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The Sewing Studio – Part One of Sew It Begins

It’s Ready!” That’s what I declared the other day as I looked around my new sewing studio. The machines were in place and plugged in, the notions boxes were empty with the all the notions stored in their appropriate baskets, and the stash was organized. It was now time to sew. After almost a year of not sewing anything, both the husband and myself are in need of new shirts so that is where I decided to start sewing.

You may have noticed that I did not say that the new sewing room was ready for sewing to start. That is because I now have a sewing studio. Now, it is not as glamorous as it sounds. Since my sewing and crafting has now taken up three rooms in my new home, instead on just the one and one-half as in my previous home, I am calling my sewing space a studio. Plus a sewing studio sounds bigger and better and more exotic. Who wouldn’t want a whole studio for their sewing and crafting over just a room.

I started my first sewing project in my new sewing studio by going into the stash room where I found just the right fabric for me and the husband a new shirt and retrieved our basic sloper patterns for the pattern stash in the stash room. After laundering the fabric, I took the fabric to the prep and cutting room, which is also the crafting and amigurumi assembly room. Here, the fabric was ironed and the patterns cut out. Next, the pieces were carried into the sewing room where the sewing machines and notions reside and the sewing of the shirts began.

It took longer than expected to get to the point of sewing again because I decided to unpack the stash from the many boxes it has lived in for so many years. I placed the contents of all those boxes on wire racks so that the stash is fully visable and readily accessible. I gave the “unpacking of the stash boxes” a lot of thought before I started. I had my picture organizing method in place and it had served me well for many years, but as I organized the boxes in the stash room and opening some to see just exactly what was in each one, I realized that having the stash on the racks was a better way of organizing and using the fabric than the pictures. The husband helped be picked the correct size, weigh and style of racks and helped me assemble the racks. It was then my job to unpack the boxes. I had mixed emotions as I unpacked the stash boxes. My emotions ranged from glee and excitement to see all the precious pieces of fabric I possessed, to terror and fear that I might actually be a true fabric hoarder.

It is great fun to be sewing again. Sadly, I feel that my sewing skills had diminished with the time off, but happily, they seem to be coming back quickly. I am super excited to be sewing and crafting again.

Stay tune for details on the new shirts.

Until then, sew forth and sew on!

Buttoning It All Together

I need a bigger button box! cz4mwl6uy_m

 

Or do I?

My button box is currently full, right to the top. I can hardly close the lid on the darn thing!

So, it must be time to get a bigger box to store my buttons in right?

Or maybe it is just time to stop being lazy and sort and organize my current button box so that I have an easier time using what I already have.

While staring at all of the buttons that were just randomly and haphazardly tossed in my button box, I decided that a bigger button box was not the answer. What I needed was to take the time to sort and organize what was in my current button box.

DSCN4316Looking in my button box, I noticed right away that a lot of the space in the box was being taken up by the buttons packaging, mostly the cardboard cards the buttons were purchased on. So, my first step was to remove all of the buttons from the cards.

As I pulled the first buttons off a card, I thought to myself “This will take no time at all!” Boy was I wrong!

As I pulled more buttons off the cards, the staples holding the buttons to the card were staying attached to the buttons, not the cards. I did not want to store the staples attached to the buttons, and I did not want the staples to scratch the buttons while in the box. So, I started the long and tedious task of removing the staples from each of the buttons.

With the use of pliers, scissors and a staple remover, I slowly worked at removing the staples from the buttons. The husband was even given some buttons to remove the staples from. (That will teach him to walk into the sewing room and inquire what I was up to.) After a couple of hours and some sore fingers, I had all of the buttons removed from their cards and the packaging and all the staples and threads were removed.

DSCN4308Now that I had piles and piles of buttons all over the cutting table, it was time to sort and package them up more efficiently. I started by sorting my miscellaneous buttons from my button can. I matched the buttons from the can with the piles of buttons I had on the table. I was surprised how many single buttons from the can matched with one of the piles of buttons. Next, I retrieved my small jewelry zip lock baggies from the closet. I love these baggies. I use them all the time in my crafting and sewing so I keep them handy in a couple of different sizes. I placed each sorted pile of buttons in its own little zip lock baggie. Any single buttons without mates went back into the button can.

DSCN4317Now that I had several piles of buttons all stored in little baggies all over the cutting table, I started sorting the buttons by color. I was pretty liberal on what color the buttons were as I sorted, and soon I had just a few larger piles of buttons in little baggies of like colors sitting on the cutting table. These piles where then placed in larger quart or gallon ziplock bags to keep them further organized.

DSCN4320Looking at the large ziplock bags of buttons, I was pleased with the cleaning and sorting of my buttons. The large bags easily fit back into my current button box with some room to spare. I was very excited. I really like my current button box and I did not really want to replace it with a bigger one so this worked out great!

I have looked for buttons for a project a few times now since sorting my buttons into the bags and the new organization system has worked great. I merely pulled out the bag of buttons in the color I was looking for, then I quickly sorted through the little baggie inside to pick the exact buttons that I needed for my project. Through the clear bags I can easily see the buttons I have and how many of each of them I have, and since they are not attached to a card, the buttons can easily be placed on top of a project while still in the bags to see how they will look and match. Plus, this baggie system has been easy to keep organized as I add new buttons to my button box.

DSCN4315With the buttons finally sorted and back in the button box, I was ready for my next sewing room adventure!

Until then, sew forth and button on!

Let’s Make A Deal

Remember the old game show with Monty Hall called Let’s Make A Deal? I  loved that show! Remember how the contestants were offered either what was in the box, what was behind door number two, or what was in Monty’s pocket? That is how I felt the other day as I opened the three mystery boxes of fabric hidden in the bottom of the sewing room closet.

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When we moved into our current home, most of the fabric made its way from the sewing room into the spare bedroom closet except for three boxes that were tucked at the the bottom of the sewing room closet. These three boxes were quickly covered with everything else, patterns, fabric scraps, UFO’s, mending, ironing, and so on. At this point, they were more of a table in the closet than boxes of fabric. After the devastating trip to the stash a couple of months ago, I knew it was time to pull these three boxes out and see what surprises they held.

On the day of the opening of the boxes, I had to start by clearing off the boxes to get down to them. This proved to be a big job in itself. After I pulled the three boxes from the closet, I opened them one at a time, and found gorgeous pieces of fabric that I forgot I even owned. I piled all the fabric into neat stacks around the sewing room, and then the hard part started. I really did not want to just poke the fabric back into the boxes and the boxes back into the closet, so, I decided to part with some of the pieces. After much touching of fabric and debating its possible uses, I had one third, one box, of the fabric put in the donation pile.

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As I sorted through the remaining pieces of fabric to keep, I ran across 4 pieces that really caught my eye and I decided that they would not be returning to the boxes at all. Instead they would be sewn up next. There was one piece for me a shirt, one piece for the husband a shirt and two scrap pieces of fleece, enough to make a couple of kid’s sweatshirts. The remaining pieces were placed back in the two boxes and moved to the spare bedroom to be counted among the rest of the stash.

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Although I am missing the table they had made, I am loving the extra space in the sewing room closet. Plus I am excited to get sewing on the beautiful pieces of fabric that I had found hidden in the boxes.

Creating your own machine embroidery designs (Digitizing)

I am currently in the process of creating (digitizing) some new embroidery designs for my Messenger Bag of DOOM project and I thought this would be a great time to continue my old series of blog posts telling readers what equipment I use in my sewing studio and how I do what I do.

So in the next series of posts I will be describing the computers and software that I use to create (digitize) my own embroidery designs when I cannot find anything to purchase that has been made already.

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This is a very complicated process that takes a lot of time for me since I am nowhere near an artist by any stretch of the imagination. Luckily the embroidery creation (digitizing) software that is available today makes this process much easier than it used to be.

I don’t have any idea how many posts this will take to finish this series but I will post parts as I get them done in between my other blog posts of my projects I am working on. I hope that just like my getting started with sewing and getting started with machine embroidery articles that this will help a number of people out who have always wanted to create their own designs but were too scared to try it on their own.

I should have part one of this series posted in a week so watch for it. And let me know in the comments if there is anything particular you want to see covered and I  will do my best to include it.

My Sewing Machines – Part 1: The Beginning

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My Sewing Machines – Part 1: The Beginning

(Updated: June 13th, 2105)

Someone asked in one of my previous posts comments what equipment I was using was in my sewing studio.

I thought about this question for awhile and I decided that it would be better to delve into this question a little deeper and not only answer the question of what I currently use but why I currently use it.

It will also give a good overview for anyone considering purchasing their own embroidery machine and the many joys, pitfalls, and costs of ownership of this type of equipment.

This information will be broken into several parts and posted over the next several weeks. It is a lot of information to get typed up and will be a lot of information for the reader to digest.

I hope it is helpful to some of my readers.

This will probably be more information than you wanted to know, but as long as I’m telling the story, I thought the beginning was a good place to start.

My mother taught me to sew starting at age 8 through a series of 4-H projects. If you don’t know what 4-H is you can check it out here.

As a young kid with very little interest in sewing, it was no fun and I struggled through the projects.

As I was doing the projects I thought to myself, my mom is an excellent seamstress, so why did I have to learn? Couldn’t she just sew it for me?

I also knew that I was going to be a professional career woman when I got older and of course, I would never have to sew for myself. I would be able to pay someone to do that for me.

It sounds like famous last words doesn’t it?

Oh how young, silly and naive I was!

Every year before the new school year started, my mom would sit us down with the pattern book and we would pick out a school wardrobe for that year and she would start sewing them for us. Mom would do her best to try and get us involved in this sewing, but it was easier to say, “No Mom, you just do it and I will fix dinner”, or I’ll do the laundry or whatever else so I didn’t have to sew anything myself.

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As strange as it may sound, it was my first trip to a big and tall store that got me into sewing. 

My husband and I had just married and we were going to college, poorer than church mice, and he needed some dress shirts for work. I did not even have a sewing machine at the time or really know what to do with one, but after laying out that kind of money for a few of his dress shirts, I decided I wanted, no make that NEEDED to be a seamstress and soon!

My husband purchased me my first sewing machine as a Christmas gift that year. It was not the smallest Brother sewing machine they made at the time, but it was the next step up from the bottom of the line model and I was so excited to get it!

A few days later my mother in law called and said she was getting rid of her serger and her sewing box and asked if I would like them.

Yes!

The serger she gave me at the time was just a three spool, but any thing was better than what I had which was nothing. Sergers also cost a lot more than a sewing machines did at the time so I was very grateful to have one.

Her sewing box was filled with many notions, pins, needles, bias tape, buttons, etc. so I was on my way.

At the time all of my sewing equipment was stored in the living room coat closet of our tiny apartment but I made do with what I had.99cents

The next big help for me in my sewing endeavors was a part time job I got at a fabric store. I got the job just for the extra money, telling them that my sewing skills were not very good, but they hired me anyway. I loved the job and enjoyed cutting fabric all day and talking to the customers about what they were going to make with their purchases. The other ladies that I worked with at the store were all so helpful and gave me great sewing advice as we worked together.

The store had inexpensive fabric at $2 a yard or less and the employees got a discount on everything and thus became the start of my fabric stash. The store also gave free fabric and notions to their employees to make fun projects for the store to display.

After being displayed in the store for 30 days, the display projects were yours to take home and keep. I made all kinds of fun stuff for the store displays that I would have never spent my own money on.

Once our schooling ended and we started our full time jobs we moved to a bigger apartment. With that my sewing equipment was moved to a larger closet in the spare bedroom. My ingenious husband got me a folding table that looked like an ironing board that fit in the closet. With my sewing machine on one side and the serger on the other, plus shelves on the side, my first sewing room was born.

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While out Christmas shopping one day, we saw a demo of the Viking Huskylock 1001L sergers from Husqvarna and I was in love with the 4th and 5th spools, differential feed, auto thread tensioning, and all the other great new features it had over my old 3 spool model. After listening to the lady’s sales pitch, we told her we would love one but just could not afford the machine at it’s current cost of just under $3000.

She told us if I did not mind a used one, that after the demo was over, she was instructed to sell the demo models at a discount, and would sell me one for less than the regular price. I was thrilled at this and agreed to purchase the demo model for just under $2000 with very little use on it. And it is the same serger that I am still using today.

Over the years, I have looked at the new models of sergers as they came out and debated about an upgrade, but decided against it since the only feature that I would gain that I might use is the cover lock stitch.

Serger and sewing machine technologies don’t seem to move very quickly forward as it turns out.

Speaking of sergers there are two types of sergers you can purchase.

There is the $200 kind at discount store like Wal-Mart or the $1500+ kind at a sewing machine shop. If you are a casual sewer the $200 models will probably work for you for occasional use, but if you are serious about sewing your money will be better spent on getting the more expensive models as they are built better, work better and will last you for a much longer time.

My Viking serger I mentioned above it over 20 years old now and I haven’t had a single problem with it in all those years.

I continued to use my little Brother sewing machine to sew curtains, sleepers, pants, shirts, bedspreads, comforters, etc. for many years until the arrival of the combo sewing and embroidery machines.

Stay Tuned for next weeks post: My Sewing Machines – Part 2: The Embroidery Machines

My Sewing Room and Me


Hi! My name is Lanita and I just love to sew.

Sewing is just a hobby for me, no professional sewing here. I have three machines. I have a Brother ULT 2001 that I use for my sewing machine, and a Brother Innov-is 4000D that I use for my embroidery machine. Both machines are usable as sewing and embroidery machines, but each has features that I like better for either sewing or embroidering. My third machine is my serger, a Viking Huskylock 1001L. It is an older serger, but it does a great job, so I have seen no need to upgrade.

My sewing table is new, and I am totally enjoying it. I got the cabinets and counter top from Home Depot. My custom made table was a little expensive, but it was still less expensive than the manufactured sewing tables that come in sizes and shapes that you cannot choose.

My machines are protected by Norbit, the sock monster. He keeps the dust bunnies away.