My upholstery machine & “the sofa”

by | Dec 11, 2013 | Family Room, Miscellaneus, My House, Sewing, Tutorials | 0 comments

With all of the slipcover and upholstery posts I’ve been sharing lately, I’ve received a lot of questions about the sewing machines I use.  I have two.  One is  $150 Kenmore machine that I’ve been using for about six years.  I have used and abused that poor little machine and it has done an amazing job and is still going.  I have never oiled it, never had it cleaned and have asked it to do way more than it was made to do.  One night, though, I was working on the channel back chair and the machine was choking on the layers of  thick, antique hemp fabric.

I was working with grain sack and hemp more and more, so it was time to upgrade to an upholstery machine that was made for what I was doing.

Enter machine number two – the Sailrite LS-1.  It’s on sale for $654 right now, so it’s not a cheap machine by any means, but it’s not as expensive as some of those upholstery machine beasts that are in the thousands.  I did a lot of research and liked that this was portable, powerful and had good reviews.  I took the plunge and bought one.  (With my own money.  This is not a paid review and I don’t think they even know I exist.)

I haven’t written a review on this machine, because I have still been getting to know it.  The first time I used it, I was trying to sew a linen pillow.  I pulled out the shiny new machine, ready to knock this project out, but the thread kept getting tangled and the fabric wouldn’t feed.  I looked through the instruction books and threaded the machine about 20 times and finally gave up and called the customer service number.  After probably about an hour of troubleshooting on the phone, we figured out the fabric was too thin for the machine.  Hm.  I didn’t expect that problem!  Good thing I didn’t chuck the Kenmore!  Now I’ve used it to make eight slipcovers, so I feel like I can give a more accurate review.

Here are the things I like…

  • Like I said, it’s portable and that’s really nice.  It is still pretty heavy, but it is mobile.
  • It can sew through four layers of grain sack, plus a grain sack ruffled skirt without a problem at all.  Like butter.
  • It’s straight forward.  Not simple, but straight forward.  There aren’t a million buttons and settings and screens and gadgets that I need to figure out.

These are the things I don’t like…

  • I like to take things out of the box and use them right away.  I don’t want to have to actually read a manual or watch a video!  This machine isn’t simple, so I had to watch a video on how to get it set up to sew.  There are more videos on using the machine and I would probably benefit greatly from watching them, but there are so many other things I want to be doing!  That being said, the full-color manual is very helpful and easy to use if you’re a “scanner” or “flipper” instead of a “reader”.  The videos are also super helpful if you’ll pin yourself down for 1-2 hours to watch them.
  • I have to think really hard to thread this machine.  I’m getting better at it, but I can thread my Kenmore with my eyes closed.  It’s really simple and there are arrows to follow when I have my mom or someone else helping me with a sewing project.  The Sailrite machine is complicated to thread.
  • As I mentioned above, it can only be used for heavy duty sewing, so it’s not a one-and-only kind of machine.  (I need the other one for button holes, anyway.)

In fairness, I think most of the things I don’t like about the machine have more to do with “operator error” and “operator impatience” and less to do with the machine.  So, I wouldn’t give this machine a thumbs down, but I wouldn’t give it an enthusiastic thumbs up, either.  I’m hoping I just need to use it more and the more I use it, the more I’ll love it.  That’s the hope and I’ll keep you updated!


Now, to the sofa I’m saving up for.  Here she is – the Brooklyn Toffee leather sofa from Pottery Barn.  (Again, this isn’t a paid feature post.  I have partnered with Pottery Barn in the past, but I’m saving my pennies for this purchase.)

Brooklyn Leather Sofa

I’ve had the Ikea Ektorp sofa with a white slipcover for about nine years.  Given that it was about $300, we’ve definitely gotten our money’s worth.  Now that my boys are getting older, I’m over having a white slipcover on our main sofa.  I still love them for chairs, but not for the place we slouch, lounge, wrestle and cuddle every day.  It just gets grungy too quickly and it is not easy to remove all of the slipcovers, wash them and put them back on.  As I’ve been thinking about what I would want, I kept coming back to two things.  In addition to looking nice and being comfortable, it has to be either washable or wipe-able.  Since I’ve lived with a white slipcover for nine years, I know how gross the sofa gets.  I don’t want all of the dirt and grime to just blend in.  I want to be able to clean it!  So, with washable slipcovers not working for me, it was time to go to wipe-able leather.

I’ve had my eye on the Brooklyn sofa for at least five years.  The shape is very similar to the Ektorp, with the rolled arm, but the back cushions aren’t loose AND it has one design element that I love.  Those who know me well know what that is.  Turned legs on castors.  I am a leg girl when it comes to furniture and I love a sofa with some nice legs.  The Brooklyn’s got nice legs.

Here’s a collage I put together, so you can get a feel for how it will work with the room…

family room collage

 I know it will be totally different, but I am really excited about the change.  I also can’t wait to share how I’ve been saving up the money to buy it.  I was playing a little game almost to see what I could sell and how I could find money in unexpected places to be able to buy it without pulling from our regular household income.

My husband, who knows me very well, made a fair observation.  “You like to change things pretty regularly and this is an expensive sofa.  What happens when you’re tired of brown leather and ready for a change?”

I was prepared for such a question.

“Well, I can always make a slipcover for it!”

 Speaking of my husband, we all had a snow day today, so he took the time to work on the family room trim for me…

missmustardseed-59 (427x640)

We’re changing out the builder-grade trim to match the simple pine board trim in the 1940’s part of the home (the family room is in the addition.)  We’ll also be adding some 3/4 height wainscoting.

Moving right along…


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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