Need a Beginner Sewing Project? These Are the Best Sewing Books to Buy!


 When taking on a sewing project as a beginner, you might run into a few snags along the way. With these great resources, you can easily find solutions to your problems and get inspired with ideas for your next sewing project at the same time.

Our List of Books to Get You Started on Any Sewing Project:

  • New Complete Guide to Sewing (by Reader’s Digest Association)

This book is a must-have resource for sewing enthusiasts of any skill level. It’s a comprehensive guide to learning the skills, techniques and fundamentals of construction. It features an extensive collection of photographs, illustrations and instructions as well as practical step-by-step guides for various projects to try. It is a handy reference guide to refer to whenever you find yourself struggling. And, it will give you years of use.

  • Sewing For Dummies (by Jan Saunders Maresh)

Part of the “Dummies” series, this book is a fantastic resource for absolute beginners who have never threaded a needle. It has extensive instructions on different techniques and gives you information on the different sewing equipment you might need. There are instructions for practical sewing projects like hemming and seaming clothing, adding buttons and zippers, and even shaping clothing to fit better.

  • The Sewing Book (by Alison Smith)

Another fantastic addition to your sewing library, this book has beautiful, high-resolution photographs and annotated instructions that help you to really grasp the technique that is being explained. There is a handy section on mending clothing that will help you to understand exactly why a specific technique is preferred. It also comes with a collection of projects to help you practice many of the skills described in the book. It focusses on the proper ways of executing techniques, which may be a little in-depth for some users. But, all-in-all, it is an incredible teaching tool.

  • First Sewing – Simple Projects for Beginners (by Cheryl Brown)

If you want to skip all the techniques and teaching and just get down to a project, this book is perfect for you. It has a collection of over 20 projects from simple decorated blankets to curtains, dresses and more. Each project has a beautiful, clear photograph as well as instructions that are easy to follow.

If you’re looking for a sewing project to take on with your new Empisal sewing machine, this collection of books will get your fingers itching.

Learn to Sew: How to Find the Best Sewing Machine for Beginners

Sewing Equipment

 When you first learn to sew, the thought of buying a sewing machine can be overwhelming. Making the right choice in buying your first sewing machine is important. Not only to ensure that you enjoy the learning process, but also to ensure that you don’t get derailed by a frustrating machine.

We’ve got some tips to help you choose the right sewing machine for your experience, budget and intended projects. 

How to Pick the Best Machine When You’re Learning to Sew:

  • Budget

Your budget may be the most important factor in picking any sewing equipment. It is, therefore, important to work wisely with the budget you have to choose a machine that can take you from beginner to intermediate level. You want to pick the best machine you can afford to ensure that you don’t overspend or that you’ll need to buy a better machine in the near future.

You might be able to get a good machine second hand, but if you don’t buy from an accredited dealer, you won’t have any guarantee on the machine.  Our advice is to buy directly from a reputable dealer to get top-quality, value and support.

  • Intended use

As a beginner, you shouldn’t get distracted by machines that have all the bells and whistles if you don’t need all those extra features. If you want to use the machine now and again for simple projects, go for a basic model from a trusted brand, like Empisal.

As long as the machine has the basic features and attachments, you’ll be able to take on many projects without the added frustration of getting to know a complicated machine. For basic use, you don’t need 300 different stitch types. A straight stitch and zigzag stitch are perfect as long as you can set the length and width of the stitches.

If you are planning on sewing heavy fabrics for items such as curtains, you need to invest in a machine with a solid build and strong motor. Just bear in mind that the stronger motors often make more noise when in use.

  • Overall design

Design is so often overlooked, especially in the lower-end models. Be sure to take a thorough look at how the machine is designed before you make your choice. Are the important features easy to access? Can you quickly change the bobbin, machine foot and rethread the machine? Does it come with a light so you can see small stitches properly? Does it have a free arm that will allow you to easily manipulate sleeves and tricky parts of the fabric?

If you skip this step, you might end up with a beautiful machine that is impractical and frustrating.

  • Attachments

Additional attachments like feet won’t necessarily be useful in the beginning, but as you progress in developing your skills, attachments can easily make your machine more useful. When picking a machine, determine if it can accommodate extra attachments, how easy they are to find and to attach. By switching out a foot, you can go from straight stitches to buttonholes, blind hems and zippers. It will give you many more years of use from your beginner machine. 

Empisal has journeyed with countless sewing enthusiasts as they learn to sew. We’ve got an extensive range of sewing equipment for every project. So, contact us today for any of your sewing needs.

Wrap Your Christmas Gifts in this DIY Drawstring Bag

Wrapping Christmas Gifts

Wrapping paper is expensive. Unless you are one of those people who carefully peel the tape from your gifts, chances are you will not be able to use that wrapping again. It can take weeks to get all your Christmas gifts wrapped and having all that beautiful paper strewn across your floor on Xmas morning is not only terrible for our carbon footprint, but it also means a sheer waste of time, effort and money. The environmentally-friendly alternative to rolls of wrapping is the DIY drawstring bag. These nifty little bags can be used at Christmas time, birthdays or any other special occasion.

Use Your Sewing Machine to Create Lasting Drawstring Bags

Drawstring gift bags are an easy to assemble, cost-effective solution to wrapping paper. You can choose cotton, muslin, velvet – just about any fabric you fancy – for your drawstring bag. Because you are making these bags from scratch, you can select prints your loved ones will absolutely adore (think Disney princesses and Star Wars for the grandkids!). 

This Is the Sewing Equipment and Other Tools You Will Need to Create Your Fabulous Gift Bags: 

  • Safety pin
  • Pins 
  • Measuring tape
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine
  • Overlocker
  • Fabric of choice
  • Ribbon of choice or string
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Cotton thread

Follow These Easy Steps:

  • Step 1: 

Fold the fabric double. Put the gift on top of it. Measure out the correct dimensions for your gift bag and cut out two identical halves, allowing 1 cm at the sides and bottom for the seams, and a 4 cm allowance for the drawstring tunnel on top.

  • Step 2: 

Line up the halves, with the wrong sides facing outward, then use your overlocker to run up the sides and bottom. Overlock the top edges separately to guard against fraying.

  • Step 3:

You can now see your bag taking shape. Fold the top sides over, allowing enough space for your ribbon and safety pin to slide through. Remember the drawstrings will be lined up double, so leave enough space and do not sew the edges closed (the tunnel must be open on either side). Use pins to hold the tunnel in place.

  • Step 4: 

Line the top of your bag up to the sewing machine. Use plain stitching to secure the drawstring tunnel, removing the pins as you go along. Use reverse stitching at both edges to secure the tunnel. Repeat the procedure on the other side of your bag as well, carefully trimming any loose threads with a scissor.

  • Step 5: 

Fold the overlocked seams open and iron them flat. Now turn the bag right side out.

  • Step 6:

Fold the short end of your ribbon in half and put the safety pin through it. Close the pin and push it into the drawstring tunnel. Thread the ribbon through the tunnel and pull it out at the other side. Now flip the bag over and stick the drawing pin into the tunnel on the other side, threading it through until both ribbon ends are sticking out on the same side. Once this is done, take out the safety pin and securely tie both ends. 

  • Step 7: 

Complete step 6, but on the opposite side of your bag. 

Once you have put the string through the top of your bag, simply pull on the sides to close it and you are done. 

You can use this video tutorial for a more detailed guide. Or, click on some of these festive designs for more inspiration.

To create a bigger bag that could double-up as a backpack, increase the dimensions, use rope instead of ribbon, add a grommet to the lower corners of your backpack, and string the rope through it and then tie a double knot. You can view a drawstring backpack tutorial here.

Like with most DIY sewing projects, you will need to prepare these Christmas drawstring bags ahead of time, but they will save you money and have a much longer life than wrapping. Your guests will be thrilled to receive their personalized, 100% reusable bag. Depending on the size, they can be used as storage space for Christmas ornaments, or slung over the shoulder when you pop out to the shops or the gym. Contact us today to learn more about Empisal overlockers and affordable sewing machines.

Sew Your Own Christmas Decorations!

sewing christmas decorations

A growing number of businesses are cutting down on paper and plastic. So, in the spirit of going green this festive season, why not use fabric for your Christmas decorations? Sewing your own decorations is not only cost-effective, but also more environmentally-friendly. There are a number of easy sewing projects to choose from allowing the entire family to get involved! 

Easy Sewing Projects to Suit Every Taste 

Making your own Christmas decorations takes a little thought and planning, but this only means the Christmas excitement starts a few weeks earlier. While you will need to shop around for the materials and embellishments, the end results are worth the effort. Never thought of sewing Christmas decorations? Here are some incredible ideas that will definitely inspire!


Instead of buying breakable baubles, make miniature pillows in different designs to decorate the tree. These are cheap, pretty and reusable. Depending on your choice of fabric, they’ll last for years and can be stored and moved without fear of damaging them. Use top stitching to attach various motifs, and zigzag stitches alternating with plain stitches for a ‘Christmas sweater’ effect. Just follow this simple tutorial to learn how. 


For those with a staircase and who want to make a statement, opt for a Christmas garland. This festive bunting can also be strung up over the mantelpiece. Use greens and deep reds, and spell out ‘Merry Xmas’ or even string up the initials of the family members. Wool felt is used in the tutorial, but you could use silk for a more glamorous feel. Just be sure to use an overlocker on the edges to prevent fraying, and to iron out any creases with your steam press.

Cushion and Chair Covers and Table Runners

You will want to add an embroidery machine to your list of sewing equipment for these festive decorations. Any living space can be spruced up by changing the look of the décor. Buy golden embroidery floss to use in your Empisal Embroider Machine 350 and use the monogramming feature to make personalised cushions and chair covers for the whole family. This sewing machine uses USB design transfer, so you can go crazy with patterns and emblems. You can also dazzle your guests with a fabulous, yet affordable table runner. Choose coordinating colours and different textures to create an authentic piece of table art. Whether you choose cushions, chair covers or table runners, these sewing projects will provide hours of fun. 


These little pieces are often overlooked, but they can add a special touch to your Christmas table. Let your imagination run wild and mix up the colours and designs. Felt can be layered for a sturdy feel by double-stitching the edges in a contrasting colour. Why not delight your guests by gifting them a coaster that bears their initials?

Christmas Stocking

Use plain stitching to put this age-old favourite together. Personalise them with patterns, colours and symbols that complement the personality of each recipient. Almost any sturdy fabric will do. Cut out shapes in contrasting colours and use plain stitching to affix them to the stocking. Overlocking the edges of the stocking will ensure they last at least a few Christmases (but you will probably want to donate them and design new ones for next year!).

Even if you do not own a sewing or fancy embroidery machine yet, you can still attempt some of these designs with a basic needle, thread and ironing equipment. You can purchase an affordable sewing kit from any good haberdashery, and invest in your very own Empisal once you have been hooked. Contact us today to learn more about our affordable sewing machines.

Baby Gifts: How to Sew a Receiving Blanket

Attending a friend or family member’s baby shower? Or celebrating the birth of a new little bundle of joy? There is no greater gift than something home-made from the heart! Here is how to sew a beautiful receiving blanket:


What You Will Need: 

In order to start this sewing project, aside from your sewing machine and sewing equipment, you will need only two things:

  1. 2 x 1 metres of appropriately patterned/coloured fabric, and
  2. Matching thread.


You can choose the same fabric for both pieces. Or, you can mix-and-match for a bit of creative flair. Either way, the best type of material for making receiving blankets is flannel.


How it Is Done: 

  • Begin by making sure that both pieces of fabric are the same size, and by cutting away any stray ends.
  • Place the fabric together, and use your sewing machine to sew around all of the edges.
  • Leave a small opening so that you are able to pull the blanket the right way around once you are done sewing.
  • Pull the blanket through so that it is the right way around, and use an iron to ensure that all edges are even and flat.
  • Once you are satisfied, the final step is to whip stitch the opening shut and VOILA.
  • Experienced sewers may also choose to complete the sewing project with a decorative stitch if they wish. All in all, it should not take you more than 10 minutes to complete.


For more information on how to sew beautiful items for a new baby, or for details on our range of affordable sewing machines, sewing equipment and overlockers, be sure to contact Empisal today!

This Circle Skirt Is a Summer Must-Have!


Summer is nearly here, and we could not be more excited! Just think about all of the stunning summer fashion trends and items that you will be able to celebrate with the help of your trusty, affordable sewing machine. Looking for some inspiration to get you started? Then look no further -this circle skirt is a true summer must-have.


What You Will Need: 

The skirt is actually very easy to recreate, especially because it consists only of two parts, namely the elastic waistband and the other part, the half-circle base. With this in mind, you will need:

  • A lightweight, patterned material of your choice – between 2 and 3 metres of fabric should do the trick
  • An elastic band according to the size of your waist/hips
  • Thread in a matching colour
  • A sewing machine
  • Needle
  • Pins
  • Scissors
  • Chalk
  • Rotary cutter
  • Overlocker


How it Is Done: 

  • Fold your fabric into a half circle.


  • After this step, you will need to measure to separate radii. The first one will be based on the measurements of your hips, plus an additional 10 cm. For example, if your hips are 105 cm, you will add 10 cm to that and end up with 115 cm. Divide this by 3,14 to get your first radius. In this case, it would be 37 cm (rounded up).


  • The larger radius is determined by the desired length of the skirt. Say you want it to be 80 cm long. Then, you will calculate the second radius by adding a seam allowance of 1 cm and adding this total to your first radius. In this case, it would be:37 cm + 81 cm = 118cm.


  • Make the necessary measurements on the fabric and cut. Once you have done this, you can start by sewing down the side seam and the bottom seams. An overlocker will make it easier to work with the edges.


  • Connect the ends of the waistband to one another, so that the right side is on the right side. Stitch it, but remember to leave the hole for the elastic. Stitch it to the body of the skirt before threading the elastic through and sewing both sides together.


  • Finally, get out into the fresh summer air and enjoy your new creation!


Looking for an affordable sewing machine, sewing equipment, a sewing kit, overlockers, ironing equipment or a new steam press? Then be sure to get in touch with Empisal today!

Sewing for Charity

Sewing is a lot like cooking in that is a pastime that enables us to demonstrate care to others. If you haven’t sewn anything for a friend or family member yet, you have most probably received a sewn gift from somebody else. The beautiful thing is that the caring and comfort in sewing can also be extended to strangers in need.

Sewing is a great way to give back while also developing your creative and technical skills. Here are some gifts that you and your sewing machine could create to help make the lives of others a little better:

Quilts for Children in Need

If you’re a quilter, you can add a touch of creativity and beauty to charity blanket drives. Instead of buying standard blankets, quilt a comforter of your own design to bring that little bit of extra warmth to a child in need.

Hats for Chemotherapy Patients

Take a variety of clothes and create hats and turbans to be donated to a nearby oncology ward for them to give to their patients. There are a number of good patterns and instruction guides available online.

Pillowcases for Nursing Homes

Pillowcases are relatively easy to make and always in demand. Hospitals, nursing homes and children’s hostels can never have enough of them. This is a great opportunity for you to create something simple and necessary. There is also room for creativity here, as you can change up the colours as much as you like, and maybe even throw in a bit of patchwork here and there.

Clothing for the poor

If your skills are more advanced, you can try your hand at sewing shirts, dresses and other items of clothing for various charities, instead of just digging the used clothing out of your wardrobe. Clothing can be a remarkably multifaceted gift: not only is it a necessity, it also carries style and dignity with it. There are probably people living near you who not only could use replacements for their threadbare garb, but would also enjoy the little boost in confidence that your efforts can provide.


Need more advice on the right equipment for your charitable sewing? Contact us.

Traditional vs. Modern Quilts – What’s the Difference?

Do you know the difference between traditional and modern quilts? Over time, two distinct approaches to the art have developed. If you’re an experienced quilter, it’s possible that you’ve done work in both styles without knowing exactly how to refer to them. So, what exactly is the difference?

1. Traditional Quilts

The old style of quilting, which remains very popular, is one that is characterised by symmetrical, repetitive patterns with various combinations of blocks and grids. This is what you would have seen on your grandmother’s quilts: squares within squares, and straight orderly lines. The traditional style represents the quilt as generations have come to know and love it.

2. Modern Quilts

Towards the end of the 20th century, a more relaxed, improvisational style of quilting developed. This modern style threw out the symmetry, uniform squares and careful sashing in favour of variable shapes, a more free-flowing approach to stitching, minimalism and less emphasis on intricate patchwork.

Modern quilts tend to use bolder colours, often in contrasting combinations, various shapes and sizes of patches, and negative space. Essentially, modern quilting first rewrote the traditional rule book, and then threw it away entirely.

Beautiful quilts can be created in both styles. It’s really a matter of preference, as well as one of the individual’s sewing skill level and equipment. Traditional quilts tend to be easier as everything runs in straight lines, making for more straightforward stitching. However, since modern quilting can often feature stitching that runs in all sorts of patterns, it can make the process of sewing a little more complicated. But, there is also a lot of leeway in modern quilting because there is not so much focus on tight, uniform stitches.

As far as equipment is concerned, there is not much difference in terms of which sewing machine is better suited for modern or traditional quilting. For both, you need a machine with a relatively wide throat to allow you to manoeuvre sizeable quantities of cloth. You might even want to consider an extension table if you are really serious about your quilting.


Need more advice on the right equipment for your traditional and modern quilts? Contact us.

3 Ways to Make a Closure for a Pillowcase


Are you having a problem in how to sew a closer for your pillowcase? Then you can start to worry less because this article will give you a guideline on how to solve that problem.

Different Ways to Make a Pillowcase Closure

If you have a pillowcase sewing machine project, the following are tips on how to make the perfect pillowcase closure:

  • Slip-Stitched Pillowcase Closure

A slip-stitched closure is the simplest and most comfortable style in which to sew your pillowcase. The style closes the cover with an invisible seam after the pillow is inserted. This style of closer is meant for a permanent pillow, which is not made to be washed. Therefore, if you ever need to remove the pillowcase, then you will have to have it dry or vacuum cleaned.

  • How to slip-stitch the closure:
    • Add up to one inch of the height and length inserted for the seam allowance.
    • Pin together the right sides facing. 
    • Add marks at the bottom on the right and left side every three inches. 
    • Pinch the corners and turn it inside-out.
    • Press the edges of the pillow and slip stitch the opening shut.
  • Envelope-Backed Pillow Closure

Creating a pillowcase to an envelope-backed shape is easy. On the back of the pillow, one overlapped fabric is sewed at the back that is used as pillow closure.

  • How to make envelope-backed pillow closure:
    • Measure the size of the pillow to determine the size of the rectangle back pillowcase closure.
    • Fold the left and right side in.
    • Pinch the bottom and the top part and over-lock them using the appropriate sewing equipment.
  • Zippered Pillowcase Closure

Making a pillowcase closer with zipping makes it versatile. Moreover, you can easily remove the inside fabric or stuffing to wash it. And, you can also easily wash the pillowcase cover. A polyester zip is advised for the pillowcase closure as it is soft and smooth.

  • How to make a zippered pillowcase closure:
    • Measure the length of the pillow to have a zip with the same measurements.
    • Sew the zip on the inside of the pillowcase.
    • Turn the pillowcase inside-out and insert the pillow stuffing into the pillowcase.

Are you in need of making a pillowcase closure? Empisal has the very best sewing equipment available. For more information, do not hesitate to contact us today.

Essential Troubleshooting Tips for Your Sewing Machine

Sewing Equipment

Have you been having problems with your sewing machine recently? Worry no more! We have compiled the following tips on how to troubleshoot your machine:

Tips on How to Troubleshoot

If you have a sewing machine project and you recently had some problems, then the following will help you:

    • Thread that Bunches under the Fabric

First, unplug the sewing  machine, and you need to thread  it again. This allows the machine to receive the thread correctly and it refreshes the tension system. Then, raise the needlebar  to the highest level possible, and proceed to use the machine to sew to confirm if it is the correct tension.

    • Skipping and Uneven Stitches

The problem is commonly caused by a broken, damaged or bent needle. The tip to troubleshooting this challenge is by replacing the needle with a new one. The other reason for this challenge can be, during sewing, when you bow down when handling your fabric. This quickly causes skipped and uneven stitches and at some point, even a damaged or broken needle. The solution to this is to place your fabric where the machine can feed itself when sewing. 

    • Frequent Needle Breakages

If your machine is encountering frequent needle breakages, it can be very annoying. While this may look like a big issue, it is usually not. The primary cause of frequent needle breakages is ignoring the needle-use guidelines. The solution to this problem is using the right needle for the right fabric. Simply use the smaller needle sizes for lighter fabric and the big needle sizes for a sturdier fabric. 

    • Shredding Threads

The primary cause of this problem is a poor quality sewing machine or an old sewing machine. A worn-out needle can also cause this problem as well as a wrongly styled needle. The solution to this problem is to ensure that the thread freely passes through the eye of the needle. Or else, purchase an affordable sewing machine that is of a good quality.

For more information on tips on how to troubleshoot your sewing machine contact Empisal.