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How to Make a Simple Scandi Table Runner

How to Make a Simple Scandi Table Runner

Looking to dress up your table for Christmas? Our theme of #12WeeksofStitchmas this week is table decor, so we've put together this sweet little scandi project just for you - don't you love it when we make it easy! 

How to Make a Simple Scandi Table Runner 

Finished size approx. 1.22m x 40cm

You Will Need

How to Make

  1. Start by cutting your fabrics. For all your patterned fabric except for the trees and scandi hearts, you will need to cut two strips measuring 14cm x 32cm including a 1cm seam allowances  - these will create the strips in the middle of the table runner.
  2. For the scandi hearts fabric, cut to size of 42cm x 32cm including seam allowances of 1cm. This will form the centre of the table runner.
  3. Next you will need to cut your trees fabric to create the border. Cut two pieces measuring 40cm x 7cm including 1cm seam allowances, and four pieces measuring 58cm x 7cm including 1cm seam allowances. Make sure the trees sit straight along the long edge on all pieces. 
  4. Start by making the middle of the table runner first. Take your scandi hearts piece and pin a strip of scandi reindeer to both of the short sides, right sides together. Stitch together with the 1cm seam allowance you allocated when cutting.
  5. Next, pin the red deer scatter strips onto the ends of the scandi reindeer pieces and stitch together as before.
  6. Continue steps 4 and 5 to attach the checked heart fabric on the ends.
  7. Now you need to create the border. Start by stitching two of your 58cm x 7cm tree print pieces together, short sides next to each other, to create one long piece 116cm x 6cm. Don't forget about your seam allowance! Repeat for the other two pieces this size.
  8. Pin these long tree print pieces to either long edge of your table runner middle section, making sure the trees face outwards on each side. Sew with your seam allowance.
  9. Do the same for the short edges on either end with the remaining pieces of tree fabric, and sew with your seam allowance. You now have the front of your table runner!
  10. Time to sandwich! Lay your backing fabric out on a flat surface, and use sellotape to stick down the edges, and make the fabric as taut and flat as possible. 
  11. Next, lay your wadding out on top of the backing fabric. Then lay the top section of your table runner on top of the wadding. If your wadding is too big to see the backing fabric, trim it to the same size as your backing fabric. 
  12. Making sure the edges of the runner top are within the space of the backing fabric and wadding, use quilting pins to sandwich and secure all three layers together. Try to place your pins in the main sections of the fabric instead of the joins! 
  13. Remove the sellotape from the backing fabric, and take your sandwich to your machine. Quilt down the long edges of the middle sections and all the way around the inside edge of the border - or add your own quilted design if you prefer.
  14. Now trim your backing fabric and wadding layers down to size. You want them to be just a couple of millimetres bigger than the size of your quilt top, so they fill the binding. 
  15. Use your red bias binding to edge the table runner. Start on the long side, pinning and attaching your bias binding on the top first. Then tuck under to the back, pin in place and sew in place, but sew on the top so that it catches the binding on the back - this will give you a neater look on the front. 
  16. Bind the remaining edges of your table runner, making sure you neaten the corners, and you are done!

Buy the project bundle and SAVE >>

PS. If you need extra guidance, I found these videos from Expert Village on key quilting techniques really useful!

 

 

October 16, 2017 by Amy Gilbert

How to Insert Zips

If you've never tried using zips in your sewing projects, don't be scared to give them a go - practice makes perfect in this case, and once you've got the knack of the zipper foot, you'll find you breeze through it in no time! Everyone has a different way of showing you how to do it, so here's our top tutorials from across the web on how to insert different types of zips in different ways.

How to Insert Zips

This comprehensive guide from Make It Love It shows you how to insert both regular and concealed zips - and uses tape to help hold everything in place with concealed zips!

 

We also love these tutorials from popular pattern designer, Sew Over It - the afficionado's at dressmaking! Lisa shows you how to insert zips on actual garments and offers loads of top tips along the way.

 

 

 

For those who want to try more advanced zip techniques, we also like this lapped zip tutorial from Coats:

 

 

Shop All Zips from £1 >>

How to Make Nautical Bunting

It's spring again, which means although there's a few blustery showers about, sunshine is on its way! And when I think sunshine, I think seaside... so I'm super excited to share this lovely nautical project with you! It's so easy to make, which is great for beginners, or those more experienced who just want a quick project to complete!

How to Make Nautical Bunting

 

You will need:

How to make:

  1. Begin by cutting out all the flags from your bunting panel.
  2. Now lay out your flags onto your backing fabric, and cut out enough to back each flag, using the pre-printed flags as a size guide. 
  3. Pin your flags right sides together, and sew along the seam allowance guides on the two long sides(the white bits down the side of each printed flag).
  4. Trim the point carefully using embroidery scissors, being careful not to cut too near your stitching.
  5. Turn the right way out and use a pencil or point turner to create a sharp point at the bottom of the flag. Press flat. Repeat steps 3-5 until you have completed all your flags.
  6. Now lay out your flags in your preferred order, making sure to leave an equal amount of space between each flag. Pin your bias binding to the top, ensuring that it folds down in the middle over each side of the open end of your flags. Don't forget to leave a bit of bias binding on each end for putting up your bunting!
  7. Carefully sew along the bias binding to attach the flags, remembering to start at the very ends of the bias binding to create some ends to pin or tie it up easily.

Shop Nautical

National Quilting Day: Makower Coastal Quilt Pattern

Today is not only St Patrick's day, but also National Quilting Day! And to celebrate, we've nabbed a fantastic pattern by Hilary Gooding for Makower to make up into a coastal themed quilt. Our nautical range of fabrics is our most popular range this month, so what better theme could we pick? Find free instructions below to make your wonderful seaside quilt, and feel free to swap in your favourite nautical themed fabrics for the beach huts.

How to make a Makower Nautical Quilt

Quilt Size 40" x 60" (100 x 150cm)

You will need:

Fabric

Quantity

First Cut

SecondCut

Position

Cream Dimples 1867/L2

2 metres

Cut 5 strips WOF each 21⁄4" wide

Binding

Cut a strip WOF 101⁄2" wide

Trim to 401⁄2" long

Top Border

Cut a strip WOF 121⁄2" wide

Trim to 401⁄2" long

Bottom Border

Cut 2 strips parallel to the selvage each 12" wide

Trim to 381⁄2" long

Side Borders

Cut 2 strips parallel to the selvage each 3" wide

Trim to 381⁄2" long

Vertical Sashings

From remaining fabric:

Cut nine 41⁄2" x 21⁄2" rectangles

Horizontal Sashings

Cut twenty four 21⁄2" squares

Beach Hut Roofs

Red Coastal Village 1160/R

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Huts

Grey Coastal Village 1160/S

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Huts

Red Seagulls 1162/R

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Huts

Blue Seagulls 1162/B

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Huts

Turquoise Seagulls 1162/T

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Hut

Grey Coatsal Icons 1163/S

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut two 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangles

Beach Hut

Turquoise Coastal Icons 1163/T

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Hut

Red Stripe 745/R7

Fat 8th
27 x 50cm

Cut one 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" rectangle

Beach Hut

Blue Coastal Village 1160/B

1.70 m

Backing

WOF = width of fabric (ie from selvedge to selvedge)

How to make your nautical quilt:

All seams are 1⁄4" unless otherwise stated.

Beach Huts

  1. Draw a thin pencil line diagonally across the wrong side of all the cream 21⁄2" squares.
  2. Place a cream 21⁄2" square right sides together in the top left hand corner of one of the 81⁄2" x 41⁄2" beach hut rectangles. Line up the top and left sides. The pencil line should run from the bottom left corner to the top right corner of the square.
  3. Sew along the pencil line. Trim to a seam allowance of 1⁄4". Press seam allowance under beach hut.
  4. Take a second 21⁄2" square and place it right sides together in the top right hand corner of the beach hut rectangle. The pencil line should run from top left corner to bottom right corner of the square. Line up the top and side edges.
  5. Sew along the pencil line. Trim back to a 1⁄4" seam. Press the seam allowance under the beach hut.
  6. Prepare all the beach huts the same way.

Assembly

  1. Lay out all your beach huts in three columns and four rows in an arrangement of the colours that is balanced.

  2. First sew the columns together by sewing a cream 4 1⁄2" x 2 1⁄2" rectangle between the beach huts in each column. Press all the seams.

  3. Now sew the columns together with the two 3" x 38 1⁄2" vertical sashing strips between the columns. Press.

  4. Sew the two 12" x 38 1 ⁄2" side borders to the left and right of the centre panel. Press seams.

  5. Now sew the 10 1⁄2" x 40 1⁄2" top border to the top of the quilt top

  6. Sew the 12 1⁄2" x 40 1⁄2" bottom border to the bottom of the quilt. Press seams.

Quilting

  1. Lay the backing out on a smooth, flat surface with the wrong side facing up.
  2. Spread the batting over the backing smoothing out any wrinkles and bumps.
  3. Lay the quilt top over the batting.
  4. Baste the layers together using your favourite method - safety pins, hand tacking, spray basting or micro-tacking
  5. Quilt as you like by hand or machine.
  6. Trim back the excess backing fabric and batting to the edge of the quilt top. Square up the quilt if necessary.

Binding

  1. Sew all the binding strips together using mitred seams into one long strip. Fold the strip in half along the length with wrong sides together. Press.

  2. Sew the binding onto the quilt front. Turn to the back and hand stitch in place.

 

Don’t forget to label your quilt with your name and the date. Add any other details you might want to remember.

Want to download a PDF of the instructions? Download the free pattern here.

Mother's Day Gifts for Mums Who Sew

Mother's Day is coming up, and I've been stuck for gift ideas for a while. A bit of research, however, has uncovered some great gifts for mums who stitch, and here's the pick of our products that we reckon mum might like if she's a bit crafty too!

Mother's Day Gifts for Mums Who Make

 

beginners quilting book

For a mum looking to explore different sewing techniques further, why not try out Elizabeth Bett's fantastic book, The Beginners Guide to Quilting? With tons of handy tips and tricks, as well as a comprehensive introduction to the basics of quilting, she'll help mum to build on her new skills project-by-project.

If mum wants to try something new, get her one of these fab needle felting kits! Each kit comes in a beautifully packaged box and includes everything you need to learn to felt your own creature. They're perfect for beginners, and needle felting is the latest trendy craft that everyone's keen to try.

Sewing boxes are the classic gift for any stitcher, but don't just get her a boring old plain one - pick up a beautifully designed box in a range of sizes from our range. Choose from glitter finish, embroidered, extra large, small and drawer-style boxes!

For the mum that already has a million sewing gadgets and boxes, it can be hard to find something that she won't already have. But we reckon these sewing machine bags are pretty neat, and not only look lovely, but are also great at protecting her prize possession from dust, moisture and damage!

Chic Boutique Cross Stitch Kit

For a mum who loves a different type of needlework, our cross stitch kits are an excellent idea! This pretty one is ideal for mum to put up in the kitchen or lounge once complete, but you'll also find a ton of other designs, including ones for kids bedrooms too.

love to sew printed grosgrain ribbon

There is no more classic gift for a sewer than an expression of their passion in any and all forms. So why not dress up their gift with some Love to Sew ribbon? Whether you get a few metres to give as a gift or tie it round the gift itself, this is one piece of haberdashery that is guaranteed to be loved and re-used!

One-Off Deluxe Fabric Box - Floral Romance

One-Off Deluxe Fabric Box - Kiss Me

One-Off Deluxe Fabric Box - Kimono

What self-respecting sewer can resist more fabric? Whether you get a couple of metres to really indulge her fabric addiction, or a fat quarter, she'll love seeing her stash increase! Our one-off fabric boxes are a great idea, including a selection of fabrics with co-ordinating habby for a beautiful gift to wow her.

Trimits Elephant Sewing Kit

If mum has only just started sewing, or wants to tackle her first project, pick up a sewing kit for beginners that she can get stuck into right away. We have a great selection of different projects that she'll love!

Ditsies Fat Quarter Bundle

And if one fabric alone isn't enough, what about a fat quarter bundle? These are especially great for quilters or those who enjoy having a variety of fabrics to hand for their next project (or to stroke while they sip their cup of tea, surrounded by 10 cats...)

Shop Mother's Day Gifts

NEW: Star Stitcher Competition!

Want to show off your fab sewing projects AND be in with a chance to win some goodies from our website? Read on...

NEW: Star Stitcher Competition!

 

From 1st February, we will be launching our new Star Stitcher competition. Every month, we will be giving away a £10 gift voucher for our products to the project we think deserves to win.

Some months there may be a theme, others we will leave it open to you! 

We'll be accepting entries from all abilities and will pick based on originality, design and execution according to your skill level - so beginners, don't be put off!

You can enter once a month, by sending in photos of your projects with a short description and your contact details (name, email address and/or postal address). Please email in your entries to info@mysewingbox.co.uk or share with and tag us on Facebook or Twitter, using the hashtag #starstitcher

Entries will close at midnight on the last day of each month, and we'll pick a winner within 7 days. If you're the winner, we'll be in contact within a week via email.

Don't forget to share this post on your social media accounts so everyone can have a chance at winning!

Happy sewing - we look forward to your entries!

How to Sew a Simple Cushion Cover

This envelope cushion cover is a really easy project, no putting in zips and if you don’t feel confident in sewing buttonholes, you don’t have to as the back can be left as it is. A great project for beginners to get used to their sewing machines!

How to Sew a Simple Cushion Cover

 

You Will Need

How to Sew

1. Cut a square 40cm x 40cm for the front

2. Cut 2 oblongs 40cm x 28cm.

 

3. On the inside, fold over edges for the back and sew a  1cm hem. Fold over another 3cm and hem. Finish by topstitching along the outside edge.

4. Pin right sides of front piece to right sides of back piece, overlapping the two back pieces and sew all round with 1cm seam.

5. Cut corners on all 4 sides  and press seams, then turn right side out and press before putting in cushion insert.

 

And here it is in our fantastic Makower Nautical Fish fabric, made by a fab friend who wanted to have a go!

January 23, 2015 by Amy Gilbert

Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Sew Tricky Fabrics

Even the best of us can feel beaten when it comes to attempting to sew certain fabrics - chiffons, silks, satins and suiting can all be tricky fabrics to work with, to name but a few. If you're struggling, don't give up - have a quick read below and get back on track!

Sewing Tips and Tricks: How to Sew Tricky Fabrics

How to sew slippery fabrics - fine chiffon, charmeuse, satins etc

These can be a total nightmare to sew straight lines in, as the fabric is usually so light and/or silky that it moves with hardly any encouragement. To help eliminate movement you can try a number of different techniques.

The easiest (or rather, most convenient) method is to do a hell of a lot of pinning. If you pin every couple of centimetres, it ensures minimum slippage, although it feels like a total pain to sew. Remember, it's not as bad as attempting to sew the same hem three times and unpicking all the stitching!

Another technique is to use basting stitches to hold it in place. Whilst this can be a good way of keeping it together, I would highlight that this is not great for all fabrics - some fabrics show marks where the basting stitches were, so check on a bit of scrap before you start basting and sewing, then realise you've ruined the fabric. 

Some people also find using tissue paper or the actual pattern paper is helpful. You can sew over it, eliminating some of the slippage, and then simply tear off the paper afterwards. Don't forget, however, that this means you may not be able to use the pattern afterwards if it tears apart too much! 

If you're willing to invest some money and a bit of risk, there are also temporary adhesive sprays now available which create a slightly tacky surface on the fabric and help keep everything in place. Some people swear by these as miracle products, but be warned that you will need to patch test them as they cannot guarantee it won't mark your fabric either.

Finally - make a cuppa, take a deep breath and gather your focus! Half the battle is having the patience and mental energy to concentrate hard and take it one step at a time without getting flustered and letting it affect your sewing. Using a new, sharp needle can be helpful too!

How to sew stretch fabrics - knits like jersey, lycra etc

Stretch fabrics have to be treated with extra care when you're sewing them as they're easily prone to being warped and stretched as you sew - one key rule to remember is not to over-encourage the fabric under the machine. Let the feeder move it naturally.

Make sure you are using the right stitch for the fabric. I wouldn't recommend using straight stitch on stretch fabrics as it has a tendency to overstretch and warp the fabric as you sew, as well as risking ripping when wearing the garment. Select a zigzag stitch on your machine, and choose a width and length setting that you think is firm enough and pretty enough - practice on some folded scrap pieces before you begin to get it right. Zigzag stitch allows for more movement when wearing the garment as well as being more accommodating under the needle.

Another top tip - make sure you're using the correct needle! If your fabric has quite a bit of stretch, then I'd suggest using a stretch needle as these are specifically designed for handling your fabric. You can, of course, use a stretch needle on all types and weights of stretch fabric. A ballpoint needle is okay for lighter stretch fabrics, as its slightly curved/rounded which means it can loop in-between the knots of the knit, rather than catching on them. 

One more thing you can get to help with sewing stretchy fabric is a different presser foot - a walking foot is particularly helpful. It allows the fabric to be fed under the needle with more grip, stopping the two layers from stretching against each other. Some machines come with a walking foot, others may have a dual feed foot - you can use either, but check your manual for what is best.

How to sew bulky fabrics - suiting, coat fabric, wools and tweeds

 Sewing bulky fabric like denim or coat fabrics can get pretty tricky, usually just due to the sheer amount of layers of thick fabric you're trying to get under the presser foot. Simple tricks include pressing seams open and trimming seam allowances to help reduce bulk and create a flatter surface, but sometimes it requires a bit more help than that!

One of the best solutions to this problem could be to invest in a walking foot, which like for stretch fabrics, keeps the layers feeding through evenly without one getting stuck. 

Make sure you're using an appropriate needle too - a denim needle is ideal, and prepared for use with tougher fabric, whereas standard machine needles might break under the pressure. You might find that increasing the stitch length also helps.

If you're still having trouble getting the fabric to feed under the presser foot effectively, using the wedge method is another good solution. Often, and especially when starting to stitch your layers of fabric, the presser foot is lifted up at an angle at the front. This prevents the fabric from moving through easily as the back sort of jars the feed. In order to put pressure onto the front of the presser foot and make it lay flatter, fold a bit of fabric to a similar thickness and use this as a "wedge" at the back of the footer. This should even out the pressure and get your fabric under the presser foot fully, to continue stitching.

How to sew plush fabric

So I think you're probably starting to see a theme here... 

Plush fabric is often hailed as one of the hardest fabrics to sew with, often putting beginners off from using it. But fear not - the difficulties are easy to resolve with a bit of extra TLC to the process!

Firstly, make sure you don't overstretch the fabric when cutting. A good idea is to pin the edges together to keep everything equal and in place. If you've cut it wonky to begin with, you're already fighting a harder battle than you need to be!

Next, pin like your life depends on it! Like stretch and slippery fabrics, plush fabric is prone to being stretched out of shape easily, so the closer you pin it the less likely this is to happen - I recommend every 2cm or so. It seems excessive, but gaps that are too bag allow the fabric to slip still, and although its a pain to keep stopping to take pins out, it means you'll only have to stitch it once!

As with the other fabrics, a walking foot is a good solution to problematic stitching here. As with the other fabrics, it helps feed both layers in at the same rate, limiting the amount of warping or overstretching. 

Another great tip for sewing with plush fabric is to ensure you're stitching with the nap of the fabric, rather than against it. This doesn't affect the straightness of your stitching, but sewing with the nap rather than against it ensures that it lays flatter, giving a neater and more professional finish. 

Any other helpful tips or advice to add? Comment below and let others learn from your sewing wisdom!

National Hobby Month: Sewing Machine Footers Explained

When you're new to machine sewing, footers can seem pretty confusing and daunting - no longer, with this fantastic guide to sewing machine footers! Covering the most common range of footers used, find out what's available and what you should be using for each type of sewing project or fabric. 

National Hobby Month: Sewing Machine Footers Explained

standard presser foot

Standard/universal machine foot

This type of presser foot usually comes with your machine when you buy it. It's a great all rounder for sewing light to medium weight non-stretch fabrics, using a range of straight and zigzag stitches. 

Zipper foot

Sometimes included in the accessory pack for your sewing machine, zipper foots are essential for inserting a zip using your machine. They let you stitch closer to the zipper teeth, and help achieve a neater finish. 

Buttonhole foot

Another life saver for sewing garments, which often comes with your machine as standard. You use them to set the width of your buttonhole, which makes sewing garments so much easier as they often need at least 3 buttonholes that are exactly the same size!

Blind Hem foot

This foot is great for when you're trying to create an invisible hem on your machine, something which is hard to achieve using a standard presser foot. 

Pintuck foot

These are used in conjunction with a double needle to create pin tucks on garments. They are used less and less nowadays but you might see them used in some older sewing projects. 

Edgestitch foot

The edge stitch foot is great for anyone who does a lot of topstitching, as it allows you to keep your top stitching beautifully straight. It's sort of similar to a blind hem presser foot. 

Invisible Zipper foot

Another life saver for dressmakers! Invisible zips are used quite a lot in women's dressmaking, especially on skirts and dresses, so this foot is invaluable. It allows you to sew closely and accurately to the zip teeth, achieving a much smoother and neater finish. 

Open Toe Embroidery foot

This is one of those jazzy feet for a bit of experimental embroidery! It's becoming quite popular again now as sewing techniques like free stitch style come into fashion. It allows you to move the fabric and needle around more freely, enabling you to trace shapes and outlines much better than a standard foot as you can actually see what you're doing. 

Jeans foot (for heavy fabric)

This foot is designed for sewing heavy fabrics, so is a great addition to your machine gadgetry if you sew a lot of jeans or thicker garments like coats. 

Patchwork foot

This footer is mainly designed for quilters, due to its width which is uniform for most patchwork and quilting projects. It's also great for stitching smaller items such as children's toys, however. 

Non-stick/oilcloth foot

If you ever sew with oilcloth, this is a definite must-have item! Worth its weight in gold (and sanity), this foot is coated with teflon which enables it to glide over the surface of the fabric without sticking. If you've ever tried sewing oilcloth, pvc or leather without this, you'll know how impossible and frustrating it is!

Rolled Hem foot

This is a great little presser foot which allows you to neatly turn the edge of the fabric under twice, resulting in a super neat hem! They're available for all different weights of fabric too, depending on what you're working on.

Binder foot

If you struggle with sewing bias binding, this is a good foot to have to hand (see what I did there?). It is usually used in conjunction with a binding attachment, and makes sewing the binding a hell of a lot easier and less fiddly!

 

January 21, 2015 by Amy Gilbert

10 Common Sewing Problems & How to Fix Them

Having some trouble with your latest project? Whether it's skipped stitches or funny sewing machine noises, take a look at our list of common sewing mistakes and how to get them fixed so you can get on with stitching your latest textile project! 

10 Common Sewing Problems and How to Fix Them

My machine won't turn on or sew

First of all, check that your power cable and foot pedal cable are plugged in all the way - you'd be amazed how many times I've done this (and forgotten to switch it on at the wall)!

If this doesn't work, check that your needle is inserted correctly and tightened enough, and your presser foot is correctly attached and down. This should sort out any non-technical issues with your machine that stop it from switching on or sewing.

The bobbin won't wind

The first couple of times I started using my machine, I did it wrong so many times. Make sure you follow your manual instructions for how to switch it to bobbin winding mode - I kept forgetting to switch my metal bobbin winder to the right to get the thread to start winding!

My thread keeps breaking when I sew or thread up my machine

This is usually a problem with your thread rather than with your machine. It's most likely that the quality of your thread is not high enough for the tension or type of sewing that you're doing. Most branded threads are of a higher quality than unbranded ones, but do cost more - we would recommend Gutermann for a high quality thread, and they're a pretty trusted brand worldwide so don't just take our word for it!

The thread keeps unthreading itself when I start sewing

Not an unusual problem, this could be that you have not threaded it properly - the issue is usually that you've not hooked it around the metal hook at the top of the machine properly or enough. Sometimes it might be that you've not got enough thread hanging out the back of the needle, so it's being pulled back through every time the needle starts moving. 

If that's not working, check that you've got the metal hook at the top up as high as it will go. You need to have the needle up when you begin sewing, so twist the wheel at the side towards you until you can see the metal hook at its highest point.

The thread is getting caught up and tangled underneath my fabric

This is usually to do with thread tension of the top (needle) thread, not the bobbin thread. Try adjusting the tension either way and go again. 

Another reason may be because you're getting the threads tangled up in the machine - quite commonly this happens when you start or end your stitching. Make sure you start a couple of millimetres in rather than right on the edge of the fabric, and then reverse stitch if necessary. If you start right at the edge of the fabric, you risk missing out the fabric and the needle and thread going right down into the bobbin thread chamber, tangling there and either getting caught up completely (sometimes dragging your fabric down with it) or stitching this knotty mess onto the back of your project.

I've got puckers in my fabric, around my stitching 

This usually means that you're feeding in the fabric too forcefully or misshaping the fabric in some way as it goes under the footer. This can tend to happen when you're new to sewing, as you learn how the feeder does its job. You only need to guide the fabric to keep it steady with your hand, not physically push it under the needle/footer. 

Puckers can also occur when you are stitching too fast without feeding your fabric through at a fast enough rate. Just remember not to get too hasty with your foot! If it feels like your machine is going too fast even with gentle pressure on the foot pedal, check that your stitching speed on your machine is set to low or medium.

I've got uneven or skipped stitches in my sewing

Uneven and skipped stitches are usually due once again to that bane of sewing, thread tension. Thread tension can be a tricky thing to work out, especially as a beginner, as it depends on the fabric you're using and sometimes can be affected by your thread as well. 

Tension is not the only factor that creates this stitching problem, however. The way you've threaded the bobbin affects how the threads are sewn in and brought together, so check that you've inserted your bobbin in the right way and that the end of the bobbin thread is not getting caught on anything. Make sure the bobbin is unwinding the correct way according to your instruction manual, and that it is properly hooked round the metal plate.

My fabric is moving about all over the place when I start stitching

Easy to forget, but simply make sure your presser foot is down! Use the lever that is to the side of the needle arm, at the back to lift and lower your presser foot. Without it, the fabric feeder doesn't do it's job properly so everything just goes everywhere and sewing in a straight line gets very tricky!

I'm trying to sew with oilcloth and it keeps sticking

Oilcloth is a horrible fabric to work with when you first start having a go, as it needs specialist equipment or techniques to be able to sew it effectively. If you've just slid it under your machine with nothing else changed, take it out! 

Because of the waxy nature of oilcloth, it's prone to getting stuck a lot, on every surface of your machine. There are generally two ways around this: first, the easier and quicker option, is to cover your fabric surface in greaseproof paper and sew over the greaseproof. This stops it sticking to your machine, and you simply have to tear off the greaseproof when you're done. 

The second option is to buy a special footer for sewing with oilcloth/pvc fabric, which helps stop the presser foot from sticking to the waxy surface of the fabric, therefore letting it go through the fabric feeder smoothly.

The sewing machine keeps jamming or not stopping properly when I lift my foot up

We've been having this problem recently, and sad to say, it probably means your machine needs a service. It might be that you're getting your threads tangled as you're sewing, in which case make sure that you start a couple of millimetres into your fabric and have the tension right.

Most of the time, though, it's a part of your machine that needs either repairing or just needs a bit of fine-tuning and TLC. Quite often, the spring in the foot pedal can begin to get stuck, especially if your machine is a bit old. Other times, it may be that a part of the motor is not working properly and needs replacing. Take it to a reputable sewing machine repairer - ask your local fabric/sewing shop if you need some help in finding one, as they can usually recommend someone in the area.

January 15, 2015 by Amy Gilbert