Sewing machine purchasing – serious business!

One of the most common questions we get here at Stitch is about the purchase of a new machine – where do you go as a beginner? Cheap… Convenient… Super duper nice with buttons that allow the machine to sew for you while making your morning coffee as well?

We don’t sell machines at Stitch because we just don’t have a favorite brand or type of machine! When we are asked about choosing a machine we usually suggest a few things:

Try it before you buy it! Visiting a dealer is a great way to get your hands (and fabric) on a machine that you can try before making a big purchase. I like to feel the machine. When you start to sew does it hesitate? Does if feel sturdy? I really hate sewing on a lightweight machine that travels across the table while I am trying to work!

Choose a machine that allows you to choose your own stitch length and width. Some machines have presets where you can only choose 3 different stitch lengths or widths. You really want to have more choices then that! Find a machine that allows you to change the settings yourself.

I love a good walking foot! Walking feet vary from machine to machine. Many machines come with them already attached. This is great! Especially if you have the ability to raise and lower it at your discretion. Walking feet help the feed dogs push/pull the fabric through your machine steadily. This is especially important if you are working with fabrics that are stretchy, heavy, or very fine. In straight sewing you may not notice a marked improvement in the stitches, but when the going gets tough you’ll be glad you have this feature! You can purchase an aftermarket walking foot. They are a little more cumbersome then having them already attached but with some practice it will become second nature.

One step buttonholes are awesome! Most new machines have one step buttonholes now. Basically, it allows you to make a no fuss buttonhole without measuring and marking… your machine will measure the button for you up to 1″. One step buttonholes are very even and neat looking. Manual buttonholes (which usually consist of 4 or more steps) are sometimes difficult to create evenly and symmetrically.

Stitch options… know what you need! It can be mind-blowing when a sales person shows you the thousands of stitches that your new machine does! Most of these you will probably never use! Be sure your machine does a zigzag, multiple stretch stitch, and a straight stitch. You should be able to move your needle position from right to left as well… This will come in handy when you are installing zippers!


I always advise people to stay away from the cheap stuff. Expect to spend between $200-400 for your first machine. You really do get what you pay for in this situation. Buying a cheap machine can make sewing very frustrating. We have a lot of students who had walked away from sewing because they were frustrated… it is usually their machine’s fault! After you purchase your machine be sure to treat it well. Clean it regularly, have it serviced when it needs some attention… In return, it will treat you well! When you come in to Stitch for lessons, we have lots of machines here for you to try out. After a few lessons you will get a feel for what you like! Trying before you buy will make you a better informed consumer.

Inventory your sewing room 1

For years I’ve been wanting to inventory my sewing room. Patterns, fabric, notions… Everything. It would be great to have a file at my fingertips that I can look through when choosing my next project instead of having to dig through my closets and bins. Also, for those of you who own businesses where you need to purchase fabric and notions, it is necessary to know what purchases you’ve made for the year to appropriately claim them on your taxes at the end of the year.

I figure there are two ways to go about this: physical or digital.

I like the idea of having samples of my fabrics clipped to inventory cards in a physical file that I can look through. I came across one at crafty staci. She even has a free printable for the inventory card available for you to download and some great suggestions on how to put them into action!

If you’re looking for a more ‘at your fingertips’ solution you can try one of the many apps available. I’ve been using one for my iPhone called Sewing Room. It allows you to scan the barcode on all patterns from major pattern companies to enter them into your inventory. A picture pops up along with all the details! You can even enter your own notes. This app also lets you take pictures of each of your fabrics and enter lots of identifying information to accompany it in your digital inventory. You can also make lists of people you’d like to sew for and projects you’re working on! I really like that I can enter in where I bought my items and how much I paid. Don’t worry – even if your pattern collection includes lesser known designers and companies, you can enter them manually and take your own picture! Can you tell I’m excited about this?

I’m really going to work on this project this week… I’ll let you know how it goes! Has anyone else been working on becoming more organized with their sewing?

Cozy flannel fabric

What timing…this flannel  designed by Valori Wells arrived just in time to make cozy pajama pants to keep us warm during this freeze-and it has been freezing, can you believe this weather? It’s also perfect for a cozy quilt.


I love the print, cheery contemporary  little birds in orange, yellow and green, chirp chirp!  I couldn’t wait to make something right away, so our heating pad has a brand new cover-super easy-with a matching button closure.  We put it under our feet on the ottoman last night while we watched a movie-it kept our toes perfectly warm! 


                       Stop in to see what’s new at Stitch Cleveland !

Fabrics-Amy Butler (quilting weight and home dec), Heather Bailey, Anna Marie Horner, Tina Givens and some new rocket prints!!

Patterns-Amy Butler (her new apron pattern, Domestic Goddess rocks!), Heather Bailey, Kwik Sew

Cedar Canyon Shiva Paintstiks – texture plates, foils

Needle felting supplies – colorful rovings, needles

Subversive cross stitch  Wool and Hoop Crewel-  embroidery fibers, kits and books

Dressmaker supplies-hip curves, french curves, tailor’s chalk, pattern hooks Rume bags-reusable earth friendly shopping bags  

Louet Spinning wheels

Hand crafted pincushions, pillows, bags, plush toys, and more! Stitch Cleveland offers private sewing lessons at all levels.  We’ll work with you at your pace in a fun atmosphere.  We have sewing machines and a spacious cutting table, or you can bring your own  sewing machine to work on.  

Get started on pajama pants, skirts for spring, or make new curtains for your home.  We also offer spinning and fiber lessons.  Call the store for more info and to schedule lessons.            

Last chance to save on spinning supplies!

As you might know, Stitch Cleveland is a Louet dealer — many of you have taken lessons on Shannon’s fabulous Louet Victoria wheel over the past year! Well, if you were thinking about spinning wheels, carders or other spinny products for holiday gifts, now’s the time to order — our prices are going up soon! Here are some current listings in our Etsy shop, but if you don’t see what you want, let Shannon know.

Rate us on!

(FYI — is a great resource when you’re traveling and want to add to your stash out of state!)

Here’s the listing. Would you rate us?

Shannon’s teaching at Felt School next week but get ready for more felty goodness this fall in the shop, too. Is there anything in particular you’d like to see first? Wet felting? Needlefelting? You name it, we can do it! Shannon’s new felted hat pattern Reboux is getting great reviews on Ravelry and has already been featured on CRAFT mag’s blog (here). What do you say? Shall we do a Reboux class? Before you know it the snow will be here! (boo!)

Amy Butler Patterns

Our latest shipment of Amy Butler patterns has arrived. Among the old favorites are two new patterns! We can’t wait to try the new Laptop Cover and MP3 Case! Amy’s other new pattern, the Birdie Sling, is perfect for a summer bag. We are still awaiting a new shipment of fabrics but we’ll make sure to announce their arrival!  

You’ve been waiting…

Finally, the patternmaking tools and dress forms you’ve all been waiting for have arrived! Among the new tools are pattern notchers, needle tracing wheels, industry pro dressforms (male and female, available in all sizes and many styles), half scale dressforms — great for practicing your draping skills, hip curves, L-squares, pattern paper scissors, fabric shears, and more!

Call to ask about our student discounts on dressforms or for more information. We can also special order any size or style of dressform you’d like, even custom ones!

Did you know?

Did you know that we also sell spinning wheels and equipment by special order? You can stop by the shop and try out some of the wheels we have here, learn what you like and don’t like, and then we can order you the wheel of your dreams!

Seen here is the new Louet Julia, a beautiful wheel much like the Victoria we have in the shop.

For more information on spinning, spinning lessons and all things fibery and fun, set up a lesson or an appointment with Shannon today!

(and don’t forget, we have copies of Shannon’s Interweave Press book Spin to Knit in stock — or bring your own copy to be signed!)

Amy Butler this Friday!

Renowned fabric designer, author, patternmaker and all-round amazing person Amy Butler will be at Stitch Cleveland this Friday, 7 December at 7:00 p.m.!

Come check out the Amy Butler trunk show (in the shop now through the 10th), get autographed copies of her book In Stitches and her new book Midwest Modern, buy her limited edition Soak fiber wash, her fabric, Sew-It Kit or single patterns — in short, it’s going to be a fun and inspiring evening, with excellent holiday shopping possibilities. If you know & love any stitchers, believe us, you’ll be able to find something great.

Next door, River Colors has Amy’s new line of bags for sale, too!

From Amy’s website, about the new book Midwest Modern:

I’m so excited about my new lifestyle book! It’s 224 pages of lavish photography showcasing my fabric and design but also personal spaces, collections, gardens, and ideas that inspire them. The cover has a spot varnish of one of my prints, and my husband David did all of the photos! It’s a visual journal full of ideas and inspiration with something luscious on every spread!

It’s gorgeous and fun — see her website for sample book spreads and more. And then we’ll see you on Friday!

New hand-dyed yarn for sale!

Happy Black Friday! We’ve got 30+ new hand-dyed skeins, just in time for the holidays. They’re now posted on our Etsy shop, or stop by and stock up. Our yarns were featured in the holiday edition of CRAFT magazine, so no doubt they’ll be going fast.

By the way, Stitch Cleveland’s 2008 yarn club memberships are also now on sale. Struggling to find just the right gift for the knitter or crocheter in your life? Here you go. We’ll even make you a lovely boxed certificate to put under the tree or in a stocking. There is nothing better than anticipating 12 hand-dyed skeins of yarn (2 skeins every other month) — the recipient will think of you all year long!

Don’t forget Amy Butler will be signing her new book, Midwest Modern — as well as her last book, In Stitches — at Stitch Cleveland on 7 December at 7:00 p.m. If you’d like to reserve copies (highly recommended), or if you can’t make it in to have your copy signed, send us an email or give us a call.

Cool cross-stitch central 1

We just received a giant shipment of Subversive Cross Stitch kits and patterns at Stitch Cleveland. Still on their way: a wide selection of unique cross-stitch patterns direct from a small company in Hungary.

Knitters take note: these Hungarian cross-stitch patterns are particularly well-suited to stranded colorwork (Fair Isle-style knitting), and would look stunning worked in the center of a sweater. If you’re interested in taking a class on adapting needlework patterns to knitting, let us know!

Hand-dyed yarn & our Etsy shop

Do you like handpainted yarn? If you’d been in our parking lot a week ago, you’d have seen these being colored after one of Stitch Cleveland’s dye classes! We’ve posted them on Stitch Cleveland’s Etsy shop so that the poor stitchers who aren’t nearby can have a look and a chance at buying them, too. (Etsy, for those of you who haven’t seen it before, is an online shop for handmade items). Or come by the shop!

Soon, Stitch Cleveland will have a fully-functional online shop of its own — I’m building it right now. But for the time being, please enjoy what we’ve posted on Etsy and on the “shop online” page here at the site!

Grand opening party 1

We had such a great time at this weekend’s grand opening party — thanks so much to all of you who came out! If you missed it, you really did miss out. For one, there was this cake:

Tasty, but it turned your mouth some very funny colors. I think it was Megan who first called it “goth mouth.” Heidi’s friends sent her these gorgeous flowers to celebrate:

Check out the pincushions for sale in the bowl next to the flowers — people have really been loving those lately. And speaking of loving… how’s this?

These are by a local artist named Pavia Lewis. They’re handknit pins, and they are beyond adorable. She’s taking them to Stitches this year but you heard about them here first!

Here’s a link to the ones we have in stock right now. If you want to order one via mail order or reserve a particular color for pickup here, click the buy now link. (Specify which color in comments, or let us choose)

Soak is here!

(Note: I am so excited about this, I am jumping up and down, leaving our summer intern Jodi to price the actual bottles)

Stitch Cleveland is proud to announce we are now carrying Soak fine fiber wash. If you haven’t used it before, believe me, you’re going to want to, because it’s the highest quality, nicest-smelling, most effective fiber wash I have ever found.

If you’ve just spent endless hours knitting, crocheting or quilting something, why would you entrust it to other fiber washes when you could use Soak? Seriously, you have no idea how great this stuff is. It will leave your masterpiece clean, fresh smelling and in one piece (and it works great on lingerie, too)!

We’ve got the large 14 oz bottles for $16, the starter kits for $29 (these include 3 smaller bottles of Flora, Aquae and Citrus that are 4 oz per bottle — each bottle will do 24+ washes), and the minis for sampling at $1.95 each or 3 for $5.

Most excitingly, we’ve got the Amy Butler limited edition Soak scent called Sola (8.4 oz for $12). It’s a fresh floral, not heavy at all, almost like walking through a grassy meadow.

If you can’t make it into the shop, you can order it here and we’ll send it out to you.