Hey Everyone- Thanks for your support and lovely words about Enid’s birth story earlier this week. Mother and baby are doing well, though little G is still under observation. She’s fine, just a little early so they want to keep an eye on her!
I’m still knee deep in some pretty big projects at the moment, which is keeping me busy from the time I get up til bedtime every day. As much I enjoy blogging, it takes up a considerable amount of time and I’m being very productive during this short “offline” time. I have such lovely things in cooking up for us!
I’ll be able to show you what’s been going on very soon, but in the meantime I want to share a few emails I’ve received lately, for questions relating to sewing (send me more, please, I do like these kinds of emails! stephc at 3hourspast dot com). I haven’t published email questions before, but it often happens I respond to an email and think “I really should blog about that.”
This first question comes from Sharon (who is happy for me to share):
I’ve been sewing for many years, am a devoted follower of 3 Hours Past, especially for your no-nonsense approach to body shape as each woman’s unique reality to be embraced, not something to be measured on a good/bad scale against some narrow cultural ideal. I recently heard a fashion advisor on TV saying that only women with a “really great figure” [his words] should attempt to wear capris because they add weight visually to the majority of women (who evidently do NOT qualify as having really great figures). I gasped and then scolded the TV, “If only StephC could hear you say that; she’d give you an EARFUL.”
Indignation aside, what about this advice I sometimes see in sewing publications to “use a new needle for each sewing project”? I would go broke if I did that. Do you use a new one on each project? If not, what factors affect when you decide it’s time for a new one? Do you have some ingenious method for keeping track of how many sewing miles, so to speak, each needle has completed? I’m assuming this is more of an issue with sharps for wovens than with ball points for knits? I’d love to see a post on this some time at 3 Hours Past. Inquiring minds WANT to know ;-)
Oooh Body Image and Needle Longevity in one email!
Haha! I love your email, thanks for writing! And you’re correct, I would most definitely not stand for such a silly statement. Hysterical style advice about “this style visually adds weight” etc etc makes me roll my eyes so hard. As if a bit of extra weight is the worst thing in the world? What about being vain, or vapid, or cruel or petty or willfully ignorant? I’d rather see little media clips about how to safeguard against that, but I suppose that’s not the world we live in. Besides, the styles that are “supposed” to add weight or to slim people down change regularly. Sometimes they swap categories. :)
On needles- it’s a good question. I’ve had intensive machine training from all of the major brands except Singer and they agree that for optimal stitch performance, it is necessary to change a needle every 6-8 hours of sewing. I have also found this to be true in my own sewing. For example- if I have been sewing a woven shirt and I’m preparing to do the final pass of top-stitching/buttonholing, I will change my needle because a fresh needle produces better stitch quality for those vital, stitch-intensive areas.
That said, I have a jersey needle in my machine right now that has sewn 5 knit tops lately, maybe 10-12 hours of sewing. That’s pushing it, but the work isn’t fine work. It’s knit construction. I’ll probably change the needle once I finish the last top I have cut out for this week…
Then at the far end of the spectrum, I’ve seen people with machines who haven’t changed their needle in years. That’s a little like riding around in your car with a flat tire. The funny thing is that those types are often very proud of the fact they haven’t changed a needle in years! But just try sewing with the machine and hear a “pop” every time the needle strikes the fabric, and if you know what the mechanisms should sound like, you’ll hear how the machine is struggling to work… That’s not good for the machine, or the fabric, or the stitch quality. Sometimes needles develop burrs or “fish hooks” on the ends, too, just from regular use. (edit: Polyester is especially tough on needles.)
Sooooo… That’s a long answer to say there’s not really one right answer except to change the needle regularly for optimal performance, and yes, from my own observations I have to say I believe it does matter. :)
Thanks so much for writing, you made my day.
What do you think? Honestly – I’m curious to know which is worse: being a little fat (or perceived as fat), or being vain? What is vanity, anyway? What styles have you heard add visual weight? (I’d LOVE to make a list… There’s no right or wrong answer here…) How often do you tend to change your machine needles? Let’s have a discussion!