While many of us may be embracing the ‘make do and mend’ trend, some are still a little clueless when it comes to a simple needle and thread - 70% of Brits admitted to not knowing how to sew on a button, according to a Hobbycraft survey.
Whether you’re just a beginner – or a quilt-tastic pro, here are some great tips to make your sewing machine adventures go without a hitch…
Smooth the way
Always press your fabric with a hot iron before you start to sew to make stitching as neat as possible – which means picking the iron up and putting it down on the fabric, then lifting again. Do not move the iron over the fabric as this will distort its ‘grainline’, which will impact how it falls.
Eye on the prize
This works for both sewing machine needles and normal ones – a little hairspray on the end of the thread will make it stiffen, meaning it’s much easier to thread through the needle.
Pull thread through
There’s nothing more frustrating than carefully threading a machine, starting to sew and watching the thread jump out of the needle immediately. Always pull a few inches of thread through your needle and out to the back – and manually wind your needle to its highest position before you start sewing.
Practise makes perfect
The key to neat stitching is making sure the tension is correct – if your stitches are loopy, then it’s not. Before you start stitching your fabric, test out the tension on a small scrap of the same material.
When sewing by hand, you’ll be used to stitching over and over the same spot with the thread when you’re finished to stop it from unravelling. The same is true with a sewing machine – press the reverse button or lever at the beginning and end of a seam and go back a little way, as the first and last stitches are always the weakest ones.
If you’re working on a big project and planning to get through a lot of the same colour thread, save money by buying a big cone rather than smaller spools.
You won’t be able to pop the cone onto the horizontal spool rod on your machine, and it will need to spool vertically, so either buy a thread stand, or stick it in a mug next to your machine or on the floor behind you, with the thread spooling over the back of your chair.
Mind the lumps
Lumpy fabrics like towelling or fleece can be a pain to sew – you can barely see the stitches and the pressure foot will keep getting stuck. So pop a clear plastic bag over the material and sew over it to make everything go a bit more smoothly.
Check your bobbin
Partway through a neat seam, you might notice the stitches on the reverse of the fabric are starting to get a bit loopy. It might be because your bobbin is running out of thread, so the tension’s off. Stop, fill up your bobbin if need be, check it’s in the right way round and threaded properly. If in doubt, refer to the sewing machine manual.
When working with multiple different coloured threads, it pays to have lots of bobbins filled up with thread to match the main spool. But storage can be a problem, with messy bobbins happily unspooling their thread in your sewing box. The answer is to buy some cheap pedicure toe separators and pop your bobbins in them.
If you’re tackling a big new project, it pays to watch an online tutorial to see how it’s done before you try yourself – that way you’ll save thread and fabric. Hobbycraft have six free ‘driving test’ tutorials to watch on their Youtube channel
Do you have any tried and tested sewing machine tips? Tell us in the Comments Box below.