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Even the most effortless of practices, like saving seeds, can be beneficial for you and the environment. And though I’m guilty of ordering my seeds a lot more often than I should, I must admit this habit costs me a considerable sum of money. Now, the trend of harvesting seeds is all the rage, and it can do you better than just helping you save a couple of bucks. It’s a good way to live off the planet in a way that’s sustainable and responsible. Not to mention, it makes you feel like a crafty farmer.

Get Precious Seeds

There are certain seed varieties that aren’t as readily available now as they used to be. This is mainly due to them not being as profitable as other varieties. The corporate thought process allows hybrid seeds to take the place of natural ones.

While many corporations think a certain variety of seed won’t be as profitable to grow, the environmental conditions in your area can prove otherwise. Once you start saving your own seeds, you become reliant upon your sources and self-sufficient to a great extent.

Better Quality

It’s highly likely that you’re giving more love to your mall garden of crops than a farmer who has thousands of acres worth of crops to tend to. This gives you the benefit of getting better seed varieties that are healthier, resistant to disease, and produce better yield as well.

Also, since your crops will have thrived from the environment and temperature in your area, it’s probable they’ve adapted to the surrounding conditions as a variety. This can be beneficial because you won’t have to take a risk with new seeds that might not adjust to the environment you plan to grow them in.

No More Hybrids and Genetically Modified Organisms

Genetically modified organisms are highly common among seed varieties that you find at the local market, and even if you try to make a smarter move by purchasing organic types, it won’t be the most affordable decision.

By harvesting seeds from your own crops, you can avoid having to buy mediocre seed types developed to adapt to a wide range of climates. While this may seem beneficial, crops that stem from such seeds won’t be immune to attacks from pests.

When it comes to seed harvesting, you need to know that seeds from each crop category are derived differently. It also depends heavily upon the crop’s composition. Seeds that are often surrounded by dense membranes of pulp have to be dried before they can be stored carefully. Dry seeds just need to be dried a little more for good measure before storing. (more info here – also see My Homestead Planting Guide)

This is just a heads-up as to what’s about to come. I’ve grown interested in seed harvesting recently so I’ll be sharing how you should save each different type of seed. Until then, you can prepare to invest a little more effort in the farming process. Happy Farming!

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Choosing the Perfect Sewing Machine (And Other Tips)

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.

SINGER

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.

https://www.singer.com/

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.

https://www.singer.com/machines/view-all

JANOME

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.

http://www.janome.com

PARTS

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 Amazon.com. 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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