons and most other repairs should be done by hand; unless you are starting a factory you don't need a machine to put buttons on. Buttonhole stitch is nice to have but that too can be done by hand (takes some time but is not difficult).
abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 02:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
What brand are you using? Where do I learn what threads and needles to use?
aetrix9 From: aetrix9 Date: June 25th, 2007 02:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've got an extra machine in the basement that I would happily give on an extended loan. It's a straight-stitch + zigzag. I've sewn everything from damasque silk to 3 layers of denim with no problems. It probably needs a tune up, which is about $40. It'll give you guys the ability to try out sewing and bag patterning without the big up-front commitment. If you get to sewing and want more machine then you've only sunk $40 into the endeavor.

The only thing "fancy" that this machine wouldn't do is guided buttonholes (from a patterned template) but it does have enough width in the satin stitching to be able to hand-make buttonholes. They're not pretty, but they're functional.

abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 02:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
We'll consider. I expect that this is absolutely something we'd start doing frequently, especially since my bag design in mind is modular.

Have you seen this? (Sears.com)
aetrix9 From: aetrix9 Date: June 25th, 2007 02:53 pm (UTC) (Link)
Just to throw a suggestion in: Madison is littered with Sewing stores who are much more willing and able to sell you a sewing machine with all of the accessories for a discount. Plus, they will normally service your machine at least once or twice for free.

I've worked with the folks at M&R Sewing and I also hear good things about Walcott Sewing. Both places have stores on Odana Rd. M&R is near Smart Toyota and Walcott is in Market Square on the Westernmost end.
abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are they less likely to try and sell me a specific brand? I disliked that the lady at Joanne's was all "VIKING MACHINES ARE TEH COOLEST!"
nathan_lounge From: nathan_lounge Date: June 25th, 2007 02:58 pm (UTC) (Link)
*shifty eyes*
abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
quincidence From: quincidence Date: June 25th, 2007 03:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
Some of the custom sewing shops have used sewing machines for sale.
I have a nice machine that is all metal drive. If you want to be doing leather, the metal drive certainly will make it go smoother.

When I took sewing lessons a few years ago, the instructor got memeurgy a hasquvarna older model for $400. The deal was way nice due to well, me being a student and personal friend of the seamstress instructor... but sewing shops sell older not as fancy models, and though you don't need the extra stitches, you certainly won't mind them if you get a metal drive machine.

I want to add, I TOTALLY agree that it is super important, top of the list to have good needles and thread.

The hasquevarna has an all metal drive.
there are others, but if you go to the store, and tell them what kind of used one you are seeking, they will work with you.
M&R was the place I always went to get the machine tuned up. Sigh, the bliss of a well oiled and smooth sewing machine

I could probably let you look at mine if you wanted to... it is a lesser know model name, but is what was used in the advanced high school and tech school classes for it versatility and ability to take a beating from some of the frustrated students.
abmann From: abmann Date: June 25th, 2007 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
K. Where do I learn about the right needles and thread to use per project/fabric? Everyone is saying I need this information but aren't telling me how to get it.
kittydesade From: kittydesade Date: June 25th, 2007 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
And now my two scents! On sewing and what have you, they come in grandmother's attic and fresh leather. Ahem. Anyway.

I have two sewing machines: a Singer featherweight from, like, the 50s. That'll sew through anything and the only part it has that would be a bitch to replace is the motor. I've dropped it, knocked it off the table, kicked it, and flown with it, and it still runs. I've had it for nigh on ten years now and the only thing I've had to replace so far is the needle (NEVER EVER EVER SEW OVER PINS! OMG NEVER!) and the belt. Belts are under 20$, needles are cheapass. And that fucker will sew through anything.

I also have a Brother of some kind or another, I can't tell because i'm at work and it's at home. It's a little tempermental but it's actually not bad. My mother got it for my sister and I absconded with it so I couldn't tell you what it cost, but Brothers and Singers generally go, the lower end non-500 stitches models go for 200-300$. It has trouble with thicker fabrics, and I'm wary of sewing my denim bags with it. I'll probably use the Singer Beast for that. But in the costume shop at Beloit we used Brothers, New Homes, Janomes, and they all worked pretty well.

The stitches you need will most likely be a) straight, b) zig-zag, c) buttonhole. Automatic buttonholes are your FRIEND. I've never used any other stitches, although I have used a cuople other feet. Feet are the things you stick on the arm, that the needle goes through. Looks like a pedal or a foot. You need, for basic stuff, two feet. A standard foot and a buttonholer foot. Sewing machines that you buy new come with their own feet. A lot of feet. Ignore most of them, you won't need them untill/unless yuo get fancy with the sewing. Straight and zig-zag stitches can be accomplished with a normal foot. BUttonholers reuire a special foot that makes sure the buttonhole is the right size for the button you're putting on. I love automatic buttonholers.

Variable speeds is useful but not necessary. IT's useful because soemtiems you'll be sewing slippy or otherwise annoying fabric, and then you want to go slow and careful. Or if you're just sewing two peices of cotton together and you're confident of your skills you can go fucking fast. Or if you have a horrible fear of sewing your fingers together, you can go medium speed. But again, not necessary.

Laptop bags are annoying. Get a bunch of fabric to practice on first. I recommend the 1$/2$ yard things.

Um. There was more advice here, but I have to go back to work now, so. Any questions, yeah! Also, sew_hip for the win.
devianttouch From: devianttouch Date: June 25th, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm a strong supporter of older machines. I have a Singer from the 60s that I love and have been using for 15 years (yes, I started using it when I was 10). My ex has a Kenmore from the 70s that is also a good machine. Older machines are often stronger than newer ones, and getting needles and stuff isn't hard because the standards for needles and bobbins haven't changed at all.

Seriously, don't buy a $300 new machine. Buy an $80 old machine, oil it well, and it'll do a better job for far less money.
From: thegelf Date: June 26th, 2007 01:45 am (UTC) (Link)
Ditto the older machines suggestion. I learned to sew on my mother's Singer which she got for her Bat Mitzvah. She was born in 1953, you do the math. It's a turquoise colored beast that will sew anything I throw at it. I've sewn through pins and not had any problems (except bent pins). Sewing hobby shops, sewing machine repair shops, Good Will, and yard sales are all good bets for finding used ones.
30 comments or Leave a comment