One of the questions we get asked the most is 'how do I choose a sewing machine?' We don't profess to be experts on this - we have very old and very nice sewing machines which we use and which do just what we want (most of the time!), but they're not high tech and weren't the result of a lot of research. There's a quote from Poppy in our little film for the Eden project where she says 'you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find a good one' and that is certainly true of the way we work, our machines have come from car boots, the dump, charity shops and the odd sewing machine shop (oh yes and ebay), quite often chosen because they’re pretty, about 13 of them at the last count! We use old Singer machines which are really very simple but you can also do the technique on many different machines that will be far easier and do much more than our Singers. Your best bet to start with is your local sewing shop as they will have a wealth of experience on the subject, although be clear on your budget before you go in and don’t let yourself be seduced by the array of possibilities! It’s a good idea to write a list of what you want the machine to do first and then you’’ll know whether those extra features are of value to you or not. Experience says you should look for a machine that is metal rather than plastic and quite heavy and sturdy. Our machines have a little screw on the undercarriage which allows you to drop the feed dogs and then we hold our fabric stretched tight in an embroidery hoop but if you can’t find one which does this then you can purchase a metal plate that covers the teeth whilst you're sewing, or, we’re told, that it works if you set the stitch length to zero, though we haven’t tried this so can’t vouch for certain. We don’t use an embroidery foot when we’re stitching but again this is something you may have to experiment with for yourself, kissing frogs again! Once you have your sewing machine you’ll find most bunching up and bobbin snarling issues are down to tension of the cloth, the machine and you! So you just need to play with it, and relax, till you get it right. If you attend one of our courses Poppy gives plenty of advice on sorting out annoying snarl ups or there are also 2 books from Poppy packed with advice alongside the projects for you to complete. Good luck!
I packed my boot full of our brand new recycled cosies as well as an array of studio bits and bobs (including one of my darling Singers!) and made my way over to the Eden Project to set up our new display there. After not getting lost on my way to the warehouse I got a lift down to the Link Shop (which is a new retail space right down between the two biomes) passing behind the scenes where gardeners, chefs, people with clip boards and walkie-talkies were all running about making everything run smoothly for the 3000 visitors they were expecting. Down in the shop I met Wendy who is the main lady at the link shop and a great character – worth going just to meet her even if you don’t buy a tea cosy – which you should of course! We lugged rustic crates and suitcases about, moved sacks of coffee and banana trees until we’d got the Poppy Treffry space just right, I then set to work putting all the products out and attaching barcodes – all this whilst throngs of people milled about the shop, looking over my shoulder and asking me questions as if I worked there! – I just had to bluff my way through those! The products are unlike anything we’ve done before – they’re made form 100% recycled and vintage fabrics and are really colourful and funky and they are all completely different from each other. It’s a bit of an experiment as I wanted to do something special for Eden that tied in with their green view of things. It was a busy, if sweltering, morning but I’m pleased with the display so hopefully you can go and have a look for yourselves and keep me posted on how things are looking down there – you are my eyes and ears chaps! Poppy X http://www.poppytreffry.co.uk http://www.edenproject.com