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Would you like to sew but find it frustrating, intimidating, and time consuming?

You can decorate and add warmth to your home by sewing simple projects. If you’re on a budget, it can cost a fraction of what you would pay in stores. Your choice of fabrics, patterns and styles are endless if you do it yourself. Create a professional, coordinated, unique look with a very small investment of time, energy and money.

Before you jump in, consider these time-saving, tried and true tips.

Equipment and Tools

You need very little to get started. Every fabric, craft or department store will have aisles of gadgets and equipment. Unless you’re seasoned and experienced, you won’t need them.

Use this list as your base:
· Sewing Machine
This is your most important and largest expense. There are so many machines on the market, it can be overwhelming. The newer models perform multiple functions like hemming, buttonholes and decorative stitching. Granted they’ll do everything, but unless you plan to use all those functions, it’s money wasted. Your machine needs to do two things; sew straight and zig zag stitches in varying lengths.

Sewing machines last for years; I owned my first one for 25 years. Look for second hand machines by well known manufacturers. Trade-in machines at sewing machines stores are cleaned and adjusted before resale. Look for one that has an easy threading pattern and make sure you get the manufacturer's instruction manual.

· Iron
Your iron should have both steam and dry settings for use on different fabrics.

· Ironing Board
This is not essential. Ironing boards are big bulky and hard to store. I don’t own one myself. Use your biggest table and protect the wood with a heavy folded bath towel.

· Tape Measure
You don’t need to buy a seamstress type tape. My preference is a self locking tape measure from my husband’s tool box. The locking feature is great for measuring the same length multiple times and stores easily.

· Scissors
A pair of clean, sharp scissors are essential. Reserve a pair just for sewing use. If cutting with scissors is difficult on your hands, purchase a quilting wheel cutter. It is a sharp metal disc with an attached handle and resembles a pizza cutter. It is great for cutting through heavier fabric and eliminates hand cramping.

· Pins
Pins are very inexpensive and should be replaced often. They bend and dull with use, making sewing difficult. Barbed and dull pins can ruin your fabric with snags and holes. Keep them in a box that closes securely; there is nothing worse than 500 pins on your kitchen floor!

Now you have all you need to start sewing!

Choosing Fabric

Of course, you’ll need to have a specific idea in mind before you shop for fabric. Don’t limit yourself to the local fabric store, it’s a great place to browse. The newest fabrics on bolts are the highest priced. I buy almost all of my material as remnants. Remnants are ends of bolts, last year’s low sellers or seasonal prints. They are generously reduced in price and usually in a good sized length. You usually have to buy the whole piece and look it over carefully for imperfections.

Another favorite place for fabric is the bed and bath sections of area department stores. Flat sheets are durable, preshrunk and come in a variety of colors and prints. The cost of one flat sheet is significantly less than bolt material with the same yardage (Think curtains to match your bedroom at a fraction of the cost for drapes!) Pillowcases make excellent starters for coordinating throw pillows. Choose fabrics that have easily defined patterns such as, stripes, checks rows of hearts or flowers. No worries about straight lines of stitching when you use these as guides for sewing hems, seams and ironing.

When you purchase thread, always buy two spools of the same color. Use one spool on your machine and the other for bobbin thread. When your bobbin runs out (and it always will at an inconvenient time), there is no need to unthread your machine to make a new bobbin. Choose neutral and basic colored thread that can be used more than once.

Making Your Project
Now your dining room table is covered with everything you need. Where to start? Break up your project into sections:
· Measure and cut all pieces
· Iron and pin or pin and iron, whichever you prefer
· Sit and sew all pieces
· Remove all the pins
· Iron out any wrinkles
· You’re Done!

With these tips, you’re ready to tackle sewing projects you can be proud of. Try making a coordinating throw pillow for your favorite chair or bed. Remember, keep it simple- you’ll be pleased with the results.