Five Things You May Be Doing Wrong With Your Sewing Machine

As you begin or continue on your sewing and quilting journey, there are habits you will fall into (or have already fallen into!) that are hurting more than helping you. We all want our quilting to go as smoothly as possible. I can’t keep the seam ripper from being a constant companion.  But I am here to make sure you and I can correct these as quickly as possible. Trust me, I’ve made these mistakes too!

  1. Not changing your machine’s needle: If you’ve made a few quilts and haven’t changed your machine’s needle yet, you’re probably sewing with a dull needle. Some signs that you need to change your needle: 
    1. Skipped or uneven stitches
    2. The needle will pull threads from the fabric you are sewing
    3. Your machine will start sounding like it is working harder to sew.
  2. Not cleaning your sewing machine: It is amazing the amount of lint that can build up in your machine while you are sewing a project. Fluffy fabrics, like minky, can leave a lot of lint in your machine. I try to clean my machine after each quilt I make. I did wait until I was finished both of the baby blankets recently. When I opened up my machine…. ooooh boy! That was an eye opener. Note: always follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to clean your sewing machine. If you have lost your machine’s user manual, you can most likely find it online.
    1. If you use your machine daily, try to clean your machine once a week.
    2. If you use your machine weekly, like I do, try to clean it out monthly.
  3. Oiling your machine: Some modern sewing machines don’t require oil, in fact, my user’s guide on my Brother machine is very specific in saying to not oil it. Other sewing machines do require them to be oiled. Since mine says not to oil it, I won’t. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions. Whenever I do bring it into a shop to be properly maintained, they may oil it, but they are the experts and they do this for a living.
  4. Reverse stitching with a walking foot: Since I started my sewing and quilting journey by starting with pillows and pajama pants, I was taught to always lock the beginning of your sewing with a reverse stitch for a few stitches. While you are piecing, it certainly can’t hurt to lock your first few stitches in place. However, if you are using a walking foot, don’t lock your stitches by reversing. The walking foot isn’t made to be used with reverse stitching, and this can actually break your walking foot! If you are concerned about keeping your stitches secure, remember that when you cross over your stitches as you are quilting, that will lock them into place as well.
  5. Using the wrong bobbin with your sewing machine: I’m going to admit something here. I’m cheap. I love a bargain (just ask me about my Gingher scissors I just got from Joann’s!). So when I looked on Amazon for more bobbins for my machine and came across someone selling 25 for $1.50, I couldn’t pass that up! So far, I have used 5 of those 25 bobbins, and had to throw away 7. They may look just like my Brother bobbins, but my machine seems to know differently. Looking closely at them in comparison to the original bobbins that came with my machine, I can definitely see a slight difference. The cheap ones that I bought on Amazon are slightly thinner (seriously, maybe 1/16th of an inch thinner). However, my machine knows, and it gives me all sorts of issues, from jamming up to making a horrible noise, to creating a knotted mess on the back of the fabric I am sewing. So, if you are like me, and you love a bargain, there are some things you just can’t compromise with. Look for the sales if you want to save money.

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