Monday, September 21, 2009

~Sewing Hints~

About your feed dogs~

I would like to share with everyone that sews and pieces their fabric a mistake that I have been making while sewing. I hope that it prevents you from making the same error and avoids sewing machine repairs.

When I sew quilts and table mats and other projects I very often chain piece, which saves both time and thread. Chain piecing is feeding one sewing unit after another through your machine without breaking the thread. View this great video from Marguerita McManus from Crazy Shortcut Quilts on chain piecing. Marguerita has many helpful videos, you should check them ALL out, (like I did).

I had to have my feed dogs AND my throat plate replaced on my sewing machine due to my error in chain piecing. As you can see from the video, when you chain piece you should have one unit butt up against the next while sewing your units. Your units should be only about ¼ inch from the foot as you come off the last piece. I was often chain piecing with space between my pieces, sometimes as much as an inch. (See the picture below on how NOT to do it.) You can see in the picture that my needle isn't even in that next piece of fabric yet. That means that the foot of my sewing machine was traveling over top of my feed dogs metal to metal, wearing down the feed dogs over time.

Another hint~ (This IS something that I do.) ALWAYS use your quilting foot when you machine quilt. And always use your quilting foot when you add your quilt binding to your quilt. Basically, use this foot whenever you are sewing more than 2 layers of fabric or batting. This is what your quilt foot is made for, to pull layers of fabric through your machine with ease. It puts less strain on your feed dogs.

One more hint~~ Whenever you quilt (including free motion quilting) you should ease your sewing pressure. Most machines have an adjustable pressure gauge. Mine is a dial at the top of my (Janome) machine. The normal setting is 3, but NOW when I quilt, I release the pressure to a 2. (See the picture below of my pressure gauge.) Most commonly, when you quilt you are sewing through at least 2 pieces of fabric and a batting. You don’t need as much pressure for this thickness, so it is wise to lighten your pressure gauge. It takes the pressure off, guess what? Yes you got it, your feed dogs.

The reason my throat plate needed replacing is because the feed dog problem was causing my needle to hit the throat plate.

I want to thank Marsha at AGR Sewing Machine Sales and Service (Central Square, NY) for helping me realize the mistakes I have been making while sewing. They were subtle, but over time caught up with me. So thank you, Marsha for setting me straight on chain piecing and pressure gauge and all the other great tips you have given me over the years with my Janome machines.