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Dusting Off the Sewing Machine


The last time I visited my parents, my mom let me take home one of her sewing machines. I graciously accepted it, even though I wasn’t sure if I’d use it. I’ve never used one in my life, and the few things that needed mending in the past were easy enough to do by hand. A few days ago, the zipper on my son’s sleeping bag partially came off.

An hour later and a few finger pricks later, the zipper was back on. It was a bad, bad, sewing job. LOL. Yep, it was time to bring out the sewing machine and learn how to use it.

The one I received didn’t come with a manual. I found the company on the web and sent out an email asking for a copy. It may be a long shot to get a free copy, but I found one on eBay for $9.00 so that won’t be that bad as a last resort. Hopefully I hear back soon.

On a complete side-note, sewing machines are fascinating. I had no idea how they worked, but found some neat graphics that explain it.

Now that I am more open to using a sewing machine, I can see it saving us money down the road. I can patch up the knees on my son’s play pants so they last longer and we can keep the good ones for school. I can also mend things faster and do a better job at it. Many times I would sew something only to have it last a few days before unraveling. I also found a few neat sewing projects like this grocery bag. We really want to start using reusable grocery bags but the quality of the ones you can buy at the grocery store does not impress us.

I’m excited – I can’t wait to hear back about the manual so I can get started!


  • Reply Shawna |

    Regarding the grocery bags (just in case you never get around to making your own)…I don’t know where you live, but if you live in an area that has Meijer, their reusable bags are AWESOME! I bought 6 of them when they first started carrying them, and they are still in perfect condition. We use them for everything…library books, filling them with entertainment for the kids on long car trips, etc. I’ve even washed them, and they come out looking like new. They even have nifty pockets!

  • Reply Maria |

    A sewing machine is definitely part of a frugal family’s lifestyle. I use mine for all sorts of repairs, and to make inexpensive costumes for school events. I hope you get the manual for free–that is very handy to have!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Shawna – thanks for the tip about Meijer bags! We don’t have one near us, but we have family near one. Perhaps they can pick up a few and send them to us or we can pick up a couple when we visit next.

  • Reply Kim |

    I like to check out the thrift stores for cheap fabric. Depending on the project, bed sheets work well. Plus, check out Craigslist and Freecycle for fabric give-aways. If you do go to a fabric store, look in the clearance aisle. I saw lots of denim there yesterday — great for your tote bags. Home-sewn curtains and blankets are great and much less expensive than store-bought.

  • Reply Amy |

    The manual is more important when you want to try to do fancy things like make a button hole, but if you have someone who could show you how to load the bobbin and thread the machine, you should be able to do plenty of sewing projects without the manual.

  • Reply LA |

    Oh, yeah, you’ve got to get sewing! clothing repairs, home decorating— for a few dollars, things like curtains and placemats are incredibly easy to make. A pair of fleece mittens can take you literally a half hour to whip up, and we all know how many mittens are lost a year!

    Check out the library, Tricia, for sewing books. They have lots of ideas and many show you how to set up the machine, etc.

    I recently used mine to make a laptop carrying case. Couldn’t find one that fit my laptop just right or wasn’t just ugly or expensive. A yard of discount fabric, some batting, some velcro, and I had a laptop case in one afternoon that was exactly to my specifications. I think I spent $12. People stop to ask me where I got it!

  • Reply Dawn |

    We got the Wal-Mart reusable bags and they work great! When we take them with us to Pick N Save they will credit your bill 5 cents for each bag you bring and use!

    I actually like to sew. This really surprised me at first. We have made lots of cool stuff from baby blankets to a few Detroit Lions blankets for Christmas gifts a few years ago. Most recently we made a blanket with arms (like the Slanket or Snuggie) and that is truly awesome!

  • Reply Julie |

    I made a bunch of reusable bags from old drapes. My neighbor was throwing them away so I took them and made them into gorgeous bags!
    I have washed them repeatedly over the past five years and they are holding up well. Not bad for something that was going into the garbage.

  • Reply CanadianKate |

    I taught my dd how to use a machine. I don’t sew except to mend but I taught her the basics.

    She is super tiny (5′ nothing and 100 pounds) but has found that she has a wide choice of clothing because she can buy larger items and adjust them to fit her perfectly. She recently bought a deeply discounted size 12 skirt for a song. The saleslady was trying to talk her out of it but my dd now has a perfectly fitting, ‘name brand’ skirt.

    She also turned a thrift shop blanket into Snugeez blanket by sewing the sleeves into it for herself.

  • Reply Jen |

    You know .. sewing isn’t always cheaper. today, with cheap imports, it is almost always cheaper to buy clothing. I sew a lot and always have, but it isn’t for frugality. It is great to mend existing clothes – saves you in tailoring fees, but for making things from scratch, you probably won’t save money.

  • Reply Alissa |

    Congratulations on your sewing machine! I think my sewing machine was the best investment I ever made. It saves our family a ton of money. The last commenter mentioned that it’s almost always cheaper to buy cheap imports… but in my experience, that’s exactly what they are…cheap! If you do buy them, you’ll have to fix them on your sewing machine anyway. πŸ™‚ Also, you don’t have to sew using new materials. I LOVE re-purposing old clothing and fabric (sheets, etc.) into new things. I’ve made cloth diapers and wipes out of recycled fabric. I also think there’s nothing better than homemade Hallowe’en costumes. πŸ™‚ The possibilities are really limitless!

  • Reply terry |

    You’ve never used one in your life? I thought you made your son a ghost costume. Also, it is underwear, not underware, and it it bawling, not balling. Balling is a totally different thing!

So, what do you think ?