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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Brooke Van Gory Guide to Sewing Products What is HOT and what is NOT!

Brooke here, and this is the post you all have been waiting for! The one where I tell you all my FAVORITE products to get you started to becoming a world class seamstress! Or at least, to have the tools that all of us love.

Getting your studio all set up can be a daunting task. Where do you even start? What do I need? Don't worry, this post will not only help you get all set with what you need, but it will also save you money in the long run.

First things first, you need to look into a machine. This is the #1 question people ask me. It can be the most daunting thing to purchase, because there is such a wide range of machines, with a huge range in price tags. I will tell you this first: you get what you pay for. When I first started sewing, I chewed through machines like it was no one's business. It was AWFUL. And each time it broke, I would have to take it to the repair guy, pay over 100$, and not have my machine for up to 3 weeks NOT GOOD! But, you also don't need to sell your first born for a decent machine. As far as brand loyalty, I am a Husquvarna Viking gal. I own two Emerald 116 machines (retail about 399$) and I love them.

But I have owned other machines, let me list them for you:

Singer: Horrible, not worth your money. The internal mechanics of the machine have plastic parts that will break over time, and most shops will not even repair them, they will just tell you to buy a new machine.
Brother: A step above Singer. Do NOT purchase these from Walmart,though. The models Walmart sells are made specifically for them, and contain more internal parts made of plastic then if you purchase a Brother or Singer from a sewing gallery! I would never purchase one, but...
Bernina:I have owned these, and still have one for my light sewing. They are awesome little machines for the price, and for a hobby seamstress, they are wonderful!
Kenmore: I had one, and returned it. But my good friend Jinx of MTCoffinz loves here, though it is one that is on the higher end.

Janome: I would say this is on par with a Bernina. I have never owned one, but I do know some amazing seamstress friends that love these machines, and own more then one.
Juki: This is the mother of all machines. If I win the lottery, a Juli will be the first thing I would buy. They DO sell some lower priced models, though I am not too sure how they perform, I don't know anyone that uses the non-industrial one.

Now on to scissors!A good pair of shears will cut your prep time in half, and cause less of a headache in piecing pattern pieces together. I use Marks shears, but they all are vintage, and not available anymore. Gingher shears are amazing, but carry a hefty price tag. But, as in the case of the machines, you get what you pay for. Fiskar shears are OK, you just will need to sharpen them often. The one thing to remember when purchasing shears is to get a pair with BOTH cutting edges smooth. I once made the mistake of getting a pair that had one side with tiny teeth on it. You can't sharpen those. ;)

Needles for me are usually whatever is on sale. Lately I love Schmetz needles, and I can get them 50% off about twice a month at Joanns. I also love Organ needles. Remember you will need to replace your needle every 6 hours of sewing, or it is breaks or bends.

Pins are a dime a dozen, I love the flower head type from Clover, because they are easy to sew over. Pins should vary depending on what you are sewing, and whether or not you take them out before your presser foot gets to them or not. You also will need a pin cushion. Get one. Use it. Thank me later.

For just the basics, this is a good guide to what you would need to get started. Of course, you need fabric, and thread. Also any other notions that your project might need, but that varies from project to project. If you have any questions on any specific products, please feel free to ask in the comments, I will be checking back to answer all questions! Happy sewing!

Brooke is the owner and seamstress at Brooke Van Gory Designs. She lives in The Chicago suburbs with her two kiddos, and her rock star husband! You can shop BVG here, and follow her on Google+ here.


  1. I love my Gingher shears and thing they are well worth the price, but I also have a pair of Dovo sewing scissors that were really expensive (and really are amazing). Remember NOT to cut paper with your sewing scissors and to get them sharpened when they become dull.

    p.s. I have two Janome machines and like them very much, but am not one of the "Team Janome" stitchers! ;)

  2. I also love my Gingher shears. The other cutting tool I use even more though is my cutting mat and rotary cutter. I would be lost without them.

    For machines, I started on a vintage Bernina. Loved it to death - literally - and blew the motor I used it so much. I have another as a back up, but have never set it up. I now have a Pfaff Select 3.0. This is the perfect machine for consistent sewing. It has the basics. It is all mechanical - no computer stuff - basic stitches, and is the best workhorse I've ever had. The IDT option (like a built in walking foot) is phenomenal. It is tiny so you can still see what you're doing, and flips up in a second if you don't need it. I have no problem sewing PUL or minky when I use the IDT. You do get what you pay for though - I believe it was $800. But when you use a machine for business, it is worth it.

  3. Oh, feet... I love the various feet I have! You are all making me want to sew again!

  4. Awesome collection of info as always, Brooke! You are making me want to start sewing!

  5. I have a wu-mart brother. It has more broken-ass ghetto going on than I'd like to admit. I'd never repeat that purchase.

    My mom has a Kenmore that is older than I am. It's still fabulous.

    I have a singer that is older than my mother. It still goes, but not quite what one is looking for these days, lol!