How To Get Along With Your Sewing Machine

June 27, 2017


Best Tips and Tricks For Sewing Machines

So it turns out crowdsourcing really works!! A few weeks ago, I reached out to let you all know what a terrible seamstress I am and how my machine and I fight constantly. Boy oh boy, did I get a lot of advice.

And you know what? It worked!! I employed a few of the tips and this weekend when I sat down with my machine there were no problems.

At all.

My sewing machine and I got along swimmingly.

The planning, cutting, ironing and pinning took longer than the stitching and there wasn't a tangle in sight.

Fabulous!

What did I do, you ask, that made all the difference?

Well, here, let me lay it out for you.

How To Get Along With Your Sewing Machine


Gutermann Thread


1. Use Gutermann Thread


Ok, so this was the one tip that I received over and over ~ and over ~ again from so many of you. Apparently, the proper thread can make a huge difference.

Turns out, when I looked in my sewing kit, there were plenty of spools of it...just not in white...which is what I usually sew with. Hmmm. I went out, picked some up and made sure to wind my bobbin and thread my machine with it.

I figured with so many recommendations, it was worth the investment. And the trip.

Proper Sewing Machine Needles


2. Use The Proper Needle


Seems pretty basic, huh? Well, when you're a lazy crafter (me), you just start moving with whatever is already in the machine. Big mistake. Take the time to load the right one for the job.

And if they're RED band needles even better! Thanks Jaybird!!

Also,  a reader commented that you need to replace your needles after a bit. They get worn and do not sew properly. This is something I never do, unless my needle breaks. Uh oh. I need to remember this tip as well! Thanks Doris!

3. Make Sure The Machine Is Threaded Properly


This was another very popular tip and to be honest with you, I kind of blew it off. I mean honestly, if the machine wasn't threaded properly, it wouldn't stitch at all. Right? Um...wrong.

You know how I know? Because mine was threaded improperly.

Yup. You see, according to the manual, which I was reading to make sure I was threading it right, the thread was in all the right places along the line, but the needle was not in the right position. Somehow it had been placed sideways in the hole and so I had been sewing with needle threaded from side to side, instead of front to back.

How's that for a blunder?

4. Check Your Tension Setting


Another obvious task and I did this often, but clearly without the proper knowledge. I kept thinking that my tension was too loose if everything was getting tangled up, so just tightened it more and more, thinking that I had too much slack on the line. You know, like when you're fishing...too much slack equals a bird's nest.

Turns out, my tension setting was too tight...not by much, but enough to make a big difference in my stitches. And produce a bird's nest.

5. Clean The Machine


Now my machine was clean. However, some of you recommended that I look out for any tiny bits of dust, even little clumps could gum up the works. Well, I had little clumps. I opened things up, dusted them off and out and removed whatever didn't belong. No matter how small.

I think it definitely helped.

Read Your Sewing Machine Manual!


6. Read The Manual


I did read the manual when I opened the machine a million years ago, but it's quite clear that over the years, I have either forgotten or disregarded what I had read. It was worth reading again even if it did slow down my process.

After all, my process wasn't really going all that well.

7. Speak Softly


My daughter's boyfriend suggested this one and I have to admit, I think it helped. I always approached sewing with such angst, I think that being calm myself was a huge help. It seems my machine appreciated it as well. Kindness does matter.

The tips that you all so generously shared with me made a huge difference. I was able to transform a set of two tiers into four valances for my living room in no time at all. It was a simple task and, as I said earlier, there was absolutely no drama. This was highly unusual.

My machine behaved, probably because the issue had been operator error all along. I think I owe that machine an apology.

So much for being mechanically inclined, huh?

Of course, we're still in the honeymoon stage over here. We've only completed one small project. I am optimistic that it'll continue to be smooth sailing, now that I have been educated, but I am aware that problems could arise at anytime.

Lots of you shared stories of temperamental machines and I know that mine could return to its feisty state at any moment.

With that in mind, I share my final tip.

8. When In Doubt Throw It Out


And I don't say this lightly, a machine is a big investment, but let's face it, sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there is no way to repair the relationship and the machine must go. Time is precious and after repeated failed attempts there are times when it's just best to throw in the towel and start again with a new machine.

Or use iron on tape.

But like I said, I'd start with the manual.

And a little crowdsourcing help from your friends.

😊




Here are a few more easy sewing projects! Well, if your machine behaves. 



How to make a box pleat valance



How to make simple ring clip curtains with a border fabric.

Best tips for sewing machine sewing






40 comments:

  1. So glad that you got it to work. I bet there will be sewing projects left and right now. I am going to give some serious thought to stop procrastinating and just get started on my projects. Thank you for the inspiration.

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    1. Thanks Lorri! I really hope that it continues to behave and that I don't get lazy again. And yes, I am excited to sew. I have a long list of things I would like to do and now I am excited to start! Good luck with your own sewing pile! Keep me posted!! 🙂

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  2. So pleased to hear that you and your machine have reached an accord, lol! Happy sewing!

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    1. Thank you, Kim and thank you for your input on the last sewing machine post! It really helped!!

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  3. Yay! So happy your sewing machine is cooperating. I'm sure it's as relieved as you are. LOL Seriously, who needs the stress of a misbehaving sewing machine in their life? Looking forward to seeing your finished projects. Enjoy these summer days. Hugs, Nancy

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    1. I cannot tell you what a difference it made, Nancy. It was actually a pleasure to sew. That's something I don't think I have ever said before! 😉 Hugs!

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  4. I have a Kenmore too! Those are all great tips! I haven't heard the one about the thread but I believe it because, I have used some thread that kept popping out of the top! I'll check out that brand of thread. Glad you had success!

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    1. Thanks Deanna! I think the thread made a difference. It doesn’t “shed”.

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  5. Your post put a big smile on my face! Thanks for sharing the happy ending ~

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    1. Thank you, Bobbie!! I am so grateful to everyone who shared. It really made a difference! 🙂

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  6. Oh those sewing machines and projects! Right now I am obsessing over modge podge and hand sewn projects. Oh and reading!
    So glad you and your machine are happy together again:)
    Jemma

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    1. I love hand sewing. I started a little embroidery this spring and I am smitten! No machine to wrestle with there!! Enjoy your summer crafting and reading!! xoxo

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  7. I'm glad you got it figured out. That was the thread I used back when I sewed too.
    Brenda

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    1. Apparently, it makes a difference! Here’s hoping! :)

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  8. I huge YAY . . .
    You listened, the suggestions helped, success, happy . . .
    Reading the manual, following directions works . . . I guess.
    (Now I need to follow suit!)

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    1. I was sure I knew it all, Lynne! A little help (and humility) fixed the problem. So far.... ;)

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  9. Kim, you (and your readers) have inspired me--I will definitely try these tips, especially the thread!

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    1. I have to give my readers all the credit, Cecilia!

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  10. Hi
    I like how you shared each tip with us. I always tell my husband the same "speak softly" to our garden tiller. It works! Or it might be the kick he gives it before I tell him to speak softly.

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    1. Haha! I did plenty of kicking myself, Carla! This way seems to work much better for me. ;)

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  11. Also remember that your needles don't last forever. They are meant to be disposed of in garment sewing ever 3-4 garments (if I remember correctly). They become dull and will not sew properly. I had a machine once that you could not sew with cheap thread....it had to be name brand to sew correctly. Live and learn everyday!

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    1. Thank you, Doris! This is another great tip that makes sense, but that I wouldn't really think about. I have only replaced my needles when they break. I need to amend my post above to include it. I appreciate the comment!! 🙂

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  12. This is nice how you numbered and organized these tips. I'm happy with you!

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    1. Thank you, Ronda! There seemed to be a lot of folks in my position, so I thought I would round up all the tips that were left in the comments and share them in an organized way…especially since the combination of them really helped me.

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  13. Amazing what you can accomplish when you slow down and read the directions....something I barely ever do :-( :-) Thanks for the sewing lesion!

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    1. Exactly! It’s something I barely ever do either. Lesson learned! 😉

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  14. Oh Kim. Now you've hit a sore spot. I love my machine but it is such a pain to get out and ready. You see it is an American Kenmore. But here in Greece I need all sorts of plugs and transformers and what not to get it to operate. Once we are past that hurdle... well come to think of it I have to oil it because it is starting to get a bit noisy. Hum... I should pay more attention to your tips.

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    1. Mary, I can see how the need for a number of adapters would be a major impediment. I'd have a hard time getting over that hurdle, too...

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  15. Hi Kim, I understand this and so glad you and your sewing machine are getting along. It really makes a difference when we use the right tools with a clean machine in good working order. I spent time all afternoon yesterday sewing new valances and it was a joy. I do need to take my machine in to the workshop to have a good checkup. I find doing this every few years really helps.
    Thanks for sharing your tips. Have a great weekend and upcoming 4th of July!! xo

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    1. When the machine works, sewing is a joy, isn't it? I am so glad that you and your machine get along so well. I am hoping that my machine and I are on a much happier path! Happy 4th!!

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  16. Yaaaayyyyyy for you!!! I thought of you the other evening and wondered how things were going! Thank you for the update!!
    Too funny about the red needles :^) I use them all the time except on knits...then I grudgingly change to the yellow bands!
    Have a great RED, white and blue spangled weekend!
    Blessings,
    J

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    1. I was so happy to get all those tips, J. They really did help. I have read the manual before, but not in a really long time. I just chalked my machine’s misbehavior up to mystery and malfunction. Turns out it was operator error all along. ;) I have a stash of red needles now…can you believe there wasn’t one in the bunch before?

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  17. Well, I definitely learned a thing or two from your experience Kim! I need to find some of that Gutermann thread! I have never heard of it, and I've been sewing a long time! And I just recently cleaned my machine, and keep it cleaned out quite often, I find that definitely does help. And in case of issues, I do refer to my manual, I keep it handy to where I sew, and I have on occasion had to refer to it, especially when doing buttonholes. The buttonholes are SO easy on my machine, if you do it right, according to the manual... without that manual it doesn't go so well! So yes, definitely keep that manual where you can refer to it, it does make all the difference too, I've found. Happy sewing! Will look forward to more of your sewing projects :)

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    1. You know, Marilyn, I had a bunch of it, but for no other reason than they must have been the right color thread when I needed it! It definitely has a different weight to it. And you are so right about the manual...I am going to make it my new (sewing) best friend!! :)

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  18. I'm glad you were able to get such good advice! I've reached out with questions on Instagram in the past, and boy did they deliver! I bet you're SEW happy with your machine now. ;)

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    1. There's nothing like crowdsurfing, Lisa! Love it!

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  19. Those are great tips, and so basic, although I've not heard of the Gutermann thread. I still sew with my Mother's 1940's Singer & it works better than another newer model I have. I'm like you...I never do those other things like changing the needle, or cleaning out the lint unless I just have to. This has been food for thought. Maybe the "honeymoon period" will last a while for you Kim.

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    1. The best models are the older ones, Florence. I agree...and yes, let's hope this honeymoon period has a good long run!!

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  20. There is nothing worse than trying to sew something and the machine will not cooperate. Glad you were able to figure out what was bothering your machine. I agree these tips are all good including the one about tossing out the old one and buying a new one. Love the curtain posts all well.

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    1. Thanks so much, Leanna! I really did get some great advice and it has made a difference. Although trust me, tossing it was at the top of the list. So far, it has gotten a reprieve...so far! 😉

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