Subversive Sewer

I haven’t felt like sewing much lately, but my stepdaughters needed Halloween costumes, so that’s what I did this weekend. However, when I started by trying to wind a bobbin, it was a no go. The winder on my elna wouldn’t spin. After a few minutes of panicking, I remembered the simplicity sidewinder and decided it’d be a good fix till I could afford to have my machine looked at. I sent my fiance to joanns with a 50% off coupon and wrote the name of the product on it. While waiting in the check-out line, he asked the cashier about my bobbin problem. She suggested that the bobbin itself may be the cause. I put on a different bobbin and wouldn’t you know, it worked! So, no sidewinder review here… its getting returned!


{October 13, 2011}   Checking in


I just haven’t felt like blogging – or sewing – lately. I’ve started an accessory business called Orange Blossom Accessories, which has been taking all my free time. The website will be up soon. I’m doing mostly hair bows to start with.
But there will be a lot of sewing on the horizon. I’m very happy to announce that I am getting married late next year! Since I have a small budget and a lot if time, I’ll be DIY-ing everything, including my dress, the maid of honor dress, and 3 flower girl dresses! Wish me luck!

{August 27, 2011}   My Newly Organized Sewing Area!

I finally made it to IKEA to get the last things I needed to organize my sewing area, and it is a million times more functional now!  Here is the main photo:

Hopefully you can click on it to make it bigger.  I even labeled everything so you can do the same in your sewing area if you like it.

Here are some close-ups:

I saw this recycling bin and immediately knew it would be perfect for storing my ham.  I then had to explain to SO what a pressing ham was.

The wall pockets I made.  I just winged this based on what I wanted to store in it.  It’s mostly for my needles so I could see them without having to dig through a box to find the size and type I need.  I also got over my fear of double fold bias tape and edged the tops of the pockets and the outside edges. I used handbag interfacing as the backing.   The SO helped me with the grommets.  He also hung everything up for me so it’ll actually stay.

My spice jars that I keep my buttons, hooks, snaps, and other tiny notions in:

My obligatory “history of Death Row Records” shot glasses that I put notions for upcoming projects in.  The 2 pac one, not shown:

Here is Kwik Sew 3900 in action, which I’ll do a separate post on.  I changed the casing to snap on and off in back so they could go on these rails.

Would you believe that I used less than a yard of the cream and black print fabric to do all this?  And other than buying the red cotton from Ikea for $4/yard to line the pockets and the Ikea items labeled in the first photo, I used supplies I already had.  So, I got rid of some clutter too!

What I like the most, and SO agrees with me on this, is that even though so much is stored in plain view, it looks neat and cohesive.  This is very important because this is right in our living/dining/kitchen area.  It just shows what you can get with a little planning and a trip to Ikea!

And Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic, who posted this warning tip about Fabric Mart’s fabulous sale on some lust-inducing fabrics!  So, those of you who missed her post, consider yourself enabled!  I myself quickly justified a $50 purchase of several $2-3/yard knits and some drapey cotton that I already have a dress in mind for!

How’s that for a title?

Here is a list of things that I do to keep sewing an affordable hobby for me, and also a way to have a great wardrobe that’s in my budget.

  • sign up for the mailing lists of your local fabric stores.  For me, those are Joann Fabrics and Hancock Fabrics.
  • make a list of the patterns you want, and wait for the 99 cent (or 1.99) sales to buy them
  • stock up on staples, such as basic color thread and zippers, while they are on sale
  • …. but don’t hoard stuff!  Don’t buy every time of notion “just in case” you might use it.  If you’re not using it, it’s money wasted.
  • if you have trouble remembering what supplies and patterns you have and end up buying doubles, consider keeping an inventory and bringing it to the store with you.  If you’re a paid member of Pattern Review, you can use their pattern stash feature to keep track of your patterns.
  • before starting a project, check for reviews of the pattern on Pattern Review.  You can avert disaster by heeding the warnings of others.
  • don’t forget the bargains that can be had by buying secondhand!  Check Goodwill and other thrift stores, estate sales, Craigslist, and put the word out that you sew… you will inevitably be offered sewing supplies by people who no longer sew!
  • this is commonly known but bears repeating: make a muslin!  You can test the garment using cheaper fabric, and tweak the fit at the same time.
  • track the sale intervals at the chain stores.  For example, I’ve found that the notions wall is 50% off at Joann’s every quarter.  I hold off on notion purchases until the next sale if I can.
  • You may not be able to find suitable fabric at the chain stores.  This leaves 2 options:  independent fabric stores or online.  If you’re lucky enough to have an independent fabric store nearby, lucky you!  If not, online shopping is for you.  The caveat: you can’t touch the fabric, and shipping is expensive.  However, some sites’ shipping charges are more reasonable than others.  For example, offers free shipping on orders over $35.  They also have frequent sales that they’d be happy to email you about.  Fashion Fabrics Club‘s charges are lower than most that I’ve seen and seem less aribitrary.  And the fabrics on both sites are affordable as well.
  • Think twice before stashing fabric.  On the plus side, if you find a good deal on a fabric you really like, it can be prudent to buy it if you don’t have a specific project in mind for it.  However, if you do this a lot, you’re going to end up with a fabric store in your house!  Obviously, this is not a cheap investment, and it’s not benefiting you financially.  The line between keeping a reasonable supply of fabric on hand and SABLE (Stash Accumulation Beyond Life Expectancy)  is a very fine one!
  • Only buy the amount of fabric you actually need.  I’ve heard quite a few sewers state that they always buy extra fabric.  However, in my experience I’ve never found that to be necessary.  I buy that is recommended on the pattern envelope and have never run short as long as I follow the suggested cutting layout.  If you buy extra, chances are high that you’ll be left with lots of remnants that you won’t have any use for.
  • Instead of buying a new pattern, take a look at the ones you already have and see if you can modify one of those to look like the one you want to buy.  This is particularly beneficial if the pattern you want is pricey.
  • If you have to do a lot of basting, consider using up almost-empty spools of thread left over from past projects.
  • When buying a machine, iron, or other expensive items, consider what is the cheapest model that will meet your needs.  Don’t buy a machine with features you know you’ll never use.  Features like embroidery and novelty stitches look fun, but would you actually use them?  And don’t forget to check for reviews of the machine and do some comparison shopping.  And don’t pay extra for lessons unless you really need them.  Remember that machines pretty much work the same, and most come with instructional DVDs.  Regarding irons: I’ve found that the $10 iron actually worked better than the $100 I used to have!
  • Buying the cheapest fabric doesn’t always mean you’ll save money.  If you’re making an item you plan to wear regularly, a more expensive fabric may indeed last longer, which means you’ll save money by not having to make a replacement!

Well, that’s it for now.  Let me know if these tips are helpful, and if you have any to share!  I’ll post any reader-submitted tips in a future post (of course, you’ll be credited!).

{August 3, 2009}   A New Direction

After all the comments I received on my post on my finances, I realized that I’m far from alone.  Not all of us can buy all the newest stuff without scrutinizing our checking account balances.  So, in addition to posting my sewing projects, I’m going to start posting tips on saving money on sewing supplies, and how to save money by sewing.  This means I’m going to start keeping track of my receipts so I can track the cost of my projects.  I’m not sure that I have any revolutionary ideas on how to save money on sewing supplies, but I’ll post them anyway just in case it benefits somebody.  I also encourage you all to share your ideas, too!  I think I’ll post individual tips as I think of them, so sometimes you’ll see a bunch at once, and sometimes it’ll be awhile between posts.

et cetera