Miyong Noh is the owner of Idyeology, a dye shop located in Portland, Oregon and designer of limited edition burner-inspired apparel. She worked as head dyer and color specialist for Gene Mignolia in NYC for twenty years and spent three years as the dyer for the New York City Ballet Costume shop. She earned her BFA from Parsons School of Design in Fashion and is a fine artist specializing in wood carving paintings, paper mache masks, and wearable art. She has taught adults how to sew and craft for the past five years in New York City and plans to do so again in Portland.
When did you learn how to sew? My mother showed me how to hand-sew when I was about 3 years old. I took a sewing class in the eighth grade when I was about 12. In high school I took a couture sewing course outside of school, then got my BFA from Parsons School of Design in Fashion Design. 34 years of experience and I am still learning!
What kind of machine did you first learn to sew on? I don't remember the home machine model at my school but since my mother had an industrial Singer straight stitch, that is the one I used until college.
What machine do you sew on now? I just moved and sold my Italian Necchi A809 which was an amazing machine with speed control. I've had mostly Singers but recently purchased the Bernina 830! as well as a Thompson Mini-Walking foot machine, a 900 Singer industrial straight stitch and a new Janome 111ODX serger. I had major issues with my Singer Serger 14SH654 because I used it frequently and used many different types of material. Many home machines are not meant to be used on a constant basis thus my need to use industrials now.
What is your 'dream machine?' Any older model Bernina made in Switzerland, Italian made Necchi, and Juki industrial machines: including a coverstitch, blind-hem, and serger.
What advice would you give to a beginning sewer looking to invest in their first machine? I am not a fan of computerized machines because I am used to the mechanical and electrical models. I would advise getting a machine that has the basic stitches: straight, zig-zag, buttonholer, blind hem and if you plan on using stretch fabrics, a stretch stitch, though using a zig-zag stitch will work perfectly fine. You really don't need to have more than those stitches unless you are planning to do a lot of embroidery.
Personally I prefer to buy used older models from brands I trust such as Bernina and Necchi. Nowadays more plastic parts are put inside the machines and they can break apart more quickly than one that has metal parts. It's okay to buy a used machine that is trusted than a pretty new one with tons of stitches you will probably never use.
If you choose to go to a shop to buy one, lift it! If it's heavy generally there are more metal parts than plastic. Check and see where it is made. Talk to the salesperson and tell them what you want to sew. Do your own research as well: Jot down model numbers, go home and check on-line for reviews. Bring swatches of the types of fabric you want to sew.