Top 10 Tips for New Quilters – Get to know your Machine
Welcome to this week’s installment of the Top 10 Tips for new quilters – Getting to Know Your Machine. For the complete line up of weekly tips, please see this page.
Get to Know Your Machine:
Your sewing machine is your best friend. You spend hours and hours sewing and quilting. The hum of the engine. The sound of the needle slipping down through the fabric and reaching into the bobbin case to catch that bottom thread. A sharp needle is a vital piece of the puzzle that results in the perfect stitch.
You become accustomed to the rhythmic sound of your machine. And you can actually hear when something just doesn’t sound right. A worn needle will now make a dull “thunking” sound as it is unable to slip between the fibers of your fabric and is now being forced to reach that bottom thread, and may be the cause of skipped stitches and shredding or broken thread.
The proper size needle is also an integral piece of that puzzle. And the proper size of needle depends largely on the weight of the fabric and the size of thread you are using. Needles are sized according to the size of the shaft and eye of the needle. I use a #70/10 for applique, #80/12 for piecing, and a #90/14 needle for quilting. I always use a Superior Threads Topstitch #90/14 when using my Magnifico and Fantastico threads for quilting.
A balanced stitch is another common problem in the perfect stitch puzzle. This balanced stitch is related to your thread tension. The tension on both the top and bobbin threads must be set to allow a balanced, even stitch to be performed. If the top thread is too tight, the bobbin thread will peek up through the fabrics on the top. And if the bobbin thread is too tight, the top thread will peek out through the fabrics on the bottom.
Refer to your owner’s manual to troubleshoot thread tension issues, possible causes, and tips on how to resolve those issues. This manual will also give guidance as to how to perform some simple maintenance steps.
Maintenance and Servicing Your Machine:
While you are sewing and quilting, small fibers from your thread and fabric, known as lint, are going to build up in your bobbin case area. Allowing this lint to build up will only cause you problems. So clean the bobbin case area frequently.
Remove the needle plate.
Remove the bobbin case.
Use your lint brush to remove all the lint, but especially from the bobbin case area and the feed dogs. Wipe out the bobbin case area with a soft cloth.
Here she is, all cleaned up.
If you have access to the upper workings of your machine, you may also wish to oil the shaft.
One drop of clear sewing machine oil at the top…
And one drop at the bottom. Schedule a yearly check up for your machine with a licensed sewing machine repair shop.
Sewing Machine Feet:
What is a 1/4″ presser foot? I had been quilting for quite some time before I even realized that this foot came with my machine, that I had one, and what it was for. Get to know all the little gadgets that have come with your machine. Read your owner’s manual. Then read it again. And again. Search the internet for further information. Better yet….
How well do you know your own sewing machine?
If you have any other tips or advice to share, please leave a comment!
And remember to…..
I have a love hate relationship with my sewing machine. I waited until I was retired before trying to quilt because I always got stressed out trying to use a sewing machine. I have gotten better now that I have gotten to know my machine, however I still can't get the free motion quilting down because of tension. Some videos tell you to try different tensions until it is right and others say to use no tension. I had ask my LQS to teach a class and they finally did after a year of waiting but my husband was in Hospice and I couldn't attend. I learn better with hands on instruction. Maybe the instructor at the LQS will give me a private lesson. One can only hope.Debbie
Isn't that so true, I can hear any little difference right away. I will see if I can get the front portion off my machine and give it an oil. Thanks for the heads up with these tidbits of info.
Very good tutorial! Cleaning and oiling my machine makes it very happy. I can hear a different when stitching if I have not cleaned or oiled in a while.
Hi Lorna! I read your words with interest and learned that I can oil my machine myself… Thank you!
Once again some great tips. I oil my machine all the time as it is an old Singer, but have to admit I'm not so good at changing my needle when I ought to!
Thanks again, Lorna, for another well thought out and well written tutorial.
Thanks Lorna, unfortunately I know my too well. Mostly from problem solving issues, by now I know most of it's quirks!
I should go oil my machine right now!!!