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.
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.
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.
If you are like a lot of people, then you have just been using your best sewing machine for simple projects. Just for things like doing seams or stitching a hole. Which is fine of course, but you are really limiting the power of your machine. Perhaps you have been doing things this way because you aren’t sure if you can handle bigger jobs. Well, if that is the case, then I am going to show you some sewing hacks that will make those big scary projects look like child’s play. So if you are ready, then let’s begin.
Sewing Bulky Material
If you have ever been frustrated trying to sew bumpy fabric such as terry cloth, then take heart. I have a trick that will keep your presser foot moving forward at warp speed. All you have to do is place a plastic bag over the material. The sewing machine will sew right through it and you can keep the machine moving forward on a nice smooth surface.
Sewing In A Zipper
Sewing a zipper is often something dreaded by most people. That doesn’t have to be the case. You can install a zipper the easy way. Sew up your seam, put your zipper face down in the seam allowance and stitch it right in place. Now slice open the seam with your seam ripper and reveal the zipper. Voila!!
The Sure Fire Way To Sew With Metallic Thread
Having problems with that delicate decorative thread? Does it keep breaking as you are trying to sew? Well, if it does, then you can use this trick to fix it. Just use a roll of normal thread with your metallic thread. Thread them both through the eye and the normal thread will act as a support for the decorative thread.
Are You looking for a better way to store your bobbins? Then why not use a toe separator. They will hold several bobbins securely in place and right at arms length.
Easy Way To Mark Your Seam Allowance
If you want to add a seam allowance to your project but don’t want to do a lot of measuring, then just use pencils to draw it. If you have a 5/8” seam, then tape three pencils together. If you have a 1/2” seam, then tape two pencils together. Then as you trace the edge of your pattern, you will get a perfect seam allowance each time.
Hopefully these sewing hacks will get you started on some of those tougher projects. I have gathered these tips and tricks together by pouring through countless sewing machine reviews and noting some of the best advice found in them. I have found these hacks to be very useful to me and I hope they will be useful to you as well.
The only way that you are going to get better at using your sewing machine is by doing a lot of practice, and I do mean a lot of it. Sure, when you start using it for the first time you are going to make a lot of mistakes, and probably mess up quite a bit of fabric, but it doesn’t mean that it isn’t worth the effort. In fact, you will realize that you the more time you put into it the better you become. As with anything worth doing in this life.
Today, I am going to tell you how to perform some of the most commonly asked for stitches that I have seen people ask for in numerous sewing machine reviews and articles. These are the basic ones that will get you started on your goal of becoming the sewing machine master that you want to become. Some of them might seem hard at first, but don’t be discouraged. Perseverance goes a long way in sewing.
The Handy Back Stitch
This stitch is necessary so that you don’t have to spend time tying the front and back ends of your stitch. It’s also fairly easy to do. You simply sew a few stitches forward, and then when you are ready, push the back switch button. The needle will now begin to travel backwards. When you have reached the beginning of your stitch, stop. Keep practicing until you have it mastered.
Dreaded Straight Lines
Sometimes it can be pretty hard to sew a straight line, so a little bit of practice is recommended. When I first began sewing, I found that if I took a piece of fabric that already straight stitch lines, and practiced following them, that I was able to improve the straightness of my lines. I know that it will work for you as well.
Of course, this isn’t the only way to practice sewing straight lines. You can also take a piece of fabric that is striped (like a dish towel) and practice following the lines. Or you can take a ruler and draw some straight lines on a piece of scrap fabric using a market. Then all you have to do is try to follow the line. Don’t worry if it doesn’t work well the first couple of times you try it. You will get better.
On To Advanced Stitching
Now that you have mastered the basics, it is time to move on to something a little bit harder: curved lines. This type of stitching will often give the most anxiety to beginners, but it isn’t as hard as you think it is. You have to sew a little bit slower and use a steady hand, but it’s well worth the trouble.
Well, these are the best sewing machine practice guidelines that I can give you today. Hopefully, these will not only show you how to start practicing your stitches but will also encourage you to start practicing as well.
If there is one thing that I have learned from reading hundreds upon hundreds of sewing machine reviews, it’s the fact that many beginners don’t know they have to get used to their machines. Most people don’t realize that each sewing machine seems to have its own unique personality, kind of like a pet. It doesn’t matter if it is a brand new state-of-the-art machine that was bought online or if it is an older one that was bought in a thrift store or at a garage sale. If you want to get the most out of your machine, then you really have to get to know its tendencies. It’s really worth the time to get to know your machine—whether its new or just new to you—so that you can get the most out of it.
That is why I am going to give you some tips that will help you familiarize yourself with your sewing machine without all of the headaches involved with such a learning curve. It doesn’t matter if you are a novice or if you are the best sewing machine master on the planet acquainting yourself to a new machine. These tips are going to help you get up and running in a shorter amount of time and without all of the aggravation, trust me.
The first step in this process is locating the manual to your sewing machine. Every single machine on the planet has a manual that shows you how to properly operate it. The manual is an important part of the machine and tells you everything you need to know about it. It tells you how to properly use it and how to maintain it. Therefore, it’s very important that you familiarize yourself with it. Of course, if you bought your machine second-hand, then it may not have come with the manual. That’s okay, because you can find the manuals to almost all but the most exotic brands online, and they are usually offered free of charge by the manufacturer as well.
You may have several bobbins around your house that have been leftover from the machines you’ve previously owned and you might be tempted to re-purpose them for your new machine. I’m sorry but that is not a good idea. Most manufacturers have bobbins that are unique to their machines. Even if they appear to fit, then they might not be right for your model. And that is why I recommend that you get ones that are made specifically for your machine.
The last piece of advice I can give you that will help you get to know your machine a little better is to practice and practice again. Start off by practicing on scrap pieces of cloth. This will give you a good idea of your machine’s tendencies and help you concentrate on controlling its speed and settings. After you have done that, then you can move on to trying to sew simple patterns and eventually move on to putting the machine into full service.
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.
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.