Sewing made easy

January 11, 2010 4:10:44 PM PST
Sewing made easy. Create DIY table runners and napkins! Find out how to pick the right patterns and fabrics so you don't get overwhelmed. WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN BUYING A NEW MACHINE:
  • Go to a reputable store
  • Ask if they teach you to use the machine or do they have classes you can attend?
  • Getting a machine that fits your needs (do you want to grow into it? Or simply begin to see if you like sewing)
  • Borrow a machine from a friend for a week and create a simple pattern. Do you like the experience?
The machines Sandra recommends for beginners are:
  • Janome $650.00 DC4030 & Bernina Model 165 approx $500
  • Machines vary widely in cost. New sewing machines run the full range from as low as $50.00 to as much as over $2,000.
  • It all depends on what features you want on your machine. It is possible to find refurbished sewing machines for a under $100. at repair shops. These machines have usually been traded in by sewers who want to trade up.
  • Does it work? Have all its parts? Try it!
  • Does it have all its manuals
  • Look at the machine's over all condition. Take a look at the mechanics on the underside. Is it clean and oiled? Does it run smoothly?
  • You can find refurbished machines in the better makes there as well, for much lower price than new. Sewing machines can also be purchased from charity thrift stores, but you may find that they don't work properly, so buyer beware. Try it out?take it on a test drive!
  • Threading the Machine: Follow the manual instructions and put painters tape on areas to label them and number them.
  • Tension determines how much pressure is put on the thread before it enters the needle. Unless you are changing the thickness in the thread, leave the tension alone!
  • Don't choose a pattern that has a lot of detail, like set in sleeves, lots of pockets and darts.
  • Choose a fabric that drapes! Follow the pattern's suggested fabrics. Use fabrics that are easy to handle, no slippery fabrics or velvet, fabrics with a nap. Choose a pattern without too many pattern pieces.
Table Runner Fabrics that work best are Silk Brocade or 100% cotton home decoration fabric. It's about a 2 hour project! All you need to know to complete this project is a straight stitch.

Embellishments will make it unique. Dress it up with tassels, braiding trim or ribbon.

For a 60 inch long runner buy:

  • 2 yards of fabric
  • ½ yard of another contrasting fabric - plus 1 yard ¼ inch batting
  • 1 -2/3 yds. Of 1/2inch batting
  • 2 tassels
  • 1 yard of decorative braid
  • Make Placemats out of 100 percent cotton because it is easy to sew and doesn't retain stains and can be thrown into the washing machine and the dryer. Pre shrink, buy enough fabric depending on the size.

  • For a 45 inch wide fabric you can get 3 across: ¾ of a yard makes 6 napkins - Buy double the fabric if you would like double sided napkins. And 2 packages of double fold wide bias to use on the edges.

The Sewing Workshop
2010 Balboa Street
San Francisco, CA 94121
Phone: (415) 221-7397

Apparel Arts: San Francisco Fashion Design School
2325 3rd Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Phone: (415) 436-9738

For more information on power sewing, visit