X Marks the Spot, Sewing-Style

Friday, April 27th, 2012

X = X Marks the Spot

I’ve found that for most sewing projects, I’ve needed to stop a seam at a corner, rotate the fabric, and then continue on from there. But how do I know exactly where I should stop the seam, needle still down, to turn the fabric? I learned a handy trick for that!

I take my tape measure, figure in seam allowance from each side, and mark the spot with a pin. When I get there with the needle while sewing, I just stop there, take the pin out, and rotate away. It’s that simple — X marks the spot, sewing-style!

(Please note that I don’t actually put the pins going both ways like this — that could very well break my needle! This picture was more to capture the X visual for the A to Z Challenge.)

So, do you do something like this when you’re sewing, or do you just eyeball where to stop a seam?

Tiny Thread Trash Can: A Handy Accoutrement

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

T = Tiny Thread Trash Can

Admittedly, this might sound like a weird sewing accoutrement. But when I first started sewing, I would cut the thread at the end of a seam and just put the pieces down on the table next to my sewing machine. Little strands started showing up here and there on the floor or mixed in with my sewing supplies. (The pieces of thread were like sprinkles or glitter — they seemed to keep multiplying somehow!)

So my mom gave me a handy container that looks like a tiny trash can. I started putting it on the table next to the machine, and any time I have to trim off thread, I put it in said container.



It’s been working out really well, and it also fits easily into my organized sewing setup.

If you’re interested in this “tiny trash can” — those are my words, probably not the official name of it — my mom found it at The Container Store. Enjoy!

Built-in Sewing Machine Stitches: Options Galore

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

S = Stitches

One of the neat features of my Brother CS-6000i sewing machine is that it offers 60 different stitches. That’s right — 60. And aside from playing around with a few different stitches while practicing, I’ve really only used one: just the basic single line.

As the sewing machine box colorfully displays, there are 27 garment stitches, 20 decorative stitches, six heirloom stitches and seven quilting stitches to choose from.




I’m really excited about the decorative stitches like the leafy-looking ones and the loop-de-loop. The Greek key pattern’s also very in style in design these days, and the asterisk-esque stitch could make a cool accent on something.

Now I just need to come up with projects for all of these! Which different sewing machine stitches have you used?

Sewing Machine Needles: Size Matters

Monday, April 16th, 2012

N = Needles

The first time I had to switch out needles on my sewing machine, I was really scared I would mess up. But sewing machines are made for people to use them, and by following the instructions in the manual, I found that changing the needle is actually quite easy, as is figuring out which needle size to use for which project.

It all depends on the weight of the fabric. So before I hemmed my jeans, for example, I knew I needed to use one of two needle sizes — 90/14 or 100/16 — meant to work with denim, a very thick material. The Brother CS-6000i handbook has a handy chart that shows which needle size to use with various kinds of fabric, so it’s my go-to guide.

For me, the hardest part of changing the needle was reading the teeny-tiny numbers etched in to denote the size. After a decent amount of squinting, I found the right needle and followed the six steps laid out for replacing the one already on the machine. Essentially, the process boils down to taking preliminary safety precautions, and then loosening the needle clamp to remove the first needle, inserting the second needle, and finally tightening the clamp to hold it.

So that’s why my sewing machine came with a screwdriver! Who knew?

Changing the needle may have phased me the first time, but now it’s a piece of cake. I’m very excited to be learning the ins and outs of my machine!

Easy DIY Seam Guide Made with Household Items

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

G = Guide

You guys, I just discovered something AMAZING to help me sew straight seams. But let’s start from the beginning…

When I found out about a handy product for sewing — a magnetic seam guide — it prompted a rollercoaster of emotions. Many magnetic guides are available on the market, but I was sent a link to one from Nancy’s Notions. “Easily make sure your stitching line stays straight all the way,” the tagline says.

Emotional reaction: Excited. YAY, this sounds great!

But then the product overview warned not to use it with a computerized sewing machine, which is precisely the kind I have.

Emotional reaction: Crestfallen and confused. But… why not? I want to sew straight seams, too.

So I naturally went into research mode and did some Googling. I found a thread on a quilting message board that explained magnetic accessories can mess up the magnetic part of the machine’s hard drive.

I continued reading up on the topic on message boards, reviews and the Brother website. Brother actually offers a seam guide (happy!), but it’s not compatible with my model (sad).

I had a lightbulb moment when I realized seam guides don’t have to be magnetic — they can also be adhesive!

Emotional reaction: Hopeful and determined. Must find adhesive seam guide I can use…

I did find a couple different options, but I also found something even better: A suggestion for a non-magnetic, household-item “seam guide,” also known as a pad of Post-it notes. It sounds like the idea came from Treadle On.

Emotional reaction: Optimistic but skeptical. It’s at least worth a shot…

So I tested it. I found the notepad didn’t stick to the machine with its own adhesive as well as I would have liked, so I secured it down with a piece of masking tape. Lo and behold, it worked! I was able to sew a long straight seam by keeping the fabric right against the edge of the Post-its.



Emotional reaction: Super excited again.