• Emily

Sewing FAQ

Updated: 2 days ago

How do I learn how to sew? Which is the best sewing machine to buy? What is the best serger to buy? In this blog, I answer some of sewing more frequently asked questions.


Where are the best places to buy fabric online?

This question comes up all the time in my online sewing groups, so I dedicated a whole page to where I buy my fabric online: Where to Buy Fabric.


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How do I learn how to sew?

I made a video on this topic last year (2019).  You can watch it here, but in summary, the internet  and books are your friends if you don't have in- person sewing classes available:


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What are your favorite sewing books?

General Sewing Books:

Books with Patterns:

Advanced Techniques/Couture/Tailoring:

Books on Fitting:

Books on Pattern Drafting or Altering:

Books on Fabric:

Miscellaneous:

Singer Series:  Singer offers a series of sewing books with topics like tailoring, serging, sewing active wear, sewing lingerie, fitting, sewing essentials, etc.  While these books were produced in the 1980's, techniques really haven't changed and the information is still very useful.  You can find these books used online for about $3-4 each!  I am pretty impressed with the quality of information provided in each of these books.


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What is the best sewing machine to buy?​

This really depends on your budget and needs. From my experience, I recommend Brother as the more budget-friendly brand (especially the cs6000i).  For the higher end brands, Bernina (what I have; Berninas are known for their precision.) and BabyLock.  I have tried out Pfaffs in the store, and they seem pretty great, too!  I can only recommend what I have tried.  


When you are first starting out, it's probably best to begin with a more budget friendly option to 1) see if you're really going to get into sewing and 2) determine what kind of projects you will be sewing.​  Some things you may want to consider when purchasing your machine are:


Will you use any decorate stitches?Many machines now offer a selection of decorative stitches, sometimes even over 100 different ones.  These can be fun to add to the border of a garment or pillow -- the options are endless!


Utility Stitches:  These stitches are different from decorative stitches in that they are functional.  They include zigzag, stretch, blind hem, overcast, and even your basic straight stitch, just to name a few.  Check out what stitches the machine offers to ensure it will meet your needs.


Needle Position:  How far can you move the needle to the right or left?  Being able to move your needle will be helpful for things like edge stitching, top stitching, under stitching, and more.


Free Arm: The table area of the sewing machine can slide off so the "arm" of the machine is easily accessible. This allows you to sew circular areas, such as arms hole and necklines more easily.


Automatic Buttonhole: Will you be sewing projects where making buttonholes is required? Many machines offer this feature, but double check just in case!


Do you want embroidery capabilities? Some machines can do both or have the option to add an embroidery module/set-up. If you are really into embroidery, you may want an embroidery only machine, with many embroidery features though.


Semi-automatic Needle Threader:  If you have a tough time threading needles, then having this feature will be a big help,  It seems most machines are equipped with this kind of feature these days.


Automatic Thread Cutter:If you're like me, you are naughty and don't always cut your threads. Having an automatic cutter feature on your machine is a lifesaver!


Bobbin Size: Some machines now offer a larger/jumbo bobbin size. It's super annoying to be in the middle of stitching a seam when your bobbin thread runs out half-way through, so the more bobbin thread, the better!


Dual Feed: This is a feature my Bernina 770 QE has (Bernina Dual Feed). When the dual feed is engaged, it allows my fabric layers to be fed through evenly, with not slipping or shifting.  This is great for slippery fabrics, or for when I am match stripes, plaids. etc.  You can achieve similar results by attaching a walking foot to your machine.  Some higher end machines have a built-in walking foot, which is less clunky than attaching a separate foot.


How much space to the right of the needle?If you are going to be sewing large projects, having more space will make your life easier. 


Do you need a heavy duty machine?Always consider what you will be sewing.  If you are working with denim, leather, thicker fabrics, multiples layers, just be sure the machine can handle the workload.


These are just some considerations to think about when shopping for your new machine. Carefully think about the sewing projects will do, and this will guide you towards the right machine for you.


$ Saving Tips on buying higher-end machines: 

Checkout your local dealer (including your local Sewing Machines Plus).  They often have gently used machines for waaaaay less than the cost of the machine new (this is how I bought my Bernina 770 QE).  In addition, you can sometimes buy the floor model at a discounted price. If used isn't for you, keep in mind that the store prices  are usually less than what is listed on the brand website (MSRP). Always ask if the price can be lowered.  I have found the stores are willing to do something for you, even if it's just throwing ing free accessories.


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​What is the best serger machine to buy?​ 

I have more to say about buying a sewing machine than buying a serger.  I use the basic functions of my serger, and even still sew my seams on my sewing machine first before finishing them on em serger!  However, I do have two sergers: theBrother 1034Dand BabyLock Imagine. 


I bought my Brother 1034D from Amazon.com and waiting a whole year before taking it out of the box ; I was just too intimidated!  But, I found that the Brother 1034D is easy to set-up and use!  It's a GREAT machine for such great price.  If you are new to serging or just don't want a spendy machine, I highly recommend it.  This is an extremely popular machine across the sewing community.


I used my Brother 1034D for about a year or so before I decided I really liked serging.  Even though the Brother 1034D is pretty easy to thread, I was curious about the air-threading the BabyLock Imagine offered.  Also, the BabyLock seems to be the  high-end favorite for sergers, so I needed to see what all the fuss was about.  I went to my local BabyLock dealer and tried it out.  I was sold on it's jet-air thread system and auto tension features. Adjusting the settings to create a rolled hem on this machine is a breeze, too! That said, the BabyLocks are the most popular home sergers, and for good reason! 

Money saving tip: I was able to buy the floor model and I saved a lot!


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Where do you get your custom sewing labels?

Dutch Label Shop.  This last time around, I was lucky enough to partner with them and was given these amazing SewCal Sewcialite labels.  If you use discount code SEWCIALITE15, you can save 15% on your order (I do not receive a commission, this is just a little something for my online community).




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