Category Archives: Picks

Choosing the Perfect Beginner’s Sewing Pattern

Sewing can be an enjoyable hobby for those that have a crafting background. Although it is related to other crafting hobbies, and you’ve probably used a beginner sewing machine at least a few times before, it can be an entirely different world to make your own apparel. To help you choose your first pattern wisely, here are some tips to give you a better chance at making this hobby something you’ll stick with.

  • Stick with your skill level

Many crafters start out with some very ill-fitting garments that they’ve sewn and decide to quit altogether. Just like with anything you need to stick with it a little longer to give yourself time to fine tune your skills. The worst mistake that beginning seamstresses make is attempting a first project that is beyond their skill level. Even if the idea of starting out by sewing some pillow cases seems ridiculous it can help you to get a feel for the machine you are working with. Don’t attempt a notched suit jacket at first; you will need to work your way up to it.

Even if a pattern states it is ‘easy,’ you should consider a few things. Look at the back of the pattern packet and glance at the potential number of seams required to complete the project. If it looks like there are a lot of shaping seams, avoid this pattern. Easy apparel options include simple A-line short skirts or accessories like a tote bag. Don’t begin with pants, button down shirts, knit material dresses, or the like. You will find that you can easily go over your head and lose the excitement of sewing before you start.

  • Notions

Another way to know whether your pattern is beginner friendly is by looking at the list of notions. Notions are other items besides fabric that you will need to complete your project (e.g. thread, seam binding, etc.). You will do best to avoid patterns that require a line of buttons (one button is okay, but only if you have a good basic pattern), invisible zippers, and other types of notions that require changing the presser foot in the middle of the project. It takes a little while to get used to using different presser foots, so keep it simple. You can find the list of notions on the back of the pattern packet; it will be listed somewhere near the top for whatever view you want to do.

  • Fabrics

All fabrics are not created equal. Some are thick, some are fuzzy, some are slippery, and some are just perfect for beginners. The more ‘perfect’ beginner fabrics include 100 percent cotton or cotton polyester blends. These do shrink a little (remember to wash all fabrics before using), but they are lightweight, sturdy, and easy to work with. A great beginner sewing pattern will list either of these options in the suggested fabric section on the back of the pattern packet. Even though you can sometimes use different fabrics than those suggested, you are running a big risk; each pattern is designed using certain fabrics because they fit and flow correctly on the body.

  • Choose a pattern that will look good

Another rule of thumb that is important to keep in mind while hunting down your perfect beginner sewing pattern, is to only choose a style that will look good. If you don’t like short skirts because of your huge calves, than don’t pick a short skirt pattern. Likewise, if the design of the pattern is something you know you don’t look good in, don’t choose the pattern. You are setting yourself up for failure if you override your logic on this issue.

Without a doubt sewing can be a great hobby and a money saver too. For your beginner’s sewing pattern, keep these tips in mind and you’ll be more likely not to hide your sewing machine away in the garage for another 10 years.

Review of J and M Sewing Custom Seamstress

I pride myself on being an excellent internet researcher. I don’t buy anything online until I’ve explored every possible avenue and unless I’m sure I’ll be spending my money wisely. So, I initially felt confident when I stumbled upon J and M Sewing Custom Seamstress Shoppe online and saw that they made patriotic window valances. We are decorating our son’s nursery in an American flag/rocket ship theme and I was looking for something to go over the window to tie everything in the room together. But, American flag valances aren’t available everywhere (believe it or not), so J and M again seemed to be a great choice for us. The picture online showed a red background with white stars and from what I could tell seemed to be a heavyweight material and just the right color.

I also liked that I could custom order it to fit the window exactly, so I accepted the high price $30.99 (plus $7.95 shipping) for a 5 foot wide, 2.5 feet long valance. One week later, I received the valance in the mail and couldn’t believe it when I opened the package. As you will see from the pictures I took of the valance, it is extremely poor quality. The material they used isn’t even as thick as a sheet and is completely see-through which is even more noticeable with you actually put it on the window and the sun shines through. Also, they must’ve been zoomed in so close when they took the picture of the material on the order page online because the stars were so small they looked like polka-dots and you can’t even tell they’re stars when the valance is hanging on the window.

So, after being totally disappointed that I’d spent $38.94 on a very poor quality valance, I called Melanie at J and M the next day to speak with her about it. At first she told me that she couldn’t refund my money or exchange it because it was a custom order. Then, after I told her how I felt about the quality and that the stars were too small she said that she could exchange it, but that I’d have to pay for the shipping to return the valance (another $7.95) and then the shipping on the new valance (another $7.95).

I told her that I didn’t really want to spend another $16 dollars on the valance, so she said that she would allow me to get a refund after all but that I’d have to pay a 25% restocking fee and again, the shipping to return the valance ($7.95). I felt like my only option was to get another valance, so she told me to take a look online an pick out one, but there really wasn’t anything that matched our theme. I talked it over with my husband and he agreed that he didn’t really like any of the other possible options on their site, and that we’d just have to pay the shipping and restocking fee but at least we’d get some of our money back to put towards another valance.

I called her back 10 days after I’d initially spoken with her and she then said that I had past the 7 day policy and that she could no longer do anything to help me. Those were her exact words…”there’s really nothing I can do for you.” Take a look at the pictures attached and you see what I mean. I definitely don’t recommend buying anything from J and M.