Learning a new craft
If you have been following my Instagram for any amount of time, you might have noticed that I am a bit of an eclectic crafter and regularly jump between crochet, knitting, cross stitch and beading, but there was always one piece of kit I wanted, but because of the cost, had set it on the back burner. However, I have been saving bits here and there all year and this month took the plunge and bought a sewing machine!
After a lot of research, trying to find one that had a good amount of accessories, stitches, would be easy to use and let me try a wide range of sewing, from clothes to quilting, I settled on the Brother FS100WT.
This machine comes with several feet, although not a walking foot or quarter inch, an extender table, 100 different stitches and a basic alphabet. It has a decent sized throat for some quilting and a nice LCD display. It isn’t the cheapest machine, but I think it will last me a good while, so saving money in the long run, plus, it’s sturdy and has a good weight to it so it isn’t moving around while in use.
I’ve been a bit obsessed with quilting videos on Bluprint (so happy they have been bought out rather than closing up), so I also bought the essentials to learn how to quilt. I have ordered both the quarter inch and walking feet, cutting mat, rotary cutter, a 6.5 x 24 inch ruler, mini iron and about 3 tonnes of pins. I already have plenty of thread (thank you micro-crochet), decent dress-making scissors (merci cross stitch) and a seam ripper (where did that even come from?) I also ordered Sarah Payne’s Quilt School, which starts nice and slow and builds you up from totes and place settings to full on quilts.
I’ve decided to work through the Quilt School book, and I’m about half way through project one, which is a quilted tote bag. I’m picking colours which aren’t too floral, as that isn’t really my style and I do want to be able to use this once I’m done. I think this is one of the hardest parts so far – choosing fabric! There are so many sites and designs to choose from and as I have had a proper rummage, thought I could share some sites that I have found useful.
Wool Warehouse – no surprises there! There’s a good selection of fabrics, from buying by the metre, as fat quarters or in ready cut packs. If you think of Wool Warehouse just for yarn, go and have a look!
Firesidefabrics.co.uk – I bought my fat quarter pack from here for the second project and it came really quickly. They also have a load of lovely designs and plenty that are not overly floral, if like me, that is what you prefer.
Sewessential – again, a really nice selection of fabrics, but also a really good selection of notions and tools, especially for sewing garments.
Minerva – another big company, but I like them for the amount of patterns they stock. I have ordered a couple for when I am ready to tackle simple items of clothing.
There are of course so many more and I am sure I will need to try them all out while I build my stash. I bought my quarter inch and also a stitch in the ditch foot from Austin Sewing Machines and they work perfectly on my machine. They are not Brother branded, so are about a quarter of the price. I did opt for the Brother walking foot though, as I’ve read mixed reviews.
If you are looking at having a go at quilting, I do recommend that you kit up your project and just go for it. Keep the machine on a slow speed until you are comfortable. I have found that I actually can be more precise at a slightly quicker pace though, so don’t be afraid to try! The tote bag I am working on is made from a charm pack (you might need 2), so there’s no cutting required before you can begin piecing. As someone coming from a crochet background, it’s amazing to see how quickly the blocks work up! I can see how someone might be nervous about messing up the beautiful fabric they bought, so I did buy cheaper fabric for my first project. I don’t want to feel nervous and I don’t want to think that I have wasted money if it goes a bit wrong!
I will just give one word of warning though – if you are using a quarter inch foot, make sure your needle is in the correct position or you will hit the foot – at least I would on mine – and this will cause it to break. If you’re a bit forgetful, you can always just take off the foot when you finish your session to remind you to reset the needle when you clip it on for the next one.
I have noticed that for men wanting to learn to sew, there isn’t much choice of classes or books, so I have ordered patterns labels ‘Easy’ and ‘Simplicity’. I have chosen a t-shirt pattern (must be quite simple, right?) a shirt pattern and a pattern for a set of pyjamas. I thought the pjs would be a good segue into trousers, but we will see. I think if this route works for me, I will write more in depth and share the pattern links for any guys out their looking to find their way too.
I’ve really enjoyed my time with the machine so far and I’m so excited to move on and have a go at sewing my own clothes. I just feel a bit sorry for my partner as now there is going to be a fabric stash as well as a yarn one! Let’s just blame lockdown.
Until next time,