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May 2016
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6 How-To Tips For The Sewer / Crafter

Many times during the sewing / crafting process we seem to have our heads in the clouds as we fast forward through the current project.  Of course, most of us have been sewing or crafting for so long, we can just about do anything with our eyes shut.  Right?  Actually that’s where most of the problems begin — we no longer “think about” the minor things that can cause big sewing problems.  I’m going to outline just a few of the things that we take for granted, yet sometimes neglect to do.

** Always turn the hand wheel of your sewing machine toward you, never turn it away from you once the machine has been threaded.  Also never run a threaded sewing machine unless there is a piece of fabric under the presser foot; this is probably the easiest way to jam the machine, break needles and throw the machine out of timing!  To eliminate the possibility of a child doing damage to your machine, always unplug it after finishing for the day.

** When beginning or ending a seam, make sure the take-up lever is in its highest position.

** Be sure that the needle is in the center position when straight stitching.  Never straight stitch with the needle in the left or right positions (an exception to this is when using a zipper foot).

** In some types of fabric, such as chiffon, you may find the needle will drag the fabric down into the needle hole when you begin to sew.  Make sure you are using a fine needle, have the tensions set properly, and if the problem still exists, place a piece of gummed tape over the needle hole in the throat plate of the machine.  The tape will prevent the fabric from being “pulled” down, and can be removed easily later.

** Back-stitching at the end of a line of machine stitching firmly fastens the end, but sometimes can cause puckering of the fabric.  To prevent this, hold the fabric taut as you continue to operate the machine, taking several stitches in the same spot in the fabric.  These several stitches will secure the thread, but use your own judgement in using this method, as you could cause damage to very fine lightweight fabrics.

** To protect your sewing machine while it is not in use, you should place a piece of fabric under the presser foot and lower the foot onto it.  Also, be sure to cover the machine, as any dust settling in and around the moving parts can cause sewing problems later on.

** Never oil your sewing machine without first cleaning it as well as you can, removing all the dust, lint, and pieces of thread from the bobbin area and throat plate area.

** There are three main points to be aware of each time the sewing machine is used:  1) Make sure the take-up lever is at its highest point when stitchine is started and when the work is being removed from the machine.  2)  Always drop the presser foot before changing the tension on the upper thread (if the presser foot is in the up position, you can turn the dial all day long, and the tension won’t change!)  3)  When winding the bobbin, always thread the lose end of the thread through the hole in the side of the bobbin.  If this loose thread end is held firmly, it will break off, leaving a smoothly wound supply of thread in your bobbin.

While most of these tips are no-brainers, it only takes a few minutes of carelessness to jam a machine, break a needle, and in the end cause a perfectly easy project to go haywire!

These hints are an excerpt from Sewing Machine Repair For The Home Sewer.  For complete information and instructions on keeping your sewing machine in tip top condition and out of the repair shop, you can check out the information at   If you’re one that prefers the instant information via downloadable book, check it out at

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About The Author

Pattern Maker, Instructor & Author


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