Frequent Asked Questions
Q&A: Katrina's Pink Sewing Machine?
Question: My daughter and I just started watching some of your videos and love them! Her favorite part was your bright, pink sewing machine. What type of sewing machine is that and where could we find one?
Answer: I'm so glad you are enjoying my videos. The pink machine happens to be one of my favorite parts of sewing as well! it is a 1950s Singer featherweight. This is the most popular sewing machine, and has been sold more than any other around the world. They normally come in black, but I custom ordered mine from a sewing machine design expert, He stripped the machine, took it a part, painted it with car paint, and then reassembled it for me. They cost $995.00 which makes it quite the investment. However, they are very well made, last forever and are well worth the money. Do not be discouraged if this machine is outside your price range. There are plenty of good functioning machines for your daughter to use in her sewing adventures. As a fashion designer, I simply could not resist the custom, colorful look of this machine! Thank you so much for your question and I hope you find your daughter the machine of her dreams!
Q&A: Sewing Machine Recommendations?
Question: Hello! I took my daughter to the craft store to pick out a sewing machine, and you would have thought I took her to the candy store! She couldn't stop touching them, and wanted every single one. We left empty handed, because I was overwhelmed and couldn't even begin to decide which one to buy. What sewing machine do you recommend for beginning sewers.
Answer: Oh my, that sounds like quite the shopping adventure! There are a lot of sewing machines to choose from, so if you are getting overwhelmed I understand completely. For beginning sewers I would recommend a basic machine, not computerized. Those extra buttons and settings are unnecessary, and will put you back in overwhelmed, candy shop mode right away! Anything with eleven stitch settings is perfect. Ages 5-6 do really well on the Janome Sew Mini which sells for around $60.00. Once they're a little bit older (6-12), I recommend a machine like this one on Amazon. This machine is given a 4.5 star rating on Amazon, is under $100.00 and even has a little bit of pink or teal flare to inspire the creativity in your child! Choosing a sewing machine is an important part of starting your child's journey in learning to sew and I hope this response helps you get her sewing! For any more help navigating the maze of the craft store check out the Getting Started Course for answers on fabric choices, additional tools and supplies!
Q&A: Buying Used Sewing Machines?
Question: I cannot wait to get my child started with learning to sew, but it seems to be fairly expensive. I'm trying to be as frugal as possible, so I would love to know if buying a used sewing machine is a good way to cut corners financially or if that's too risky?
Answer: I'm so glad you're excited about having your child learn to sew! Buying a used sewing machine can be a good way to bring your costs down, but you have to do so very carefully. Though eBay and Craigslist will give you a lot of cheap options, it is important that you make sure that all of the pieces, including the pedal, bobbin, and needle are there. The safest way to buy a used machine is to do so in person either at a garage sale or a second hand store. This way you can plug the machine in and ensure that it is working properly. Older machines are also the safest options. A lot of good machines were made between 1960 - 1985 so these are usually the safest used machines to choose from. Though I understand the desire to save money wherever possible, do not buy the cheapest online option you can find. This is where shopping used does become risky. When in doubt, try before you buy! I hope this advice gets you and your child on the road to learning how to sew. I can't wait to see what you create; be sure to post your photos on our facebook page!
Q&A: Great Grandma's Sewing Machine?
Question: My husband's grandma was an avid sewer. Whenever we would visit her, she would inspire my daughter with stories of all the wonderful projects she would create. Seeing my daughter's interest in sewing, she generously gave her a vintage Singer sewing machine. I was wondering if this was a machine that could be used by my daughter, or if it would better serve as a decoration piece?
Answer: How wonderful that your daughter's great grandma could inspire her to learn to sew! That is such an incredible gift, as is the sewing machine. She can most certainly use it! There are simply a few things you would want to do before she begins sewing on it. It is important that you discover the make and model of the machine so that you can research the manual and discover how to work it properly. Once you have read the manual and set it up, you can test it to make sure it is running and fully functioning. This is where you may run into problems. Some vintage sewing machines will need repairs, especially if they have not been used or taken care of. This can be discovered by having a sewing machine mechanic look at it. This can be costly, however, once you get it back to working order, it will serve your daughter very well and will last through many more generations! For those of you reading this who have not been given a vintage sewing machine, you can still invest in one to provide your children with a high quality machine that will last a lifetime. I recommend the Singer 99K. Singer started making sewing machines in 1851. This particular machine is a 3/4 size and is the one I most enjoy teaching students on in my in-person classes. Working on vintage sewing machines adds another level of adventure to creating as you are transporting yourself back to another time period to join the long line of designers that have come before us. Isn't that exciting!
Q&A: Finding a Missing Manual?
Question: Hello Katrina, I loved your tips on how to buy a used sewing machine. I found one and it works great! Only problem is there are some settings I don't know how to use, and the manual is missing. Is the manual necessary and if so, how do I find it and use it?
Answer: Hi! I am so glad you were able to find a used sewing machine that works well for you. To figure out those mystery settings a manual would be your most helpful option. It will provide you with all the information you need for using things like stretch stitch settings, zig-zagging, threading your machine, machine maintenance and much more. Without the manual you may never know just how much your machine can do! Thankfully finding and using the right one is very simple. All you have to do is put the brand and model number in your internet search engine and a PDF of the manual will come up. Once you've found the correct manual, simply open it up and find the information you need. Most manuals have a table of contents, making it really easy to find only the information you are looking for. Hope this answer is helpful! For more information on using a manual make sure to check out our getting started series on Kids Sewing. Happy Creating!
Q&A: Confused About Bobbins?
Question: We have two different machines at our house, one for me and one for my daughter. However, I noticed that the bobbins that came with my daughter's machine look much different than the ones that came with the machine my grandmother recently gave to me. Her machine is new, while mine is vintage. I'm thinking this means there are different bobbins depending on the machine, is this correct?
Answer: Yes, bobbins vary from machine to machine. I have three different models of Singer sewing machines in my studio, and each one takes a different bobbin. Every machine uses a specific type of bobbin, and the difference between that of a newer machine and that of a vintage machine will be very noticeable. In order for your machine to sew well, you need to make sure that the bobbin will fit properly and wind properly. The best way to determine what kind of bobbin is required for each sewing is to take a bobbin you have been using in your machine to the store and try to match it with another one based on size and appearance. However, the selection in stores can often be small. If it is not a perfect match, it will not always work. If you cannot find a match in stores, eBay is your next best option. Using the make and model of your machine, you can search for an exact match. This is most helpful for vintage machines. Since this can be a process, I highly recommend purchasing extra bobbins when you find them, they usually come in large sets anyway! Once you have the right bobbins you're ready to wind them and insert them in. For information on how to do that make sure to check out the getting started series on Kids Sewing. Have a great time sewing with your daughter; I hope to see pictures of your sewing adventures!
Q&A: Some Help with Needles?
Question: I see a lot of different sized needles in the craft store. How do I know which ones to use, and how often do I need to be changing my needle?
Answer: This is a great question! There are many different sized needles and you definitely want to make sure you’re using the right ones. The needle sizes tell you what sort of fabric each is used for. The larger the needle size, the thicker, sturdier, fabric it will be able to handle. So needles ranging from size 14-16 are good for upholstery and denim fabrics, while sizes 9-11 work well for cottons and even finer fabrics like silk. There are also different types of needles such as ball points, which are absolutely necessary for knit fabrics. Since there are so many variations of needles, it might not be a bad idea to keep some handy in your sewing room for quick switches. As far as how often to change your needle, this will vary by how many hours you spend on your sewing machine and what types of fabric you are sewing with. Sturdier fabrics like denim will wear out your needle much quicker than your basic cotton. On average you can complete 20 hours of sewing on one needle. If your needle starts making a punching sound, and begins making holes in the fabric, this is a good indication that you need to change your needle. For more information on how to change a needle in your sewing machine, view the video on our website. Changing a needle is not that hard, and once you do so, you can be on your way to creating wonderful, inspired projects!
Q&A: Different Kinds of Thread?
Question: My daughter and I were shopping for thread for her next project, and though she was focused solely on the color she wanted, I became distracted by the other differences between the threads. Is a thread only defined by its color or is there more to it than that?
Answer: There is much more to thread than its color! Though usually that is its most defining characteristic. However, there are multiple different thread types. There is quilting thread which is thicker than typical thread and is therefore perfect for hand sewing. There is also invisible thread which, though not entirely invisible, is very effective for attaching metallic and lace trims to projects as it won't show through. Embroidery thread is also fun to experiment with. It has a shine to it and is perfect for decorative stitching. Metallic thread is also great for adding creative flare to a project. There are various brands of thread as well, and the important thing is to find one that stays on your particular sewing machine. I love vintage thread on wooden spools for the nostalgia of it, but if using it, make sure to give it a good tug to make sure it doesn't snap. Again, there are many differences between threads, but when it comes down to it, a color that matches your project and a spool that stays on your machine is the most important. Happy creating!
Q&A: How Young is Too Young?
Question: I'm a mother of two and my little boy adores his big sister, and always wants to do what she's doing. Now that I've started her on sewing lessons, he is dying to get in on the fun. However, he's only five and I'm wondering if that's a little too young. I would love any advice you may have!
Answer: I definitely understand your predicament. Though I started sewing when I was five years old, that is fairly young. From my experience, the best starting age is usually 6-6 1/2. My recommendation for children under that age is to do some trial and error. Every child is different. Put your son down in front of the sewing machine and test it out. Is he afraid of it, or does he seem to use it naturally? If he seems a bit cautious about using the sewing machine, he probably needs a bit more time to get used to the sewing process. This was the case with my son. What ended up working well for me, was to include him in the sewing process by allowing him to do a lot of the pattern tracing and some cutting. He would also press the pedal while I guided the fabric. By using that kind of team work, your son will still feel included and will become more comfortable around the machine. I hope this gives you some ideas about how to include your son while still allowing your daughter to express her creativity! Though he may be too young to use the sewing machine, children are never too young to be inspired!