I mentioned in a previous post how lucky I am that my mom taught me how to sew, and in my cranky teenage years, no less! She taught me the basics on a machine that is quite similar to the one I use as my primary sewing machine now. Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time poring over sewing books in bookshops and libraries, and investing in the ones I found most helpful. Today I’d like to share some of my favorite sewing books for beginners, although I think many of these are great resources even for more experienced sewers….
Just a couple iPhone photos of work in progress. Working hard to get things finished to photograph this weekend, I have a little photoshoot planned.
Lots of activities like this happening around the studio lately: stamping the interiors of pillow flaps with the Cotton & Flax brand. No itchy tags here, you can rest your head easily on my pillows.
I was thinking, yesterday, about how long I’ve had my sewing machine for. It was a gift from my mom in my teenage years, and it’s a very similar model to her own machine, which she used to teach me to sew. I remember how frustrated I initially was while she taught me how to thread the machine, how complicated it seemed. Now I could do it with my eyes closed.
I am lucky to have had my interest in craft nurtured in this way. I’m also lucky that this sewing machine seems to handle whatever I can dish out, and with regular oiling, has yet to have any major problems (knock on wood!) I know there are fancier machines out there, and it’s possible I could work faster with an industrial sewing machine, but I’m going to keep using this one for as long as I can.
It was strange to take most of the week off from blogging, but I just had to focus all my waking energy on finishing my work for Feliz Holiday Sale in Austin this weekend. I’ve been printing, sewing, and packaging items like a madwoman this week, and I hope to share more photos of the finished products soon. Until then, here are a few Instagram snaps of my works in progress from this week.
These are all the different versions of the printed felt coasters I’ll be adding to the shop next week. So bright and fun!
This was one of the last pieces of fabric I printed before hunkering down into sewing mode. I will be debuting new printed tea towels next week, too!
I wanted to take some time to talk about the supplies and tools I use to create items for the Cotton & Flax shop. All artists and crafters develop their own affinities with different brands and types of supplies, and I wanted to share the ones that I turn to again and again.
Every pattern in the Cotton & Flax line begins as either an ink drawing, or a pattern that I’ve created with a hand-carved stamp. When I am creating an ink drawing, I always turn to my trusty green bottle of Yasutomo Black Sumi Ink. I love the consistancy of this brand of ink, and for whatever reason, it seem to always dry darker and sharper than other brands I’ve tried.
I use a Janome Travel Mate sewing machine to do much of the sewing for the Cotton & Flax shop. It may surprise you that I don’t have an industrial sewing machine setup, but I am quite attached to my Janome (notice the stickers and washi tape I’ve put on it?) and I can’t imagine getting rid of it anytime soon. It was a gift from my mom, and it’s the same model that she used to teach me how to sew when I was younger. Call me sentimental, but my Janome sewing machine has proven to be a resilient little workhorse.
Looking for something similar? The Janome HD1000 is almost the same machine, and still built with steel inside so it’ll last for a long time.
I am a diehard supporter of Gutermann thread. It’s not the cheapest option, but I’ve found that it is much stronger than other brands I’ve tried. I love that they make a cotton thread, which helps get me just a little bit closer to making a fully sustainable product. Plus, it comes in an amazing rainbow of colors, who doesn’t love that?
To all you artists/makers out there: do you have a favorite supply or tool that you return to again and again?
Have you heard of the Purl Bee? It’s a craft blog created by Purl Soho, an awesome fabric and yarn shop in NYC. They publish tons of DIY projects and ideas for you to knit, crochet, sew, stitch and more. I don’t knit or crochet anymore, so I go straight for the sewing projects, and the tutorials I’ve tried have been fantastic! They do a great job showing you the details of each step, and they even show you where you can buy the supplies for most projects.
Above are some of my favorite projects featured on the Purl Bee blog. From top left, clockwise: Adjustable, Unisex Apron / Flying Geese Mini Quilt / Twenty Minute Tote / Summertime Wallet / Sewing on a Button / Zippered Dopp Kitt