Producing Professional Quality Sewing

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.

Buying Fabric For Your Sewing Machine

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.

How To Clean Your Sewing Machine – Part One

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.

Let’s Practice Some Sewing Stitches

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.

Saving Time With Your Stitch

There are times when you want to stitch a garment or piece of fabric with all the care in the world. You really want to take your time and make sure that you every single inch of it is done to perfection. If that is the case, then there are about a million articles that will help you on your journey to perfection. In fact, I have even written a few of them myself. However, this is not one of them.

Today, we are going to concentrate on how to sew quickly. Look, not all of us have time to put in that perfect cross-stitch or make sure that our seams are flawless. Sometimes we just need to mend an article of clothing, get it out the door and be done with it. All of us have busy lives, a fact that is proven by the many comments made in sewing machine reviews. We just need to get our chores done as quickly as possible.

Here are a few tips that will help you get that sewing job done quickly without creating a total mess out of it. If you follow these steps, then you might not have the absolute perfect piece of stitch work done, but you will have it completed in no time flat.

No Pressing

Sewing 101 pretty much says that you need to press a seam before you stitch them. Which is usually what I recommend. Unfortunately however, that eats up a lot of time. So let’s do it without pressing. Just pull the fabric taught—on either side of the seam—and do it.

Quick Pressing

Okay, you just can’t seem to give up the habit of pressing. It is something that is ingrained into your very DNA, I understand. You don’t want to forgo pressing in order to get your sewing done faster. If that is the case, then I have a solution for you. It’s called a quick press.

If you have a number of articles to stitch a seam into, then you might want to press them all at once. This is a lot more efficient way of doing this task then pressing, stitching, pressing, rinse and repeat. Just knock it all out at once and get on with your life.

Don’t Use Pins

Don’t have time to pin your seams before you stitch them? Then don’t. Match up the initial part of the seams and bring the fabric in as you go. Just be sure that you keep the needle down the whole time—especially when readjusting the seam—to hold the fabric in place and keep everything nice and tidy.

The Chain Stitch

A quick way to stitch multiple pieces of fabric is to chain stitch them. This technique allows you to get your sewing done without all of that stopping and starting. Once you’ve finished one seam, you feed another one in and keep working. This technique is one of the best sewing machine techniques I have ever used and works like a charm. Try it, I am sure you’ll like it.

How To Clean Your Sewing Machine – Part Two

Now that you know that you have to clean your machine, understand the reason behind most negative sewing machine reviews is poor maintenance, and have assemble your cleaning tools—it is now time to dig right in and begin cleaning your device. Before we start I would like to remind you that you are going to need a good hour to follow these steps, so be sure that you have the time set aside for this project so that you aren’t interrupted in the middle of it. With that being said, let’s dig right in and start getting our sewing machine in tip-top condition. Here are the steps in order:

  1. Unplug your machine. This is something you should do whenever you are cleaning the machine or even when you are just changing the needles. It is just good safety.
  2. Remove the needle from your machine and toss it. As you do so, be sure to note the direction of the flat side of the needle. In most machines with side bobbins, the flat side usually faces the right. If you don’t have a machine with a side bobbin, then the flat side of the needle will most likely face the back of the machine.
  3. Read your manual and find out how to remove the needle plate and the presser bar. Remove them.
  4. Next open the bobbin cover and remove the bobbin as well as the bobbin case.
  5. Using your lint brush or makeup brush, remove all of the debris from around these parts.
  6. If you are familiar with how the bobbin race fits into the machine, then you can remove it and clean it. If you aren’t familiar with how this part fits into the machine or your manual doesn’t give you specific directions on removing it, then its best to not remove this part in the first place for cleaning. Take it to a sewing machine repair shop for cleaning. On the other hand, if you can safely remove it, then be sure to give it a thorough cleaning.
  7. Brush out the feed dogs
  8. Brush out the area beneath the feed dogs
  9. Reassemble the bobbin race (if you took it apart that is)
  10. If there is a side cover on your sewing machine, then you can open it up and clean the thread path and tension disks.
  11. Take your soft cloth and clean the exterior of the machine.
  12. Reassemble everything, plug it in and make sure it is working correctly. After you have determined it is working, then you can unplug it and insert new needles in it.

This is the best sewing machine cleaning method I know about. I have been using this method to clean all of my machines and they have never failed me during a stitching job. Follow these steps on a regular basis and I am sure your machine will run just as good as the day you bought it.

Sewing Machine Safety

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.

Sewing Hacks – Part Two

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.

Getting The Absolute Best From Your Sewing Machine

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Learning The Basic Parts Of A Sewing Machine

This article is for those who are inexperience using sewing machines. It is intended for novices who have basically no knowledge of these devices but want to begin to learn about them. Which means that if you have intermediate or advanced sewing machine knowledge, then you are probably going to be quite bored with it. That’s because today we are learning about the parts of a sewing machine.

Some of you might scoff at the idea that someone needs to be taught the basic parts of a sewing machine, but let me tell you that it isn’t funny at all. This is the kind of knowledge that one needs as they are beginning to use this machine and judging from sewing machine reviews, is a topic that really needs to be addressed. So without further adieu, let’s begin with basic sewing machine anatomy.

The Power Switch

One of the most important parts of a sewing machine, as well as one of the parts that is most frequently used, is the power switch. This turns the device on and off and is located in different places on different models. Usually on the top or the back of the machine.

The Spool Pin

After finding the power switch, you can now look for the spool pin. This is a small pin that is designed to hold your spool of thread. It is usually located on the top of the machine and is made of plastic or metal.

The Bobbin Winder And Bobbin Winder Stopper

Located next to the spool pin is the bobbin winder. It’s a small horizontal wheel that is used to wind thread onto your bobbin. Next to that is a small pin called a bobbin winder stopper.

The Thread Guide

This is a small funny shaped guide with a simple purpose. It’s designed to guide thread from the spool to the bobbin winder.

Stitch Adjustment Buttons

This may be manual buttons or switches or an electronic one, depending on your sewing machine model. However, no matter which one it is, the point of it is the same. To select the length, type and direction of the stitch.

Take-Up Lever

This is the part that moves vertically as you stitch.

Tension Dial

This is a wheel with numbers on it. It is usually located near the take-up lever.

Needle Clamp Screw

Located under the arm of the machine. Its used to hold the needle in place while you are sewing.

Presser Foot

This is under the needle clamp screw. This holds your fabric or material in place.

Needle Plate

This is the plate underneath the needle.

The Feed Dog

Located under the presser foot and on the needle plate. It’s a guide that feeds the fabric while you are sewing.

Bobbin Cover Release

These is the last part on the machine.  It releases the cover so that you can access the bobbin and insert or remove it.

And that is all there is to it. This may not be the best sewing machine anatomy lesson, but it is one that will allow you to learn your machine quickly and easily.