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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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The Easiest DIY Homestead Beauty Ideas

Who needs a vanity full of beauty treatments and makeup? When you run your own homestead, you have a plethora of affordable, natural beauty treatments in your backyard. Use these easy DIY beauty ideas to look happenin’ on your homestead.

Homemade pomade

My husband is finicky about his hair. Any storebought pomade inevitably smells weird or doesn’t have enough hold. After much trial and error, I’ve found that a homemade pomade works just right for him. Simply melt down equal parts beeswax and coconut oil. Combine and stir in essential oils of your choosing.

DIY dry shampoo

Got greasy hair? There are a few quick fixes for that!

If you have fair hair, gently rub a bit of cornstarch in your roots, shaking it free. For darker hair, run dry oatmeal through your hair to remove excess oil. Be sure to get any oatmeal flakes out of your hair; otherwise it’ll look like you have a case of dandruff!

No-fuss fruit exfoliant

Those $50 facials at the salon are fancy, but they’re overpriced. Did you know you can make a powerful exfoliating gel right at home?

Simply break down a fresh pineapple (yes, fresh, not canned). Run the pineapple scraps through your juicer a few times. You can apply the pineapple juice to your face for an invigorating exfoliant. Be sure to keep it away from your eyes and only let it sit for five minutes before rinsing.

Feeling beet?

If you want blush in a pinch, dig a beet up from your garden. Wash it carefully and slice it into quarter inch slices. Freeze the beet slices overnight. The next day, apply the beet to your cheeks. They’ll give you a naturally rosy hue, no powders required.

The bottom line

Who says beauty and hygiene have to come from storebought items? Use a few of these fun homestead beauty ideas to stay fabulous with less fuss.

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