It’s never too late, or too early, to introduce people to our beautiful craft. I started sewing at the age of four on my great grandmothers treadle machine. My mom said that when I started talking and stopped paying attention, I also stopped peddling! My fingers were safe and we learned early on that I would not be a great multi tasker! I’ve also been teaching since age 4 or 5 when I taught my kindergarten best friend to make a doll blanket on that treadle just like I did.
Continuing the tradition, both of my girls received a machine of their own for Christmas at 4 years old. A nice machine, a Baby Lock. I felt a major sense of pride when my youngest daughter asked before leaving home one day, “Mommy? Do you mind if I leave my quilt layed out on the floor like you do?” How could I say no to that? At age 6, she was making her first quilt out of charm squares and had her pieces arranged on the floor to sew, as I very often have on the floor on the opposite side of our living room. Like mother, like daughter, like grandmother, like great grandmother and so on!
I’ve had so many husbands of friends and even strangers ask me my opinion about buying sewing machines for beginner sewers. When I tell them that I feel they should be from a local retailer and get something a little nicer, I usually hear, “I don’t know if she/he will really like it/stick with it/ be any good at it/ etc, so I was thinking I would just buy a cheap machine from (big box store).”
That response breaks my heart, here are the facts:
1. If you buy from a big box store, there are no owners lessons. You need a lesson to learn how to thread and use the feet!
2. If you buy from a big box store, the machine may be bad out of the box. It’s true. If it gets dropped in shipment or is just not a good brand, it may be broken coming out of the box.
3. If the new sewer gets a bad machine, she/he doesn’t yet have the confidence or knowledge base to assume it is the machine, he/she thinks it is them.
4. She/He will not like sewing.
5. She/He will not stick with it.
6. She/He will not feel like she is any good at it.
Jess from Sally Tomato filmed a cute little video about buying entry level machines. She talks about the importance of a local retailer to instruct and service the machine and made a very good point: We are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on phones and tablets that will be replaced every few years, why do we expect to buy sewing machines on the cheap that will last us decades? It is an investment in the hobby, and well worth a few hundred bucks for a beginner!
I also hear sewers say, “Oh, I would never let my grandchild touch my “Big Machine.” I get it, sometimes we aren’t looking at a few hundred bucks, but thousands!! I do still encourage my kids to play on my machine. The day I saw my daughters drawing on the screen of my Destiny with the sensor pen in IQ Designer, my heart nearly burst. The only thing that disappointed me was that they cleared the screen before I had a chance to save their drawings, digitize and stitch them out! That is a project we will get to.
If you are thinking of purchasing a new sewer a machine for the upcoming holiday season, or know someone else who is; please, check out your local independent sewing retailer. It is so important for the gift recipient and the sewing community as a whole to support those local shops. Did you know that Baby Lock machines start at $99? Sometimes traded in machines
offer some great deals, too! You may be surprised by the deals you can get on a machine with the service and support every sewer deserves to have.
The latest fun project my daughters worked on together was turning fat quarters into outfits for their stuffed animals, and then themselves! My 8 year old made herself a skirt that was tapered at the waist and a tube style top just by laying on the fabric on the ground and pinching where she needed to sew. I was pretty impressed, she’s already better at fitting than her Quilter Momma!
Next, we found these adorable doll panels by Ann Kelle from Robert Kaufman fabric company. The girls had a blast, with a little help from Mommy, cutting out, sewing, turning and stuffing the dolls. Another great place for a beginner to start!
I hope that this holiday season you will help spread the love of our shared hobby of sewing be it a hand crafted gift or the gift of a new skill!