Do you want to know how to alleviate 90% of all your sewing troubles? Just learn about thread, sewing machine needles and the tension dials on you machine. If you do this with your machine, I guarantee you will have less frustration later and Aboid some of the typical problems.
That is exactly what we did today at our Fibre Artists Meet and Exchange (FAME) day. First we spent one hour going through a handbook I created and discussing needles, threads and tension. Everyone added their suggestions too so we had a lot of great information! Then we played with our machines to discover preset tensions and how to change tensions with regular 50 Weight thread in regular and free motion. Everyone discovered the ‘personality’ of their machine!
After lunch we had show and tell. Great work and ideas! Then back to playing with our machines by trying couching and bobbin work. Followed by some playing with make-and-take bookmarks and needle minders.
Everyone agreed that they would not take the time at home to ‘get to know’ their machine and were glad to discover so many tips in today’s class! Now we are ready for next weeks class on thread painting!
A few of the FAME participants trying out thread, needles and tension on their machines.
Ruth showing her Spoonflower print of a photo of a watercolour picture she painted. Ready for quilting.
Susan showing a pieces quilt featuring many of her own hand dyed fabrics.
Needle Minder directions and close up of the finished piece. It conveniently sits beside my sewing machine with a decorative straight pin marking the type of needle I have placed in my machine.
I mostly use Topstitch needles now. They work perfectly for piecing, appliqué, thread painting, garment sewing, etc. Basically any kind of sewing!
I love Topstitch needles for three reasons. 1. All topstitch needles have an elongated eye. That makes them easy to thread but more importantly there is less friction on the thread as it passes through the eye and consequently the thread doesn’t fray;
2. Topstitch needles have a deep groove for the thread to travel in (again reducing friction and fraying issues);
3. Topstitch needles are sharp enough to penetrate most fabrics and layers of fabrics.
Also, Topstitch needles are now available coated in titanium which lengthens the life of your needle almost 10 times. Basically, you don’t have to change your needle after 8 hours as previously recommended but only when you hear a change in the sound of your needle going through the fabric (about 60 hours) or when the needle breaks.
You can buy titanium coated Topstitch needles from Superior. They come in a plastic case of five needles for around $7. Or you can buy them directly from Organ, who makes them, in a foil envelope for even cheaper. Check at you Local Quilt Shop (LQS); if they don’t have them suggest they get them. A sewer really doesn’t need any other type of needle. Make sure you get all four sizes of Topstitch needles. You will want 70 for fine threads, 80 or 90 for regular weight threads and 100 for thick threads.
The only other needles I buy are Microtex needles. These are great for very fine detail work where you don’t want to see a hole where you stitch, or when using finicky metallic and Mylar threads. However, since switching to titanium coated Topstitch needles I use the Microtex needles less often.