Get to know your Sewing Machine – Ten Top Tips

Have you got a new sewing machine? Have you had a machine for years but are still a bit intimidated by it? Do you sew regularly but are never fully confident of your stitching?

Whether you are a novice or are a bit more experienced, I have putt together ten top tips that will help you get to know your sewing machine better and make you a better sewer!

Ten Top Tips #1

Only turn the handwheel forwards.

Turning it in the opposite direction can cause your threads to get tangled and/or snap.

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Ten Top Tips #2

When putting your thread onto the machine always make sure the thread is coming off the spool in the right direction.

If on your machine, the spool lies flat then the thread should be coming from underneath. If your machine has upright spool pins, any writing on the spool should be the right way up.

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Ten Top Tips #3

Use the correct needle for your fabric.

The lower the number the finer the needle, and the finer the fabric, the finer the needle you should use.

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Ten Top Tips #4

Remove your thread from the machine, by unthreading your needle first and then cutting at the top near the spool and pulling from the bottom.

Whipping the thread out from the top can upset the tension discs.

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Ten Top Tips #5

Understand your machine dials – read your manual

  1. Tension
  2. Needle position/stitch width
  3. Stitch Selection
  4. Stitch Length

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Ten Top Tips #6

If you are having tension issues, thread the top and bottom in different colours so you can more clearly identify the issue.

If the thread is bunching up under your fabric it is an issue with your top threading.

If the thread is bunching up on the top of your fabric it is an issue with your bobbin.

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Ten Top Tips #7

Change your needle regularly – you will not sew well with a blunt needle.

It is recommended that you change your needle after 8 hours of sewing, but I tend to change it at the start of every new project.

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Ten Top Tips #8

Use the seam guides on the machine base to keep your sewing straight.

Your pattern should tell you what seam allowance to use, find the guideline that corresponds and keep the raw edges of the fabric level with this line.

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Ten Top Tips #9

Play about with the different stitches, so you know what your machine can do.

Consult the manual.

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Ten Top Tips #10

Find out what the different presser feet you have are for.

The only ones I ever use are:

  1. Regular presser foot
  2. Zip foot
  3. Invisible zip foot
  4. Automatic buttonhole foot

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If you want to get to know your sewing machine or overlocker better, for £30, you can book in for a private 1 hour get to know your sewing machine lesson at my home sewing studio in January. Just click here, pay & I will be in touch to book your date and time.

Alison xx

PS. If you want more tips and advice, inspiration and support, join my Facebook Group, Learning to Sew, here.

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January 2017 Workshops

I know everyone will be deep into the seasonal festivities at the minute, but I’m excited to let you all know about January’s upcoming workshops.

 

Sunday 8th January (10am-3.30pm) – Learn to Sew Lounge Pants – St Nicholas Church Hall, Bawtry (DN10 6JD)

This is a fantastic beginner’s workshop, you will walk away with your cosy made by you, for you Lounge Pants or Pyjama Bottoms, a unique garment that you can be proud that you made yourself. (Can be made for adults or kids.)

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£45 (materials not included) – Click here for more info and to pay £15 deposit to secure your place.

 

Wednesday 11th January (7-9pm) – Learn to Sew Bunting – Helm, Balby, Doncaster (DN4 8QN)

In this quirky class you’ll learn to sew pretty bunting. Perfect for a party or decorating your home. You’ll leave the class with new skills, some bunting & the instructions to make it again.

£25 (all materials included) – Click here for more info. Email Rachael at ayeup@backindonny.uk to book your place.

 

Saturday 14th January (10am-3.30pm) – Learn to Sew Kimono Jackets – The Hub, Retford (DN22 6PA)

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A favourite workshop, you will create a beautiful made by you, for you Kimono Jacket, a unique garment that you can be proud to wear.

£45 (materials not included) – Click here for more info and to pay £15 deposit to secure your place.

 

Saturday 21st January (10am-3.30pm) – Learn to Sew A-line Skirts – St John’s Church Hall, Swinton, Rotherham (DN10 6JD)

The workshop is suitable for beginners or those lacking in confidence or experience and I will guide you through the steps, so you will learn as you make. There is no better feeling than receiving a compliment on an outfit and being able to say that you made it yourself.

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£55 (all materials included) – Click here for more info and to pay £15 deposit to secure your place.

 

Saturday 28th  January (10am-3.30pm) – Learn to Sew Blouses – St Nicholas Church Hall, Bawtry (DN10 6JD)

A brand new workshop, sample photos to be released soon of this on trend blouse.

£45 (materials not included) – Click here for more info and to pay £15 deposit to secure your place.

 

Monday 30th January (9.30am-3pm) – Learn to Sew Shift Dresses – Austerfield Study Centre, Austerfield (DN10 6RG)

The first weekday workshop is the popular Learn to Sew Shift Dresses.

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£45 (materials not included) – Click here for more info and to pay £15 deposit to secure your place.

There are many more exciting things coming in the New Year, so keep a look out for details coming soon.

Alison xx

PS. If you’re not a member of my Facebook Group, Learning to Sew yet, click here to join for tips, advice, support & inspiration.

Recommendations for Fabric Shops in South Yorkshire & Retford

Updated 8th May 2018

I am often asked where I buy my fabric from and I have promised to share the local fabric shops where I buy some of my fabrics.

I am based in Bawtry, South Yorkshire, which is a lovely little town, about 10 miles south of Doncaster, but it has no fabric shops, so my fabric shopping circles out from this point.

I do use online shops from time to time but that’s a whole different kettle of fish and I will save telling you all about my online recommendations for another day.

Here are my recommendations for fabric shops in South Yorkshire & North Nottinghamshire…

Thread Mill Fabrics in Swinton

4 Church Street, Swinton, Mexborough, S64 8QA. Tel: 01709 571684

Let me preface this by saying that I run Learn to Sew workshops in association with Thread Mill Fabrics in Swinton once a month with fabric supplied by Thread Mill and I help out in this shop one day a week, (on Thursdays). Having said all that, I love this shop and even before I had started my business I always shopped in Thread Mill Fabrics.

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The shop is owned and run by Cheryl Barnes and Cheryl herself is the reason for this shop being my number one. Cheryl is so knowledgeable and experienced that whatever sewing project you are working on, she can offer you advice and support and will give you options for the best way to complete your project. There have been many times when I have popped in to pick up some thread or other bits and bobs and have ended up spending the afternoon there, leaving so inspired and motivated to get sewing again on my current project or even several new ones.

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The fabric you see when you walk into the small shop is floor to ceiling and is just the tip of the iceberg. In the back room is where Cheryl keeps all the bridal fabrics. In there is everything from sumptuous satins and chiffons to decorative brocades and lace.

This shop if definitely worth taking the time to go to the slightly out of the way location, it takes me about 40 minutes to get there. Just don’t visit on a Sunday or a Wednesday as the shop is closed and if you go on a Thursday you will get to see me!

Waltons Fabrics in Goldthorpe

47-49 Doncaster Rd, Goldthorpe, Rotherham S63 9H

Waltons Fabrics is a father/daughter team and used to have a stall on Doncaster Market, the market stall has gone now, but there is still that market kind of feel to the shop. They specialise in dancewear fabrics so if you are looking for high shine or sequinned lycra about a third of the shop is dedicated to this, but I must admit I tend to ignore it.

There are hundreds of rolls of fabric here at bargain prices, they tend to buy up end of lines from clothing manufacturers such as Jaques Vert and sell them at heavily discounted prices. There is usually a queue at the counter when I’m shopping, and the staff definitely know their stock.

SewCute Fabrics, Doncaster Market

5a York Buildings, Edlington Lane, Edlington, Doncaster, DN12 1BU

Tracy has recently moved from a stall on Doncaster Market to her fabulous new shop in Edlington, Doncaster, SewCute Fabrics sells mainly cottons & polycottons suitable for crafts & patchwork. However each time I visit this stall the selection is expanding.

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Fabric for Lounge Pants From SewCute Fabrics

The Craft Den, Sheffield

23 Loxley Road, Sheffield S6 4TE

Lynne Hunter is the brains behind the Craft Den and it is a veritable quilters paradise, with hundreds of quilting & patchworking cottons and supplies. Lynne also runs a programme of workshops from her on site studio.

Please check opening hours before you visit the Craft Den, Lynne is due to retire and the shop will close in 2018 and is currently open for reduced hours only. (May 2018)

Tim & Gills Fabrics, Retford Market

Retford Market: Thursday & Saturday and Melton Mowbray Market: Tuesday

A stall selling craft cottons & soft furnishing fabrics, worthy of a mention in this blog as I got my fabulous map fabric from this stall.

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There are other shops in the area, but although I have visited I have not bought or used their fabric so they have not made it to my list of recommendations.

Please comment below if you have any further recommendations to share in the area.

Alison xx

Ps. Don’t forget to join my Facebook group, bringing together a supportive community of those who are new to sewing and more experienced sewers.

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