Archive | September 2016

Care of your sewing machine.

Looking after your sewing machine is important. Having a good understanding of this, following these simple rules will help prolong the life of your machiine and avoid unnecessary repair bills.

How often should I clean my machine?

Ideally after each use you should wipe all around the sewing machine using a soft cloth. The shuttle area should also be cleaned regularly do avoid build up of fluff and dust.


Where do I clean?

Clean around the machine using a soft cloth. Use a soft brush to clean around hard to reach areas. if your machine has tension discs use a piece of thread to clean between them as dust can easily settle there.

When  your sewing machine is not in use, always place a cover to avoid dust settling in and around the machine. To keep your sewing machine operating well clean the exterior using a soft cloth wiping from the top to the bottom,  clean in and around the thread regulator.

Cleaning around the shuttle/ bobbin area.


Drop down bobbin. Feed teeth located  under needle plate.

Remove the bobbin case, clean the area with a lint brush. Ensure you remove any pieces of thread or fluff. Lower the feed teeth and clean using the brush. Compressed air cans are also useful for cleaning the area below the bobbin area.  Never use a wet or damp cloth around this area as this can damage the machine.


Remove bobbin case holder.


Bottom of the bobbin area must be cleaned  using a brush.


Change your needle regularly!

Prevention is better than cure so regularly change your needle . manufacturers often recommend that you change the needle  every time you start a new project. If it a long project then change the needle a number of times.

How often should I oil my machine?

Always follow the instruction manual when oiling your machine it is worth remembering that not all machines need oiling so check with your  manufacturer.


When first experiencing problems check then rethread the top thread and bobbin.

Fabric puckers

Check needle as it could be damaged.  Rethread  both top and bobbin thread. Ensure that you are using the correct type and size needle. Use a quality thread.

Skipped stitches

Check needle it could be damaged. Ensure needle is inserted correctly all the way into the clamp.use the correct type of needle.If using jersey or stretch fabric ,use a jersey/stretch needle Rethread both the top and bobbin thread. Use recommended presser foot.

Needle breaks

Use care not to pull fabric when sewing. Check bobbin case is inserted correctly.Check needle plate is correctly placed .Ensure correct needle type and size. Check the needle is inserted correctly.


Poor tension.

Rethread both top and bobbin thread. Check tension discs for fluff.

Fabric does not move

Check the feed teeth is up. Check stitch length. use the correct size and type of needle.

Upper thread breaks.

Check for correct threading. Check the needle plate is placed correctly and check for  damage.

Bobbin thread breaks

Check bobbin threading. Wind a new bobbin.  Check needle plate is placed correctly and check for damage.





How to make a tote bag

0174f83d0280524e6ba0e4e65935dc737287246fb6I love making tote bags, they are a useful everyday accessory as well as making great gifts . This is pretty simple to make  with a slight structure to the base. You can obviously make yours as big or as small as you like.The bag i have made is large enough to fit 3 A4 folders.


Fabric 50 inches length.30 inches wide.



Measure and cut the straps 27in x 3in


Cut 2 straps.

Making the bag.

Fold the fabric in half  (25in length after folding)the fold will sit at the base of the bag.  You will only be stitching along the sides of the bag.  This will be done using a French seam to make the seam stronger.


Sewing with a French seam.

A French seam is a seam stitched first on the right side and then turned in and then stitched on the wrong side so the raw edges are enclosed inside the seam.

On the right side of the fabric


Sew wrong sides together.

Sew a 1/2 cm seam on the  right side of the fabric making sure you fix the stitch at the start and end.  This can be done by reverse stitching or using the fix, stop button on the machine. Trim off any excess seam.( see above picture).  Turn the bag out and press the seams using the iron.

Now sew 1cm seam on the wrong side of the fabric.( See  picture below.)


Sewing right sides together.


Finished French seam



Sewing the base of bag.

From the corner measure equally from the centre French seam .Measure from the edge along the French seam, draw a chalk line(see below).


Measure equally both corners.

Pin , tack then machine across the mitred corner (see below).


Sewing mitred corner.


Inside of the bag.




Base and side of bag




Sewing the straps

Fold the straps folding both ends towards the centre. Press with the iron this will help to hold its shape, machine along the strap. I have stitched along the fold and edge for a more visibly neater finish.(see photo below).



Double fold the top edge neatly , pin and tack this, then machine stitch . I moved the needle position to the left so I was able to sew closer to the edge of the fold.


Machine stich close to the fold.


Measure and pin straps into position, tack if you require, draw a chalk line to sew neatly across  the strap . Try to position the needle onto the existing seam, this should allow you to sew on top of the seam, do not worry if you are not able to do this exactly.


Machine strap in position.


Fold back strap to conceal stitching.

Topstitch   around the entire  bag attaching the straps sewing close to the edge for a neater finish.


Finished bag.