Threading a sewing machine
If your middle-aged eyes have trouble seeing the hole to thread your
sewing machine needle, try this: hold a scrap of white paper behind the eye of
the needle with your other hand while you thread. That hole will look much
Press 5/8" strip of lightweight stitch witchery or steam-a-seam
on a roll along inside edge of the hem according to package directions.
Carefully press hem temporarily fusing the hem to the height you want. Be
careful not to let the fusible web to contact the soleplate of your iron. From
the right side, stitch along hem edge using a 4mm. twin needle and a 3 to 3.5mm
straight stitch. Your stitches will go through the fusible which acts as a
stabilizer. No more wavy hems!
When you want to press a hem or facing evenly and cleanly, make a long strip
of cardstock or heat-resistant template plastic. Fold up you hem along that
straight edge and press for a clean crisp edge. Slide the guide along the fabric
Quickest Quilt Binding:
method is, perhaps, not as sturdy as other binding techniques but it is fast
fast fast and can work very well on quick and/or small projects. Iron a
paper-backed fusible web to your binding fabric. Cut in 1&1/4" strips. Or
cut 1 & 1/2" wide but use the wonderful wave blade on your rotary
cutter. Remove paper and (if necessary) piece into lengths long enough for each
side of the quilt.
Fuse 1/2 of one
binding strip to one back side of quilt. Fold to front. Fuse from the front.
Repeat with each side, trimming strip as needed. Edge stitch fused binding.
Obtaining an accurate
1/4" seam: maybe one of these methods will work for you!
- Buy a special presser foot made for quilt piecing. Bernina's
1/4" foot is Number 37; Janome offers Foot "O". For other
brands of machines we also sell generic 1/4" feet and the "Little
Foot" which is also made for quilters. All these feet are designed to
allow you to run your fabric along the edge of the foot and achieve a
- Use a guide in front of the presser foot to slide your fabric next
- The Janome 9000 and 10000 come with a plastic guide that fits right on
the machine and can be adjusted in 1/8" increments.
- Take a piece of 1/4" graph paper and cut exactly along one of the
lines. Set the paper under your needle so that your needle enters
exactly on the line 1/4" away from your cut edge. Now, line up a
strip of basting tape alongside the paper on the bed of your machine in
front of the foot. Layer 2 or 3 more layers of tape so that the edge is
built up a bit. Run your fabric alongside the tape.
- A variation on (b.) above, cut a strip of adhesive backed moleskin
4" by 1/2" in length. Line that up next to the graph paper.
-Press down very gently (that adhesive is very
- Another variation on (b.): slide a "post-it" note up against
that graph paper!
- Adjust your needle position. If your machine allows you to move
your needle to the right of center; try "de-centering" your
needle. --Take a piece of 1/4" graph paper and cut exactly along one of
the lines. Set the paper under your presser foot so that the paper runs
along the edge of your presser foot. Move your needle to the right so that
it pierces the paper exactly on the 1/4" graph line. -Make a note of
that needle setting.
Back to top
Sewing with Metallic Threads
If your thread is breaking when you are using metallics here are some tips
- First, try some of our favorite metallic threads: Yenmet
is made with a nylon core, wrapped (not twisted) with
metallic and coated with polyester. We find it doesn't break even using a
regular sewing needle. Also if you are looking for silver or gold, stop in
for some "Hot Metal", another easy-going metallic.
- For help with other metallics and threads like Sulky "Sliver" (a
thin, flat ribbon-like polyester film that is metalized with aluminum) try:
- A needle with a large eye. Start with a fresh needle. At the
store we most often use a 90/14 topstitch needle. Schmetz also makes a
dedicated machine embroidery needle. Finally, for fussy metallics, stop
buy the store for a package of Sullivan Metafil needles -machine
quilters and embroiderers swear by them.
- Loosen your needle tension. For regular metallics you may want
to loose by 1 (E.g. if "4" is your regular top tension
setting move down to a setting of "3".) For
"Sliver" or other films you may need to loosen your needle
tension even more (perhaps 1 or 2).
- Set your thread on a separate spool holder behind the machine
-This allows the thread to unwind longer and farther from the needle so
it has time to relax before it springs into action. Janome and Bernina
Make a multi-spool thread holder which attaches to the back of the
machine and has a telescoping rod with thread guides. This works like
the spool holder idea above. We also sell the Thread-Pro which is
a thread feeding mechanism that also reduces thread breakage.
- If you have a Bernina 130 through 180, get a metallic thread holder.
It is a little accessory you use with the vertical spool pin to make
feeding metallic thread easier.
- Slow down. Stitch a little more slowly when using some of those fancy
threads! -And don't forget to breathe.
Back to top
Shadow work with a twin needle:
You'll be sewing brightly colored button hole twist, crochet cotton or a similar weight
thread in the bobbin under a see-through lightweight batiste.
*NOTE:* If you like to use thick threads in your bobbin you may
want to invest in a second bobbin case which you can set to a loose tension.
Now choose a twin needle. the
size of the needle will be 70, 80 or 90 -the smaller the number the finer the
needle. the distance between the 2 needles will range from 1.6 to 6.0
millimeters. For a delicate look try a 1.6mm twin needle. Choose a cording
foot or pintucking foot. Try the 1.6mm needle for tiny pintucks. Try the 2.0mm for decorative stitches. Now, Choose a
straight stitch or a decorative stitch that moves forward --actually, a
multi-step zigzag works well. *Important* Make sure that you have set the stitch width
narrow enough that your needle will not break as it moves through the stitch.
Create a delicate band of color.
Back to top
Loosen your bobbin tension. This takes a little testing. Start
with ˝ a turn and continue from there. You shouldn’t have to turn more
than 2 revolutions. Be careful –that bobbin screw is very little! Bobbin
thread should unwind when you gently pull on it, but there should be
tension on the thread. [For sewing machines with a bobbin case, try
suspending the bobbin in the case by holding the thread. (It should not
unwind.) Give it a little jerk. If the thread drops just a turn that should
work.] **NOTE: Most bobbin stitchers buy a second bobbin case: one for
regular sewing and one which they adjust for thick threads.
Thread your needle with regular sewing thread to match your bobbin
thread or try YLI wonder thread or any other unfussy thread. Use a Schmetz
90/14 topstitching needle or embroidery or metafil needle. With thicker
bobbin threads tighten your top tension to help bring the bobbin thread
through the fabric (e.g. "6" if your usual tension is
Place your fabric WRONG side up. Make sure your fabric is
well stabilized. Bring your Bobbin thread to the top. (If you can’t
do that, hold carefully onto the bobbin tail when you begin to sew.)
GO! Hold both threads taut and begin to sew at a medium even
speed. At the end of your stitching use a crewel needle and bring your
thread tails to the back of your work and knot
Back to top
Quilt block thread saver Fold over a 1 to
1 and ˝" square of fabric. Before starting to seam your quilt pieces
together. Sew onto this "starter square". Butt your first real
pieces up to your starter and sew off on to them. Butt your next pair of
pieces up to the first and "chain piece" away!. After stitching
your last pair of pieces, sew off onto your starter square and stop. No more
long thread tails!
Tucks: a fun embellishment technique which can be equally attractive on
a delicate heirloom garment using batiste, or for a home dec or wearable art
look using a wide variety of other fabrics. Try it with a wide striped
fabric and make your tucks in line with the stripes. Or, try it with a plaid
for another great look. How? Just mark your folds on your fabric with a
water soluble pen, "Chaconer ", or other removable marker (test
first!) Iron your pleats. Next sew a regular straight line across your folds
about an inch away from the edge. Now mark a second line about 2 to 3 inches
away from the first (depending on the thickness of the fabric and the look
you want). If you have one, now is the time to attach your quilting guide
and set it to sew repeated rows of equal distance without marking.) Turn
your fabric and sew your second row in the opposite direction pushing your
tucks to fold the opposite way as you go. Repeat turning and sewing across
the width of your fabric. That’s all there is to it!
Loving your built in needle threader: Here are
some tips to help you use your machine's built in needle threader successfully:
- Make sure your needle is in the top position. If your machine has
automatic "needle down - needle up" use that to position your
- Be sure to push the threader down all the way; and to bring the
mechanism all the way to the front. Otherwise, the hook will not move
through the needle eye.
- Once the threader
is in position think about sliding your thread up under the threader hook in
front of the eye of the needle.
- Then as you let go of the needle threader, also let go of the thread
-otherwise you might pull the thread loop back out of the eye of the needle.
Keeping your needles
straight: Sometimes it is hard to remember whether you last put
a 90/14 or an 80/12 needle into your machine; or what kind of needle that is
that you are holding in your hand (saved from a previous project) here are some
ideas to avoid being needled by your needles:
- Keep a pad of little "Post-it notes" by your machine -when you
insert a new needle write it down and stick it on the side of your machine.
- Do you use lots of different needles in your work? Make yourself a little
needle keeper! (see needle saver project)
- Stop in and treat yourself to a "Needlepack"
- many Schmetz needles have a color coded mark or tip. --Stop by Hans'
Sewing and Vacuum to pick up a Schmetz needle booklet --keep it by your
machine to avoid confusion.
- If your favorite needles are not marked, paint the top of your
needle with nail polish or permanent marker according to your own code. For
example --red-topped needles will always be sharps.
Button hole marking: Cut
a strip of water-soluable stabilizer the length of your buttonhole area. Pin to
fabric. Using a pen that will not run, mark the placement of your button holes.
After stitching -tear away excess stabilizer. Spritz any whiskers with water to
make the stabilizer totally disappear.
Back to top
Expanding your vertical spool
pin: If a spool of thread wobbles on your sewing machine's vertical
spool pin this customer tip may help. -Slide a piece of narrow-diameter
PVC pipe over the spool pin. Choose a diameter that slides easily over the spool
pin but narrower than you thread spool opening.