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Sewing gear

Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
I'm looking for some advice from you wonderful creative people.

I've done bits of sewing on and off for years (batman costumes, shirt alterations, shortening trousers, making curtains etc). In the past these have always been either at my parents house, or grandma's so have had access to sewing machine and infinite supplies of useful stuff that has accumulated over the years.

I no longer live at home, and hand sewing has been reducing my enthusiasm somewhat so have bought a machine all of my own. I'm now moving far far away to somewhere the sun isn't really going to shine much until Spring and plan on doing creative stuff some of the evenings. Said place also has limited shopping potential.

My question to you all is: What do I need to get for my sewing box/supplies? And what suppliers/brands etc would you recommend?

I currently have:

Sewing machine
2 new packets of pins
20 ish bobbins
(sewing machine shop man threw them in with the machine)

Comments

  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    A good set of hand-sewing needles (not expensive necessarily, just exhaustive! - different lengths, eye sizes, etc.) and spare machine needles.

    A couple of massive reels of black and white cotton. You'll get other colours as you need them.

    Tailor's chalk.

    A really good, sturdy tape measure.

    Pinking shears.

    Sharp scissors that you use for nothing else.

    John Lewis own brand is a good, or Pony.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thank you - I feel a John Lewis trip coming up before I leave for the dark lands.

    Another question - any recommendations for good books?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Depends on what you want to do. There are loads of good quilting books, and my sister raves about both Stitch! and Sew! by Cath Kidston.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I think what I'm probably after is the sewing equivalent of Delia's how to cook.

    How to do the basics properly. I'm reasonably adept at making it up - but it would be handy to have the 'textbook' version on how to do things properly. Will check out the Cath Kidston ones.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    I would say essentials are:

    Good machine needles - you will save yourself a lot of headaches if you use the right needles. For light wovens, you want sharps or universal, for knits you want ball points or stretch. For heavy fabrics (denim/canvas/cord), you want jeans needles. If ever you are having a problem with your stitches, try changing the needle. IME subbing out an unsuitable or damaged needle fixes 90% of all sewing woes.

    Scissors. You will need a good pair of fabric scissors, and it is worth spending a little more on these. I have Fiskars, and they have served me well for 15 years. Fiskars also have a sharpening service, to extend their life. As Picc said, DO NOT cut anything but fabric/thread with these, or they will blunt. I would also keep a pair of paper scissors handy for cutting patterns, etc. Pinking shears are handy, but tbh I didn't buy my first pair til I had been sewing over 10 years, and didn't suffer because of it. Also worth spending on these if you want them. I also like to have a teeny pair of sharp scissors about for snipping threads and so on. You can buy thread snips, but I hate them, so I got a 99p pair of embroidery scissors from the market and they're ace!

    Thread - you are supposed to use the fibre of the fabric - i.e. cotton thread for cotton fabric, poly thread for synthetics, but I just use a decent poly thread for everything, and it still works. Poly is stronger and cheaper than cotton, but can, in theory, rip through weaker fabrics over years of use. It's not happened to me yet, though! I use Moon threads, cause of the meterage, and cause my local fabric shops sells 3 for 2, so it's a good way to get lots of colours for cheap. Gutterman do quality threads if you are feeling spendy!

    Tape measure - one with both imperial and metric marks if you can, cause patterns can be marked with either! I have two, one cheapy cheap one, and my grandma's old super-vintage one. I mostly use the cheapy cheap one.

    Some way of cutting patterns - I have tailor's chalk from uni, but have not used it since. Different people find the way of pattern cutting they like best. I just weight down the pattern pieces and cut round. You can buy pattern weights for this purpose, but I just use random household items and it works just fine! I also have a air-erasable pen for marking - the marks vanish after about 24 hours.

    Pins & safety pins - never underestimate the value of pinning! Don't buy cheapy cheap pins, they'll be blunt and can damage your fabric. Safety pins are a cheap, easy way of threading elastic!

    Seam ripper - essential! No need to spend a lot, as long as it's sharp. My best one came free with my sewing machine.

    For books, you can get those massive 'encyclopaedia of sewing' type books which are quite handy. The Reader's Digest/DK types
    are almost always in discount bookshops. I would really recommend the internet as a resource, though. Get on Pinterest, if you're not already, and stalk the Craft category. There are all manner of tips and tutorials - I still learn stuff now! There are also good sewing communities - try Burdastyle and Craftster for starters. Burdastyle has a pattern section with free patterns, too, which is very handy.

    That's all I can think of for now - hope that helps! :)
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Books wise I've got The Ultimate Sewing Bible by Marie Clayton. It's really good. I also have the knitting one and the crochet one in the same series. Looking at the pictures they are 'crafters porn', so many gorgeous close ups and really detailed step by step instructions. It is quite a bit cheaper on Amazon than in John Lewis.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Thanks all - Kaff especially, you're a legend.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Not sure if this is relevant for sewing but when I am going away / to hospital etc I make up like project packs for knitting. Each is a tote bag with a pattern, the yarn, the various needles needed for the project, any other things needed e.g. beads, fastenings, threads, stuffing etc. Maybe you could do something similar. Also I don't know what the equivalent in sewing is but if I am going away I always make sure I take emergency sock yarn with me as you can always knit socks, the ratio of hours of knitting to amount of yarn is good so you can get a lot of hours fun out of one skein.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Cunning plan.

    My other plan is to get back into knitting again, especially for hanging around airports and ferry terminals for when I try and escape.

    I was thinking to begin with I'd stick to scarves and thus all I'd need was needles and yarn. Would that be right?
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    Cunning plan.

    My other plan is to get back into knitting again, especially for hanging around airports and ferry terminals for when I try and escape.

    I was thinking to begin with I'd stick to scarves and thus all I'd need was needles and yarn. Would that be right?

    You can't usually take knitting needles through airport security although it's a bit hit and miss.

    For scarves you would need yarn, knitting needles, a yarn needles for sewing in ends (this is like a big sewing needle with a big eye and a blunt tip) and a pair of scissors to cut the yarn.

    If you are limited with how much stuff you can take then finer yarns and smaller needles will take a lot more time to knit up so you'll get more hours of fun for the same volume of space taken up. On the other hand thicker yarns with bigger needles give more instant satisfaction and you get a scarf with a lot less hours of knitting put in. Sorry if this is really obvious - not sure how experienced you are at knitting.
  • Former MemberFormer Member Posts: 1,876,323 The Mix Honorary Guru
    At my current skill level big needles and big yarn will still take up plenty of time! Enthusiastic but incompetent is probably the best description - although at one point well taught.

    I suspect I'll be alright with airport security, it's a scottish island so they're generally pretty sensible for local flights.
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