Getting To Know Your Sewing Machine

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 Manual

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.

The Bobbins

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.

Practice Repeatedly

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.

5 Most Frustrating Sewing Machine Problems

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.

The Most Common Errors While Using A Sewing Machine – Part Two

In my last article, I attempted to take on some of the most common problems that people complain about in sewing machine reviews and give a solution to these problems. Once I finished however, I realized that I had missed quite a few common problems, so I have decided to do a second part to my original article and attempt to address them today. Here are the most common sewing machine problems and their solutions, part two. Enjoy.

Problem #4: My Machine Punches Holes In My Fabric

If you are attempting to sew and your machine is trying to make Swiss cheese out of your fabric, then you are most likely using the wrong needle. Needle choice is the absolute most important choice you can make. And torn up clothing isn’t the only problem with using the wrong needle. If you have the wrong needle inserted into your machine, then you can have a wide array of problems. You can mess up the timing on your machine, throw a bobbin or damage your bobbin hook. That is why it is absolutely necessary to choose the right needle for the machine, the stitch you are doing and the fabric you are stitching.

Problem #5: My Stitches Are Too Tight

If you are sewing and notice that your stitches are a little too tight on the top, then you have a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Sometimes this problem arises because the tension isn’t correctly set on the machine, but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes it’s a mistake you made while threading the machine.

When you wind the bobbin, you often place the end of the thread on the tension disks—which is standard practice. However, you also have to make sure that you remove it before you start sewing. If you don’t, then you often end up with a stitch that is way too tight. And that is no good for anyone.

Problem #6: My Thread Keeps Knotting

If your thread keeps knotting and are creating problems with your garment or jamming up your machine, then you might have a problem with one or more parts of your machine. First, you want to make sure that your thread is sticking out of the back of your sewing machine. Second, start your sewing a little further from the edge. If there isn’t enough fabric when you start, then it can cause the thread to knot up. Don’t worry though, you can always backtrack to give take your stitches all the way to the edge. Just be sure that you don’t go over the edge and then try to back track because that will also knot up your threading. Be vigilant and you should be alright.

And that concludes my article on the best sewing machine solutions for the most common problems. If I think of any more, then I will be sure to write another article, but I do think that this two part articles covers most of the primary ones.

Threading Your Sewing Machine – The Easy Way

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.

Using Your Sewing Machine For Buttons

A question that is posed to me on a regular basis – as well as being posed in numerous online sewing machine reviews, is how to sew on buttons. For some people, stitching on buttons is one of the easiest things in the world, but for others it is a project that is fraught with a lot of frustration and heartache. Today, I am going to tackle this subject and tell you how you can sew on buttons like a seasoned pro.

One of the very last things a person does when they are finishing up their sewing is to put on buttons. It seems like they are the perfect accent to any garment job. However, it is also one that causes the most headaches. Many people find them to be tedious, time consuming and a general pain in the you-know-what. This is because is can be very hard to make them look uniform. At least, that is what it seems like.

In reality, sewing on buttons is as simple of a task as anything else done with your sewing machine. You just have to take your time and follow the best sewing machine button method. A time-honored one that will assure that your buttons not only look professional but don’t give you a bunch of gray hairs stitching them on. Here is the method:

Before you start you are going to have the right equipment. The first thing that you’ll need is a sewing machine that is capable of doing zig zag stitches. The next thing you’ll want to have is a little device that attaches to your machine called a button sewing foot. You can still sew on a button without this device, but I personally recommend that you don’t. This attachment has saved me a ton of aggravation.

Of course, if you don’t have a button sewing foot – or are adamant about not purchasing one – then you can do it the hard way. You can remove the presser foot and hold down the button using only the ankle of the sewing machine.

After getting your equipment together, it is now time to place the button. Figure out where you want it on the garment and tape it down securely with a piece of scotch-tape. Don’t worry, your machine will stitch right through the tape and when you are done it will peel off effortlessly.

Now lower your feed dogs. If your machine has a button setting, then choose that and the feed dogs will be lowered automatically. Attach your button sewing foot (if you are using one) and then select your stitch. If your machine has a button stitching setting, then it will select the stitch for you. If not, then just choose a zig zag stitch with a stitch length of zero.

Hand crank the machine so the needle goes through the left button hole. Do the same on the right hole. Ensure that the needle hits the center of each hole. Once you have done that, you are now ready to begin stitching.

Stitch approximately 9 stitches – very slowly. Now raise the presser foot and remove the fabric with the button on it. Snip the top and bottom threads, leaving about 4-5 inches of thread hanging from both. Wrap these “tails” of thread around the bottom portion of the stitches. Underneath the button but still on top of the fabric. Take a hand needles and insert the tails through the fabric and tie them into a knot. Trim as necessary. Congratulations, you have now sewn on a button!

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.

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 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.