“Keepin’ It Real” ~ A Sewing Survey

on January 18 | in Polls + Surveys, Sewing + Quilting Tips | by | with 88 Comments

My friend, Heather (music plays), is all about “keepin’ it real”–truthful online as well as in real life, not afraid of the good, the bad and the ugly.  I’ll keep it real and tell you that I’m terrible about pre-washing and I’ve cleaned my machine once in the past two years. I am, however, fiercely protective of my sewing scissors and have a stash of machine needles for every possible project. Just for fun, let’s be honest about our sewing habits. We all know there are a few best practices we should be following, but do you? Let’s see where we all land. Who knows, maybe we’ll come up with a few ideas for posts or a new resolution or two.

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88 Responses to “Keepin’ It Real” ~ A Sewing Survey

  1. Nikki Spence says:

    I loved this post. It was nice to see where I fell in the masses.

  2. Jane says:

    I also am most guilty about reading rather than doing. I use every project idea as an excuse to go buy what I need. I have enough stock in supplies and fabric and other craft items to turn my craft room into a small store.

    I never prewash fabric. I am a slacker in taking care of my machine-while it works really well for me it was very inexpensive so I am not worried about replacing it. I buy lots of scissors so if anyone use my sewing scissors I always have a back up pair. My worst habit is probably not transferring patterns markings to the fabric & relying on luck to make it work.

  3. Judy says:

    First thing I bought with my first paycheck was my own scissors! I am bad about needle changing, so I bought titinum coated

  4. Kim says:

    Fun to see how everyone follows the rules of sewing.

    I was taught by my mom not to use her sewing scissors or great harm would happen (like maybe loosing a finger to said scissors). So I have sewing scissors and craft scissors. I have to teach my daughter the rule (she is only 4 so she has a few years before the rule of the scissors is handed down).

    I am usually wash my fabrics before sewing. I think I had a bad run in with weird shrinkage, so makes me a little more diligent about washing fabrics.

    When I first bought my machine I was good about oiling it, but not so much any more. I change my needle when I have a fabric change otherwise I wait until my stitches start getting funky (every few projects) or if it breaks.

    Thanks again for the great survey and I loved everyone’s comments!

  5. the eclectic hen says:

    before I had kids I didn’t think much about office/sewing supplies. did you ever think you’d be so protective of scissors or tape?!

  6. Tase says:

    I recently had to sew lots of I spy bags and had help on the production line with non-sewers. They were stunned that they weren’t allowed to cut anything other than fabric with certain scissors and that I had several pairs for different things.

    I’m stilled being teased mercilessly by them!

  7. Estela says:

    I had heard that after every 10 bobbins, which is what I do now to oil it but I take it at least once a year to have the dealer oil and check it. Auhhhh! no one cuts anything but fabric with my scissors, first, they are hidden and second, I have a sharp pair for paper that everyone loves.
    Survey was fun.

  8. Jane says:

    That was fun. Now I’d better go oil my machine!

  9. LeeAnn says:

    It seems by majority that we are very possessive of our fabric scissors! Love the survey and I was surprised at some of the results.

  10. Leena says:

    I sew when my family is asleep…so sleeping late is a habit and so is waking up late:)Especially on Mondays; blog posts and sewing continues until late on Sunday night.

  11. Molly says:

    I am super super anal about keeping my machine cleaned and oiled- My rule is I clean and oil every 2 bobbins. I cherish my machine and in the 2.5 years and hundreds of hours I have sewn with her she has never needed to go to the shop for any reason- I am big into free motion quilting and using your home machine for this means keeping your machine clean- or else! 🙂 I am also very protective of my scissors and change my needles every few projects, but I am very guilty of never ever prewashing quilt fabrics, and knock on wood- so far I have never had a problem. Thanks for the survey, it was fun to see how I measured up!

  12. chibidani says:

    I use my fabric scissors to cut paper when I used school lined paper for printing patterns on. Otherwise they’re used only for fabric.

  13. Jannell says:

    I’m with Elizabeth-change the needle when it breaks, although I do change to another if I can’t make it sew my chosen fabric. (Just bought my first knit needles.) Have had heavy duty for years. I think we’re all so obsessed with our scissors because a dull scissor is frustrating to use when cutting fabric, etc.

  14. cradke says:

    I’m very dedicated to cleaning my machine – probably because my husband bought it as a present. It was pretty expensive for us, but he wanted to get me something quality. So now I’ve got to keep it clean.

    As far as washing fabric goes – never. Unless I’m using flannel to make a receiving blanket, I’ve never washed my fabric. Why? Why do all that extra work when it all comes out fine anyway?

  15. Andi says:

    I could have answered that my rotary cutter is for fabric only! My scissors are guarded, though, after DH used my old ones to cut the paws off a marten he was drying. Yuck! Got a new pair and they are for my sewing room only.

  16. Wow, I’m a complete slacker compared to everyone else!

  17. laura says:

    Oh my! Scissors are for fabric only! The label maker has deemed each one for it’s own purpose. I have my interfacing scissors, fabric scissors, paper scissors, embroidery scissors… It may be the one thing I’m obsessive about. If its a project for me, there’s a good chance I won’t prewash the fabric, but for someone else, definitely. Needles are changed every so often, but I have found de-linting the bobbin case every few go arounds makes it run smoother. I’ve had this machine for just about a year now, so it’s time for it to go in and get some love at the shop. It’s nice to know that I’m not alone. Now if you don’t mind me, I’m going to go tell my scissors how much I love them.

  18. Christine says:

    I have never prewashed fabric, love the antique look my quilts get after washing the completed projects!

  19. I took the survey, and I’m glad to see the results. Years ago I did oil my machines, but now they say not to oil them, but to let the dealer do that. So that’s what I do, but I do clean out lint and dust quite often.
    I could not sew without ironing. That’s the way I was taught.

  20. Wow – I did pretty good – except for the scissors.

  21. Elizabeth says:

    Where’s the option “I change my needle every time it breaks”? 🙂

  22. Sola says:

    I am taking my machine in to get it serviced and oiled next week, thanks to this survey.

  23. shelly says:

    I’m loving these responses!

  24. Ruth says:

    When my son was 10 he got in my sewing stuff and used my VERY expensive scissors to cut cardboard. It took him 6 months of allowance to pay for new scissors.

    The rule in our house was “if you value your life, don’t touch moms sewing scissors”

  25. happy zombie says:

    Wow, turns out I’m pretty well behaved! Though the pre-washing question didn’t stipulate if it was for quilting or for apparel… but either way, in my head I know I’m a good girl and wash/don’t wash respectively. Repeat… I am a good girl – no matter what is says on the bathroom wall.

  26. Christine says:

    I’m some of both. Really should go clean my machine. Maybe later.

  27. Patti says:

    Um…rules are made to be broken, right!

  28. Pam says:

    I sew over pins. Yep. And I have not yet ruined any machine. But I know I am taking a chance! I also have a rotary cutter for paper only. That way, when the need comes up, I have one and don’t go for my “good” one. I also have a sharpener for my blades. It seems to let a blade go at least another few weeks.

  29. Wow! I learned that people are way more meticulous about sewing practices than I am. Shame on me!


  30. June says:

    When I began quilting my husband–a librarian who does book repair and other conservation work–spied my rotary cutter and thought it was a great tool for him. Indeed, he proudly told me how handy it was for cutting paper! I blanched and promptly bought another rotary cutter for ME.

    Now we both have our own cutters and I give my blades that are too dull for cutting fabric but work fine for paper.

    He likes to tell this story when he teaches book repair workshops for librarians.

  31. Destiny says:

    I don’t know one thing about how oil my machine

  32. I’m very good about all these things. I like the ritual of washing and ironing my fabrics and folding them up neatly and placing them on my shelf just waiting for inspiration to strike! I am also an obsessive presser when I sew. My Iron is on all day! And sometimes, when my stitches aren’t looking right, all it takes is a brand new needle to make things right!

  33. Alethea says:

    The only fabrics that I don’t pre-wash are things like woolens (it turns them into felt, I hear!) vintage pieces (e.g. rayon), etc., so I chose “usually.” I always wash cotton and linen and other washable fabric.

  34. CarolB says:

    I guess I am more finicky than I realized … my Bernina is serviced once a year by a man who comes to the house, so it’s never gone. When it starts making a little “clickity” noise, I know it’s time to clean out the lint. I usually take apart the bobbin parts too. After I brush out all the lint, I finish cleaning with a length of pipe cleaner and a q-tip. Then a drop of oil on anything that moves, a new needle, and we are good to go again. I really try to do this after each major project, but projects overlap and it’s too easy to “forget.”

  35. Laura says:

    My first machine was serviced professionally after 27 years of service. And the only thing needed to be replaced was the felt circle that goes under the spool of thread. The thoughts of it leaving my home to be serviced gave me heart palpatations! I also fall into the majority in all categories. This was fun.

  36. Dani Castley says:

    I do have some bad habits, but I am also rabidly protective of my sewing scissors. I also have a pin cushion full of old pins specifically for paper, so I don’t blunt my fabric pins. But, I’m a bit lax with other things. Oh well, takes all colours to make a box of smarties.

  37. Laura says:

    I must say I was raised by a tailor and she was really strict with everything related to sewing. But….I’ve owned my machine over 15 years and never had it serviced. Well, not everyone is perfect! What a fun survey! Glad I am with the everyone else here!

  38. Julia says:

    I change my needle when it breaks, am very very serious about my scisors (no one but ME may touch them & I will have a fit if anyone even THINKS about using them for something other than fabric!)& have serious guilt for never having had my machine sericed…I just can’t bear the thought of it being gone!

  39. Cheryl says:

    It’s interesting to see where we fall in each of the categories! Nice to know that we aren’t alone!

  40. slacker says:

    I got my machine used – I don’t know if it’s ever been cleaned or oiled or had the needle replaced. All I do know is that I’ve never done any of those things myself! Now I’m thinking… mebbe I should…

  41. Deb W says:

    I know the rules, and try to follow, but I seem to do OK, except for the pre-washing….!

  42. Carmen Wyant says:

    I only prewash red,dark blue & really dark purple. My machine doesn’t need oil (Kenmore), but on my older machine, I could break the whole thing down,oil it & put it back together. If I am only doing several small projects I don’t change my needle between each one. But every time I do change my needle, the whole bobbin case comes out for a delinting. I do really need to take my machine in for a spa treatment but have been putting it off cause I just don’t know what I’ll do without it (probably resort to using my Featherweight).

  43. Roni says:

    I am sliiightly obsessed with my scissors. They’re practically under lock and key. And needle changing is just a bit less than obsessive. The rest I do but sort of like teeth brushing. I wash my fabric when I get it so it’s ready for its intended project and I iron my seams as I go. I just do as part of the process. But alas, my poor machine is loved, but not cared for quite as well as it deserves.

  44. Wendy says:

    I write with a Sharpie on my sewing scissor blades “NOT FOR PAPER” just so there is a clear rule.

  45. Eveline says:

    Love the survey, have a few issues to improve:-)

  46. Oh, the sewing scissors… I ONLY use my sewing scissors on fabric. It’s my number one rule! 🙂

  47. Maggie says:

    What a fun survey!

  48. Loved this.. Also love that the majority of us think higher of our scissors than we do of always pre-washing, and regularly oiling our machines! That made me giggle!

  49. Elizabethdx says:

    i am very virtuous according to your poll. but my worst habit is reading about sewing instead of actually sewing. why???

  50. ~Michelle~ says:

    My machine is self-oiling, so I don’t have to do that… but I usually clean out the lint out of the bobbin every few bobbins (or immediately after quilting anything).

  51. Annie says:

    I could have used a few more choices…

    needles :: ‘every time i change fabric type’ but otherwise, only if i’m having issues. yeah, i should change it more often!!

    cleaning :: ‘when my mother borrows my machine’ which is now never because she bought herself one. great. haha.

    lovely poll… I know better, but I’m glad i’m not the only slacker! 🙂

  52. mary says:

    I used to use my scissors for everything till I bought a gorgeous pair only for sewing. My sewing machine is currently buried under stuff that was stashed away during the holidays– I have got to get my space organized!

  53. Beth says:

    I am a new sewer. I had to learn about cleaning my machine and changing needles often because I have had so many tension problems since I got the machine last Christmas–I am shocked that so many people don’t have to do these things as often! Is my Bernette 65 a lemon??

    Anyway, enjoyed the poll and seeing the results! Thanks for your blog!

  54. Debbie says:

    This sounds like the beginning of a 12 step program. Hi, my name is Debbie and I don’t prewash or clean my machine either!

  55. Tina L. says:

    My left-handed sewing shears have always been hands-off for the kids. They all knew that touching mom’s sewing scissors was a no-no with dire consequences.

  56. Katie M says:

    Some of these answers just didn’t apply to me. My sewing machine doesn’t need oil and I prewash depending on what the fabric is for. If it’s for clothing, I always prewash. Quilting or accessories, I don’t.

  57. BIMai says:

    I sew with two very young children cruising around… the less the iron is on; the safer!

  58. elsa says:

    I clean out my machine every few project ~ lint and whatnot. It’s a fairly new machine and I’m coming up on a service soon. Just hate to be without it. Fabric scissors are never, ever used on paper around my house.

  59. Ashley says:

    I will admit when I first started sewing and had a very basic machine I probably didn’t treat it very well. Once I really got into sewing and learned the in’s and out’s I got a lot better. I really started going by the book when I got a new much more upgraded machine for my birthday a couple years ago. Interesting to see everyones answers.

  60. Jen Higgins says:

    I would love a post about how to clean and oil my machine. I’m relatively new to sewing and know you’re supposed to do it, but I have no idea how often or even how to go about it!

  61. Seanna Lea says:

    Well, for cut fabric, floss and sewing thread.

  62. Samina says:

    Interesting survey – it’s always fun to see where I stack up against other people.

  63. This was fun — I’d love to see a regular survey feature!

  64. Glad to see I’m not the only one in some of these categories! That was fun!

  65. AnnaPK says:

    funny, we are all careful about our scissors but not our machines. oops! 😀

  66. Sally says:

    It feels like there is a “right” answer for all but the question about pre-washing. I never prewash quilting fabric (unless it was hand-dyed) but I ALWAYS prewash garment fabric. 🙂

  67. Tara says:

    I personally would love a tutorial on the basics of different needles!

  68. Patty says:

    When I was younger my mom, Lois, couldn’t find her scissors and had a big fit about it. She went to the store bought a pair of “good” scissors, came home, wrote her name on them, and tide a ribbon to them attached to her work table. We were instructed to not use those scissors. She has been dead for more then 16years and I still have those scissors. I know consider my sewing scissors my “Lois scissors” not to be used my anyone but me.

  69. Fun survey!

  70. Joey says:

    I don’t change my rotary cutting blade as often as i should either!

  71. Aunt Marti says:

    My biggest “quilting sin” is failing to bind quilted projects. At the end of last year, I had pieced 52 quilt tops. I have a huge stack of tops that need to be quilted — but I also have about 10 that are quilted and just need the binding and label to be ready to give away.

  72. Mary Anne says:

    Fun poll! Thanks!

  73. Robin E. says:

    Fun little quiz.

  74. tara says:

    My biggest guilty habit is sewing without removing my pins as I go. I’ve broken a couple of needles that way, and the latest incident resulted in a trip to the repair shop and $130 to repair. Learned my lesson this time!

  75. Beth says:

    Very interesting little survey. Thanks!

  76. Holly says:

    Sewing over pins? Yes, every single time.

  77. Connie Jagolinzer says:

    I would love to learn to clean and oil my machine. If you wrote a post on it, I would love it! Thanks!

  78. KristyMN says:

    Fun to see how average I am! 🙂

  79. Marion says:

    Funny to see all individual habits reflected in the results. Like live itself: we know what is good for us, but do not always act as such. And what is wrong with that?.

  80. Thelma says:

    Thanks for this post. You just motivated me to
    clean and oil my machine!

  81. Corinne says:

    I had “the rules” given to me at a very impressionable young age. I do not deviate for fear of being grounded. I am way past the groundable age, but the lesson did stick!

  82. Effie says:

    A great idea… Nice to know I’m not the only sewing slut!

  83. Jacqui says:

    That last one made me laugh because *I* might never use my scissors for anything else but I have threatened the other members of my household with dire consequences if they even look at them but I suspect they get ahold of them occasionally if I leave them lying about.

    I was thinking about other bad things I do not on the list – sew over pins if I need to (or not use pins at all) and toss my threads and fabric snippings on the floor or table where they attach themselves to sock and everything else and end up being transported about the house. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa

  84. Bernie says:

    Very interesting results. I am anal about my sewing scissors, in fact I am anal about all my sewing supplies. They are for sewing nothing else. (my husband thinks I’m nuts. I tell him I’m just dedicated.)

  85. Tas says:

    Oops. Think that I need to go to the naughty corner…

  86. Lindsey says:

    Looks like I must be more organised about things and protect my scissors. I have umpteen pairs but can never lay my hands on the correct ones and so use anything to hand. Bad habit!

  87. Suzie says:

    This was great fun! Glad to see my habits fall into the majority and I’m not alone!

  88. Sivje says:

    I am pretty fastidious about thes things, except for being remiss in oiling ,my machine often enough.

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