As a complete beginner, and someone who's hand stitching leaves a lot to be desired, what sewing machine is recommended by all you experienced milliners out there?

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I just wanted to add, Watch Ebay for old mechanical machines.  I bought one old Singer for between $5 and $9.  Someone was selling it for parts, because it had been left out and was rusted so badly that nothing moved.  I sprayed all the working parts with PB blaster let it sit for a few hours.  Oiled the little darling, bought  it a new tension control and plate, and now she hums right along!  Gotta love a good deal and elbow grease!

This may sound a little "loopy" but we all get to know our machines so well we can gauge when the go is getting too stressful just by the sound it makes. With mine being so old I respect its age & I never push it too far -so I stop & sort the problem immediately.  Do you have an ear for your "baby"? 

I have an ear for all by babies.  They all react differently, and all have their own personalities. I switch out machines depending on what I am sewing/my needs, so occasionally reach for the back stitch control in the wrong place, or in one instance where there is no backstitch.

I believe you can NOT go past Bernina. I got my first when I was 14 and I still use it daily. Am now 55

THE Rolls Royce of sewing machines!!!!!

Well, the one I have ended up with is a little Bernina minimatic 807. Surprisingly powerful for such a small machine!

Have spent the weekend trying to sew in a straight line! I need lessons on how to use a sewing machine now!

The 807 is a fabulous little machine!! It is sometimes called a 3/4 machine, and is nice and fairly lightweight.  Be careful to be sure it has enough weight to hang the needle off the table when your working on hats.  My 1230's are super heavy, so no danger of them falling off the table.  One of my 12 year old (very spoiled) students got one for Christmas!!  It's a great machine to teach youngsters on too!!

I first learned at school and we were given pieces of paper with lines and circles drawn.  No thread in the machine.  Just follow the lines and circles making holes.  Surprisingly good practice and saves a fortune in fabric!   Oh, and triangles and squares too (practice for corners).

what a good idea!

I first learned from my mother who used tailors chalk to draw hashed lines for us to follow.  By the time I got to the Home Ec. classes in school, I was beyond anything they taught, but they did use the paper with designs to sew around.  I chose scrap fabric with chalk lines, when teaching my girls.  It seemed more realistic. Either way, the lines teach you where your needle hits.

That's exactly how I start my 7 year olds!!  Dry sewing we call it.  No thread to worry about thread jams.  First they need to learn to control the speed of the machine, and keep their fingers away from the needle.  Then we work on straight pencil lines on paper, then with muslin and thread.  I don't worry about teaching them to thread the machine right off the bat. Too much for them to handle!! One thing at a time.  They learn to thread the machine in about their third or fourth class, depending on when they're ready.  Safety, straight lines, then threading.

I am on the east coast of the USA.  Just about 60 minutes south of Boston, and 3 hours from New York City. 

Are you in the USA?

I have a 4 day workshop coming up this weekend, and a 7 day workshop in mid-March, although no one is obligated to take all the days. You can pick and choose which class to take.  If those dates don't work, we can always schedule one just for you, as I do these every weekend on demand.  If a weekday workshop is better, it can be arranged as well.


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