Sewing Machines

Hooped Embroidery

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Sewing Machine FAQ

How much of a difference does thread quality make?
A lot! Often people think their machines are acting up when really it is the use of substandard thread that is giving them headaches.  We recommend Mettler brand long-staple polyester and silk finish cotton thread for all your general sewing needs. Click Here to read "A Thread of Truth" by YLI Corp. and learn all about thread!

What needles should I use in my Janome or Bernina sewing machine?
Unless your machine is an older Bernina machine (see below) Use  Schmetz system 705H needles size 90/14 for general sewing on medium to heavy weight fabrics, or 80/12 for quilting and lightweight fabrics. For more information, see Needle Notes.

I have an older Bernina Machine. What needle should I use?
That depends on what you mean by "older"! If your Bernina household machine model number begins with the digits 5, 6, 7, or 8 (Bernina 500, 600, 700 or 800 series machines) or the model 900, you should use System 705B needles, as your machine was manufactured, timed and developed to work optimally with that needle system. Using a system 705H needle will not harm your machine, but it may be more prone to skipping stitches, and it may produce less-than-optimum stitch quality. Any Bernina household model starting with the digit 9 (except model 900), 1, or 2, models 630, 640 and the new model 730 introduced in 2006, all utilize the system 705H needle system. If your local dealer can't / won't supply you with system 705B needles, please call us at (800) 739-8221 to order them directly from us.

My stitches are showing uneven tension.
Make sure your presser foot is lifted when threading your machine. This opens up the tension discs on your machine so that your top thread will sit properly.

Check to make sure your bobbin is inserted correctly and your bobbin thread unwinds in the direction shown in your machine manual.

My machine won't run at all.
Check that your bobbin winder lever isnít pushed on. --Don't be embarrassed -It happens to a lot of people! Oh, and of course, make sure your cords are all tightly plugged in, and that your surge protector is on.

I lowered my feed dogs and now they don't want come back up.
If you lower your feed dogs, upon pushing the lever to raise them, they will come up after you actually take a stitch.

Sometimes when I start sewing, my needle immediately comes unthreaded.
The needle and the thread take-up lever should be in the highest position at the beginning and ending of stitching. Some sewing machines automatically complete each stitch. Others may stop in the middle of a stitch depending on when you lift your foot off the foot pedal. Turn your hand wheel toward you. first you will see the needle rise. Then you will see the take up lever rise to its highest position. 

Next, hold your thread tails under and behind the presser foot when beginning to sew.

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Serger FAQ

How do I use the "differential feed" on my serger?
Your manual will explain differential feed in detail but here is a quick way to remember. --If you are serging a knit and it is stretching, waving, rippling as you serge --stretch the number, that is increase the differential feed to 1.5 or 2.  If you are sewing fabrics that are bunching and puckering --"shorten" or decrease the differential feed number to 0.7 or 0.5.

What size needles can I use in my serger?
Use needles between size 70/10 and 90/14.  Anything larger can hurt the timing of your serger. If you have a Janome serger we recommend using Janome needles.

When I insert both serger needles one looks lower than the other. Is that all right?
Yes. The right serger needle will be slightly lower than the left when the needles are inserted properly.

Do I need a serger with 2 thread stitches?
You can make a rolled hem and flatlock stitches with a 3/4 thread serger, but 2 thread capability is nice to have. Since you use only 2 threads, it is handy with delicate fabrics. There is one less thread to worry about and on some fabrics you flatlock will be flatter! A two thread serger also makes a nice overedge stitch for finishing an edge.

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Hooped Embroidery FAQ

Sometimes the outlines of my embroidery designs do not line up with the rest of the design. What's wrong?
This is a common problem for beginners.  The 2 mostly likely causes are not enough stabilization or your fabric is hooped too loosely. If you are doing a design that will take over 20 minutes or has over 12,000 stitches, add a second layer of stabilizer under the first. (You might try slipping the second layer under the hoop after it is attached to the machine. Also, after your fabric and stabilizer are in the hoop, starting from the middle of the hoop -gently smooth the fabric toward the hoop edges.  -Do you see wrinkles or bumps? Your fabric and stabilizer need to be taut in the hoop but not stretched.

I am embroidering on some very thick towels. I find them hard to hoop!
Here's a nice alternative: Option a) Use Sulky's stabilizer "Sticky". With Sticky first you hoop only the stabilizer. Then you score the top layer and peel it away. This leaves a sticky stabilizer in the hoop. Just pat down your towel on the Sticky and attach the hoop to your machine. Option b) Hoop a good tear-away stabilizer. Protect your hoop by covering it with tin foil then spray the stabilizer with a temporary spray adhesive like OESD's 505 or Sulky's KK2000. Now pat down your towel firmly onto the adhesive stabilizer and attach the hoop to your machine. NOTE: Bernina recommends Option B for the Artista and suggests using "Sticky" with the Artista only rarely.

I have an Artista embroidery sewing machine and Artlink. Where can I find designs already in the ART format?
Click here for a list of sites -some with free designs.

What stabilizer should I use on knits?
We find three choices work for our customers:  1) iron-on interfacing (cut it in an irregular shape so that the edges of the interfacing won't stand out on the garment); 2) an iron-on tear-away stabilizer such as Sulky's "Totally Stable"; or 3) cut-away stabilizer, such as OESD heavy cutaway or (lighter weight) polymesh. On some knits you will improve results even further by adding a layer of water soluable stabilizer or topping on the top of your fabric.

I've heard people talk about Organ needles. Is it safe to use Organ needles in my Artista sewing machine?
We say no. Folks have heard that Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design uses them successfully. Why? Because there is never a chance that the Organ needle is used for anything but embroidery and only goes straight up and down. As an embroidery company, no other kind of sewing is done with those machines. 

Marlene Bryant, Bernina training consultant writes: "The problem is created the minute the needle is no longer going straight up and down.  A zigzag stitch which is a standard staple for most sewers will cause damage [to the Artista] if done with an Organ needle. There is a difference [in size between an Organ needle and a Schmetz needle] and OESD will confirm it as well. There is also a difference in the hardness of metal used." So, please stick with the needles that come with your Artista, and Schmetz needles. We recommend the Schmetz 90/14 topstitch needle as a good choice.

Also, be sure to check out Embroidery Tips and Techniques.

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Miscellaneous FAQ

I love temporary spray adhesive but I have gotten a residue on my embroidery hoop. How do I clean it?

Use warm water and a toothbrush, or plastic sponge, and a little elbow grease. Don't use rubbing alcohol. For tips on using 505 Temporary Spray adhesive visit Embroidery Online. Use our dealer number to log on: 101-99-2071