Stitch Tips

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  1. Determine what speed your machine runs the best at.  The slower mine goes, the less straight my seams are; the faster it goes, the easier it is to make big mistakes and stray from where I should be sewing.  For me, it’s best if I sew with the machine on the highest setting but not at it’s fastest speed.  It’s about half way between the medium and fast setting.
  2. Play around until you figure out what stitch length works the best for your specific needs.  When I’m sewing cotton fabrics together I use a slightly shorter stitch length — it’s actually the recommended stitch length for a straight stitch on my machine; but when I’m top-stitching I lengthen the stitch length 1-2 settings so it looks prettier and more professional.
  3. Figure out the best seam allowance (the distance a seam lies from the edge of the fabric) to keep it from being pulled down into the needle hole on the needle plate.  This is especially important when turning corners without much fabric between the feed dog and presser foot.  On my machine a 1/4″ seam allowance is the minimum I can use.
  4. Learn how the tension works, and how to adjust it, on your machine.  At first it can seem quite intimidating but after some practice you’ll be able to quickly spot thread tension issues and fix them immediately.  No more wonky stitches!
  5. Change the pressure on the presser foot.  Learn what settings work best for different fabrics, different thickness and even the different number of fabric layers.  You’ll need to increase the pressure when sewing through heavier fabrics such as corduroy, denim, leather and decrease it when sewing through lighter fabrics such as chiffon and tulle.  I’ve found that when I’m top-stitching over a thick side seam, it helps keep my stitch lengths consistent if I crank up the pressure just to get past the seam.
  6. Every time you sit down to sew and change anything — fabric, thread, stitch length, type of stitch, etc. — sew some test stitches on a scrap piece of the fabric(s) you’re using.  This will allow you to get your tension, stitch length and pressure right before you start on your actual piece.
  7. When sewing corners, doing appliques or any other project where you’ll be moving the fabric in anything but a straight line, keep your needle in the down position — meaning that when you stop sewing the needle is down in the fabric and not up at it’s highest point.  This will keep your stitches in line when you move the fabric.
  8. Change your needle often!  Yes, it’s another (minor) cost but it’s well worth the money.  I change my needle after 6-8 hours of sewing or sooner if I’m having trouble with skipped stitches.
  9. Keep your sewing machine clean.  Lint buildup can affect your feed dogs and cause extra wear and tear on your machine.  A can of compressed air helps to blow gunk out of places you can’t reach; the small screw driver that came with your machine will help you pull the needle plate off so you can clean around the feed dogs.
  10. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!  Sewing is just like any other skill — the more you do it, the better you’ll get and the more comfortable you’ll get with your sewing machine.  I’ve been sewing almost daily for just shy of two years and I still see improvements in the items I make.

Happy sewing!

One thought on “Stitch Tips

  1. I love the tips! I’ve read that compressed air can push the lint deeper into unreachable spaces. I am hoping you can clarify those concerns before I go get my first can 😀

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