When I began teaching people how to use their sewing machines I was nervous that I wouldn't know how particular machines worked. After all, I only know two machines very well: the Bernette 330 that I bought when I was 13 and had for 22 years, and my new Janome 2160. Fortunately I co-taught the first two group classes along with Lauren, the owner of the sewing center in town, and during the classes she helped me to see that in reality, all sewing machines are the same.
And in recent months I've come to see that armed with a sewing machine you have the power to do a whole lot more than I had thought.
Sewing machines are a most amazing home appliance. I guess I would compare a good sewing machine to a good stand mixer. Both are built to last and both do a job faster and more effectively than you could do by hand.
But more than that, both the sewing machine and the hand mixer have capabilities beyond the obvious. A stand mixer can become a juicer, a pasta roller, a slicer and a shredder. With a meat grinding blade your stand mixer become a sausage maker, and with a dough hook it becomes a bread kneader. A home sewing machine has a similar level of potential. You just need to know how to harness it. With the right foot your machine can make rufffles, shirring, cording, tucks, and cordded pintucks. Your sewing machine can darn socks, sew sequins, couch, and make felled seams. It's really pretty amazing, but how do you figure out how to make your machine do all of this?
That's where these two excellent books by Charlene Phillips come in.
Charlene owns The Sew Box, a brick-and-mortar store in Ohio that also has an online shop. The Sew Box specializes in sewing machine feet, notions, and self-designed sewing patterns. And Charlene knows the sewing machine inside and out. Her mission with her shop and with these books is to help you to make your machine do everything that it can do.
The Sewing Machine Classroom is full of tiny tips and tricks that will help you sew better, faster, and more efficiently. And it demystifies all kinds of things, like what all these needles are for. I learned something on every page.
For example, I often sew pieces together that have very narrow seam allowances, like 1/8 inch or less. In these situations Charlene recommends moving the needle position all the way to the right so that the fabric is still in contact with both feed dogs for even, smooth stitches. That makes so much sense! That one tip changed the way I sew every day.
The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook is all about the feet and accessories you can get for your machine and how they all work. Each two-page spread covers a different foot with close-up photos of that foot in action, a diagram of the foot, and a descriptive paragraph or two on how to use it. I will confess I spent a bit of money on new presser feet after reading this book, but I firmly believe that having the right tool for each job makes all the difference. And you wouldn't beleive all the cool feet out there! Mind boggling. And if you want a particular foot, or 12 new feet (!), check out The Sew Box's online shop.
Your stand mixer does a pretty nice job mixing brownie batter, but why stop there when you can make your own vermicilli?
If you have a sewing machine, you should have these books. I am recommending them because I truly think they are a beneficial additon to anyone's sewing reference library.
I contacted Krause, Charlene's publisher, to let them know that I would be reviewing her books on my blog and they offered a copy of The Sewing Machine Classroom to give away. The giveaway is limited to U.S. residents. If you leave a comment here, I'll pick a winner by Wednesday, February 1, and Krause will send you the book. And if you'd just like to buy these books now, here is an affiliate link to The Sewing Machine Classroom and here is one to to The Sewing Machine Attachment Handbook.
Congratulations to MJ! You won the giveaway. Random number generator chose comment #1. I am emailing you so that I can get your mailing address. I really hope you enjoy the book!