The sewing machine is a tricksy being, with a mind of its own. On the paper, it promises to make whatever your heart desire, but home alone it tends to do as it pleases… Happened to you? It does not have to be like that!
In my Sewing Machine School, I will give you all my best tips for making friends with the sewing machine. As a sewing crafts teacher, I have lots of experience dealing with struggling pupils… And struggling machines too.
in the beginning:
- Before sewing, make sure the machine is correctly threaded. It is easy to miss a part, get a loop or lose the tension. Use the instruction manual if you are unsure, or even better-check out youtube to find a video on your model! Older models may be available on the internet as free pdfs, or check in with the sewing machine store.
- To check the tension of the threads, pull carefully at the top and bottom threads. They should be moving but with slight resistance. If everything seems fine, try sewing on a scrap bit of cotton fabric. Fine? Then try out a scrap bit of the fabric you intend to work on. Check to see if you need to make adjustments in the stitching length or the presser.
A short note about caring:
It is very important to take care of your sewing machine! Wipe it down and clean it after each project. A can of compressed air is perfect for blowing away dust inside the machine, and a small brush can be used to remove threads etc.
You can also grease your machine with a special sewing machine oil, to make it run smoothly for longer periods of time, between the paid services. Do this after each sewing project or sewing period, and you will have a machine that runs smoothly. (Note; it is very important to use sewing machine oil and to only apply small drops of it in order to not stain your fabrics after. If you are unsure if you might have applied too much, sew in a scrap fabric piece first.
Change the needle after each big project (like a dress) or if you have accidentally pulled your fabric so the needle touched the machine going down. A sharp needle will make the seem prettier, more even and make the sewing easier.
Always start with a scrap bit of fabric to check the stitches and the tension. The threads should lock with each other in the middle of the fabric. If not, try adjusting the tension of the upper thread first.
Adjust the presser according to the fabric. The thick woollen fabric needs a lighter presser than thin silks. If the presser is too hard, your upper fabric will be pressed forward during sewing. If you have a problem with the fabric pieces always ending up different in lenght at the end of the seam, this could be your problem.
The feeder teeth underneath your fabric move the fabric during sewing, but some machines also have an upper feeder that you can attach to the presser. Check to see if your machine has one, or if you can buy one. This is a very good device as it helps get the fabric even during longer seams. (If you don’t have one, pinning the fabric pieces before sewing helps really nice too)
Use a needle fitting for your project. Thinner needles for fine linen and silks, a bit sturdier for wools.
Are you unsure about thick layers or sharp corners? You can always sew “by hand” on your machine. Instead of using the pedal, use the wheel on your right side, pulling it towards you. This makes the machine go very slowly and you will have plenty of time to check where you go and if the needle can take all the layers without breaking. Once past the hard part, just use the pedal again!
Be attentive to the sound of your machine. It should run smoothly and even if everything is ok. When you have learned the sound of your machine, you will quickly discover if anything is amiss.
If sewing together two pieces for a dress (like a straight panel and a diagonally cut gore) always put the part that stretches the most (gore) under the other part. This will lessen the risk of the parts stretching out uneven, and make the seam a bit nicer.
To turn in a corner: Stop where you want to turn and lift your foot from the pedal. Move the needle down into the fabric with the wheel, lift the presser and adjust the fabric to the new direction. Let down the presser, and continue forward with the pedal. The needle holds your fabric in place while turning and make sure the seam continues nicely.
This was my first part, and whenever I have the time I try to translate more sewing tip for you. Do you like it? Consider supporting me by Patreon, to make it possible for me to create more free tutorials!