Today our experts will help you go back to the basics with eight essential sewing machine tips that every quilter should know. Whether you are just learning how to make a quilt, or have been quilting for years, there’s one thing we know… the learning never ends.
Even with decades of experience, many of us learned something new as we gathered this list. Be sure you check out #4, it’s a good one!
1. Don’t pull thread backwards through your machine.
When you need to change thread, snip it from the spool and pull it through the needle and out of your machine. Pulling it backwards can cause lint to come off the thread and build up in your machine. Even if you are using good-quality thread, it’s a good practice to follow.
2. Use the correct bobbins for your machine.
Take care when using bobbins that didn’t come with your machine. If you use a bobbin that’s even a slightly different size, it can wreak havoc. If you look closely at the image above you can see the subtle height differences in just these examples. Check your manual to match any new bobbins to the correct size, and when in doubt, don’t take the risk.
3. When in doubt, check the plug.
You are ready to get sewing and you suddenly find your machine isn’t working. First check your power plug at your machine and then the wall. It seems silly, but we’ve found ourselves worrying something is wrong and all that was needed was to plug it in.
4. Never turn the handwheel away from you.
When manually raising and lowering the needle, you should only turn the handwheel towards you (towards the front of the machine). After turning the wheel to lift the needle, you should keep turning towards you to complete the cycle and lower the needle back down.
Why? Turning the handwheel the wrong way can mess up the timing on your machine and could lead to costly repairs. The one exception would be if you have a bobbin thread jam, you can turn it a small amount towards the back to help release the tension. Don’t believe us? Check your manual (it’s sometimes a very subtle mention). Otherwise, do your sewing machine a favor and only turn the handwheel towards you.
5. Change your needle regularly.
Change your needle with each new project or roughly for every 16 hours of sewing. If you sew a lot, you’ll want to change your needle a lot. It helps you get an accurate stitch and has the same benefits you’d find from using a sharp knife vs. a dull knife in the kitchen (everything just works better). Also, be sure you check your needle on a flat surface and never use a bent needle.
6. Always check that your presser foot is down.
When you are ready to sew, always lower your presser foot. Forgetting to lower it can not only cause thread tangles, but can damage your machine. The nice thing is that on many machines it won’t let you start sewing when the presser foot is up, but don’t risk it and make it a part of your process to lower before you sew.
7. Before replacing the needle cover the needle hole.
As you get ready to replace your needle, cover the hole in the needle plate with fabric or paper to prevent the needle from falling into the machine. There’s nothing fun about having to fish out a needle that’s fallen into that one hard to reach place.
8. Leave yourself a thread tail on the top thread.
After you thread your needle, pull a little extra thread out and leave yourself a tail. If you don’t and you start sewing, it may get unthreaded or cause a thread tangle. Before you start sewing hold the extra thread tail and fabric with your left hand and you’ll have a good start every time.
What did you think? Did you know them all or learn something new?
We know these tips can help save your sanity (and your sewing machine), and the best advice we have is to keep seeking knowledge. The quilt world is enormous and there are brilliant teachers out there to help you explore it. Find them and never stop learning!
From all of us at Quilting Daily,
P.S. And make sure to check out the endless tips, tricks, and products found at our sister site Sew Daily and these recommended resources from our shop: