The right tools for the job

Unfortunately, the fabric fairies don’t magically show up overnight and turn material into awesome clothing. But who needs pixie dust when you have a sewing machine?

For future reference, I’m going to assume that you have access to a sewing machine. You can sew things by hand, but it requires more patience than I possess. If you choose this path, all the more power to you.

Sewing Machines

For the less tenacious of us, sewing machines are one of God’s greatest inventions. (No really, look in the fine print. God came back on Day 8 and gave Eve a sewing machine.) For any guys out there who think sewing is women’s work, etc., just remember that it is a sewing MACHINE. There are all kinds of wheels, gears, and mechanical bits inside there that make the sharp, pointy object impale the helpless fabric as it is drug to its doom.

Now that we are all on the same page, it’s important to find a good machine. You can wander into your local Joann’s or Walmart and pick up a cheap one, but the best sewing machines are actually the older ones. Way “back in the day” while your parents were climbing uphill both ways in snowstorms to get to school, sewing machines were all made with metal parts. The one’s you find in stores now have mostly plastic parts. This allows for them to be cheaper and lighter, but in the long run, more likely to break down.

Instead, go pester an older relative or scour the thrift stores looking for a nice, old machine that has all of its parts. That may end up being the tricky part. If you find one that is too old, you may have a hard time locating pieces for it if something *does* happen to break. I was blessed enough to acquire my mom’s old machine when she got an (even older) new one. It has all metal parts and runs great. I haven’t had to fix a thing in the time that I’ve had it, which is more than I can say for most of my other electronics and machines. Try to find a manual for your machine that will show you how to thread it and explain any idiosyncrasies that the machine might have. Each machine threads slightly differently, and setting it up the wrong way could either jam your machine or give you a headache. Neither of these are preferable.


As wonderful as a good sewing machine is, you still need a few more things to start your project. Thread is a very vital piece to the sewing puzzle. It is the only thing that can hold your projects together. (I tried duct tape once. Never again.) There are a number of resources that try to help you skirt the need for thread and even a sewing machine, and I’ve tried several of them. But my experiences with things like Wonder Under, Stitch Witchery, velcro, and, yes, glue, have left me with a mess and an immediate desire to undo what I just did so I can do it correctly. I mean really, thread is generally between $1-2. Just suck it up, make the purchase, and take the time to do it right.

The main thing to keep in mind while picking out thread is that you want it to match your fabric. Sure, you can get an additional color if you feel fancy and want to try some kind of embroidery later, but for the actual construction, you want thread that matches and helps hide any mistakes. The best way to pick out thread is to take a little piece of your fabric with you to the store when purchasing your thread. Also, try not to rely on just the color that the thread looks like on the spool. If there aren’t any employees looking over your shoulder, unravel the thread a little bit and hold the individual thread over your fabric. This will give you a better idea of what it will actually look like. After all, you aren’t going to stick a large bundle of thread on your finished product, so why compare it that way to begin with? Looking at a single thread may actually help if you have an odd colored fabric that you are working with, or if the store simply doesn’t have your shade. The thin line will be less noticeable in general, and will help you to get the closest color, if not an exact match.

~Next, more information to keep in mind before starting your project~



3 responses to “The right tools for the job

  1. Any idea on where to get old machines serviced? I have an old one I need to have cleaned up. I often wondered if “sewing” with those glue options worked. Great information here.

    • We got ours fixed by someone local in Ohio. I haven’t done much looking into the matter, but I’d imagine you are more likely to find individuals who work on machines like that than big companies. I would recommend just searching around on Google, or checking the Yellow Pages.

  2. Remember, next time you get the name from a girlfriend of that super awesome service guy who comes to your house and fixes the machine on the spot, tape his card to the machine so you don’t have to panic and pray SHE still has his name and number.

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