Seamingly Badass

Learn to Sew: The Sewing Machine

Let’s talk about the sewing machine.

I’m not a hand sewer. I don’t have the patience for the intricacies that sewing by hand requires.

The sewing machine makes short work of simple seams. And much more difficult seams.

What do you really need in a sewing machine?

I’ve seen sewing machines that cost as much as my car… when it was new.

Granted, I drive an 8 year old Fiesta, but still. … If you have the means, then awesome. But if you don’t, you can rest assured. You don’t NEED a fancy machine to make awesome stuff.

I have an old 1975-ish Kenmore machine that pretty much has all the features needed.

I mean. I don’t sew with it now, I have upgraded. There were some features I wanted and it didn’t have.

But I’ve kept it just in case. It’s my backup machine.

But what you really NEED, is a machine that can do just a few stitches. Now, depending on what you really want to sew, you might want more or less than what I mention here. But in general, for garments, you’ll need a straight stitch. And a Zig-Zag. You’ll need a width and length adjustment in those stitches.

That’s Need to have.

But, what’s Nice to have?

It’s even more beneficial to have a machine that easily can make straight stretch stitches or 3-step elastic stitches. And if you plan to do a lot of stretch fabric stuff for activewear, an overlock stitch would be helpful.

Also, for general garments, a buttonhole option is imperative. But the level of automation in the buttonhole stitch that is required is up to you. If you need to make a bunch of button-down shirts, you might want a very automated buttonholer. If you are only going to make a buttonhole every now and then, something less automated might fit your needs.

You can read here for more information on what to look for in a sewing machine.

Where can you get an adequate machine?

Sometimes, you can inherit them. Or, have them passed down to you before you need to officially inherit them.

As with my Kenmore – when I moved out after college, I took it. Mom already had a machine she could use that was newer. So I convinced her to let me take the older less sophisticated machine. 😉

You can also buy a machine. Many stores sell machines.

On the internet, you can find them at Home Depot, Amazon and Walmart.

But sometimes going to a specialty store will let you test drive (test sew?) the machine before buying.

Also some specialty shops offer free lessons on using the machine. That’s a perk you should take advantage of if you have the ability and means.

If you’ve acquired a machine of indeterminate origin. I highly recommend doing a google search for the manual. Many machines have a manual that can be found online.

Serger Info.

I saw a question about sewing knits on a sewing machine. “Can I sew knits on my regular sewing machine, or do I need a serger?”

Yes you can sew knits (or stretch stuff) on your sewing machine if you have a zig-zag stitch. Some other stitches are nice. (Like the overlock).

You don’t need a serger.

Serger’s can be nice and they can do a lot of things. But they certainly aren’t necessary.

Some old machines, like my Kenmore, will have the option to make an overlock stitch. Granted, it doesn’t trim the seam like the serger would. But honestly, that’s OK.

I made these stretch velvet ruffle pants without using my serger. I made them on my more modern machine (not the Kenmore). But I really only used an overlock and zig zag stitch, along with a straight stitch for some hemming.