The Tools of the Trade · Where to Find...

The Tools of the Trade: Part 1–The Sewing Machine

Hi! We are in the 4th month of Quarantine Mode now. Where we live, restrictions and bans have been lifted for the time being, and my family and I have been soaking it up, trying to get out (“safely”, of course) and just LIVE. It’s been really hard for so many of us, but seriously though. I’m fed up with this whole thing, and I know y’all hear me and agree. Keeping up with Covid news though, it seems to be that we may very well have to go back into lockdown again if the number of now-infected people keeps rising. Ugggggh. No bueno. I’m really trying to keep my sanity and wits about it though. The good thing for me (and this blog) is that I will have even more time to continue sewing, and I can concentrate more on keeping this blog up to date with lots of good stuff for you all.

Today, I thought it would be a good idea to share with you all the items that have helped get me started on my journey into sewing. If you are like me, and are starting to take an interest in your own journey, you will first need to properly equip yourself with the necessary means to get going. Today’s post is the first of a three-part series. In each part, I will go over with you all the essential sewing tools you will need, and how to get them. Are you ready? Let’s get started.

When I first took an interest in sewing, the only sewing tools I had was a little box of different colored thread and a pack of needles. Like the kind you find in a generic sewing kit. A generic HAND sewing kit. I remember our needle packet had the name of the hospital we go to on it, so I think it may have been complementary. Come to think of it, I don’t think it was even my sewing kit. It was my hubby’s! 😳 Needless to say, I didn’t have much to be proud of.

My interest in sewing only grew when I kept glancing at the growing pile of jeans and pants that were in desperate need of hemming (For reference, I’m a short, little, 5 foot-Filipino girl. Even jeans labeled “short” are still too long for me!) And ever since my go-to hemming place shut down, I just couldn’t find anyone as good (or as affordable) to do my hemming anymore. Well, after so long doing it all by myself (by hand, no less), I had had enough.

My interest turned to want. My want turned to need. I absolutely needed a sewing machine!! Luckily, at the time, it was Holiday season. So, after leaving many subtle hints to The Hubs:

“Gee, that’s a really nice sewing machine, don’t you think?!”

“Oh, sorry, love. Let me move my iPad with the screen showing a sewing machine-sitting in the online shopping cart-awaiting the push of the purchase buttonoff your pillow real quick…”

Can you pleeeeeeease get me this sewing machine for Christmas? Here is the SKU code and product number….”

Well, to my utmost surprise, my subtlety must have gotten through somehow because he gave me one that Christmas! Unbelievable! 😊

So, ok.

When you finally decide you want to take up sewing, you will ultimately want to build up a really good Sewing Kit. What will be in that sewing kit, you ask?? Well, obviously, you need to start things off with a sewing machine.

There are very many different kinds of sewing machines out there, and depending on your likes, needs, and wants, this part will vary from person to person. Training yourself to research is a great skill and good for your brain, so I will leave you to take care of that part, hehe.

I will however, tell you about the machine I have. My sewing machine is a Brother XR9500PRW. It’s a Limited Edition, named in honor of the show, Project Runway (a show I happened to LOVE watching in the past.) As usual, I did a lot of research to find a machine that wasn’t just affordable, but actually worked really well. So far, my machine has been true to it’s “promise.”

What I love about my sewing machine:

  • Ease of use: Firstly, it’s lightweight, which makes it easy to lift and move around when needed. Secondly, the set up is quite easy to do. You get both a manual and a dvd that shows you how to do everything on the machine, which is great. Some of my favorite functions is the needle threader and quick-set bobbin. They are tremendously helpful! The manual and dvd are both really straightforward and easy to follow. Thirdly, this machine is ideal for beginners. You can virtually start using this as soon as you take it out of the box. Because it is computerized, picking out your stitches and switching from stitch to stitch is a cinch. The only problem you will have is deciding which of the 100 stitches you want to use!
  • Versatility: Along with the 100 stitches available for use, you also get 8 buttonhole styles, 140 stitch functions (decorative stitches! Monograms!) various needle position buttons (so convenient!), and 3 sewing speeds (ideal for beginners, intermediate, and advanced sewers)
  • Included Extras: This machine comes with LOTS of items included, at no extra cost: Over-sized work table (mainly for quilting), needle set (standard, ballpoint, twin) and 3 bobbins, extra spool pin, seam ripper, cleaning brush, screw driver, hard exterior cover, and 7 different presser feet that go along with specific stitches—a monogramming foot, blind-stitch foot, zipper foot, zigzag foot, button sewing foot, buttonhole foot, and an overcasting/overlock foot. Considering the low price and all the extra stuff you get with it, this machine is a real steal!
  • Sturdiness: Despite its lower speed (850 stitches per min) and smaller motor, this machine is still a sweet little workhorse. Lots of reviewers have said this machine is capable of going though lots of different kinds of thick materials such as upholstery fabric, faux leather, multiple quilt layers, denim (remember my jeans pile? All were easily sewn despite the heavy fabric) It was said that all this is possible to sew if you are willing to work slowly and carefully, and keen to use the right kind of needles. However, this is not considered a true, heavy duty machine, and should not be treated as industrial. Real leather, for example, may not work harmoniously with this particular machine.

What I don’t love about my sewing machine:

  • It’s not heavy-duty: While I’m not hankering to craft a sofa or whip up a pair of leather chaps at any time soon, when purchasing big-ticket items—a sewing machine, for example—I tend to gravitate towards those products that boast the “all-in-one” capability. For one, if it truly is a one-stop shop that will get the jobs done, as well save me some space and $$$, then why not invest in it? I mean, I may not want leather chaps like, rightnow, but in the future…??
  • It’s not a serger: After I finally found out what a serger is and what it does, I wanted one. Badly. But I didn’t think the Hubs would like the idea that I had gone to such great lengths to convince him that this sewing machine was THE machine to have, only to find out that it was missing the one thing I now realized I wanted to have included in it, but didn’t. Oh well. I’m just going to have to live with it. For now. Thankfully, the whole zigzag/overlock stitch tip has been working out fine for me.

So that’s basically the deets of the sewing machine I have had for a few years now. It still runs great, although that’s mainly because I haven’t used it much until now. These past months my machine has definitely been working hard though, and its given me no problems thus far. I really believe I found a gem of a machine in this Brother.

I wanted to post a link of where you can get this particular one that I have, but considering it is a limited edition from a few years back, I’m not seeing much of it in stock around the internet these days. ☹️ But I will post the link to the Brother website that has a menu of all the other current Project Runway series machines that they have to offer. Since mine was among the first of its kind, I can’t imagine that there are a lot of upgrades done to the newer ones to make them even better.

Brother USA: Project Runway Series Lineup

All right. The first thing on your list is covered. You got your sewing machine. What’s next? Coming up next post, we’ll cover Sewing Basket Essentials.

“Seam” you soon! (Buahahahaha! Ok, whatever, never mind….🙄)

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