I vaguely remember that when I first thought learning to sew, I had visions of saving money on clothing. Ha! I had no idea at the time what a ridiculously expensive hobby this could be. And I suppose it could be true that you could save money if you had been buying expensive clothing in the first place. However, I almost never buy clothes, and when I do, it’s usually Old Navy on sale. You could easily argue that I will now have much better quality items that actually fit me (although Old Navy tends to fit me pretty well), but you certainly could not argue that I’m saving money.
I love a nice fabric, and though I had yet to spend over $7/yard on fabric (except for the cotton lawn on my first Simplicity 3835), it can still add up over a full garment. (Side note, I finally understand how far $100 can go in Mood for a Project Runway challenge!) And, of course, every garment needs elastic or buttons or snaps or zippers or hooks, which can add up.
But it’s not just the fabric and notions, it’s the equipment too. I’ve always had a problem with gadget lust. I can always be found drooling over a computer or ebook reader or cell phone that I want. Sewing has changed that; it’s just focused it.
Now instead of this:
I want this:
Okay, well really, I want both. But you get the point. I have dreams of sergers and dress forms and sewing rooms. However, I discovered this weekend, while working on the Star Trek dress (more on that in a later post), that all it takes is a few cheap items to make sewing a whole lot easier.
I placed an order on Sears.com recently for needles for my sewing machine (since I have an annoying tendency to forget to change a setting and end up breaking a needle), and I sprang for extra bobbins while I was placing the order anyway.
This is pretty cheap as gadgets go, a mere $3.99. But it made such a huge difference. When I need to sew with red thread this weekend, I didn’t have to first unwind a bobbin (and waste thread). And I didn’t have to be super careful in winding the bobbin that I didn’t end up with too much thread. I just wound as far as I wanted and figured if I had leftover thread on the bobbin, that was just fine because I’ll use a new bobbin for my next project!
When my mother gave me all her old sewing gear, I had spent an entire afternoon untangling spools of thread in her sewing bag. It was not a fun task, and I vowed to never let my thread get that tangled. But then I threw all of my thread into a new sewing blog, and the tangles started anew. So while I was in JoAnn Fabrics this weekend, I picked up an item I’m very excited about: a thread box!
Joann’s website says it’s a $6.99 item, but I bought it for $5.49. And it’s perfect. Simple, no frills, but it keeps the spools apart. And I should be able to keep bobbins with their coordinating thread for true ease of use. They only had two sizes of this kind of box–for 40 spools and for 18 spools. I went with 18, but it’s already full, so perhaps I should have gone larger. On the upside, I can fit this box in my sewing bag. There are also hole in the box to allow thread through so that you don’t even have to open the box, but since I do almost entirely machine sewing, that’s a useless feature for me.
Finally, I picked up the item that I am MOST excited about, which has truly revolutionized sewing for me: the magnetic pincushion.
This is actually two things in one for me because I got 50 new, bigger pins (and I bought more big pins to go with it). I had been using the 100 tiny straight pins and tomato pin cushion that came with the Singer Beginner Sewing Kit I bought before Sewing 101. It was serviceable, but just barely. The tiny pins without real heads would hurt my hands after hours of sewing, and I would just keep the pins out on the table in between steps rather than try to stick them all back into the pin cushion. I don’t know about you, but I have a habit of dropping pins on the table, on the floor, on the cats, and picking up tiny pins was a nightmare, especially off of the bamboo mat we have under the dining room table (where I do most of my sewing). Now things are better in two ways: the bigger pins are much easier to work with and much easier to see; and I can just wave the magnet over surfaces to pick up pins. I find myself returning pins to the pincushion with each step now. I even return pins individually as I pull them out one at a time (for instance, while sewing a zipper). It’s fantastic and well worth the $8.99!