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There are a variety of sewing machines on the market and I would not begin to recommend one over another.  The BEST thing to do when searching for a sewing machine is to first make a list of features that are important to you.  Do you want the machine to embroider?  Would you like your model to have the Free Arm capability?

There are excellent web resources when selecting a new sewing machine (some are listed below) as well as for sewing machine parts. But ultimately, you need to visit shops that sell the machines you are interested in, armed with your list of features that you need.  It is important that you “test drive” each machine.  The shop should be knowledgeable and helpful.  If they are not, move on.  If you are getting no support in your efforts to try the machines out, and learn what features they offer, you will not be happy with the service from that shop after you have purchased.

Another good avenue to discover the sewing machine that is right for you is to talk with family and friends that sew.  Ask to try out their machines and get their input on what features they find most useful.  If you have some thoughts on your requirements, go over that with your friend or relative and see if the machine can handle them.

There is no need to over-buy and load yourself up with features you will never use.  If you have no intention of ever using an embroidery feature, then don’t purchase a top-of-the line embroidery machine.  There are models out there from every manufacturer that have basic features you will need for ordinary sewing like garment construction.

My first machine was a straight stitch Singer, I am going back over 30 years here.  I created a beautiful wedding gown, and brides maid dresses on that machine.  The most special memory I have is creating a mother-of-the bride dress with a matching velvet coat.  That little straight stitch handled moire, organdy and velvet with ease.  So, remember, don’t believe you have to purchase the machine with the most features, if you won’t use all those features.  More expensive is not necessarily better here.


The Singer company has a useful on-line tool you can use to input some information on features you need in a machine and it will make a recommendation for you.

Do a side-by-side review of the featured machines and get not only details on each model but retailers where you can purchase them.


Janome offers many models.  A perfect starter machine (especially if you are interested in machine embroidery) is the Memory Craft 500E. It offers automatic software updates, can embroider any size, and converts from ordinary sewing to embroidery in just 2 steps.


Wherever you purchase your machine you should make sure that they can handle service.  Your safest bet is to find a reputable sewing machine dealer that offers lots of “hands-on”, is knowledgeable about the machines and backs them up with service or can recommend a service professional in your area.

There are also many on-line options for parts and accessories from the manufacturers to Keep your machine model handy and always talk to a live person if possible.

As much information as there is available, do not become overwhelmed.  Remember to enjoy the experience of learning a new craft. Have fun and get creative!

(by Sharon M. Sottile)

Sewing Tips That Help Save Time

  • Find space for a permanent sewing area with equipment set up and ready to use.
  • Keep an organized list of sewing projects you want to do.
  • Schedule sewing time like any other appointment.
  • Set realistic deadlines.
  • Purchase all sewing supplies before you start.
  • Shop for several project in one trip.
  • Keep at least a couple different pair of scissors.
  • Buy magnetic pin cushions (and more than one).
  • Buy more than one tape measure.
  • Pre-shrink fabric immediately after purchasing.
  • If possible, group items that require the same thread color, so you can sew without stopping to (re)wind bobbins.
  • Store fabric in a clear bin so it’s easy to see.
  • Store patterns in plastic envelopes.
  • Use an office chair that has casters.
  • Lower your ironing board, so you can press while seated.
  • Using a familiar pattern pays off, by saving you fitting issues.
  • Avoid discount thread. Pay a little more for thread that resists breaking.
  • Try to get good at pin-less sewing or use fewer pins to save time.
  • Wipe the wheel or blades with rubbing alcohol to remove lint and residue, or wipe often during construction.
  • To keep seams lined up while sewing, watch the edge of the presser foot or the edge of the fabrics, not the needle.

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Pump Up Your Beauty with Pumpkins

This seasonal gourd may be your best beauty buy of the season. From shiny hair to smooth skin, the pumpkin can provide benefits that prove it be a girl’s best friend.

Packed with minerals and vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C and D, pumpkins are a fantastic diet food. However, these bright-orange gourds may also be the key to looking fabulous during harsh winter months.

Pumpkin puree is a cheap ingredient that you can use in a slew of DIY beauty products, and it’s easy to make your own in less than an hour is easy. Always use a fresh pumpkin for the best results.

Easy Pumpkin Puree Recipe

Cut the gourd in half and remove the seeds and extra gunk. Slice the pumpkin and place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes. Peel off the skin (this will be easy after the pumpkin is roasted) and use your food processor to puree. That’s all you have to do.

An average 3-pound pumpkin will yield about 3 cups of puree. One pumpkin can have you set for the entire season. Keep your puree in the fridge for up to a week or freeze in small batches for up to three months.

Pumpkin Your Face

Are you dealing with acne? The vitamin A, C, and zinc in pumpkin is a natural exfoliate that helps to reduce acne. Put a small amount of the puree on the breakouts; leave it for a half-hour and then wash your face.

Freshen up your face with a honey and pumpkin mask. Blend a tablespoon of pumpkin with a teaspoon each of raw honey and apple cider vinegar. Apply the mixture onto your face and leave on for 30 minutes before rinsing off.

If you have oily skin, make a facial scrub with pumpkin puree, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Rub your skin with the mix and leave on for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

Pumpkin is also perfect for dry skin. Mix 1/4 cup of puree with an egg and a teaspoon each of honey and olive oil. Leave on your face for 20 minutes and then rinse off.

Get smooth lips overnight by applying a thick layer of pumpkin puree to chapped lips before bedtime.

Pamper Your Body

Make a softening body mask with 2 tablespoons of pumpkin puree and a teaspoon of olive oil. Smooth over your body and leave on for 10 minutes before showering away.

Exfoliate naturally with 3 tablespoons each of pumpkin puree and sugar. Gently scrub for five minutes before rinsing off.

Get rid of cracked heels with raw pumpkin puree. Leave it on for 20 minutes before washing it off.

You can make a body butter with 3 tablespoons of puree and coconut oil. It’s best to use it in the shower; apply it after you wash up. Rinse off to a softer you.

Shiny Heads

Pumpkin will add shine to dry, damaged hair at a lower cost than fancy hair masks. To make your own blend, mix 2 tablespoons each of pumpkin puree and yogurt, with a teaspoon each of olive oil, honey, and apple cider vinegar. Apply the concoction to your hair and leave it for 20 minutes before thoroughly rinsing it out.

Pumpkin puree beauty treatments are an excellent way to take on the colder seasons. Instead of spending hundreds, go natural for a few dollars of pampering products that nourish your body. One large gourd can provide enough puree to keep your skin and hair soft and smooth throughout the season.

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