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Sewing Tools of the Trade

You want to learn to sew or begin utilizing old skills left dormant since your youth. Perhaps you learned from a grandmother or Home Economics in high school. Either way first you must gather the tools of the trade.  The main tool is desire . Sewing is a learned skill. Patience, attention to detail,  a little knowledge of fractions and measures and a lack of fear for running machinery are all that is really needed.  Now let's explore the proper tools.

Fist and foremost- a sewing machine. There are many brands and styles. Some are basic and some have attachments and even computerized memories to do just about anything. If you are a beginner choose one that is simple, sturdy and unless you are wealthy, reasonably priced. Once you find out what your main interest and type of sewing you will be doing you can upgrade if needed.

Next , set  aside a work space. This means a quiet well lit area with a sturdy comfortable height table top or desk and a comfortable maneuverable chair. Lighting is very important and a good clear light besides the one on the sewing machine is essential.  Now for the accessories.

The main accessories any seamstress will need are as follows:

1. Scissors- do not scrimp on the scissors. A good sharp pair of scissors with comfortable grip make all the difference in the world. Choose a name brand that can be sharpened. Go to the sewing section of a reputable store for these. It makes a difference in how the pattern cuts especially with specialty fabrics.

2.  A sewing basket or drawer system for the "stuff". It should be easy open and easy to keep organized.  Your basket will house all your small goodies and will fill up much faster than you can imagine so don't go too small.

3. A really good soft measuring tape, a straight edge ruler and a good cutting board will be used on a regular basis. The board is not essential but  is very handy to insure a smooth firm surface anywhere and the graph lines and curves on many are helpful especially if you advance to making your own designs.

4. The little things mean a lot.  A good seamstress chalk or pencil is important. It is used to mark darts , meeting dots, pocket placement  ,  button holes etc. On the fabric. Choose at least 2 colors, 1 light and 1 dark so it is visible on any fabric. In a pinch a simple bar of soap will work .

5. Needles. Long, short, thin, thick , and varying gages. Get a good variety for both hand sewing and for your machine. Always keep extras for the machine for needle breaks. It happens. There are also specialty needles for different fabrics.

6. Pins and a good safe pin cushion. Here again, don't buy cheap. The pins should be sturdy  so that the points are smooth and sharp. and good sturdy heads.  A burr on a pin can do a lot of damage on a satin or silk and tear holes in your patterns. The cushion sounds simple enough, but get one that is substantial , holds the pins well , and won't go flying across your table at  the slightest touch.  If you ever dumped a  box of pins in the floor you know what I mean.

7. A seam ripper, a one sided razor blade and small snips are great to have. We all make mistakes.

8. Thread , bindings, seam tapes and lace triims and bindings all come in a plethora of colors. These are things you can buy by the project or stock up on. Many avid sewers stock up on all the seasonal and popular colors as well as basics like white  and black. Utilize sales at stores like Jo Ann's on  N Gallatin here in Nashville so you always have some on hand.

These are the absolute basics to get started. Trust me, you will add on as your skills improve and you move to more complicated or elaborate projects. Like a kitchen, a well stocked sewing space is a must.

This weeks place to try:       Dancing Needles        2717 Lebanon Pke.  Nashville,TN

A well established store , they get rave reviews for products and helpfulness. Check it out!

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