Regretfully I haven't had any time for actual sewing in the past week, work has been dreadful and sad to say it's getting to me a bit. For the skirt I'm sewing I've only managed to cut out the fabric, which is a pretty poor effort all things considered. I'd like to say that things are looking up, but sadly things will probably be quite pressured at work for the next four weeks.
Anyway, when life looks grey and gloomy there's nothing quite so cheering as spending. However, suitably chastened by David Cameron's speech on tackling personal debt I'm going to hold back on whipping out the credit card just yet. Instead I'm going back to the old school method of deciding what I want and saving for it *gasp*.
I know, I'm shocked too.
I'm also going to conduct some research as well so that I don't just buy the prettiest available or spend more than I need to. I'll mostly be consulting the twitterati, google and other sewing blogs, but I'd LOVE for any advice from any readers of the blog so feel free to comment. This blog is pretty new and I don't yet have many readers, so I'm not expecting overmuch. This is mostly because I'm lazy, but also because I feel I need to build up a body of work and find my blogging feet before I start mercilessly promoting myself. Tilly and the Buttons I am not (yet) - but do check her out! Absolutely amazing blog. Although since beginning this post I've gained an additional two followers. Huzzah!
In terms of what I already own I only really have the basics; sewing machine, scissors, pins, needles and thread. After having made a couple of garments, talked to some more experienced dressmakers in Greenwich market and read about others experiences on the sewing blogs, I have decided that for a really professional finish I need the following;
I don't know anything about overlockers except that they scare me a bit, but they seem to be essential in achieving professional finished seams. However, a few short months ago electric sewing machines scared me, the only experience I had was with a hand turn machine 12 years ago in a lamentable textiles lesson. To give me some confidence I've signed up for an introduction to over-locking course at the Make Lounge following this post by Karen of 'Did you make that' sewing blog fame.
I've briefly consulted with twitter and advice received thus far is that Janome is very user-friendly. In fact the general conclusion is the tagline for Janome should be 'You can't f*ck it up, no matter how hard you try'.
The model I've identified is the Janome is 744D at £329. Bit more than I was looking to spend, but on an initial look around the websites this seems to have a good range of features for the price; rolled hems, free arm, and differential feeds.
2. Dressmaking form
I already kinda have one of these, but it is in the main a decorative item that is not adjustable and is much smaller than my body proportions. It has an 18 inch waist. I have a 31 inch wait. Aside from making me feel inadequate its not really up to the job of fitting; although it is helpful for pinning.
I would like to get a fully adjustable dress-making forms. I found this one on Jaycotts for £95.
Although I really want this, its not going to be top of my list because I have the option of creating a second 'me' with brown parcel tape, water and time. These replicate the shape of actual body, you can see some examples here. Some blogs I read rate these to the skies, above commercial dress forms. Where I struggle with them is that in many ways I do not wish to be confronted with what my body actually looks like. I prefer the anonymity of a commercial dress form. However, until I sort out my finances I can't argue with the relative costs of each. Brown paper version first, then a proper commercial dress form, then the world!
3. Foldable table
This is increasingly essential. I live in a houseshare with two other lovely ladies, but naturally as you might expect we don't invest overmuch in household furnishings. We don't have very big tables, and therefore I don't really have anywhere to do my cutting. So often I do my cutting on the carpet of my bedroom floor - this does not make for accurate cutting! I hate cutting, so I'm quite keen to find things that make it less of a back breaking hassle. I don't have the room to play with to buy a free standing table, so it will need to be foldable so I don't annoy the housemates. Ebay seems to have a mass of these and I should be able to get a four foot table for about £25 - £35. BARGAINOUS!
4. Cutting mat
Not much to say on this one, if I'm going to move to a rotary cutter this is pretty much an essential or I'll ruin whatever surface I'm cutting on. The one below is from Jaycotts and costs £19.40.
5. Rotary cutter
I have big hands. In fact I have a bizarre fascination with making people I know (sometimes in only the loosest way) compare their hand size with mine. Nine times out of ten my hands are bigger than theirs. I consider this to be one of my most impressive achievements; although I need to stop bringing this up on first dates, I don't think this is something men seek in potential partners (more fool them!).
Things big hands are great for: winning thumb wars, carrying lots of crockery and playing the piano. Things big hands are not so great for: impressing potential suitors, using fiddly smartphones and cutting fabric.
I feel like my massive mitts may however be able to handle a rotary cutter better than my dressmaking shears. On Jaycotts these retail for about £12. A lovely lady in a craft shop in Bath (which sadly I can't recall the name of) raved about how efficient these are, and with that I was sold!
6. Pattern weights
The lovely ladies on Colette Patterns often reference these as very worthwhile. They seem to be generally lauded on the bloggersphere as much easier to use during cutting than pins. Although pattern weights are available for sale on Jaycotts (about £8 for 2), many blogs recommend hauling ass down to the local DIY store and picking up super cheap washers. These can then be decorated with ribbons! Anticipated cost for 20 - £10.
From my initial estimates I'm going to need to spend about £500 to buy this all. So time to get saving and researching to see if I can get the prices down. Any and all advice welcome, where is the best place to buy? What other equipment is worth investing in? What should I prioritise?