I have a lot of sewing projects I’d like to do – making pillow covers our of sari fabric, aprons out of gorgeous linen, for example –  but didn’t know where to begin. So I asked my friend Lydia, who is the absolute best and most gifted textile person I know.  (She’s masterminding some projects that I’ll be posting, with patterns and pictures for d-i-y. ) Here’s Lydia’s advice for beginners:“First, don’t buy an expensive machine. Just get an inexpensive (under $150), really basic one, that’ll totally do the trick. Just make sure it:

-has zipper attachment and button holer
-does the zig zag stitch
-the bobbin works easily (if second-hand)

“What’s a good basic book?” I asked.

“The best book I know was written in 1975 and has been re-printed many times. It’s called Mother Pletsch’s Painless Sewing with Pretty Pat’s Perfect Pattern Primer. It is really goofy-looking,  illustrated with corny cartoons and some of the language is like the title. But don’t be put off by that. It is GREAT, with really solid information that will get you sewing right away.”


I ordered it and am  heartened by the Table of Contents, which starts by addressing the thwarting notion “But I don’t have the patience to sew” and moves onto organization, fabric basics, essential tools before walking you through, with illustrations, essential techniques like cutting, hems, zippers and buttonholes.

Now I’m in the market for a sewing machine. (A full report tk)

Note: The title image in this post is a series of beautiful Artists Trading Cards that were displayed on flickr: twelve machine-sewn collages with muslin, copies from vintage catalog, letter stamps, and sewing notions.

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