Broken Needle: best practices to prevent it happening to you

sewing machine problems

A broken needle flying into the eye is a fear that seamstresses share all over the world.  Something like walking into a spider web and not knowing whether the spider is stuck on your hair or lurking on the floor ready to strike –but potentially much, much worse.  Those that have experienced the consequences of a broken needle often wear eye protection in the form of safety goggles or spectacles.  To avoid this unfortunate incident, here are the main reasons why this happens and some best practice tips to prevent it happening to you. Avoid pulling the fabric This is a mistake made mostly by seasoned home sewers, because they are experienced and get distracted by music, internet or tv and cannot hear when the machines complains.  The sound of the machine always tells you when it is working too hard or … Continue reading

More presser feet than you will ever need

Awesome set of presser feet with so much all in one set for an excellent price. Plus a key to what they are all.

Over these last 3 1/2 years, I’ve picked up quite a few sewing tools that have really helped to improve my sewing. Some of the best ones have been the various presser feet I’ve bought. Our machines can sew awesome things on their own, but match the right stitch with the right presser foot, or the right project with the right foot and suddenly it can be even more fun and give you even better sewing results or open up new finishes that you can’t do otherwise such as pin tucks. When I look back now, I spent quite a bit on those few feet.  I bought: An invisible zipper foot An adjustable zipper foot A Telfon coated foot A quarter inch foot A walking foot and probably a couple more.  I can’t remember now which came with my machine … Continue reading

How to sew a tiny hem with the rolled hem foot

Serger Pepper 4 So Sew Easy - Rolled Hem Foot tutorial - get the most from your rolled hem foot

When working with lightweight  or even sheer fabrics, the best way to finish an edge is often with a rolled hem foot: faster than hand-sewing and a lot easier, if you know how to do it. What? You don’t?  No worries! Let me share with you my best tips and in no time you’ll be sewing a perfect rolled hem: I can see so many fluttering dresses, silk scarves, napkins (and so on) featuring this couture hem in your future 😉 Wait! I don’t have a rolled hem foot: where can I find one for my machine? You can try with your sewing machine dealer, if you’re so lucky to have one in the neighborhood. If not, check your manual and see if there is an online shop (or just google *your machine brand* + spare parts online). You can save some money and get … Continue reading

How a sewing machine works – video

Video animation of how a sewing machine works and how the stitches are formed. Shows why 'timing' is so important.

Today, just a quick snippet. Have you ever wondered how your sewing machine works when it has the two threads and only one needle? How is the stitch actually formed? This cool video shows you exactly how that works. And now you know why the ‘timing’ on your sewing machine is so important. If the timing is off, due to damage somewhere, then the stitches won’t form correctly or you may get skipped stitches.  Same if you have a slightly bent needle.  

How to clean a sewing machine – video

Irene did us a great photo article a little while back on how to clean a sewing machine. I’ve been neglecting mine recently, half on purpose actually, so I could give it a good clean out and take some video while I did it.  Mine is simpler than hers, I can’t access many areas so do check out the earlier tutorial for photos of options that might apply to your machine. She suffers from the same problem that I do – rust and corrosion from damp or humid conditions.  Hopefully your machine won’t look as bad as ours, but if you live in a very damp, rainy, humid or salty area, you may need to take care of it a little more often and be prepared to add a little more oil. How often should you clean your machine? Well, that … Continue reading

How to thread the Brother 1034d serger

I get it at last! This step by step shows it all nice and slow and easy. How to thread the popular Brother 1034d serger.

I know several of you also got the Brother 1034D serger for Christmas, or maybe another model.  No doubt you’ve all made more headway with it than I have, and are already threading experts. Just in case there is anyone still not quite sure or confident, here is my step by step video on how to thread the Brother 1034D serger. If you’ve also lost the manual or bought a used serger without the manual, this might also be useful.  Although I’m not very experienced in serging, I have watched the Beginner Serging Class from Amy on Craftsy and the principles of threading seem pretty much the same regardless of model.  Well, unless you have one of these super-duper self-threading sergers like this awesome serger package from Juki.  Now wouldn’t that be nice! It has some close up shots and … Continue reading

Easy way to change the colors on your Brother 1034d serger

How to change out the colors on a Brother 1034D serger without rethreading it from scratch. Would work for any serger too.

So you have a new serger and if you are lucky, like mine, it came pre-threaded and tested and ready to use. You are keen to give it a whirl, get practicing with your sergering, but again, like me, you might be nervous about taking out those threads just in case you can’t rethread it again and then you are stuck. Or maybe you just want a quick and easy way to rethread and know that it’s going to work just fine without starting again from scratch. So let’s cheat and rethread our serger the lazy way! We can simply pull through some new threads without taking out the old ones, and then we’ll KNOW that it’s still threaded correctly and can just sew away.      Step by step easy color change for the Brother 1034d serger Snip your … Continue reading

Must have features for your next sewing machine

A look at sewing machine features from basic, to must have to dream-like.

Unless you’ve been very lucky, most of us start out learning to sew on quite a basic machine.  It may have been a shared machine at school, an old machine from the 60’s your mother used to use when you were a child, or even a vintage treadle machine your grandmother used to use! All are great options when you are simply learning the basics. Every year new and improved sewing machines come to the market, but do we really need all these features, bells and whistles they offer and entice us with?  Maybe yes, maybe no.  Let’s take a look at some of them and tell me what you think are essentials: The basics – the MUST HAVE features Stitches – how many different types of stitches do we really need?  Think about your machine.  How many stitches does … Continue reading

Must have features for your first serger

Must have features for your first serger - and those you can do without. Great tips if you are thinking of getting one.

Hi there! I’m Irene and I usually blog at Serger Pepper; today I’m here sharing with you all I know about one of my favorite topics: sergers! Yes, I’ll do my best helping you choosing your first serger (or overlocker, depending on where you come from)… aren’t you excited? I am! Let me start saying that the perfect model does not exist! It’s all relative! Read what you should consider before you start evaluating the models/features: What is a serger sewing machine? Maybe you already know what a serger is/does, maybe not: let’s define it! A serger is a fast sewing machine that produces professionally finished seams because it trims away seam allowances and encases raw edges with an overcast stitch…. wow! Can you guess how much it reduces the boring time spent trimming and zig-zagging seam allowances? One step does everything! Do I really … Continue reading

Sewing a buttonhole with the buttonhole foot

Sewing machine buttonholes, perfect first time, every time.

Did you see my earlier article and video on how to sew on a button with your machine?  It wasn’t difficult at all, just a little bit of fiddling to make sure the needle lined up exactly with the button holes.  But, I admitted, I’m scared silly of actually sewing the buttonhole. Why?  Well the buttonhole is usually sewn right at the end of the project when eveything else is done. What if it messes up, gets all tangled, is skewed or just plain untidy?  It must be very hard to unpick a tiny buttonhole and resew without damaging the fabric.  And what if there are several, say 6 buttonholes to sew.  That means 6 chances to make a mess.  To do it nicely, each and every one has to be sewn correctly.  Getting it right on the first try, … Continue reading

How to use a twin needle

How to use twin needles for hemming on knit fabrics. Also great for decorative stitches - a video tutorial.

I love it when I master new sewing skills.  Being able to do something well makes the difference in my finished sewing, from looking a bit home-made to looking pretty damn good.  The Sewing with Knits course introduced me to how to use a twin needle, especially for hemming knit fabrics.  But it has other uses too.   Do you remember my cowl neck dress?  I struggled so much finishing the hem on that dress that it just kept getting shorter and shorter as I cut off more botched attempts, until eventually I left the hem unfinished!  This was what prompted me to sign up for the Sewing with Knits course, and eventually I was able to master the use of the twin or double needle and now I hem my knit fabrics with confidence. The finish looks really good … Continue reading