Posts Tagged ‘Fabric’

What is a good sewing machine that can do decorative stitches as well as basic stitches for a reasonable price?

December 29th, 2012 6 comments

I need something that wont cost an arm and a leg, thats relatively easy to use and can do decorative stitches as well as general day to day sewing. Any suggestions? Im okay with used or older machines but I would need to know where to buy them used. Thanks!

Take a look at Kate Dicey’s essay on choosing sewing machines at (and take a look around at her site…
there are a lot of nice little tutorials there!). The FAQ she
refers to is at http:// tinyurl. com /l5rzu6 now. (paste back together– yahoo is being strange)

What I want for beginners in sewing:

– a machine that doesn’t scare you

– a machine that isn’t balky (cheap new machines are often very
balky or need adjustments often and are rarely repairable — just
too frustrating to learn on!)

– very good straight stitch

– good zigzag (4-5 mm is fine, more than that is gravy)

– a method of making buttonholes that makes sense to you

– adjustable presser foot pressure (which helps some fabric
handling issues)

– accessory presser feet that don’t cost an arm and a leg
(machines that use a "short shank foot" typically handle generic
presser feet pretty well. Some brands of machines use proprietary
or very expensive presser feet)

If the budget stretches far enough:

– blindhem and stretch blindhem stitches

– triple zigzag (nice for elastic applications)

– a couple of decorative stitches (you won’t use them nearly as
much as you think) (and you can build up some interesting decorative bands from the common utility stitches), as well as make them look different with bobbin work:

– electronic machine because of the needle position control and
because the stepper motors give you full "punching force" at
slow sewing speeds — mechanical machines often will stall at
slow speeds.

Please go to the best sewing machine dealers around and ask them
to show you some machines in your price range, *especially* used
machines you can afford. You’ll get a far better machine at a
specific price buying used than new and a good dealer is worth
their weight in sewing machine needles when you get a machine
problem — often they can talk you through the problem over the
phone. While you’re trying things out, try a couple of machines
(sewing only, not combo sewing-embroidery) over your price limit,
just so you can see what the difference in stitch quality and
ease of use might be. You may find you want to go for the used
Cadillac. Or you might want the new basic Chevy. Might as well
try both out.

Suggested reading: John Giordano’s The Sewing Machine Book
(especially for used machines), Carol Ahles’ Fine Machine Sewing
(especially the first and last few chapters) and Gale Grigg
Hazen’s Owner’s Guide to Sewing Machines, Sergers and Knitting
Machines. All of these are likely to be available at your public

Used brands I’d particularly look for: Elna, Bernina,
Viking/Husqvarna, Pfaff, Singer (pre 1970), Juki, Toyota

New "bargain brand" I’d probably pick, if new, decent and budget
was my choice: Janome (who also does Kenmore).

embroidery design question?

December 25th, 2012 2 comments

hi i just downloaded a curlz font to my embroidery machine and need to know how to put more than one letter at a time on my fabric. it is only allowing me to work with one letter at a time

Some machines will only allow you to pull up one letter at a time.

Editing software may be the answer.

This one has a free trial.

Download, open your designs and save as a new design.

No digitizing required.

Remember, you can only add so many letters depending on the size of the letter and the size of your hoop.

Can you do quilting with a Baby Lock Ellegante embroidery machine?

December 23rd, 2012 2 comments

Do you mean free motion quilting? I have an Ellegante, too. You drop the feed dogs, put on the darning foot, have your machine set on straight stitch, then start quilting. It involves eye-hand coordination. The faster you run the machine, the faster you have to move the fabric. Soon you’ll be making nice, even stitches, but it does take practice. Mark your quilt with stencils or follow the designs in the fabric. You have complete control of the fabric "sandwich" in this way. I use temp adhesive spray to hold layers together.
You also can use the walking foot for SID or echo quilting. I teach from the Better Homes and Gardens "Teach Yourself to Quilt" book. There are many books available on the subject
There are many emb. quilting designs available for quilting "in the hoop". I never hoop the quilt; I use Aqua Magic Plus (TM)-(there are other brands, too) and stick my quilt to it. You hoop the AM+, then use a pin to score the paper and then tear the paper off exposing the sticky surface. I then use the hoop’s plastic placement grid to center the block then sew it out. It’s water soluable and merely washes off the back when you’re done quilting. You can quilt in "sections". See the book "Divide and Conquer" by Smith & Milligan.
You have an awesome machine and I hope you have support nearby. My nearby dealer retired and closed her store. Now I’d have to drive over 2 hours for instruction. Support your local dealer!

What is the best type of embroidery machine to use?

December 5th, 2012 1 comment

I am willing to buy one, but I’m not sure which one i would like to buy. Any suggestions?? I dont care what price range it is either.

I can’t tell you the ‘best’ one to use but I can offer you some guidance, of sorts.

You need to also think about what kind of designs you intend to do. Can you use the small 4×4 stitching area or can you afford a couple of hundred more to move on up to a 5×7 stitching area? Personally, I wish I’d waited and saved to get the 5×7 stitching area for my first machine.

Ok, after you ‘ve decided what size stitching area you want You’ll need to decide which machine.
Before deciding on a machine, you need to determine what you plan to do with it. Will it be a work horse that never stops, or do you think it may be something you tire of quickly? ( Honestly, machine embroidery is ADDICTING so I don’t see that second option happening.)
Ok, when you’ve narrowed down to a couple of machines you think you’d like, look at what you’ll need to use them. For example. I bought my brother embroidery machine blindly having no clue what I’d need. After it was delivered, I found out that to transfer designs from my computer to the machine, I’d have to have a ped basic and design card.
Some machines use a flash drive, some need cd’s, others still use floppy disks, and some can hook directly up to your computer. You need to find out what you’ll need before you buy the machine.
After you find a machine you want you’ll also have to buy supplies. You’ll need all of these things before even stitching your 1st project.

Thread – lots and lots of thread (i recommend anna bove collections)
an assortment of embroidery needles (depending on your fabric and stabilizer, you could need a different size needle for each project)
Stabilizers – everyone has their favorites and you will too. To start I’d recommend a good water soluble stabilizer, a light mesh stabilizer, and a heavier stabilizer.

Before getting anything – even the machine – I’d recommend joining and online forum. You can join for free at or you can join a subscription site like I learned sooooo much from the people at artisticthreadworks that I would recommend you join before buying the machine. The people there will answer any question.
I also recommend The forum is less busy – more advanced stitchers i guess – but they will ALWAYS stop to answer a question.

I know I didn’t directly answer your question, but I didnt want you to think it was as easy as just picking up a machine. If you have any questions, you’re welcome to email me at

I need to know more about emroidery machines?

November 25th, 2012 2 comments

I am wanting to get a machine and need to start small but I want something that can grow with my needs. I’ve seen where you can buy appliques for machines and am not sure what all that involves. Are there certain machines that you can buy extra patterns? for? And to the cheaper ones not do as much? I’ve seen some that look like a sewing machine with an extra attachment and others that almost look like small factory equipment.

An embroidery machine has a few built-in designs. Others can be downloaded from the Internet. Some are free and others are for sale. Some are 100% embroidery and others are applique done in the embroidery hoop.

The one I usually recommend is the Brother SE 400. Right now everyone seems to be out of stock until mid-February. This is online. Your local Walmart may have this model in stock.

Visit a Brother sewing machine dealer and ask for a demo. They may have a model that is close in price to the SE 400, which is a combo (sewing and embroidery machine) or one that they have taken in on a trade-up.

It would be best to buy from a dealer even though you will be paying a little bit more (Walmart and Amazon have the SE 400 for around $400). With the dealer you will have access to lessons as well as assistance and service for the machine when necessary.

Machine applique designs come with an instruction PDF that will give you fabric and thread colors; indicate when to place the fabric on the stabilizer and when to trim for the next step. Each section of the fabric is sewn in place with a running stitch and then finished with a satin stitch.

If this is a priority, ask if it can be included in the demo.

This site may add further insight as to what can be done and how to do it –

How can I find help creating a crewel embroidery design?

November 21st, 2012 1 comment

I am at a beginning level and would like to reproduce an image from a book. Is there anyplace I can find people who can give me advice? Thank you.

Go to this site and go down to " Description of the technique"

Crewel embroidery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Description…|See also|References|External…Crewel Embroidery, or Crewelwork, is a decorative form of surface embroidery using wool and a variety of different embroidery stitches to follow a design outline applied to the fabric…. – Cached

What kind of machine do I need for monogramming?

November 17th, 2012 2 comments

I want to learn how to monogram. What kind of machine do I need? I have heard you can just get a software to hook up with your sewing machine. Is that true? I don’t have a huge budget so a low cost solution would be great.

If you already have a sewing machine you can learn to do this, but it takes time to learn as most will be free motion (you guide the fabric as the needle goes up and down).

Otherwise, you will need to spend at least $600 just to get started.

There are combo (sewing & embroidery) machines that can give you more for the money or you can buy an embroidery only machine.

The embroidery machines have a limited amount of designs, letters, numbers and punctuation already built in.

To add more you can download from the Internet. Some designs are free and some you have to pay for.

You add the designs by sending them to a folder on the hard drive of the computer, a cd or flash drive.

You then select the design you want to send to the embroidery machine and send it via a direct cable hook-up that comes with the embroidery machine.

If the machine does not have this option, you have to purchase a reader/writer unit specifically for an embroidery machine and a rewritable memory card for the specific format of the embroidery machines. These start at about $100 for Brother PED brand (on line) and go up.

The Brother sold at Walmart, plus the software you would be spending around $600 and then you have to have machine embroidery thread, bobbin thread and stabilizer for another $50 or so. The machine will come with extra needles and bobbin spools…which can be resupplied where sewing notions are sold.

This one is a good price –
It includes the reader software and the shipping is free.

Check with local sewing machine dealers. They may have a good price on an embroidery machine that the owner traded in on a more expensive model.

What are some items you can sew onto with a Janome Memory Craft 300e?

November 15th, 2012 3 comments

I’m just trying to get an idea what I can sew on with this machine, and also which would be the best thread for embroidery? I know I can sew towels, but for some reason, I had difficulty sewing on one when I tried it. I’m thinking my machine doesn’t like the thread that I have so which embroidery thread serves best for that model? Any information you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Embroidering towels or other napped fabric takes preparation of the fabric.

Be sure to use thread specifically for machine embroidery and bobbin thread specifically for machine embroidery.

There are tips, techniques and charts at Embroidery Library that would be very helpful to anyone who does machine embroidery.

How do you digitize embroidery?

November 11th, 2012 1 comment

I have a Brothers embroidery machine, and im trying to figure out how to digitize images. I have no idea where to start, which program do i need? where do i get it from? Is there a easy to read manual for digitizing? im not experienced, any help will be great!

to answer your first question, in order to make a quality design that’s worth your thread, stabilizer, fabric and time you will need to do what is called manual punch digitizing.
If you are an artist you are a step ahead as you can use your own pictures, but if not you will have to find clipart that the aritist allows to be used OR you can subcribe to many different clipart sites to get your images.

Think of digitizing as kind of like tracing a picture only a lot more steps and a lot harder! That’s the best I can describe it.
It takes a lot of patience and trial and error and MANY test stitching sessions of a design to make sure there is nothing that needs to be adjusted.

Now for the best programs-well that’s a loaded question.
Most of this decision depends on what you want the software for. None of them are "easy" at first, but again with a lot of patience and persisitance anyone can accomplish great designs.
Prices range from free to thousands of dollars, of course the cheaper the program the more frustrated you are probably going to get with using it.

I personally use Embird. This is a great program because you buy the "basic" package, and then add plug ins that you want. For digitizing you will need the Studio plug in, and if you are wanting to do quick and simple lettering from any TTF you will want their Font Engine plug in too.

I suggest if you are wanting to play around with digitizing, Sophie Sews is a free software. Of course not the best, but it’s free and will give you a feel for what digitizing is all about.
I have to warn you that the last I heard they were still in the building/testing phase so there are are glitches and bugs but nothing that will cause your computer to go *poof*

I would also suggest a sewing/embroidery forum
I belong to a few, but my favorite is sewforum provided by allbrands
there are thousands of very helpful members there and a lot of free designs.
i post a lot of my work there as free samples from our website.

If you do a search for Sophie Sews and Sew Forum you should be able to find links to both.

Hope this isn’t info overload and that it helps!


Is learning hand embroidery easy?

August 24th, 2012 2 comments

I want to learn since it seems like fun and I’m into crafty things and it’ll probably help since I want to go to college for fashion design. Would it be easy to learn and something I could do in my free time?

It requires fine motor skills and patience. "Fine" here means "small", as opposed to large motor skills. You have to be fairly accurate with your stitch placement.

I taught myself how to do some embroidery when I was a pre-teen, out of a book. I found it fairly easy to do, and I still do it.

You can get embroidery kits, mostly cross stitch kits these days, or you can look up patterns on the internet or in the library. I had a pair of jeans that had more embroidery on them than plain fabric, but that was back in the 70s. I had fly stitch going down the leg seams, several embroidered symbols, and things like that.