Threading your sewing machine is one of the simplest tasks you can perform on your machine but it is also one of the most important. If you don’t thread your machine properly then it can cause all kinds of problems. It can cause your machine to throw stitches, to stop stitching altogether and can also cause a colossal waste of time. That is why I have decided to give you the correct procedure for threading a sewing machine. While there are some machines that make threading easier—and you can spot these particular models in sewing machine reviews—the technique I am going to be giving you today is one that will work on just about any ordinary machine.
Winding The Bobbin
Take your thread and place it on the spool pin on the top of your machine. Place your empty bobbin on its own bobbin pin. Now take some thread, wrap it around the bobbin winder and press your foot on the pedal to begin winding the bobbin. Remove the bobbin, cut the excess thread and prepare for threading.
Thread The Machine
It is very important that you unplug the machine before you thread the machine. You are going to have your fingers around the mechanical parts and the needle of this device and you certainly don’t want an accident to happen, so be sure your machine is unplugged every time you thread it.
Starting with the spool of thread, follow the directional arrows on your machine and guide the thread toward the needle. After you have done this, then secure the thread at the hook on the front of the machine and the hook next to the needle. Now the thread can be be fed through the front of the needle.
Thread The Bobbin
Insert the bobbin. On front loading machines, the bobbin is positioned vertically. On most machines however, the bobbin goes directly under the needle in its compartment.
Spin the hand crank a couple of times and the bobbin thread will pop out. Take your fingers and grab it so that you can pull a few inches of it out. You are now ready to sew.
That is all there is to it. While this is the best sewing machine threading instruction I can come up with, it doesn’t handle all the particulars of every single model of sewing machine out there. Sewing machines come in a wide variety of models and styles, and all of them have their own unique features that have to be dealt with when threading them. It is always best to read your instruction manual for the particular threading method of your unit.
If you read over some sewing machine reviews, then you are apt to think that these little devices are prone to breaking down. It seems like there is always someone complaining that the sewing machine they are using isn’t living up to the potential they think it should. However, I would say this is more of a problem with the user than it is with the machine manufacturers. Many people simply don’t know how to take care of their sewing machine.
I know this can sound a bit harsh, but it’s true. Many people think of sewing machines as more like work horses than the fine tuned instruments they are. And with any finely tuned instrument, you have to take care of it. Which involves not only using it properly but also doing some light maintenance on it. While I am not going to be telling you how to use your machine today, what I am going to tell you how to do is how to clean it to keep it in pristine condition. Here are some tips for performing maintenance on your sewing machine to keep it in good running condition.
Use A Maintenance Schedule
The first thing you need to do is figure out how much you use your machine on a weekly basis. You don’t need to come up with exact figures but you do need an estimate to how many hours you use in weekly. Once you have come up with an estimate, you can then figure out how often you will need to clean your machine. Most experts and manufacturers recommend that you clean your machine after ever ten hours of use, but cleaning it more often will work as well. You can also use the 2 bobbin rule. This rule states that you should clean your machine after ever 2 bobbin changes. This is a good guide to use as well.
Assemble Your Cleaning Kit
Here are some things you are going to need:
Instruction Manual: This is the most important. Make sure that you have a copy of your instruction manual handy. It gives you specific guidelines for cleaning your particular model. If you don’t have the manual, then either find it on the Internet, get one from a local dealer or contact the machine’s manufacturer. Just be sure you have one on hand.
Lint Brush: A lot of machines come with their own lint brushes, but if yours doesn’t then you need to purchase one. If you need too, you can also use a makeup brush in a pinch.
Needles: You are going to want to change your needles after every cleaning. This will improve sewing performance.
A soft cloth: You can use just about any type of cloth, but I usually prefer to use a high quality muslin cloth.
Now that you understand the reason for cleaning your machine and have assemble all of your tools together, it is now time to get down to the actual cleaning. Please refer to my article, How To Clean Your Sewing Machine-Part Two for the best sewing machine cleaning practices.
Modern sewing machines are wonderful devices that not only make sewing an easier chore to do but have a bunch of features that make them pretty much error-proof. Of course, that is not how it seems to a lot of people. There are quite a few people out there, and maybe you are one of them, that really get tired of their machine acting up in one way or another. If you don’t believe me, then all you have to do is read some of the sewing machine reviews and you’ll see what I am talking about. It seems like there are quite a few machines out there that are rebelling against their users.
It would be easy to blame the machine, but unfortunately it isn’t the machine’s fault—at least nine times out of ten. Most of the common “malfunctions” that crop up during sewing have more to do with user error than a shoddily designed machine. I hate to break it to you but it’s the truth.
Fortunately, it is something that can be remedied. Today, I am going to show you some of the most common sewing machine errors and the best sewing machine remedies for these errors. Fixing these problems as they arise will allow you to solve them quickly and get on with the task at hand.
Problem #1: My Needle Keeps Unthreading
This is the most common problem. You have just threaded your needle and as soon as you start sewing—bam—it comes unthreaded. Fortunately, this is easy to solve. First off, always make sure you have an adequate amount of thread pulled through the needle and out the back of the machine. At least several inches. Second, make sure that your needle is at the highest position possible before you start sewing. You can make sure that the needle is fully raised by checking the top of your sewing machine. If you can see the take-up lever, then the needle is fully raised. If you can’t, then hand crank your machine until you can.
Problem #2: My Fabric Is Hyperactive!
If you are attempting to thread your garment or piece of fabric and it just won’t sit still long enough to finish the task, then you don’t have the presser foot lowered. The presser foot holds down the fabric so you can stitch neatly. If it’s not lowered, your fabric will move with the needle. Don’t let that happen, lower your presser foot.
Problem #3: Uneven Stitching
If you just finished doing a stitch and it looks really loose on one side and really tight on the other side, then you most likely have a tension problem. Check the settings on your machine and make sure that the tension is set correctly. If that still doesn’t fix the problem, then check your bobbin and make sure that it is not only inserted in the machine in the correct way, but that the thread is pulled through those grooves that are in the bobbin case.
In my last article on the best sewing machine hacks, I gave you some advice that would help you get started on those projects you have avoided doing on your sewing machine. Now I am going to give you some of the best sewing hacks. There are some that can be used while you are using your machine, but most of these hacks are for those of you who have to sew by hand.
Pin And Needle Order
Do you spend a lot of time trying to keep track of all your pins and needles? If you do, then I have a simple trick for you. Just toss a little magnet into a bowl and when you are done with your pins, then just toss them into the bowl too. The magnet will keep them all together and ready for work.
Keeping Track Of Your Scissors
Want an easy way to keep your scissors handy all of the time? Then simply tie a cord to them and wear them around your neck. That way, your scissors are with you whether you are at your machine or heading off to trace a pattern.
Using Oversized Spools
Is your thread spool to big to fit into your machine? Well, then take it and place it in a coffee cup located next to your sewing machine.
Cutting Patterns Without Tape Or Pins
This trick is really simple and will save you loads of time. Instead of using pins or weights to hold down your pattern while you are cutting it, then use freezer paper. The freezer paper will stick to the fabric and you can easily cut it.
Sharpening Dull Scissors
Don’t want to mess with a scissor sharpener? Well, now you don’t have to. Just use them to cut sand paper of aluminum foil. After a few cuts they will be very, very sharp.
Easily Threading Needles
If you have problems threading your needle, then here is a trick you might want to try. Spray the end of the thread with hairspray. This will stiffen it up and allow it to easily pass through the needle’s eye.
Keeping Pins Sharp
Most people simply toss out there pins when they begin to dull. I don’t though. Instead, I use a piece of steel wool as my pin cushion. It keeps them nice and sharp—and as an added bonus—keeps them shiny as well. Try it and you’ll be amazed.
This concludes my list of some of the best sewing hacks I have found. As usual, most of these hacks were gathered together from sewing machine reviews, but some of them were also passed down to me by my mother and grandmother. Hopefully, they are tricks that you will not only use on a daily basis but ones that will improve the efficiency of your sewing time.
Combing through dozens of sewing machine reviews I have come upon a common theme. There is a ton of advice on how to use your machine or how to do various kinds of stitching work, but there is really very little advice on how to get the most out of this machine. Now I understand that some of you might think that getting the best out of your machine would fall under the column of how to use your machine, but these are really two things that are as different from one another as apples are from oranges. A how to use your sewing machine tutorial tells you how to thread your bobbin, what settings to use and how to get your work done effectively. A tutorial telling you how to get the best out of your sewing machine tells you the best practices to use that will help your sewing machine perform to its full potential. Do you see the difference?
Well, since there aren’t any good tutorials telling people how to get the most out of their machine, I have decided to write my own. Which you just so happen to be reading right now. In this article, I have done all I could do to write a piece that tells you the best sewing machine practices that will help you squeeze out one hundred percent of your machine’s potential. Thus enabling you to turn even a lower quality model machine into a masterful sewing instrument that will help your create the best work possible. Hopefully these tips that I have worked out over the past few years will be as useful to you as they’ve been to me. Here they are:
- When loading your machine with thread, be sure to use both the same kind of thread in both the bottom and the top spools. This will enable you to get the maximum amount of tension, which will result in a better looking stitch.
- It is always a good idea to press the fabric you are about to stitch. Doing so will result in stitching that is a lot neater. If pressing isn’t possible, then you can iron it. And if you can’t iron it, then at least make sure that it is as smooth as possible.
- Be sure to read your particular machine’s manual. You might think that you don’t have to read the manual because you have used hundreds of different sewing machines, but trust me you do. Each machine has different tension settings and you want to be sure that you use the ones that are for your particular machine. This will result in a better stitch.
- Be sure to clean your machine on a regular basis. Not a lot of people do this but they should. A lot of fluff can get caught under the needle plate and not removing this can have a drastic effect on your stitching.
And that concludes my advice on getting the best out of your sewing machine. If you follow these tips, then you should end up with improved performance from your machine.
Most of the best sewing machine patterns I have used have been ones that I have made myself. Sure, I could have bought pre-made patterns or even found free patterns online, but I actually like crafting my own. It indulges my inner artist and gives me a bit of a challenge. It is also extremely gratifying sewing your own unique article of clothing from scratch.
I understand however, that creating your own pattern from scratch can seem pretty intimidating. It was for me at first. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a try. All you need is a little bit of time, a bit of patience and a plan on how to proceed. Now, I can’t help you with these first two things, but I can help you with the last part. Today I am going to teach you how to make your own pattern.
Before you begin making your own pattern however, you need to understand the basics of clothing construction. This is knowledge that can only be gained from first hand observation. Take some old pieces of clothing and take a good hard look at them. Deconstruct them if you have to. Just make sure that you understand how clothes are put together. You should also have a basic understanding of how your sewing machine handles certain fabrics. This knowledge can come from first hand experience or from reading sewing machine reviews.
Now that you understand clothing construction, it is time to start your first pattern. You should definitely start with something simple and I think I have the perfect project for you. It was one of the first projects I ever did too. It’s turning a plain man’s T-shirt into a onesie.
The first thing you need to do is to fold the onsie in half and place it on a piece of light cardboard material. Then trace the other half of the onsie. This will become your pattern. Be sure to allow for the seam, after all you don’t want it to be tight, and that should about do it. You have your pattern.
You can take this basic approach and apply it to just about anything. You can turn already made pieces of clothing and make them into something else. It is something that I have been doing for quite a long time now and it has never failed me. I’m sure it will work for you as well. Sure, you might have to practice a bit to get everything right and your first few articles of clothing might be a disaster, but if you put in the time and effort I am sure that you will be happy with the result.
I think it has happened to all of us at one time or another. You are right in the middle of a big sewing project and then your best sewing machine begins to act up. It might pop a bobbin, or the thread begins to not look right. And this usually happens at the most difficult or critical stitch. It just seems like your machine has turned against you and you will never get the project finished.
Sewing machine problems can be really frustrating. Especially when you feel like you have done everything right. You have maintained your machine the proper way and you have been following all the best practices. Yet it still happens. Regardless of preparation, skill level or attention to detail.
Even though you can’t really prevent every single unfortunate glitch that happens while you are sewing, you can take steps to correct them when they do happen. Today, I am going to cover some of the biggest and most frustrating problems that may arise with your machine and give you some quick fixes to correct them. Hopefully, this will save you at least some aggravation.
#1: Thread Problems
Sometimes you are just going along and your threading doesn’t look right. The stitches are too loose or too tight, or there is some other problem going on. In these instances, you might have a tension problem and need to re-thread the machine.
#2: Check The Bobbin
If re-threading the machine doesn’t work, then you might want to check your bobbin. A bobbin that is too tight or too loose can cause a myriad of different problems.
#3: Check The Machine’s Hygiene
If the above two steps doesn’t correct the problem, then your machine might be a bit dirty. Yes, I know. You thought you have been keeping up on minor maintenance, but sometimes due to the amount of work you have been doing on the machine it gets a little dirtier than usual and you need to clean it up a bit.
#4: Do You Have A Broken Part?
Okay, you have re-threading your machine, checked the bobbin and cleaned your sewing machine, but it still isn’t working correctly. If that is the case, then you might want to check for broken parts such as a broken bobbin or a bent needle.
#5: Am I Using The Wrong Thread Or Needle?
Sometimes the problem with your machine is that you are using the type of thread or needle. Always be sure that you are using the right needle and thread for the material and the project you are working on to avoid these problems. You should also check that you aren’t using two different types of thread. One time I was working on a project and started having problems, so I checked the thread and realized that the spool and the bobbin had different types of thread.
Check these five points and see if they are causing your frustration. Whenever I see complaints in sewing machine reviews about a particular machine, it is usually one of the five points that is causing the problem. Correcting them can really save you a lot of peace of mind.
Most of the advice I give out is helping people cover the basics of using the machine and becoming comfortable with sewing. Today however, I am going to try something a little bit different. I am going to give out the best sewing machine tips I have in my arsenal that will show you how to use your sewing machine to get professional results. If you want to sew like the pros do—and I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to—then follow these tips and you’ll be well on your way to sewing perfection.
Sewing Pillow Covers
If you are sewing something like a pillow cover, then the best advice that I can give you is to keep your stitch length short. This will not only give you a better seam but will also make it less likely to tear or rip apart.
Keeping An Eye On Loose Threads
It doesn’t matter how well you can sew, if you have fraying or loose threads then your entire project is going to look amateurish. So trim those threads and give your project that clean professional look.
Serge The Seams
Serging seams can really give a professional appearance. You can do this either using a serger, which can be bought in any craft store, or by pressing the seams before you start sewing. Trust me, it makes a big difference.
Use A Point Turner
Point turners can either be made of plastic or bamboo and they are made to turn your fabric right side out without damaging it. Using this device can really make your work look professionally done, so be sure to use yours. If you don’t have one, they can be easily purchased online and with minimal expense.
Press As You Sew
This is one of my favorite tips for creating professional looking projects. Instead of pressing your clothing with an iron after you have finished it, why not press it as you sew? I do this with every single one of my projects and it never disappoints me.
Buy A Professional Machine
This may be the best piece of advice I can give you. Make sure that you buy a machine that is capable of producing professional results. You can find a professional machine by asking friends or by reading sewing machine reviews. This will usually give you all the information you need to pick the best machine possible.
Sewing machines were designed to be fairly safe to operate. You don’t usually hear stories about people being severely injured by these devices. And there are a lot of things that are a lot more dangerous to operate, such as lawn mowers and even your stove. However, just because the likelihood of serious injury isn’t that great, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise caution using them. They are machines that are plugged up to an electrical source and they do have moving parts, so extra care is recommended.
However, judging from just a small sample of the sewing machine reviews I have read recently, it would appear that there are some people who aren’t sure of the safest way to use their machines. That is why I decided to write this article today. I want everyone who reads it to be aware of the safety precautions they should take when they are operating these devices.
Safety Tip #1: Beware Of Needles!
This piece of advice might be a bit obvious, but I am going to state it anyway. Whenever you use your sewing machine you should keep your fingers away from the moving needle. After all, you don’t want to inadvertently stitch up your finger. Not only does that hurt, but it is also a waste of good thread. Now you would think that this type of injury would be more common with novice seamstresses, but trust me, I have seen a lot of experts accidentally sew up their finger. In fact, about two-thirds of all sewing machine accidents involve needle puncture wounds.
Safety Tip #2: Properly Store Your Machine
Whenever you are away from your machine, you should make sure that you turn it off and unplug it. Sewing machines that are left on while unattended can create a lot of heat, which can quickly become a problem if there are flammable materials around it.
There are several reasons for unplugging the machine. First, you don’t want the machine to be damaged by an electrical strike, especially if the machine isn’t hooked up to a surge protector (which it should be). The second reason is that an unplugged machine is a lot less interesting to small fingers that might try to turn it on and end up hurting themselves in the process.
Safety Tip #3: Mind Your Cords
Before you plug in your machine to use it, you should carefully examine the power cord for any signs of wear or damage. This is especially true if you have pets that like to chew on things. You don’t want to plug in a sewing machine with a damaged cord and get a nasty shock, or even worse, start a fire. And you also should unplug the machine whenever you are replacing a part.
These are the best sewing machine safety tips I can give you. If you follow these steps, and avoid distractions, then you will lessen the chances that your machine will end up turning against you. Sewing machine safety is as important as proper operation of the machine, remember that.
You have researched and bought the best sewing machine. You have assembled all of the tools you need and have learned some techniques. Now all you have to do is sit down and sew. Then all of a sudden it hits you. You have spent all of this time buying the right machine, the right thread and the best thread, but you know little to nothing about what type of fabric to use.
To make things even worse, If you walk into a fabric store without any knowledge about fabric, then it can be an overwhelming experience. You are faced with rows and rows of different types of material. And usually the sales person in charge has as little information to offer you on the subject. This can turn what you thought would be a pleasant day buying fabric into some sort of a nightmare. That’s alright because I am going to give you a quick and dirty guide to buying fabric. Here are the basics of what you need to know about fabric.
Okay, let’s start with the basics. When you walk into a fabric store, all of the different fabrics are arranged in bolts. Bolts is a term for fabric that is either rolled or folded. These bolts are then arranged according to the type of fabric they have. Craft fabric is usually in one part of the store and household fabric is in another part. Don’t worry, these areas are usually adequately marked so you can find what you need to find quickly and easily.
There is one quick note I need to add about fabric stores really quickly however, before we move on. Please keep in mind that not all fabric stores offer a general selection of merchandise. Some stores specialize in specific fabric types. Just something to think about while you are choosing a store.
Some of the fabrics you are likely to find in the store include:
Cotton: This fabric will usually shrink when washed, so be sure to buy cotton that has been pre-washed. This material is good for aprons and other household projects.
Canvas And Denim: These materials are not only heavier than cottons, but are also a lot sturdier. These are great for projects that need a higher level of durability such as totes or items that are going to be used outside.
Flannel: This material is most often used for things such as pajamas or baby clothing. It is soft and comfortable, but be advised that it will usually shrink after it’s washed the first few times.
Jersey Knits: This material is like T-shirt material. It is often used for various apparel items. Just keep in mind that since this material stretches, it might be harder to sew.
This isn’t an exhaustive list but it does cover the basics. I do have one last tip before I go, however. Before committing to buying fabric, be sure to read sewing machine reviews to see which machine works best with each material.