Portable Sewing and Thrifted Machines
I’m an average sewist, but I still love to sew. I’ve sewn since I was ten and took Home Economics in junior high and Sewing in high school. I can follow a pattern if it’s not too complicated, and when the children were little I got pretty good at toys. With an active family comes a lot of mending, and knowing how to hem curtains and make pillow covers and kitchen accessories comes in handy on a budget. With two sons and a husband, knowing how to patch jeans is a must!
I also made patchwork comforters for gifts and charity, and finally taught myself how to machine quilt just a few years ago.
Now that I have a sewing room and more time, I can venture back into simple clothing construction as well as continue on my quilting journey. I am inspired by slow clothing and upcycling, which combines my love of thrifting and vintage patterns.
When dedicated space was limited I sewed in the dining area and kept my machine and supplies in a bedroom closet. I tried to keep my fabric stash small, and had one bin for tools and accessories like thread, elastic, zippers, tape measures, etc. I used a three-quarter size machine, a tabletop ironing board, and a dorm-size iron. I got pretty good at folding and stashing everything in a hurry for cleaning and company. I still take my portable sewing room on vacation!
Except for my Singer Confidence Quilter, which I purchased new on Amazon specifically for patchwork piecing and free-motion quilting, I found all of my sewing machines on Craigslist or in thrift shops. I prefer Singers because it’s what I learned on, but most major brands have everything an average sewist or quilter would need. I found a nice basic Brother machine at Value Village for $20, and after a good cleaning and oiling, it went to my mom so she could hem her pants and tablecloths. I love the IKEA machine (pictured above) I found at the Goodwill for $35. It squeaked something awful until I learned on You Tube how to oil it properly.
Do learn how to clean and oil your machine to keep it running smoothly. Instruction manuals are available on-line for a surprising number of makes and models. This is kind of fun; what the Singer Featherweight crowd calls a “spa day.” With the renewed interest in sewing and demand for low-cost machines, you could even turn machine repair into a pretty decent home business: click here to read more.
When shopping for machines on line, look for pictures of boxes or the words “new in box” in the ads. Phrases like “thought I would use it more” and “got two for Christmas” or “just not my thing” are what you’re looking for. You should be able to pick up a barely-used if not new machine for $100 or less.