Monday, March 19, 2012

Goodwill Finds: Coach Purse, Singer 7258 Stylist and Levi Jeans

I've watched the Singer for months and found it for half price. It was brand new and in it's original packaging. What a deal! Sews beautifully.

I can't afford expensive machines and after reading reviews online, found that the Stylist 7258 was rated highly. I went with it and found a good deal to boot! You can't beat that!

I also found a Coach purse and Levi Jeans. All in all, it was a good day!

Monday, March 12, 2012

My New Obsession - Featherweights!

A white/green/turquoise Featherweight
While I was researching a new machine on Pattern Review I came across a post entitled "Calling All Singer Owners" and started reading all 113 (as of this writing) pages. What originally started out as a post encouraging the purchase of new or slightly used Singers has turned into a thread about vintage machines.

As I was trying to date/model the machine I learned to sew on (a 15-30) I came across the Featherweights. Wow, how cute! As I want to do some quilting, I was instantly drawn to them because of the reputation of the stitch on older machines. This post is going to be a reminder of things I've learned about them. You can expect information and links as time passes such as the price to pay, the attachments included with the original purchase and restoring links. I'll post what I've learned but please keep in mind that I'm not an expert and have only recently discovered the little beauties!

The White Featherweight

This Featherweight was manufactured in Scotland and some were exported to Canada for voltage conversions to 112 volt. When looking to purchase for use in the US it's important to check the wiring on them. I don't want to use a voltage converter.

The correct color was described as turquoise by Singer but it appears white with a very pale green tint. The green isn't usually noticeable until you hold a piece of white paper against it.

The Featherweights don't have decals which made other vintage Singers so beautiful. What is most interesting in this machine is it's size, portability and quality of stitch.

Sewing Room Decor Options on a Budget

At heart, I'm a "girlie" girl (woman) and love to be surrounded by pastels, lace and pearls a la the shabby chic kind of decor. You won't find me wearing either because I have more of a classic, 14K jewelry type of style. I wear blacks, taupes, and beiges - I have light blonde (read gray) hair and olive/brown eyes and find those colors suit me best. That's not to say I wouldn't object to a few lace and pearl pillows, vintage linens, and pastel colors in my sewing area! Still, I have to wonder if I might get tired of the frilly decor over time.

I admire clean surfaces, minimalism and simple lifestyles in my living area and am slowly reducing my possessions. I read organizing sites every few months to get the chaos that I frequently live in under control. I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and go through burn/bust energy cycles every few months. It's helpful to have fewer possessions to maintain for those times when I am in a relapse and am unable to keep house.

The real question is how to combine the need for minimalism and the requirements of the hobby in my sewing area. Those who sew know it's easy to have a sewing area that is a mess when you're in the middle of a project. As I've gotten older, I find that maintaining an organized area is necessary for me to think. I feel disjointed somehow when in the middle of clutter yet I find myself living in chaos more often than not!

Sewing Storage for Small Spaces

I think the answer to both of these issues is adequate storage. I've been on the internet looking at sewing room images and have seen the most beautiful sewing areas! Usually you see fabrics, threads and other notions displayed on open shelves or racks on the wall. This wouldn't work for me because it would require too much upkeep. There will be times when I'll be unable to sew for a few months at a time. All those open display areas would only collect dust and I would have to spend hours cleaning before I could jump in again.

An option would be baskets or bins on shelves. I have one oak armoire that is housing my TV but until I get a flat screen - that's what it will be used for. I have two other 4' cabinets, a tall set of book shelves and a wider, shorter one. I have one sterlite container which currently houses my stash and notions but I expect that to change as I get back into sewing! A few other boxes are used for storing patterns I've collected over the last few years. Baskets are scattered all over the house used for various things.  I have a body double that I picked up at a thrift store and that's it for my sewing supples at the present time! Oh yes - forgot my machine! I currently have a Euro-Pro 6131A that was given to me last year.

Decor and Colors

I'm going to sew basket liners, a few table mats and pin cushions in a matching fabric. I have turquoise and brown containers that were previously used for my office and they would make good accents. Right now I'm into pastels but I find my preferences change over time and I already have those colors. Setting up a sewing space on a budget requires that I use what is available and I do like them!

Whatever I choose for my sewing area will also be used for the colors in my bedroom because they will be one and the same. I have mid-century modern bedroom furniture in dark wood. I would prefer to have white furniture but again, I have to take the budget into consideration. Unfortunately, my other storage cabinets don't match but I'll have to make do.

I live in an over-55/disabled apartment complex and we aren't allowed to paint the walls. They are a warm off white. I have two windows and currently have brown tapestry valences with mini blinds hanging. I might swap the lace curtains from the living room and see how it looks.

I'm buying my sewing table components from Ikea and have just realized that adding a white desk to the area would just be another mismatched piece. Better to have wood grain and at least all storage units would be made out of some kind of wood!

So much for planning - we'll see what I actually come up with!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Setting Up a Sewing Area on a Budget

My sewing area needs to be set up on a budget and I've modified my plans to buy an expensive machine. I can have a fully functional sewing area without spending thousands or even hundreds of dollars. I'll need the same basic elements as mentioned in my last post but there are places I can save money.

The Machine

I've researched budget machines and found the Singer Stylist 7258 has good reviews on and Pattern Review. It has won awards and for around $200 you can't beat it! It has 100 built in stitches, a top drop-in bobbin, adjustable stitch width and length, automatic needle threader and comes with 10 presser feet. It makes 6 automatic buttonholes (out of the stated 100) that I'm sure would cover my needs.

Furthermore, it's only $188.00 at my local Meijers department store, the attachments, needles and bobbins are readily available and did I mention that it's inexpensive? Fits right into my budget and I won't have a heart attack bringing it home because I spent so much!

A Serger

Again, I've looked all over the internet for cheap sergers that would do what I want them to. I found good reviews on the Brother 1034D lay-in thread serger. It's $199.00 from and again, fits in my budget. No heart attack there either.

I expect to have a big learning curve with the serger since I've never had or used one but it comes with an instructional DVD and I've read that it's very helpful.

I could explain the stitches it does, the feet it comes with and describe how easy it is to thread but I wouldn't know what I was talking about. I'm simply choosing from advice received from Pattern Review on the boards, and from the reviews on I simply want to sew knit fabrics without difficulty nor do I want to be limited when choosing patterns because I don't have the right equipment. I'll post more information after I've learned to use it!

The Sewing Desk or Table

I spent as much time researching sewing tables and workspaces as I have on the machines. For those of us who are older, being comfortable while sewing is important. We don't have the stamina for pain or fatigue that we did when younger.

I love the Scrapbox and Koala sewing desks but unfortunately, the price puts them far out of line for me. I researched the cost of other sewing cabinets, desks and tables and found that nothing was going to work for me. My sewing area will be a part of my bedroom and very small. Some of the cabinets I saw would take up my whole bedroom! Not an option in my small 600 sq. ft. apartment.

What I found was the VIKA Annefors table legs from IKea. Each costs $40 and I would need two. They are open shelves that you put on each end of the table top. I would prefer closed storage but it isn't in the budget at the moment and this option will give a nice look at an affordable price. Add the table top for $25 and I have a sturdy sewing desk. Another option would be to use the VIKA Alex drawer unit on the other side and it would be more convenient storage. It's $79.99 and might require more thought before I actually purchase it. The height of these are 27 1/2" which is the right size for me when you add the width of the table top. Unlike some of the other options, I've not heard of the table being flimsy or bouncing when sewing - that would drive me nuts!

Those three options will get me through setting up a workable sewing area. By the way, I found a great article about sewing ergonomics at OSHA. It's talking of professional spaces but who wouldn't want to be as comfortable while sewing? The measurements are the same no matter if we are professionals or hobbists!

Next post will be about decorating the sewing area - my favorite part!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Setting Up My Sewing Space

I've only recently gotten back into sewing after a long hiatus. My Mom taught me to sew when I was in my teens. I wish I had that vintage Singer now! I've had Kenmores, Brothers, two more Singers and am using a Euro-Pro now. How I wish Singers were built as well as they were when I first learned to sew. I am attached to the memories of that machine's stitches. I think it's time to invest in a good machine in this era, don't you?

I need a new machine, a layout/cutting area, a sewing desk or table, a pressing area and an alteration area. It's going to be tight!


For days I've been researching better quality machines. I hear Bernina is the best but the machine and accessories are expensive! I would be getting a basic used machine in comparison to buying another brand with more features. I want to play! I've checked into Pfaff, Janome, and Juki.

The Pfaff's "touch screen" requires a stylist to use. I can remember losing stylist's when I was using a PDA for work in the 90s. I lost those stylists frequently and had to keep an extra supply around. My PDA wouldn't work without a special kind. I don't want to go through that with a sewing machine.

Janome's also have a good reputation. I have nothing against them really but I remember a friend's New Home machine that was tempermental. From what I understand, Janome bought New Home many years ago and while it doesn't affect the quality of the machines now, I can't help but think there might be some left over manufacturing methods from New Home. No thank you!

Have you evern wished you could follow the name brand buy outs in sewing machine companies from the past? In addition, I'd like to know where they are manufactured. Oh well, that's another post.

I've finally settled on a Juki 600.  (Edited March 12, 2012 - I've changed my mind!) It has many more features and attachments than anything I've compared - and I've compared a lot of them! It has many one step buttonholes and the video on their website is impressive. Another impressive fact is that they originally were industrial machines and have brought that technology into the home sewing arena. The best deal I've found is on the HSN website. They add extra's to the package for the same price.

Cut, Sew and Press and Alterations

I'll need a layout and cutting area first. I have a very small apartment and have been using 4' of counter space in my kitchen for cutting and sewing. It's a pain not to have a dedicated space so I've decided to combine my bedroom and sewing room. It won't be an easy task since my bedroom is also small. I presently have a queen size bed, night table, a dresser that is over 6' long, a desk and shelves, and a computer printer stand in there. Amazing since it's so small! Yes, there is enough room to walk through but just barely. In my 3' deep closet, I have another small dresser and a set of shelves along opposing walls.

Something like this from Pinterest.
I think if I trade my queen for a twin, give the desk and computer stand to my son and rearrange the room that I would have enough room for a sewing area. The first half as you walk into the door will be my sleeping area (closest to the closet) and the area where the windows are will be my sewing area. Screens on each side of the room to separate the two would be nice - but doubt that will happen!

Perhaps I could combine the layout/cutting area with the pressing area. I probably won't need the two areas simultaneously often enough to justify separate spaces. That just leaves the sewing and alteration area with my dressform. Organization is a bear in small spaces!

On the other hand, I could just get a daybed for the living area and have my bedroom for my sewing room! Sounds like a good idea but to be honest, that probably wouldn't happen this year either! :)