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Oct 10, 2010

Sewing and "The Secret"

Giggle, gasp, or gag, you've probably heard of The Secret.

This is the internationally best-selling book that explains that hidden-for-centuries-and-suddenly-revealed -- Today on Oprah! -- ancient truth, the "law of attraction."  The law of attraction says, in essence, visualize it and it will be yours (or, what you think about is what will come true).

Now frankly, I thought the law of attraction was if you showered on Saturday night, you might come home Sunday in the same clothes (wink, wink), but I digress.

Readers, I won't lie, I have read The Secret.  OK, I didn't actually read it, I watched the movie, but it's the same secret.  I've made dream boards, or treasure maps, or whatever they're called.  I cut out a lot of photos of tropical island beaches from magazines like Condé Nast Traveler (which are filled with little else) and I did make it to San Juan due in part to a prize won at gay bingo.  (I'm not kidding.)  Coincidence? 

Still, I think The Secret is a lot of phony baloney.

And yet...

I do believe that if you invest a little time in getting clear about what you want, you might have a better chance of getting it, if only because you're less likely to be distracted by all the other things that life throws your way.

Let me give you an example.

My alternate title for today's blog entry was "Sunday Sewing Wish List."  I thought it might be fun to ask ourselves, with regard to sewing, what it is we want or even genuinely need, and then see if we could magnetize these things into our lives.  Fun, right?

Most of you may know that I recently treated myself to a Dritz sleeve board.  I'd been wanting one for months but couldn't justify the cost -- not exorbitant at around $25 but high for something whose sole purpose is ironing shirtsleeves; you can't even throw it at a cockroach.  Having priced them all over the place including online, I decided to just bite the bullet and make the investment and I am so glad I did: my sleeves have never looked better and I don't know how I ever ironed shirtsleeves before (well, I do: badly).   

OK, I didn't exactly magnetize the sleeve board, but I knew I wanted it, I invested a lot of thought in it, and lo and behold: I have one!

Now today, it is all I can do to resist traveling via subway to a certain hip neighborhood to look at a certain prized sewing machine posted for sale on a certain websiteIt's a vintage model I've long lusted after but whose price on eBay was always bid up higher than I could ever justify spending.  Can you guess which machine it is?

Nope, it's not a Bernina.  I'd be more forthcoming, but with readers like my sewing machine-hoarding friend Johanna, I need to be circumspect.

Anyway, I bring this up because, having a clear sense of what my sewing needs truly are, I can't pretend not to know that I do not have any reason to purchase this machine though I do have to kill a few hours later today as Michael has a group class going on in the living room.

Plus it's selling for about a third of what it normally costs on eBay.  But still... no.    I have my Kenmore, my Elna, my Pfaff, my two Necchis, my Brother, my Pfaff, my Viking, my Singers: Spartan, Genie, 15-91, and treadle.  What would I do with another machine, where would I put it?


Which brings me back to The Secret.

If I hadn't sat down and thought about what I want to manifest in my life sewing-wise, I just might find myself heading out to -- well, I can't say where but a borough that is not Manhattan -- to inspect and perhaps even purchase probably the coolest sewing machine ever at a price I will probably never find again!

I have The Secret to thank for my centered calm and firm focus.

Nope, it's not Little Betty.

So readers of varied spiritual backgrounds and some pretty kooky beliefs expressed in skin art, what sewing item or items do you wish to manifest in your lives?  Is there something you truly need?  Tailors Ham?  Class 66 bobbins?  A new ironing board?  A ruffler?

Is there something you don't necessarily need, but want -- oh, how you want it! -- another Featherweight?  A Babylock Jet-Air threading serger?  A Dritz My Double dress form?  More Facebook friends? (whoops, I'm projecting)

Visualize it and it will may be yours!

Please tell the universe and the rest of us: What is it you WANT?  (and why)

We promise not to judge.


  1. To get the hell out of Colombia so I can actually find the things I desire and plunk down my hard earned pesos.

    The "secret" worked for me once, but only when my friend and I decided to buy a cheap Colombian dvd player so we could watch "Dirty Dancing". Which we indeed got to watch after willing it to life during the conection to a very reluctant tv.

  2. A new industrial sewing machine, but only when my circa 1928 Willcox & Gibbs industrial bites the dust (can't get it repaired because parts just don't exist anymore)....good post Peter.

  3. Babylock Jet-Air threading serger...yes, yes, yes!

    But seriously that Bernina looks awesome. Is that something lower down on your wishlist? I would totally pick that beauty up given the chance.

    I know what you mean about the sleeve board. Really they are priceless! Back in my youth, when my sewing really started to exceed the accumulated knowledge and skill of my teacher (Mom), I was looking for a solution to pressing and turning things right side out. The answer, of course, is a point presser. In my case, it was a collapsible June Tailor board and it was about $24.95 in the 70's! Ridiculously expensive, as you can imagine. Well, I saved my pennies and got it. My sewing improved 100%. Thus started the journey...

    Apparently, June Tailor doesn't even make them anymore. I wouldn't tailor a jacket (e.g. cranberry corduroy) without one. A point presser clapper would be a lesser substitute.

  4. I would love to have a serger (I hate zig-zag finishing my seams). It's on my wishlist for Christmas. I'd also like a sleeve board, but having never sewn sleeves before, I can't justify it yet. Oh, and a new cutting table; the collapsible one that I bought from JoAnn's is falling apart, with screws falling out for no apparent reason. I'm fairly certain that I'm going to come home one day to find half of the table on the floor.

  5. Oooh, I'd love a coverstitch machine.

  6. the dressform, I just suck at taking pictures of myself with the timer, it'd be way easier to show my finished garments to the world.

  7. Does it have to be sewing related? Because I want a big house in Bloomsbury. Big because I would like a sewing room and a library, and maybe even a walk-in wardrobe. And Bloomsbury, not because I have any great fascination for the Bloomsbury set, but because it is lovely, not particularly trendy, yet very central - a nice combination of a bit gloomy and academic (with the London School of Tropical Medicine one of my favourite buildings, with its art deco bugs and ticks and mosquitos all along its balconies).

    I shall start visualising every day... Bloomsbury beckons.

  8. Alternatively, a dressform would be very welcome, but without the big house... no room for it!

  9. Honestly I think I have all the sewing things I need right now except for maybe fabrics. I love my sleeve board and not just for sleeves --it's smaller size is useful.

    Are you going to have a new machine by the end of the week? I do! No, I absolutely didn't need it but...! I'll post about it on Wednesday and Thursday.

  10. A cutting table, but then I'd have to distort space in order to fit it into any area of the house. I don't think The Secret lets you manifest a warp in the time-space continuum just to contain your sewing supplies...but I didn't read the whole book, either.

  11. I too have all the sewing things I need, including more than enough machines. I am reorganizing my sewing space and trading places with my work space since I'm taking up almost half of it already with my cutting table, is a counter that will hold all my machines at flat bed level and have cutouts that will allow me to easily use the free arms when I need to. I haven't read the Secret either having an antipathy to self help books that tell you if you do this your life will be fabulous or whatever they are selling, other than books. So how does it work. Do I wish it into being or what? Actually I need the cash for the materials and to sweet talk my dh into making it with his garage full of woodworking tools he rarely uses. The garage that has never seen a car, but that's another story. So, what do I want more, more fabric or the table? Table I think so maybe the Secret thing of visualizing the table will keep me from buying more fabric.

  12. Synchronicity does tend to happen ... one of the craft stores here in Aus has a catalogue out at the moment with Tailor's Hams on special, just when I'm planning to get my self to stop reading about it and actually start some sewing.

  13. Mind you, reading this blog is part of the problem :-)

  14. a dressform that is at least approximately my size. I'm not really picky about how I acquire it, paper taping my body, altering the "dress" on fat gloria- read about her here: , someone leaving one in my alley or on my front porch.

    I would also really like to find an assortment of old singer attachments for my 2 old singers, a 1939 featherweight and a 1922 128, most importantly a buttonholer and then a zig-zagger that doesn't cost $300 dollars so that I can use them more. Because I LOVE using them!

    AND 4.5 yds of this great wool cashmere for a lady grey coat, even if it is too late for the sew along.

  15. I want to finish the sewing dungeon (unfinished basement).

  16. I really NEED a table to sew on. I'm using a makeshift contraption that I should be lucky I haven't dumped my machine in my lap (or floor) several times now. I want a sleeve roll and other pressing do-dads cause I suck ass at ironing in general so I need all the help I can get. I was lucky enough to get a dress form (Mrs. Doonan) from the-site-that-must-not-be-named, but we are woefully mismatched from the waist down, so I'd like one closer to reality.

  17. I desperately needed pattern tracing paper/fabric last night, and I scored 40 yards for $1 a yard at the J-word store. This brand's interfacing is widely maligned, but the tracing stuff is wonderful. I was thrilled--it gave me a much-needed boost.

    I sew on a vintage Singer 401, and it works like a dream, but I sure could use a basting stitch.

    I am a total beginner--what I could use most right now is better skills! I am getting impatient.

    As for The Secret, it seems to encourage extreme self centeredness as a pathway to true happiness. To me, the philosophy is creepy and juvenile.


  18. I'd like a dress form, but seeing one roll into my workroom drawn by magnetic attraction would wig me out.

    Be sure to post pics of the new machine when you get her home from the borough that is not Manhattan.

  19. The secret is no different from prayer. If prayer works then so does the secret.

  20. Hah. I want time to sew and a place to lay out the damn pattern pieces. Think this'll attract them?

  21. A serger, an embroidery machine, a ruffler that works with my Pfaff 1222E (this is harder than one might think. I already own a high shank ruffler, but it doesn't work with my pfaff, due to the arrangement of the needle screw), and a sleeve board.

    Maybe a dress form. I can see where it would be useful, but I can't justify spending the money. Especially on a child sized one, let alone one my size. Actually, a child sized one would see more use as I sew more for the kids than for me, but I'm not exactly sure how it works, anyway. Are they adjustable? I mean, kids grow fast!

    The serger requires research. While I could get a cheap one, I'd rather look into it and find out what the best one is. There are fancy tricks one can do with a serger, if you know how and have the right one.

    The sleeve board is self explanatory. Ideally, though, if such exists, I'd like a little one for kids' sleeves and a big one for grown-ups' sleeves.

    The embroidery machine, well, I want one. It would make spending weeks on making the fancier kids' stuff a thing of the past. On the other hand, I'm not sure it would see enough use to justify me buying one, plus I'm uncertain I actually want a computer controlled machine--which an embroidery machine is. I like my old mechanical Pfaff. I'm used to its' quirks. It just doesn't do fancy stitches.

    When you're making little girls' clothes, ruffles are a staple. But, unfortunately, doing them without a ruffler is sometimes difficult. Having one would make construction easier. But I have trouble justifying spending $80 on one that will work with a 1222E.

  22. Oh! I also want a new pedal for my machine. The old one mostly works, but moving the power cord can interrupt the flow. This makes me want a new one, but it's $60. And that's a lot of money to spend for something that I already have that mostly works.

  23. A walking foot for my Viking or I guess a coverstitch machine. But something to help me finish my knits better.
    My method of attraction is to put it on my Amazon wish list and hope some kind soul wants to drop $100 on it for me.

  24. I have wanted a custom dress form for a long time. I got it. I am so glad I overcame all the internal drama and just bought the thing.

    If not now, when???

  25. Ho ho -- you know how to get my attention! But don't worry, I'm not going to check out any SMs anytime soon as I already spent my mad money on (ahem) a vintage sewing book that I couldn't resist. Sometimes the law of attraction works a little too well =D

  26. Wow, I am in the minority here. I do believe in the Secret (as if it is secret). But not as a sit around and dream/wish of what you want. Wouldn't we all have won the lottery by now? I think of it more as a focus and concentration to go toward those things you want in your life. The dream board is only to help the focus. I think the problem is more in knowing what you want/need; knowing what will make you truly content. There are just so many choices and one's tastes and circumstances seem to change with life stages.

    If I could win the lottery...I would fly to NYC and have one hell of a shopping trip in the garment district!! And Peter I would love to meet you in person while there since you have become a part of my everyday life. Oh heck, as long as I have all this money, wouldn't it be great to just fly everyone out to have a meet, shop and sew!?

  27. I have all the sewing stuff I need (I've been collecting for years!). In fact, my sewing room is looking very cluttered, so I'm visualizing a clean room. I'm also visualizing more time to sew. For the last 2-3 years, I've had an awful schedule that doesn't allow for much sewing time.

  28. Where to start? Hmm a dress form, clapper, a nice big cutting table in my own sewing room. But that requires me to find a new place to live. So indirectly sewing related I want to find a 2 bedroom place. 1 room for sleeping and 1 room for sewing!

  29. I don't like new age voodoo, but think that a dream board focuses your mind on a goal and you see things you would otherwise not notice.

    My wish list: a dressform my size, a ruffler for my Pfaff 1199 and/or 22something which, as Doreen said, is difficult if not impossible to find, a clapper, a sleeve board to replace the broken one, a point presser. I finally got a cutting table a few years ago that's worth it's weight in gold. And a few things I'd dearly love to have: an antique strip cutter; a pleater that's not more trouble than it's worth; a steamer.

    It's the 'it's only for me' thing that keeps me from buying them. I'd spend the same on towels for the house, for instance, but, because it's for me, I haven't. Hmm, dream board sounds not so silly now.

  30. A huge self-healing cutting mat. Oh, that would make me so, so, so happy.

  31. Feet to fit my sewing machine. A sewing machine that handles more than mine does. Walls and walls of thread. A dressform. A place to store all my fabric so that it isn't scrunched up and stuffed in a modern version of a pie safe. Or what my mom calls a pantry, which I thought were built-in but I guess not. I have lots of wishes, though most of them center around more time and better skills (which require more time).

    One thing I don't need, however, is another sleeve board. A vintage sleeveboard came with the house when we bought it (long story) and I already have a vintage one from a dear 90-year old lady who gives me sewing lessons. I don't need two. I don't think. Anyone want it?

  32. What I want? A Bernina 830 or 930 and a coverstitch machine.
    I am not very self indulgent, but did buy a Baby Lock Enlighten last year and I absolutely love it.
    Best investment ever. I do not collect sewing machines. Right now I have a Bernina SM (which I also love) & the Enlighten serger. I want a back up Bernina mechanical machine and a BL coverstitch. Will probably get the coverstitch in the next couple of months.

  33. A boyfriend (she said in a small quiet voice). Oh and a serger (she said, in a much louder no-one's gonna judge me voice)!!

  34. The Secret? Count me in the "gag" camp.

    What I want desperately is a duct tape double dress form (since I'm certain I can't afford a custom made dress form), something sturdy enough to drape on. Hopefully after my moulage class with KK next month down in MA, I will at least have the makings for a cover for one. :-)

  35. I'm still using the same dress form I've had since college. It's fabric skin is slowly peeling off. Every time I use it, much less cast a glance in it's direction, I visualise a new form. Sigh.

    That and a new sewing room with space for my out-of-hand stash and a long table for all my machines.... whoo hoo!! A girl can dream can't she.

    I say aim high and let your trajectory carry you far!

  36. I want......

    To be able to retire, so that I may spend each day sewing to my heart's content, and training for another marathon......during the daylight hours of the week day......

  37. I want a fabric store that stocks wool challis, cotton crepe, and rayon challis in all my favorite colors. Also 100% cotton knits. I would like it to be near me and reasonably priced. I'm a dreamer.

  38. ha ha, good one Valerie! I wish for that too, I usually sew vicariously through Peter and SS and have been waiting for some great new projects. I guess I would wish for more time in the day to sew for myself!

  39. I want to replace my cutting table. The old one is just about done for.

  40. I've never even heard of "The Secret".

    I would love some more sewing time, that's all. Having a toddler and a crawling baby about makes it difficult to use things like needles, scissors, and pins. Oh, and when your toddler randomly jabs his precious little fingers towards your running sewing machine? Scary.

  41. Sleeve boards rock. You'll love it. I use mine for other pressing tasks than I do on sleeves. Because it is just so small in circumference, and the perfect width.

    I shall focus some positive thinking re: getting thru a sewing project (ANY sewing project) without having to use the seam ripper.
    AS IF!

  42. i tried listening to the secret cd in my car like 5 times. the problem with listening to it in my car was... bad drivers ...on the road!!! i'd get so peeved by them- i ended up grumbling and not paying attention, kind of zoned the secret teachings out for a bit. when i caught soemthign it was saying, i started the over then- a bmw cut me off... grRrrrrR grumble grumble! this happened a few more times before i realized i couldn't concentrate in the car on the cd... i ended up putting in a bit of le' tigre to do some chair dancing. am i a horrible person??? i do believe in the whole positive thinking- think it,see it and it will be type thing. it can totally work- depending on HOW MUCH you can "see" it. :)

  43. I think all hyped books like the Secret are utter nonsense. That said, of course you are right that focussing on what you really want/need may just help accomplish it.

    Sewing-wise, all I really need is a new cover for my ironing board and some sort of foot for my home-made dressmaker's dummy (and an actual paid job in fashion, but that's a different story), but I want to a good book on draping and several others on tailoring, historical fashion and couture sewing technique, if just stop and think about it for a while...

  44. I agree entirely with your views on the secret- it helps to get your goals together, but wishing to get what you want is for believers in Santa Claus.

    What I want? Is a successful tourism business that leaves me more time for sewing!

    (then pinking shears, and a collection of vintage patterns.) And while we're talking to Santa, a body double dummy.

  45. Me too on the dressform, and also loads of overlocker (serger) thread in different colours. My machine is still threaded with the white that was on it when I bought it, and I can't quite fathom buying 4 huge rolls of thread for every different coloured project I start.
    I think I'm more likely to manifest the dressform. Anyway having discovered French seams thanks to you Peter, my desire to overlock has lessened.

  46. A new fabric shop, conveniently located near central Perth and less than a 45 minute drive away from me, that sells a decent range of decent dress fabrics (NOT patchwork fabrics) for less than $20 per metre and opens on Saturdays.

  47. I don't like The Secret type books either.. I would like a sewing buddy/mentor. And after my first bodice fitting class at G St yesterday, courage to keep going since every single measurement on my sloper had to be adjusted, some pretty drastically.

  48. I need a dress form!

    And more sewing time... Sigh

  49. Like you, Peter, I once dismissed the law of attraction when it came to sewing, but then I actually conjourned a (albeit home-made)dress form out of thin air just by wishing for it- and, other than being an inch or so too long in the torso, it's *exactly* my size. In an ally on the border of Berkeley and Oakland by a store by the name of Discount Fabric. spooky.


  50. wait, what did Andrea mean, "believers in Santa"...he's real, right?


  51. Time... more sleep (this is a REQUIREMENT as far as I am concerned for sewing), and a place to sew. Right now I have to do it in the middle of my kitty infested living room on a card table that bounces when my machine runs. I do it anyway, it just stinks.

  52. Okay the Secret sometimes works - here is my story. My Wal*Mart special sewing machine, that my poor parents were so proud of when they bought it for me 5 years ago, was driving me nuts. Not going through 1 layer of light cotton let alone heavy jean material. So I decided to do some research for a new sewing machine something practical and that would last so I went to the local sewing machine repair shop to look around. They had new Berninas, that is what I used in school, but they were $2000+ I was total flabbergasted at the price. When did sewing machines get so expensive? The owner heard my story and brought out the saddest looking 1970 flatbed singer I ever saw for a $100. At the time I had no idea that would be a good deal - I wanted options I wanted pizazz I wanted a Bernina. So I left the store totally upset thinking - I can never own a sewing machine of quality unless I sell my car or live in a box.
    The next day a Friday October 14 - I think, I went to bed and as I fell asleep I decided I want to find a Bernina for $50.
    Next day off to the local thrift store - and I asked the lady if the sewing machines in the front was all she had? She said no and took me to the secret back room. There she was my Bernina 830 Record with red case and tool box and instructions, bill of sale and repair record under the dusty table for $50. Awesome! Home she went then to the repair man who was 1. Suprised to see me again and 2.offered me 6 times more than I paid. Nina is now sitting pretty on my sewing table and working hard.
    So the Secret can work sometimes. I am looking for a new machine and hope to do the same thing - put out a request and hope for a heavy duty machine that will go through jeans. Peter you have any suggestions?
    ~SC from BC


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