When I first started sewing, I recognized there were marks on my machine’s presser feet, but I really didn’t understand their significance or how to use them. I knew the marks had something to do with fabric alignment, but I never took the time to really learn about the tools I was using. Once I really studied how to use the presser feet I had and how to follow the marks that were on them, I was able to purchase and use specialty feet with renewed purpose. If you, like me, have never taken the time to really look at the markings on your presser feet and learn how to use them, I encourage you to do so. Once you really understand how useful these markings are, your sewing projects can be sewn faster and with more accuracy than ever before. Let me share with you a couple examples.
I hope these two examples are helpful for you as you learn to use your presser feet to their fullest. Happy Sewing!
I am a firm believer in making the most of all the features of your sewing and or sewing/embroidery machine. I feel badly when customers in class say they have been intimidated by any of the features they have paid hard earned money to have available to them. One of the most consistent features customers seem most intimidated by is the buttonhole feature. I have had many people tell me they didn’t want to practice the buttonhole during their machine class because they didn’t want to use it: it just never turned out for them in the past. There was always such surprise and new found confidence when they decided to give it a go and they were successful! I am all for not using a feature simply because it’s not needed at the time, but I hope there are no features on your machine which you don’t use because you don’t have confidence that you will be successful using it! Here are a few tips that might help you if buttonholes are something you have been avoiding due to “buttonhole intimidation”.
I would encourage you to practice on a project that uses many buttonholes, if possible. Maybe a new shower curtain or a throw pillow that closes using buttons! If, by using your manual for help, you are still not comfortable with this feature, go to https://sewingmastery.com/ and check out the process on your machine!
I hope your holidays were safe and healthy. After all my holiday sewing and embroidering was finished, I took time to re-organize my little sewing room and complete some tasks I needed to do to keep my machines in top working condition. After cleaning each machine and in the case of the serger, oiling, I made sure to update them with the latest software updates. This is a task I complete every year end so I won’t have trouble with my machines as I start a new year of projects.
How do you know if your machine needs to be updated? If you go to the website for your machine, available updates will be listed so you’ll know when you need to download. (These updates can also occur anytime during the year and should be downloaded when they are offered.) If you have a WiFi enabled machine, you will get an automatic notification, even if you do not have it set for automatic updates. Whether or not you have a WiFi machine, following the directions on the website for updating through a USB device, in my opinion, is the best way to go. It’s easy and usually much faster than updating through WiFi. I recommend the use of an empty 2GB USB stick, which should be enough room for even the largest updates, such as the latest update for the Pfaff Creative Icon.
There were quite a few updates made available during the months of October, November and December 2020, so check your machine’s website to see if your machine was included. Updates help to fix glitches and bugs in the machine’s software as well as allow the machine to use the latest accessories offered by the machine’s manufacturer. Among possible machine improvements in an update: tension issues may be fixed, overall stitch quality may be improved and, sometimes, new stitches may be added to the machine, to name a few. If your machine has a USB port, it probably is a machine that will be updated by the manufacturer. When going to the homepage of the website, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Machine Updates”, select your machine from the list and then follow the easy directions given.
Every person who sews has their own way of doing things. I’m no exception, but my approach to most any sewing project is usually eclectic and conditional. In this case, I am embroidering towels for my two nieces. Well, not really for them: for their new dogs. Each towel set fits the décor of the house in which the dog lives and will make bath time a very special treat. There are two ways to stabilize towels when using embroidery. Camp one says you use a tear away stabilizer on the back which is discarded after the embroidery is finished stitching out so nothing shows on the back of the towel. Camp two says you use cut away stabilizer on the back of the embroidery which is left on for the life of the towel. I am in both camps since I use both methods, depending on the towel and on the embroidery design. If I am embroidering a kitchen towel, like a flour sack towel, and the design is light and airy, I use tear away stabilizer and discard it once the towel is stitched. For this project, I am using very fluffy towels and a dense embroidery design, thus the cut away stabilizer. This stabilizer will be seen on the back of the towel, but I think the stability the stabilizer will give the stitches over the life of the towel is worth it. This type of project is fast and fun and, depending on the cost of the towel, very inexpensive. This is how I did it.
This was such a fun and fast project. I hope, if you have an embroidery machine, you give this a try. I picked up these towels at Walmart and Target so my investment was more in time than in dollars!
This is my last blog entry for 2020. Look for the blog to begin again the first week of January 2021. Happy Sewing!
Each year around this time, more and more videos pop up around the search for the best sewing and/or embroidery machines of that year. “The Best Machines of 2020” is an eye-catching way of getting you to watch a collage of promotional videos from different machine manufacturers without ever telling you which machine is actually the best. This blog entry is not that, but I did want to give you some things to think about if you are contemplating buying a new machine, either for yourself or for someone on your holiday list. I myself am the owner of machines from Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff and Brother, all of which I have purchased from Bonny’s Sewing and Fabric. I have owned Husqvarna Viking machines the longest. If you talk to five people who own five different brands of machines, they will give you five different opinions. That makes sense. I think you will find my advice here is more universal than brand-specific. I think of these as my rules for buying.
Rule #1: Assess your sewing. Take the time to look at what type of sewing you are currently doing and what you hope to sew in the future. If you are a quilter, for instance, do you think you might like to branch into some home décor sewing if you had a machine that made that easy? Are there certain accessories that would really enhance your sewing and do they fit the machine you are thinking of purchasing?
Rule #2:Look at the warranty on the machine. Are you someone who will be buying a less expensive machine that will meet your current needs or are you a person who buys for longevity? Understand that if you buy a machine at a big box or discount store it is not meant to last many years. Depending upon the machine, these units are meant, by the manufacturer, to be disposable machines: the manufacturers do not make replacement parts for them. If you are buying for longevity, you will want to purchase a more expensive machine with a more robust warranty that is meant to cover a repair, should something go wrong. You’ll also want to develop a relationship with the dealer who sells you the machine so you will have somewhere to go for help should you need it.
Rule #3:Buy as many features as you can afford. How much are you willing to put into this purchase? For example, if you are looking at embroidery machines, I suggest you buy the machine that offers you the largest hoop and the most amount of on-screen design editing you can afford. If you are looking for a sewing only machine, I would look for the one that offers you the most decorative stitches, the best stitch quality and the most ease of operation. I tend to buy a machine based upon my potential so I can grow as a sewer. I want to learn new techniques and learn new skills, not just continue at the same level at which I sew now. Each machine I have ever purchased has had new features that I was sure I would never use, but features I ended up using on a regular basis.
Rule #4:Make a promise to yourself! The amount of money you are willing to spend on a new machine is usually directly proportional to your commitment to its use. I have heard many customers say they don’t use their machine enough to justify the price tag. For me, I sew every week because I promised myself I would. Since I have put a lot of money into the machines I decided to buy, I have made a personal commitment that I will make time to justify that price tag by using the machines a lot. This comes in the form of garment sewing for me and my family, sewing our gifts, sewing our home décor items and sewing for charity. Don’t try to use the machine often: make a commitment and keep it.
I hope these rules help you. Have a great week and Happy Sewing!
I am so interested in stitching and the different ways of using embellishment. I look at free motion quilting as adding embellishment to quilts. I am always intrigued by what other people do and how they do it, which is why I look for excellent teaching when watching YouTube videos. We all know that quality can be lacking in some of the posted videos, (okay, that’s a real understatement!) so when I come across teaching of quality, I like to pass it on to you. I hope you find the following links to be well organized and full of great information. They give you a lot to enjoy looking at but they give you real details on the process of different patterns in free motion quilting and they are all presented in a very doable format. Enjoy your week and Happy Sewing!
My sister-in-law bought a new down coat last week. Yesterday I got a panicked call from her telling me her dog had jumped up on her and left two tears on the front and side of the coat: could I fix it? I’ve told you before that I get some tricky tasks since I’m the only one in the family who sews, but sewing on a goose down nylon coat is one I have never previously tackled. My immediate answer: bring it over so I can look at it. With a day to consider different options I wanted to share with you my conclusions and solutions to this repair problem. A few things came to mind as soon as I saw the coat. 1. The fabric is so slippery!! 2. I won’t be able to pin or secure the fabric in any way before I sew it since holes will not heal on this fabric. 3. Down feathers were coming out of each hole surprisingly fast! 4. The nylon fabric was fraying just by looking at it! Maybe some of my decisions may help you if you find yourself in my position one day….
So just to recap…measure the mending stitch you plan to use by actually stitching it out. Use a small needle to lessen the size of the holes you will be making as you mend. Use something to stabilize the fabric, inside and outside, so the mend does not pull the fabric apart at the edges (nylon, once torn, has little strength on its own. It needs help). I used cotton bias tape on the inside of the coat, in between the layers of coat and the down feathers. While stitching I used a stabilizer that will disappear either with water or with the air (it will dry up over time and flake off). Also, when I was putting the coat under the presser foot on my machine, I dropped the feed teeth so the nylon did not get snagged.
I hope you find some useful hints here if you ever find yourself in this type of situation. Have a great week and Happy Sewing!
This pandemic has proven to be a real “norm changer” for all of us. My family and I think that face masks will be in our foreseeable future longer than we ever thought they would be. Of course, if that helps to keep me, my family and those around us safe and healthy, we’re all in! I have been making masks with horizontal pleats by the dozens ever since March, but have found after wearing them for a while, the fogging of the glasses gets to be a bit annoying. When I came across this video today for a mask with vertical pleats, I just had to try it and share it with you. I followed the directions in the video very carefully, so the first mask took about 45 minutes from cut out to finished product. Now that I have done it once, I think I will put my own spin on it and things will go much faster as I make more. Follow the link to the original video and I will share with you the little things I did to change the process for me.
I did make some small changes to the original pattern given in the video. I changed the elastic to an 8.5” cut. Also, the cut size of the fabric given in the video (6.5”x9.5”) produces a mask that fits me, but is too small for my husband. I will have to play with the fabric’s cut size to find something that fits him comfortably. He will also need longer ear elastic and would probably benefit from the stoppers used in the video. I didn’t have any of those on hand, so the elastic on my mask was measured to fit me. Also, the mask, since it uses an inverted pleat, has a definite right side/wrong side. The horizontal pleats lend themselves to reversibility, but the inverted pleat used in the vertical pleat mask, really fits best one way. The inverted pleat will mold best to your face one way better than the other. Wearing it “the right way” is very obvious. Once I tried on the mask, I was pleasantly surprised how much more comfortable it was for me and my glasses had no fogging! I will be making more of these tomorrow! Happy Sewing!
The variety of machines; sewing, quilting, sewing/embroidery, serging, has something for everyone. All of the Husqvarna Viking, Pfaff and Brother machines have “normal” or default settings for each stitch and technique on the machine. These default settings (another name for the settings created at the factory) make some assumptions about what you are sewing and what settings would make the stitch look and perform the best. Once you move up the line from the entry model machines, the stitch length, width and tension start to be set automatically by the machine. In the case of Husqvarna Viking machines, the Sewing Advisor gives very specific parameters for stitch settings and even recommends the use of particular stitches so customers don’t have to worry about a thing. All of these automatic settings make sewing fast and easy but can also cause some customers to be hesitant to change those settings: sometimes ever!
The settings you can change on your machine are settings the manufacturers expect you to change. Making changes in stitch length or width, upper tension, presser foot pressure, the feed teeth, needle position, etc. can all help your project look its best. Some customers are afraid if they make a significant change to their machine, they will not be able to return it to the way it used to be: the way it came from the factory. Here are some guidelines to help you feel confident about making changes to your machine.
There are two types of changes you can make in the settings of your machine: default and temporary. Default changes change the settings until you change them back again, even though you turn off your machine. They change the machine to a new set of default or factory settings. On mechanical machines, default settings include any change you need to make by turning a knob or dial, such as a tension knob, dropping the feed teeth or a presser foot pressure knob. On these machines, the changes you are making are mechanical and the machine cannot change them back again without your help. On computerized machines, default changes are usually done on screen with an icon. On these machines, once you change something like the stitch width safety or drop the feed teeth, these will remain changed even if the machine is turned off. For instance, you will need to disengage the stitch width safety by touching the icon or it will stay engaged. You will get a warning message every time the machine is turned on or when you try to change from a straight stitch to another type of stitch, but the default setting of the machine has been changed, by you, until you change it back again.
Temporary settings usually last only until you change the stitch. Computerized machines, even if you change the tension or the presser foot pressure, as soon as you change the stitch or turn off the machine, will reset to the factory default settings. Mechanical machines, if you need to turn a knob or dial, you will still need to return that knob or dial back to where you had it, even if it’s a temporary setting change. (Even changes such as stitch length or width, if you turned a knob or dial to change it, need to be reset manually.) That is one of the reasons computerized machines have become so popular: they do a lot for you automatically. If you own a computerized machine, the fear of messing up your machine is eliminated. As soon as you turn the machine off and back on again, all is back to the original, fresh from the box settings. This ability to “sense” when its settings have been changed makes it really important to have your machine up to date with its free updates from the website. If you own a computerized machine purchased in the last five years that has a USB port, you can probably update your machine. Updating your machine takes it back to its original factory settings as well as fixes bugs and glitches that showed up after the machine was in use with the worldwide customer base. I hope this helps you make confident changes to your machine! Happy Sewing!
P.S I promised you a picture of the finished hooded pullover vest I made last week for my sister-in-law. The lined hood was a big hit!
Sewing gives us the opportunity to make what we want or need exactly when we want or need it. I can’t imagine not having that option. As a garment sewer, I am often asked to make something for friends or family that fills a particular need and today was no exception. My sister-in-law has just started her first chemo therapy treatments for a recently diagnosed cancer and I was asked if I could make something to keep her warm, but not too warm; something that had a hood and that would be soft against her soon-to-be bald head. She preferred something that went over her head without a zipper. I went to the sewing room and found a pattern for a pull-over vest that had a hood. Perfect! The only problem: the hood was an unlined hood. Since I was making this vest from fabric I already owned: a purple knit boucle (she likes the color purple and boucle can be warm without being too warm), I decided to line the hood with a soft purple interlock knit (basically t-shirt knit). Lining something that originally has no lining is not hard. You are essentially making two of the pieces instead of one. This is how I did it.
P.S. Sorry this didn’t come out on Sunday evening. With the increasing winds our power went out and therefore, no internet. Now that the power is back on, here is the blog! I will post a picture of the finished garment next week!