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5 Game-Changing Tips to Make Your Sewing Easier

Hey there, fellow sewists! If you're anything like me, you know that nothing beats the satisfaction of creating something beautiful with your own two hands and favorite machine. But let's face it, sewing isn't always smooth sailing. From pesky thread snags to mysterious machine malfunctions, we've all been there. That's why today, I'm sharing five tried-and-true tips to help you overcome common sewing hurdles and make your stitching experience a breeze. Let's dive in! 

1. Thread your machine properly

I know that this is the last piece of advice that anyone wants to hear, but you'd be surprised how often this simple step gets overlooked and cause frustrating issues. A poorly threaded machine can lead to all sorts of headaches, from skipped stitches to tangled threads. So take the time to double-check your threading every time you sit down to sew. And remember, different machines may have different threading paths, so always consult your manual if you're unsure.


On a side note, I know that manufacturers don't do a great job of providing a good manual to teach you how to operate it properly.  If you don't have a manual for your machine or if you have any issues or questions, drop a comment below and I'll help you get what you need.


What you can do: A few years ago, I was getting a lot of emails and questions about learning how to PROPERLY thread any sewing machine, especially for new users or those with more than one machine.  I created this great video series and it will help you thread your machine properly every time (it's free!):  Thread any sewing machine PROPERLY 

2. Use High-Quality Thread

When it comes to thread, quality matters. Cheap, low-quality thread is more prone to breakage and can cause all sorts of issues with your sewing machine. Invest in high-quality thread made from durable materials like cotton or polyester. Not only will your stitches look better, but you'll also save yourself the frustration of dealing with constant thread breakage.


My personal preferences in cotton thread are all long-staple cotton:  Auriful, Guterman, Mettler.  Connecting Threads is also great quality and affordable for building up your stash if you need various colors.  It's comparable to Auriful in my opinion, but is only available for order online.While it sounds like I'm a thread snob, I never ever recommend Coats & Clark in modern sewing machines, as it is made from short-staple (cheap and linty) cotton.  I truly only use it on very old sewing machines.  And the absolute worst thread you can use is in the bargain bin at the Joann's cutting counter or from a discount shop online or on Amazon.  It will drive you mad.


The other disadvantage to cheaper thread is that it produces a high amount of lint compared to quality thread, so the lint build up in your machine will be faster and more in volume. 


What you can do:  Here is a clip from a lecture I give to Quilt Guilds about thread quality,  Here you can see the difference under a microscope, and more suggestions on quality thread.  Quality sewing thread 


3. Use the correct needle type and size for the fabric and thread you are using

One of the most common sewing machine issues I see is caused by using the wrong combination of thread, fabric, and needle. Different fabrics require different needle types, and the thread you are using determines the needle size. Using the wrong needle can result in skipped stitches or fabric damage. Likewise, using the wrong thread for your project can cause tension problems and uneven stitches. Take the time to match your thread, fabric, and needle properly, and you'll see a dramatic improvement in your sewing results.


Just 20 or 30 years ago, we only had a handful of types of fabric available to us.  Now there are hundreds, maybe thousands, of fabrics out there.  So proper needles have evolved over time, and we can't just put any old needle in the machine anymore. One of the most common issues I had in my service shop is that a machine would be in perfect working condition when picked up by the customer, but then I would get a phone call saying that the machine is skipping stitches or some other issue.  And inevitably, they were sewing on a knit or stretch fabric using a sharp needle.  So the needle type and size absolutely do matter. 


What you can do:  Schmetz is a high-quality needle company, one I recommend to just about everyone, and they offer lots of needle education - and I promise it's not all boring!  Check out their education page and resources that will help you determine the exact needle for your fabric.  Schemtz Needles by Fabric Type 

4. Mark Accurate Seam Allowances

Accurate seam allowances are crucial for achieving professional-looking results in your sewing projects. Yet, many sewists overlook this step, leading to uneven seams and wonky finishes. Take the time to mark your seam allowances accurately before sewing.

One of the issues I commonly see is that most people rely only on a 1/4" foot to guide their seam, but then you only have the guide when the fabric is at the needle, and then it's too late.  I recommend using tape, postit notes and other guides starting that the edge of your machine so that you can accurately guide your fabric the whole length of the seam.


What you can do:  Check out this video I made on accurately marking and achieving a perfect seam (no matter the size of the seam).  Achieving a perfect seam allowance

5. Clean Your Machine Periodically

One, a big reminder - your machine DOES need to be serviced about every 12-18 months, and doing this periodic maintenance does NOT replace professional service.  That means opened up, cleaned out, and re-lubricated, as lack of lubrication causes machine malfunction.  If you aren't taking it to a professional service tech to be serviced, learn to do it yourself (this saves serious time and money!). But in the months between service appointments, don't forget to give your sewing machine some TLC every now and then. Dust, lint, and stray threads can build up inside your machine over time, leading to poor stitch quality and even machine malfunction. Make it a habit to clean your machine regularly, paying special attention to the bobbin area, feed dogs, and needle plate. A clean machine is a happy machine!


What you can do:  Like I said, learning to do full service on your machine yourself is my biggest recommendation, but I created a video series to guide you through in-between maintenance to keep her happy.  This applies to all home sewing machines.  Machine Maintenance Basics program 

There you have it, folks—five simple yet powerful tips to make your sewing experience smoother and more enjoyable. By following these guidelines and incorporating them into your sewing routine, you'll be well on your way to becoming a sewing machine service pro in no time. Happy stitching!

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