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Hints and Tips

Love your sewing machine

Unless you are a dedicated hand sewer you will find that your sewing machine is your main piece of equipment and that you will want it to run perfectly, every time, no matter what you may be asking of it. Since your expectations are likely to be so high it is only fair to treat your machine with a little TLC in return.

Refer to your sewing machine manual to see how to take the bobbin race out and clean the fluff and debris from underneath and around the mechanism. Bits of thread and dust from fabric will gather here, as will fluff from wadding. I find that using a piece of kitchen paper to wipe the brush clean works for me. Don’t try to take apart anything that the manual suggests you leave alone and don’t try to oil your machine unless you really know what you are doing.  Modern machines are engineered to minute tolerances and oil will attract dust and fibres which can then stick in the mechanism and interfere with the smooth running of your machine.

Before treating your machine to a new needle, consider which needle best suits the job. There is nothing wrong with having one type of needle and using it for everything but you can get better results by using different needles depending on the task in hand. If you are sewing a fine fabric or a close weave such as a Batik use a fine needle and a fine thread if possible.  A jeans needle has a slimmer point than a regular needle and I find these are a good choice for quilting as the slimmer needle will pierce the layers of the quilt sandwich more easily than a thicker one. If you are using a metallic thread you need a special needle for this. You can buy packs of needles with several different sizes or you can keep a pack of each of your preferred needles. Needles can cost around £5.00 per pack of five, which is only about £1 each after all, and not a huge investment when you consider what you will spend on fabric and thread for a project.  (Generally, needle sizes range from 60, which is the finest, to 90 which is the thickest)

So having lovingly cleaned your machine and selected your needle you just need to choose your thread. Do not be tempted by cheap threads. Like needles, threads are not a major part of your investment for sewing but a good quality thread will be smooth and strong and hence less likely to break and snag in your work. Cookes Quilting Supplies stocks Gutterman thread but there are plenty of other good threads available too.

Now that you have spent some quality time with your sewing machine it is time to thread up and start stitching. When you wind your bobbin do check that the thread is loaded evenly across the spool. It is always worth running a quick line of stitching to check your tension before starting on your project. Just grab a few off cuts of the fabric you will be sewing and sew for a few inches. Adjust your top tension if necessary.

Final tip, listen to your machine. It should make a nice, regular sound. If it suddenly starts to sound different this probably indicates that something is wrong. Do stop and check for problems if this happens. Is your thread moving freely from your spool? Is your presser foot engaged properly? Look at your last line of stitching and check that it is OK before continuing. If you can’t spot a problem it’s always worth re-threading the machine, including the bobbin thread.  Be good to your sewing machine and it will reward you by being good to you too!


Happy sewing, from Cookes Quilting Supplies.

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