Money Saving Repairs

One of the main reasons I believe everyone should know their way around a sewing machine is to save money. Not that they should all learn to sew their own clothes, but for the smaller things like being able to make repairs. Like repairs in your beloved jeans or a top you’ve had for years. Then there is my favorite…getting steep discounts on Ready-to-Wear because of minor repairs that are needed due to wardrobe malfunctions in the dressing room.

I had a shindig up in Austin last weekend and needed a dress suitable for business. I was hoping for a solid color and sleeveless (it’s still hovering around 100 down here in God’s country) because I want to look like those info-babes on Fox News. I mean I study their hair, their makeup, their clothes – they are gorgeous!…I digress. So I headed over to Macy’s for what I call a Combat Shopping Trip which usually occurs on my lunch hour with a specific mission in mind. It’s a clandestine solo mission where I stealthily get in, get out in under an hour, save a boat load of money and hubs is none the wiser. HA! I can make it from the office to my local mall in 7 minutes. In my mind, I look like this.


The mission calls for a bee-line to the deeply discounted rack which usually holds the ugliest of the ugly that have been picked over the previous season.clothesOnRack

And lookie here! Every once in awhile, there is a diamond-in-the-rough on those racks. A beautiful Calvin Klein, solid color, fully lined, sleeveless that fits the description of the target perfectly!

Oh but wait! There’s a tear in the zipper where someone suffering from Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD, attempted to stuff their large hiney into this dress. DARN! I’m mean YAY! That’s good for another 10% off at least!dress-too-small

The dress is from this season (note the peplum!) and it originally retailed for $134.00. But for this dress to have suffered the indignity of BDD, its been discounted down to $46.90! Now we’re talking! It would cost me that much in fabrics to make it myself so this is a deal even at this price. (Don’t mind that size 14 on the tag…that’s a misprint…you know how they label things wrong sometimes.)

So I’m off to the fitting room, the dress works, and now the real skill comes in – Negotiating a price with Buffy the cashier. I don my body armor (Macy’s card) because I have a 20% off coupon if I use the card and I say innocently as if I’ve just noticed it, “Oh look, there’s a tear at the zipper. Darn. Um, can you take any off?” Buffy replies, “I can only take of 10%.”  Amateur!  “Really? Just 10? I’m going to have to take this to have it repaired and that will be at least $30, maybe more because it’s fully lined. Can’t you do any more?” She rolls her eyes.  “Let me call my supervisor.” (A sly grin crosses my face and my eyes narrow as I smell a victory.) “OK, that would be great.” To heck with those old bats with their comfy shoes in line behind me. I’m on a mission and I’m obviously on my lunch hour as evidenced by my business professional attire with my clangy ID badge around my neck and name tag on my blouse. Within a minute the supervisor arrives, irritated by the interruption, and as I point out the tear and attempt to go on about paying for a repair, the discount drops to 20%. SUCCESS!!!! The lady behind me whispers, “Well done.” I turn to her and grin. I got this $134.00 beauty for $28.14! I give myself a well-earned imaginary medal for my incredibly successful Combat Shopping mission and head back to the office smiling all the way. And back to my original point. If I couldn’t sew, this little number would still be hanging on the rack.

This is a fairly simple repair with the right tool…namely tape. If you don’t have Steam-a-Seam in your arsenal of sewing tools, you absolutely have to get it. I have it in this pre-cut size and the full package size where I can cut my own. Either one works but this is easier for zipper repairs. I placed the adhesive on the zipper tape, pulled off the backing paper, then adhered the fabric to the other sticky side.

Then I pinned to secure it in place and pressed it over a pressing ham because there is a slight curve to the fabric where the peplum goes over the rump.

For zippers, I prefer the old school zipper foot as opposed to the one that came with my machine. It was a bit tricky because the dress is fully lined, but I flipped it inside out a bit, did a few stitches and viola’!!

Repaired! Too too easy!

And the dress looks great! I didn’t get a final image while wearing it in Austin, but you get the idea. This is my $28 Calvin Klein dress!  And my bathroom toilet.


Meet My Machine!

This is my no-name Brother CS6000i and I adore this machine.  I bought it back in 2007 and it’s the first computerized machine I’ve ever owned.  Now that I’ve had one, I’ll never go back.  I know there are purists out there who love those vintage machines, but until you’ve made computerized button holes, you don’t know sewing heaven.
This machine does a good job of blurring the lines between being a “sewing” machine and a machine for quilting.  I paid about $250 back then but it’s down to like $179 on Amazon now so you get the best bang for your buck with Brother.  It came with lots of accessories including a walking foot, FMQ (darning) foot, button hole foot, and the extended table which is good for piecing.  But the needle down feature was a pleasant surprise for sewing.  I rarely, if ever, roll the hand wheel to place the needle either up or down, and the auto needle threader took some getting used to but now that I’ve gotten the hang of it, it too is sewing heaven.    One cool feature is auto-sewing – if you disconnect the foot control, with the press of a button, this thing takes off!  So you can FMQ to your heart’s content at a constant speed for even stitches (slow, medium, or fast) and you never have to worry about your foot/leg getting tired of pressing the foot control for 10 minutes straight.  One thing I’d like that it doesn’t have is an auto thread cutter.  After a manual machine, all these new-fangled features take some getting used to, but once you’re on board, you will lovingly place your vintage machine on the shelf and never look back.

My first machine was a 1990’s Singer I nicknamed “That POS Sewing Machine” and being a lady I literally said P-O-S vs. what it stands for, but you get the idea.  I can’t count the number of trips to the repairman for tension issues, feed dog issues, timing issues,…just issues.  I hated it.  And when I’d finally had enough, I left it at Goodwill feeling bad for whoever got it after me.  I suspect it just didn’t like me so who knows?  I hoped it would be better with a new owner.

This is my 2nd serger, the Brother Lock 1034D .  My first one was a White Speedylock and I really didn’t care for that machine.  It was hard to thread (I had to watch the video 3 times to learn how to thread it) and once I fiddled with the tension, it was like I couldn’t ever get it right again.  The bulb burned out and I couldn’t replace it because I couldn’t get to it (has to be replaced by a repairman) so that was the final straw and I gave it away, again hoping it found contentment elsewhere.  

My happiness with my Brother sewing machine and the reasonable price is why I chose this model for my new serger and I love it!  It’s SO much easier to thread and sews like a dream.  I’ve had it several years and I’m just now treading into the world of sewing with knits.  Now while working with interlock knits and sheer fabrics, I rarely use my traditional sewing machine except for hems.   I wish the fashion pattern companies would add serging instructions in their pattern directions telling you when to finish an edge before sewing certain pieces together or alternative serge sewing instructions.  Sometimes I’ll finish an edge I didn’t need to or get garment pieces together on my regular machine that are impossible to finish cleanly on the serger and I should have serged a piece of fabric first.  It’s very frustrating.

In my perfect world, if money were no object, I’d have the Brother Dreamweaver Quilting & Sewing Machine.  I can’t wait to try it out one day.

Here’s where the magic happens!  My Decompression Room and I’d rather be here than just about anywhere else.  It’s where I go in my head when I’m having a bad day or just need some peace.I’m begging hubby to build me a cornice I can cover with some sewing-room themed fabric over the window and get rid of the dated swag.Hubby made the thread caddy for me and the polyester batting on the design wall is so cool.  Fabric just “hangs” there and sticks to it perfectly.  I love the L shaped set up I have and got the table on an after-Christmas sale from JoAnn’  When I’m quilting, I set the serger on the floor and pull the homemade ironing board (standing on end under the serger) up so I can iron as I go while piecing.I’m 5’9″ so I try to use all the space I can can and high shelves work for me.The Fiesta Dress is almost finished!  All I have left is the hem and the petticoat.

So that’s my sewing world!