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December 2015

Hello <<First Name>> 

Have you sewn any of your Christmas gifts this year? 

I've only made a few.  I've sewn some stockings for the new bubbas in our family as well as a bag for my Mum and a matching glasses case.  I even managed a skirt for myself (which I'm wearing right now) from an old donna cover Michelle (aka The Toffee Tree) discovered in the Toodyay Op Shop while we were on a sewing retreat weekend.  Hurrah for new wardrobe items!  (psst, did you see the pair of jeans that Nat from Sew Outnumbered made for herself, telling it how it is to sew them and they are super cool!) 
 


Things are going to be a bit quiet around here for a short while.  I'm heading offline for a spot of R&R with friends and family for a couple of weeks.  My online store will stay open with orders being posted out on my return.  You've still got a few days if you'd like me to pop a kit in the post to you for someone to sew up with Grandma during those long lazy summer holidays.  Lots of different fabrics are available and I can make them suitable for boys or girls or both. :)   See the full range at http://huntingforladybugs.com.au/shop 

Of course, I'll see all the lovely ladies who have enrolled in the Albany / Torbay class on Friday 8 January.  I'll be sure to show you their 'ta dah' photos on my return to the cyberwebs.  Can't wait to meet them all and get stuck into some patchworked throw pillow goodness.  There are just a few spots left if you'd like one.

And finally I love receiving your feedback on these newsletters and thank you to those who take the time to write and say how much you enjoy reading each issue.  If you relish in reading them or you find them useful to further your sewing, I'd love your help in reaching others who will dig them too.  Please forward this to a friend or two or encourage them to visit http://huntingforladybugs.com.au/subscribe to sign up.  I'll be retiring the little Ladybug Needlecase soon too so jump on the list today and get one of the few remaining kits.

Until next time, 
Happy Sewing, ♥ Sarah x

What Should I Look For When Buying A Sewing Machine?

This is a question that loads of people ask me.  There are dozens of machines on the market and it can quickly become overwhelming.  How do you stort through which one is a good pick for you???  Today we'll help you narrow down what you should be looking for and what is not so important.

I was lucky enough to be gifted a sewing machine from my parents for my 21st birthday.  I sew on a Bernina 1008.  She's not fancy, has nothing automatic, was the same as the ones we used in high school Home Ec. classes but she doesn't  miss a beat and will chomp through 8 layers of fabric, such as when I top-stitch a bag, like it is made of clouds.  My least favourite bit is the nice pastel swish :P

There are some good deals around at the moment (the other great time to look for a new machine is around Mothers Day) so I thought I'd sum up a few of the key things to look for if you're planning to shop for a new sewing machine.

Budget between $200 and $500.  $100-200 will buy you a sewing machine but they are cheap and clunky and designed for the non-sewer to do some mending.  You’d be better off spending a bit more to get something of better built quality that you can grow into, particularly if sewing is something you really want to pursue to a regular hobby level or beyond.
 

Look for:
  • Both mechanical or computerised models are available within this budget
  • Top loading bobbin is a bit easier to learn than a front loading one with a separate bobbin case (I have a front loading case and show you how to thread it up over here)
  • Thread cutter - a small fixed blade that will cut your threads as you finish a seam.  You can't see it well but my thread is being held in the cutter in the photo above.
  • Speed adjustment slider – keep it slow while you’re learning and then faster as you grow in confidence
  • Needle Up/Down button – not essential as you can use your hand wheel but the auto feature is good for precision sewing or pivoting in corners or when you’re making bags and need to hold multiple layers together carefully positioned.
  • Auto Needle Threader – Not essential and I don’t like using them but they are great for people with poor eyesight or super long fingernails
  • Reverse button positioned near the needle – mine is a knob I have to lift all the way over on the right panel so having a button near where your hands are when they are sewing is a great idea
  • One step Buttonhole –MY ULTIMATE WISH!  Just line it up, press a button and off it goes.  Mine is a clunky 5 step (middle) knob that I have to turn for each step.  It's hard to see where I am on the fabric and they are never very neat.  I would love an auto one.
  • Needle Position Adjustment – so you can change the needle left and right of the central position
  • Being able to drop your feed dogs – feed dogs are the little teeth underneath your needle that pull the fabric through.  You drop them out when you do free motion quilting or appliqué or when you use your sewing machine to sew on a button.  I have a knob to turn that drops them which is really easy.  Cheaper machines will have a cover plate that will screw down over the feed dogs.
Always mentioned in the sales pitch but but rarely used in reality...  Fancy Stitches!  File this under 'What You Don't Need' :)  You might use a few but the vast majority of your sewing will be done with either straight stitch or a zigzag.  Save your money for something else.
 

Other Tips & Tricks

  • I think sewing machines are best purchased from a local stockist.  Your local quilt shop or dedicated sewing machine supplier would be my first picks before the big fabric stores.  It gives you a face to quiz and somewhere to take it back to when it's due for a service or if something breaks along the way.
  • Take some scrap fabric of various weights with you.  They will usually have a range of machines set up in store, ready for you to sit down and test drive, so take along some fabrics and see how each machine will handle it.  The sales staff will demonstrate features they are very comfortable using and will make it look deceptively easy.  Notice how it feels, how fast it sews when you press the foot pedal and how loud it is.
  • Does your purchase include any after sales service?  Is there any included lessons?  (not that you'll need these, my kits are awesome for this and you sew at home! ;) ) 
  • Lastly, this is a fantastic buying guide from the folks at Choice Magazine   https://www.choice.com.au/buying-guides/sewing-machines

13 Sewing Graphics - Cheat Sheets


Can't remember how big a standard pillow is?  What about the size of a Fat Quarter.... these will help you remember.  Print out your favourite to have in your sewing space 
They are all available here... 
http://simplesewingprojects.com/sewing-blog/13-sewing-cheat-sheets-will-save-hours

What I've been up to... and what's coming up for 2016


Firstly, reporting back on the Family Travel Pouches I mentioned in the last newsletter - these were a very straightforward sew. There are plenty of pockets to slip all those passports, boarding passes and all the other important bits of paper you accumulate when you travel.  Binding it used to finish all the raw edges and there's even a pen holder.  I chose to leave out the hanging clasp and I couldn't help modifying the closing strap to make it more of a feature.  The first one is a button and the second a magnetic snap I used heavy interfacing throughout rather than fusible fleece and plastic canvas mentioned by the pattern.  All in all I think they'll be very handy.  The pink and grey one is currently traipsing around Europe with my sister-in-law so I look forward to hearing her feedback on how it went when she returns.  If you're interested in making your own, here's the pattern I purchased (not an affiliate link).
2016 sees me writing, filming, editing and releasing an e-course - whoop whoop!  Nothing like a challenge eh?!   If you're interested in some 'watch over my shoulder while I sew' help and to be a part of my pilot group, then sign up over here - howtosewlikeapro.com.

I've got an e-book almost finished called 'Beginner Guide to Buying Fabric'.  I've got a couple more photos to insert and it's done.  If you've got time in the next few weeks, I'd love a few people to proofread it for me and give it their best efforts at making sure I've captured and answered lots of questions those new to sewing (and completely intimidated by those large imposing fabric shops) ask.  Hit reply and let me know if you're keen and I'll send you a Dropbox link when the final book is ready for the world.

And lastly, cos it's a bit cute, here's a Hungry Caterpillar pouch I made for Charlie.  Merry Christmas everyone.  Hug your loved ones and stay safe and awesome over this festive period.  xx 

Cool Stuff from Around the Interwebs

Click any of the pink text and go zipping off around the interwebs to read more :) 
About Sarah

Hi!  I'm excited that you've subscribed to my newsletter and even more that you've made it all the way to the bottom.  

It's my goal to teach you how to sew, no matter where you live. To inspire others to drag out their sewing machines and make it come to life.  I want you to share that tingly feeling of pride in saying "thank you I made it myself". 


I live on a wheat and sheep farm in the Western Australian Wheatbelt region.  When I finally pull myself out from behind my sewing machine, you’ll find me tending a sadly neglected garden with a G&T in hand while the kids bounce on the trampoline. I may also be found occasionally in the sheep yards helping my farmer husband.

www.huntingforladybugs.com.au
Copyright © 2015 Hunting For Ladybugs, All rights reserved.




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