Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Introduction to Sew Perfect!

Hi, my name is Brandie, and I'm a glutton for punishment.  Why is this, might you ask?  Well, it's very simple -- I decided that I wanted to learn how to sew.  And not just sew, but sew well.  You know, like clothes that people wear.  People like my unsuspecting children (muwahahaha!).  Then later -- after I've started to get the hang of this stuff -- I'll switch from sewing for them to sewing for me. 

I also thought it would be a great idea -- because I have no idea what I'm doing -- to write a blog to instruct and inspire others who have no clue what they're doing.  It's like the blind leading the blind.  You never know when you'll all walk off a cliff together!  Isn't the anticipation exciting?!  So I decided that I would blog about each and every one of my projects and point out every little boring detail that came to my attention, because you never know when someone might be as dull as you and want to know that stuff.  Hence Sew Perfect! was born.  As far as the name goes -- well, you try finding a decent name that starts with "Sew" that isn't already on Blogger.  Go ahead.  Try.  Then tell me what it is (quickly) before someone else snatches it!

After I decided that I wanted to learn to sew I realized I had a problem.  Well, a few problems.  The first problem is that I really have no experience sewing whatsoever.  I'd like to think I could hand stitch an item of clothing that needed a touch up, but really I don't know how well it would turn out.  Secondly, I had no sewing items.  Zero. Zilch. Nada.  I was pretty sure I needed some stuff if I wanted to learn to sew.

So I set out to remedy these problems.  I perused sewing machine reviews on my favorite website (Amazon.com) for hours.  Eventually I decided on the Singer 9960 Quantum Stylist -- a computerized 600-stitch, five star reviewed item for the reasonable price of $329.99.  Because I am an Amazon prime member, and because I am an impatient person, I paid $3.99 to have the item shipped overnight to me (oooh, the power of prime!).

Meanwhile, during the agonizing 16 hour wait for my new machine, I figured I'd better do some shopping (mainly because I figured I would need stuff to actually use my new machine).  I hit up Michael's, JoAnn's, Hancock Fabrics, Hobby Lobby and Wally World.  Yup, I was on a mission.  I came home with quite a few items and new opinions about each store.

Walmart was good for anything basic that you could also find elsewhere -- Fiskars scissors, cutting mats, pins, seam rippers, etc.  The only problem was finding those items in stock.  The sections were well raided and many items were missing from the shelves.  The fabric was hard to sort through and a lot of it seemed to be low quality.  I picked up some basics and skipped any fabrics.

Michael's was overpriced for .. well, for anything.  I think I picked up a couple spools of clearance Coats & Clark thread, and that's it.  And they didn't have a fabric section.  JoAnn's was the most expensive place of all -- even their remnants were outrageously priced.  The only thing I took home from JoAnn's was a pair of pinking sheers, since no one else had a pair in stock.  Unless there is an ad that catches my attention, I do not intend to go back to either of those stores.

Hobby Lobby was decent.  They had a lot of remnants and I picked up quite a few to work with/practice on.  I picked out a pattern -- a blazer -- and got the fabric for it.  The poly-satin seemed to be of good quality, and was only $2.99 regular price per yard.

Hancock Fabrics was my favorite store.  It had a large selection of clearance fabrics for me to choose from.  I came home with a few fabrics that I really liked just because they were on clearance.  I'll figure out what to do with them later, or they'll sit in my drawer for the rest of my life.  Whatever, we'll see.  Their remnants were slightly more expensive than Hobby Lobby's, but they did have a few I really liked, and most were over a yard.

So, to sum up the stores -- Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Hancock's Fabrics -- yes.  Michaels and JoAnn's -- hell to the no.  The one thing I never found for a satisfying price anywhere were the patterns.  I couldn't believe how expensive patterns were!  If I wanted to pay $10 for a pattern, another $15 for fabric and $7 for miscellaneous accessories, than I might as well save myself the trouble and buy an article of clothing.  Something had to give.  I decided to check the Butterick site, and had a stroke of luck -- they had a $1.48 pattern sale!  And the Butterick site is combined with McCall's, Vogue and Kwik Sew.  All the sites had a major sale, and I could combine shipping.  So I came away with 7 patterns and shipping for $18.  Score!  From now on I will shop directly from them for patterns.

I also decided I needed some kind of book to actually teach me the basics of how to use all this stuff.  After much searching and reading of reviews, I headed over to Amazon and bought The Sew Everything Workshop by Diana Rupp. I then proceeded to read it cover to cover, seeing everything but retaining nothing.  But hey, there's a chance I'll go "didn't I read something about this ..." and then fail to actually find the reference in the book again and screw up anyway.

Whew.  So that was lots of shopping.  And I wasn't done, because even though I had a sewing machine, fabrics, threads and miscellaneous supplies, I had no where to put it all.  That's where Craigslist and my garage came in handy.  From Craigslist I paid $35 for an old sewing machine table, and in my garage I pulled out a pegboard.  Here is our resulting setup:

Our New Sewing Machine:

Our Awesome, Overly Organized Setup:

And Finally, Our New (to us) Sewing Table:

Well,  I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and come back for more!  I promise to bore you to death in the future if you'll have me ...

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