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.

Making Your Own Sewing Machine Patterns

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.

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.

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.

The Greatest Sewing Tips Of All Time

I know that everyone says that they have the best sewing machine tips, and I am sure that is true to some extent. The tips that work for you always seem like they are the best tips in the world. Which is why I am going to refrain from displaying too much bravado about the tips I am going to present to you today. Some of these tips you will most likely use—thereby making them the best tricks in the world—but others you may already know of, so you’ll most likely toss those to the wayside. That is fine with me. Pick and choose the ones that work for you. The point of this article is to help as many people as possible with their sewing.

Keep The Thread Guide Raised

When you sit down to sew, make sure that your thread guide is in its most raised position. If it isn’t, then when you begin the needle will become unthreaded. Make this a regular habit and you eventually you will check it every single time.

Keep Your Needle Down

Another thing that should become a habit is keeping your needle down whenever you stop to do something else. A lot of people will raise the needle whenever the stop to put pins in the garment. Learning to pivot the needle while it is still in the fabric will allow you keep your seams aligned perfectly.

Start By Hand

A great tip is to always start the first couple of stitches by using your hand-wheel. This will allow you to make sure that not only is the needle entering the fabric smoothly (which can be a plus if you are sewing heavy or bulky fabrics) but will also allow you to avoid time consuming thread jams.

Retread On A Rethread

One minute you are stitching along and the next minute you are looking at a thread that is either too loose or too tight. If that is the case, then you should rethread the entire machine. The spool, bobbin and everything else. This will usually solve the problem and prevent you from wasting a lot of time going through a check list of possible problems.

Don’t Use Universal Needles

Universal needles may be good for basic projects, but they aren’t good for much anything else. If you can, then you should get a needle that is specific to the type of material that you are sewing. Cottons and calicos often use a smaller needle, while denim needs a bigger needle. Use the right needle for the job and you will end up with a better looking project.

Do Your Research

If you are considering buying a new sewing machine, then make sure you put in your due-diligence. Check out sewing machine reviews, talk to friends and check out features. A sewing machine is an investment that should last you a long time and make your work easier. Be sure that it does both of those things.

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.

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.

The Art Of Needles And Tension

I’ve had my sewing machine for almost two decades now. It was a present given to me by my Aunt Betty for my 19th birthday. When I first received it, I didn’t sew avidly and really didn’t think much of my aunt’s present. However, after I saw a lady on television sewing a tote topper, I decided to give it a try and immediately became hooked. From that point forward, I sewed everything I could get my hands on and used the machine almost all of the time.

I still have that machine and pretty much use it on a daily basis. I became really good at using it and have even contributed to several sewing machine reviews about this particular machine. I thought I had become pretty much an expert and could sew just about anything. However, I wasn’t always as well-versed in sewing machines as I am now. There was a bit of a learning curve, but the machine was pretty much trouble-free.

Now, that doesn’t mean that I haven’t had any problems with it at all. Actually, if I am going to be honest here, I think that I have had problems with the thread tangling or the needle breaking over the entire course of the eighteen years that I have been using it. But I thought it was just a part of sewing and had nothing to do with my ever-developing abilities. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

One day, I decided to take it to the best sewing machine shop I could find to see why I continued to have so many problems with it, and what the shop owner told me was an eye-opener. She told me that there was nothing wrong with the machine and that I just wasn’t operating it properly. She then proceeded to show me a few tips. After that, I haven’t had a single problem with needles breaking or the thread tangling.

These tips really has saved me a lot of frustration and that is why I have decided to share them with you today. After all, I figured I couldn’t be the only person on the planet that might need a little bit of a lesson on stitch length or properly using needles. I am sure that there are a lot of people who could use this sage advice. Of course, I am sure that veteran seamstresses will probably be bored senseless by the tips I am going to give here today, but I hope that all of the rest of you will learn something new today.

The first thing that I was taught was that I was using the wrong needles. I was using a Singer machine but was using a Brother sewing needle. That was the most obvious of my problems but it wasn’t the only one. I also had the wrong tension on the machine. The lady at the shop told me that once I had the tension set on my machine correctly, there usually wasn’t a reason to change it. She advised me to adjust the tension so that the stitches above and the ones below were of equal length. These two pieces of advice really helped me and I hope they help you out too.

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!