Why sewing machines are essential…

Bunting bag

I’ve just spent the morning with a group of lovely ladies who fed me cake. Yep. It’s a great deal when you can swap some skills for actual tea and cake and something to be advised I’m sure medicinally.

They wanted a sewing machine trial -a play about and learn some basics before cracking on themselves. It’s a sensible thing to do before you invest in a bit of kit (you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive!). I’ve used a sewing machine since forever. My mum taught me to sew, let me have a go on her machine (under pain of death that I didn’t knacker it) and then bought me an old fashioned handle powered Singer machine -the kind you find in antique shops. It had a reassuring clunky sound and really did the trick.

Then, when I got married, mum bought me a proper one, with electricity and everything. It’s a Toyota, nothing super swish but has been moved, clattered, battered and sworn at for ten years, so as a brand name that has my recommendation.

It’s been an essential bit of kit, not because I make all my own clothes and my children’s (there’s the occasional skirt) but I find it handy for the super simple things; pillow cases, cushion covers, party bags, name tapes and hemming muslins for babies.

It isn’t honestly tricky to use -pretty much like driving a car, once you get the levers and pedals sorted and keep your fingers out the way of anything sharp, you can’t really go wrong. And if it’s wonky and a bit buggered, unpick it and start over.

So, my sewing machine top tips:

  1. Try before you buy. Find a friend that has one and ask for a play to decide whether it suits you. Ply them with cake and they’ll be very happy to help!
  2. Make sure it weighs enough. A couple of bricks worth is good, because you don’t want something flimsy that with bounce about when you get some speed up;
  3. Look on somewhere like amazon.com to see how easy parts are to get. You with break stuff, rip the cover, snap the cotton spool sick out thingy, and if you can get cheap parts sent to you it’s a winner;
  4. Go to a specialist machine shop or department store and ask the experts what they’d recommend. Make clear your budget (be firm!) and what you’ll be using it for.
  5. Make sure you have a good steam iron and ironing board too -an essential bit of kit without which anything you sew will look crumpled and crap!
  6. And my mum would probably say, ‘Use the best quality thread you can afford’ and darn it, she’s right. It’ll sew smoothly, and won’t snaggle and snap. Which pisses me right off.

So there you go. Sew away! If you’d like an intro to using a machine, and don’t have a friend with a machine, you can hire my machine (and me!) out. I like tea, will bring all the bits and pieces and get you started. Just drop me an email at theothermrsbeaton@gmail.com and you’re away!xx

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