Hi guys … Happy Wednesday!
Today I’m going to expand a little beyond my introduction and give you a quick run down of what I consider the ‘bare necessities’ {“… the simple bare necessities … “} of sewing/quilting.

{Sewing Machine}
The one item that is necessary to all sewing is a sewing machine. I’ve had three in the last five years.

I started sewing on a basic Brother sewing machine I had purchased over five years earlier at Costco. The Brother was an okay machine and definitely worked well enough for me to fall in love with sewing. It cost around $100 and worked for the occasional sewing I was doing. However, as my sewing time increased, so did my need for a ‘meatier’ machine.

I upgraded to the Singer Confidence 7470. I love{d) this machine and instantly could tell the difference. First off it was HEAVY. Heavy = metal not plastic. A strong metal frame is necessary if you’re going to be sewing a lot {I think}. This was the machine I first tried ‘free motion’ quilting on. I still have this machine and while it’s not quite the work horse of my main machine, I do love to sing its praises and its *reasonable* price point of around $300-$400. A good machine will help you avoid many of the common headaches of sewing.

My current machine, Miss J, is a Janome MC6600. I LOVE this machine. I’ve been sewing on it for the last 2 years. I probably sew on it about 20 hours a week. I’ve had almost no issues with performance … any changes I do notice are usually corrected after her annual spa week {aka basic cleaning}. It sews through lots of layers easily, has an integrated dual feed system (we’ll talk more about feed dogs and walking feet later) and is FAST! I’m not sure I would recommend this machine to anyone and everyone as the price point of $1200-$1500 is a lot for the average sewer, but it’s been a dream for me and my little business.

{Iron}
I know, this one surprised you right? Well next to my sewing machine, my iron is my next most used item. It really does make your sewing easier, more precise and better looking. A good iron gets hot and produces a lot of steam. Steam is key to pressing seams. I use a basic Rowenta iron that I picked up on sale at my local JoAnns. Along with your iron, a solid ironing board is also a great benefit. I can’t stand working on a wimpy wobbly ironing board.

{Rotarty Cutter vs. Scissors}
I say you need both, but I use my rotarty cutter a lot more than my sewing scissors. I use my rotary cutter and ruler for all straight cutting (which is the majority of my cutting) and have even gotten good enough to use it on pattern cutting. I have a small pair of scissors I keep next to my sewing machine all the time for snipping threads. I have an Olfa rotary cutter {but started with a basic Fiskars brand}. I used to use the 18×24 Fiskars cutting mats, but after going through 3 of them {literally cutting through them} I’m currently using an Olfa mat. It is important to replace your rotary blades often and to keep your sewing scissors for fabric cutting only. ** One caution, rotary cutters are VERY sharp and can indeed slice a finger tip clean off. I don’t say this to scare you, but to be extra cautious when using them and the placement of your hand/fingers. **

{Thread}
Again, kind of a given if you’re going to sew, right?
I’m not super picky about thread, but I will say DO NOT buy cheap thread. That is, don’t by an off-brand .99 spool when you can get a brand name {on sale} for less than $2. Thread DOES make a difference in the quality and tension of your stitches. My thread preference is Gutterman, but I often buy Coats&Clark if it is on sale and I’m buying a specific color. I buy large spools of Gutterman’s thread in natural {less stark than white} for all my day-to-day sewing. I purchase my thread {almost always on sale} at JoAnns.

{Fabric}
Another given … if you have a machine and thread, you have to have SOMETHING to sew, yes?
I might not be picky about my thread, but I am picky about my fabric. Remember I told you that a cute apron kit got me excited about sewing? Well it was the lovely designer fabrics that really got me excited. I’ve tried using quilting cottons from JoAnns, but it is NOT the same as the higher priced designer quilting cottons. It’s just not. They don’t wash the same, they don’t wear the same and they don’t look the same in the end. I know fabric can be VERY expensive, so I’m not saying you have to start out with the $10-$12/yd stuff, but don’t cheat yourself on a time consuming project … like a quilt … with the cheap stuff. Here are a few ways to save $$ on the ‘good’ stuff: Watch for online sales and shop closings/liquidation; Buy a fat quarter bundle and then mix it with solids. Solids are not as expensive and can help stretch your budget. I buy most of my Kona cotton solids at JoAnns on sale. I even buy full bolts of Kona cotton in white to use for table runners and quilts. With a 50% off coupon it’s very reasonable; Shop thrift stores or garage sales for fabric/linens for practice fabric.

My favorite fabric shops online:: Hawthorne Threads {huge selection, discount incentives, super fast shipping}; Fabric Shoppe {love the fat quarter selection}; Fabric.com {huge selection, free shipping on first order & great sales}

So there you have it, the bare necessities according to me. And who am I? Well I’ll say it again, I’m no expert. Just a girl with a lot of hours behind a sewing machine. I may not have all the answers, but I’d love to help you find the right answer … so ask away!

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