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spretzatura | Posted in General Sewing Info on

In desperation to get pants to fit, I have decided to return to sewing.  It has been years since I’ve sewn (I do a lot of knitting).  But I’m concerned because I like really nice clothes, and I’m not sure I will be able to pull it off. 

So I’ve got some questions:  what kind of sewing machine should I look for (key functions)?  Some machines look like the sewing equivilent to powertools–more is better in idea but not necessarily in execution! 

What are key tools for getting the best fit?  Any “I couldn’t do without” items or books?

Any seductive items I should avoid?  In the knitting world that would be varigated yarn–just like bad lovers, so seductive but inevitably disappointing!

Thanks in advance,




  1. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #1

    Hello and Welcome! Those are a lot of very good questions, but very hard to answer in a small space all at one shot. Best starting spot for you might be to use the Search function and look up past answers to some of the questions. There are a lot of older posts that cover those exact questions.

    It would be good also if we knew a bit more about you too! How much sewing have you done before and how long ago. It is easier to help if we know what sewing level you are at. As a knitter, you already have a wealth of knowledge, we just need some common ground to stand upon. Looking forward to chatting more, Cathy

    1. spretzatura | | #2

      Thank you for the good advice.  I will start with the search function and see what I can find.

      As for more about me, I'm middle-aged and, definitely, not a ready-to-wear size!  I take almost everything to the tailors for a nip and tuck here or there.  I like better 'bridge' lines like BGBC, Emporia Armani, Nanette Lapore, Lafayette 148, etc.  So I want to be able to make clothes of similar quality--eventually.  I am willing to pay for quality in tools and materials, but I don't want to be a spendthrift either. 

      My sewing experience includes sewing clothes (even a wedding dress) and home decor.  I am very good at following written instructions and willing to give things the time they need to be done right. 

      It has been at least 15 years since I've done any sewing, and I know a lot has changed.  The last time I was looking for a sewing machine, the only thing I knew to look for was a good button holer! 

      I would love to take a good sewing course, but that simply isn't available in my area.  Neither is there a quality fabric store. 

      My goal is to start with pants--the bane of my existence!  Due to medical reasons, I have very heavy legs (yeah to wide leg styles), so I always wear pants.  It is surprising difficult to find the style I need in the fabrics I want.  And then I have to have them hemmed and taken up in the waist. 

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #4

        Pants seem to be the bane of many sewers existence! You will probably find it will take several trys, so stock up on some inexpensive pant weight fabric to practice on (muslins). CHL has some good advice. A good straightforward machine will do you best for most sewing needs. Once you have your machine, you might want to make a few simple projects and other garments, to get back into the swing of things before you jump into your pants. Just to bring your skills back up to snuff. And to learn your machine. It is frustrating enough to learn a new machine, without having the frustrations of trying to perfect some new techniques as well. A good sewing reference book to refresh your memory might be a good thing as well. There is a discussion on them not too far back as well if you search. That will give you a good listing of the basic tools you will need as well. They can be had almost anywhere, even second hand. Good luck shopping! Cathy

        1. spretzatura | | #5

          Thank you.  I had thought of starting with some muslins to get the right fit.  I figure between using a pattern, modifying it based on current pants that fit, and sheer determination, I eventually will get there.

          The suggestion about starting with something basic to get back into things and learn the machine is very good.  I hadn't thought of that.  And with summer, there are a lot of quick and easy items to try.



          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #8

            Thats the spirit! Good luck and keep us posted. :) Cathy

      2. Cityoflostsouls | | #16

        If you need help getting started go to Kent State University-they have a one week free sewing course from a well known person.  I imagine you could find it by going to Kent State.com.

  2. Ceeayche | | #3

    Welcome to our happy community.  I'm sure you will find the same think I've come to appreciate about our fellow Gathering's posters:  they are good people and they are uber-talented.

    I have to admit, I still have the portable Singer with the straight stitch, zigzag, hem stitch and built in button-hole maker.  It's my standby for when my "fancy schmancy" machines (electronic and serger) have "issues."  I've used it since 1977 and I have it oiled and cleaned about once a year.  It was given to me by mother who secretly wanted me off her machine!  So, I'd advise starting with something simple like that. There are scads of used ones around as well.

    Also, you may want to check out this month's issue of Vogue Patterns Magazine.  There is a detailed article on how to fit pants!  Also on the Threads site, if you go to the fittings section there are a couple of articles on the subject.  More, if you search this site on "pants".

  3. joyfulneedles | | #6

    Welcome back to sewing.  If you have the chance to check out the machines at a dealer.  My sewing machine dealer handles several brands and does all his own cleaning and repairs.  He is worth his weight in gold.  Good luck.  I am a new knitter compared to my sewing.  So I look forward to hearing about what you are doing.  I have so much to learn.

    1. spretzatura | | #9

      thank you for the advice.  I started with a local dealer but was quickly encouraged to go to a $600 machine.  Is that the price I need to consider for a good basic machine?  I just felt that I was being manipulated a bit because I do like high end clothing and fabrics (I'm not sewing to save money).  But at the same time, I don't want to pay for what I don't need or won't use.  I honestly don't know enough about sewing machines to know what is important and what's not.  All I know now is I want something that it is easy to correct the tension and that makes good looking button holes!

      1. KharminJ | | #11

        Greetings and Welcome! In general, if you *feel* like you're being manipulated, you probably are. Remember that the salesperson's primary job is to sell you the "best profit" machine she can. Some are truly interested in YOU getting the best machine for your needs, but it's generally a secondary consideration. Don't take your checkbook with you!, put on your "Teflon shields" (don't let the manipulation stick to you), and absorb as much useful information as you can, without making a commitment to any particular machine or dealer. There's no deadline, except your own desires, so keep gathering information until you're fairly comfortable. Happy Hunting!Kharmin

  4. Tatsy | | #7

    Welcome back to sewing and lots of good luck with sewing pants! I'm still fussing with those and have a whole library of books. One thing most of the books don't mention is that you may need to add extra height on the side seam to keep the back leg on the straight of grain. I've never seen this anywhere, but found it was one of the few things that worked for me. Happy sewing.


    1. spretzatura | | #10

      Hmm.  Extra height on the side seam?  At the top?  I know I am longer in the back than the front, so I have to add some height there.  But in working out my muslin, I should start with extra height in the side seams as well to check the hang?  Will this differ with the weight of fabric I use?  In summer I tend to wear either linen or a silk/wool blend, but in winter, it is usually a wool.

      Thanks, I will definitely pay attention to this, especially as I look through reference books.

      1. Tatsy | | #12

        It's just something I learned about my own figure. There are always diagonal lines pointing downward on the back inside of the leg. If I add an extra vee horizontally to the top of the side seams it makes those lines go away. If you don't have the diagonal lines running toward your knees and ankles, you don't need the adjustment. It has to do with the shape of the body pulling the fabric off-grain.

      2. meg | | #13

        Don't forget to try out the used sewing machines! Do you know any acquaintances who sew? They might let you try out their machine. I'd stay away from machines which can make 14 zillion embroidery stitches, unless that's your secret passion. An older, more basic machine (especially considered next to the fancy embroidery machines) can do everything you need at less cost.I'm still stitching on a 1981 Pfaff 1222E and I love it.Come back frequently with all your questions!

  5. katina | | #14

    Welcome! I think I've mentioned this some time ago on this site - I've never regretted going to a top quality seamstress and having her make me patterns in my favorite basic styles, including pants. I took her garments which fit me well and she worked from those. Now I can whip up basic wardrobe pieces very quickly. Not having to worry about fit means I can spend all my fun sewing time on a variety of construction details. If there's any way you can have this done, and get a well-fitting pants pattern, I think you'll be very glad you did.

    And as for variegated knitting yarns - I knit a great deal, and there are all kinds of ways to work with these yarns and avoid the dreaded pooling.

    Good luck


  6. Cocopop | | #15

    Welcome! I'm new to the group also.  I have never had a fancy machine. I have two in my home-one was my mother's. She used it to make our clothes many years ago. It is a White. Don't know the model but it only sews straight and reverse. I also have an old Singer Touch and Sew that my Dad inherited from a tailor friend of his. I would not spend hundreds of dollars for a sewing machine.  It's just not worth it. I think the computerized ones are more trouble than they are worth. Good luck!

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