Tools of the Trade
The best results require the best tools. I sew on the same machines that were used to make your clothes, giving the best possible finish and most professional results. Other seamstresses use home sewing machines which lack the reliability and stitch quality of professional machines.
Sewing machines - This is where it all started for me! I have a special fondness for mechanical inventions and am enthralled by the precission necessary for my top-of-the-line machines to sew 5,500 perfect stitches every minute (standard home sewing machines are also a marvel but sew only about 850 stitches per minute). I have an original Singer treadle-operated sewing machine, passed on to me by the friend of a Louisville tailor who used it daily. Modern sewing machines were not introduced until 1850 and my Singer was manufactured about 1910, so it has seen a good share of modern sewing history. I have sewing machines used by Christy's mother when Mammy's Restaurant began to feed customers who came to see Christy's mother for sewing work. I own a Bernina XXX for sewing buttonholes and buttons. My primary workhorse is a Juki 8700A, a computerized machine with auto-thread trimmers. I have a Juki 1541S heavy-duty walking-foot machine for sewing your jean hems, boat tarps, and chair cushions. I have a computer-controlled Rex blindstitch machine to put the perfect finish on your pant hems or draperies. I have a Juki MO-XXXX 5-thread safety-stitch serger to finish raw seams and provide strength that will stand up to the most vigorous wear. I also have a Brother XXXX 4-thread serger so that I can have two sergers set up with different color threads - how extravagant! I have a Juki MF-7523 5-thread coverstitch machine to hem your stretchy dresses and shirts. This machine gives the perfect finish that does not pucker like it would if you tried to do these hems on a zig-zag sewing machine.
I'm a stickler for detail. I like my seams pressed crisply and I like my threads to match my fabrics. In order to better serve my clients and create spectacular finished products, I have invested over $700 in thread alone. Yes, my thrtead collection cost more than most home sewing machines! With over 400 cones and spools of thread, I'm sure to have the one that's just right for your project.
Before I started sewing, I never knew there was so much to know about thread. Right-twist, Left-twist, cotton, nylon, or bonded polyester. You'll need a special thread if you're contemplating a project that will get a lot of sun exposure, like draperies or cushions for outdoor chairs. And I've got it! I have flame resistant thread for sewing fireman's outfits. I have thick thread to match the top-stitching on your jeans. I have stretchy nylon thread to serge soft edges onto bibs, pillow cases, and tableclothes. I have clear mono-filament for invisible sewing. I have special thread, finer than a hair, for sewing hems in your fine skirts or slacks. This is the same thread used in factory finishes. I have spent thousandns of dollars on supplies, sewing machines, pressing equipment, and threads to ensure that your garments come out looking as fabulous as possible!
Scissors and Things That Cut
I began sewing with Gingher scissors but upgraded last year to my Kai 10" tailoring shears. I love the size and weight of these shears, and the fact that they are clearly somewhat old adds to their appeal. Tailoring is an ancient craft and I enjoy having some tie to its roots. Is it inappropriate for me to mention that these are $100 scissors? Lesser-quality scissors will not cut as smoothly and knicks in the blades may cause threads to pull and bunch. Quality scissors provide smooth cuts which result is smooth finished seams
I also use an assortment of Olfa rotary cutters, an electric 3" cutting wheel for mass production, an EC Cutter, Gingher applique scissors, and I have thread-clippers at each of my sewing stations because I always lose them if I try to carry them around with me.
My Layout/Cutting Table
When I began sewing, I never imagined I would give billing to my work table. But try laying out a dress on the floor and you will quickly come to appreciate the necessity of this fine furniture. I built my table myself and topped it with an 1/8" of HDPE plastic from US Plastics. My table is 3'x5', which is as big as I could fit. BUT, when necessity dictates, it has a secret super-power! With the aid of a piano hinge affixed along one of its long sides, it can fold out to create a 6'x5' dream work surface!
Oh, I never had so many rulers before I began sewing! I have tape measures, in-seam tape measures, 2"-wide rulers, a 2.5"-wide ruler, a 4"-wide ruler, a 6"-wide ruler, and a 12.5"-wide ruler. I have a hip ruler and about eight French-curve/style rulers. I have ruler-tape affixed to each of my sewing stations. Come and count them! I work to tolerances of an 1/8th of an inch but beyond that I say it is more important to take an easy attitude towards life and don't sweat the small stuff :)
Of course, my rulers have to draw lines on something
I was so fortunate to snag my amazing Europa ironing board off Craigslist. This $2000 ironing board has a heated pressing serface and a perforated table with a suction/vent function that sucks steam through your clothes and sets creases immediately. Paired with my Reliable i300 boiler with 30psi steam output, wrinkles don't stand a chance. For more delicate or fussy fabrics, I also have a Jiffy 4000M clothing steamer. I am glad to be able to save my clients a trip to the dry cleaners and perform steaming services at my shop.