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  1. Machine Needles


    Most machine needles all look much the same and all modern machines use the same type however there are differences in thickness and the tip types that work with different types of fabric.


    Machine needles are numbered, in either metric/ European or imperial / American,  of course we /U.K. use a bit of both! Most packets have both numbers on but some don't!

    European size   60  65  70  75  80  90  100  110  120

    American size   8     9  10  11  12  14   16     18   19

    The higher the number the thicker, heavier the fabric your working with.  The lower the number the finer the fabric.

    Most mid weight fabrics, cottons, are best with a 80/12  or  90/14

    The finer the needle the harder it is to thread as the hole seems to get very small, be warned those of you just approaching the needing of glasses age!

    If your needle is too fine it can cause the thread to shred and this could lead to the machine jamming. Back to the dreaded bunching up!

    Some needles are Universal which means they should go through different types of fabric, like jersey, knits and wovens. However to get best results when using different fabrics I advise to change the needle. Here is a list of some of the different types you can buy.

    photo 4 (9)

    • Ballpoint needles are made especially for knits
    • Sharps  are for very tightly woven and fine fabrics
    • Denim/Jeans needles are often thicker for lots of layers of denim and great for top stitch thread
    • Leather Use for suede and leather stitching
    • Stretch   for microfibers and fabric with high spandex content/swimwear
    • Twin needle for stretch fabrics this creates a very professional look with a double top stitch on the top and a zig zag underneath.

    Always test your stitching on a piece of scrap before you start working on your project. If the threads are not looking good and you've checked everything else it could be the needle is old and blunt. It's worth changing them every now and again to get the best results when sewing.

    Another good thing to always remember is to place the flat side at the top of the needle towards the back of the machine whenever you are changing needles, use the screw driver that came with the machine too loosen and tighten.

    Happy Sewing!

  2. Threads bunching up on your machine and what to do....?

    We get asked all the time for help with this problem at the shop. 

    It happens to everyone, not just novice sewers. I think that's a common misconception for beginners...thinking that they're messing up, however it does happen to us all, you just have to know what to do and what to look for and it won't feel like a big problem anymore!

    I've heard it called 'bird nesting' and it seems like a good description, it can happen on the underneath and the top of your fabric. 

    When your thread is bunching up on the top of your fabric the problem has to do with you bobbin.

    Check the following before calling for help....


    * Is the bobbin  threaded properly?

    Take the bobbin out of the casing and re thread making sure you follow the instructions for your brand of machine. The direction the bobbin winds does depend on the type of casing. Top loaders are the opposite to bottom loaders.

    Make sure there is some bobbin tension, if when you hold the case and pull the thread the bobbin flies out, your thread may have missed the tension spring.


    *Is the needle threaded correctly?

    Always re thread starting from the very start, by the spool. Make sure it's going through all the tension disks and threaded as your manual asks. Missing one little hook DOES make a difference!

    * Is the machine clean?

    A build up of lint dust in the bobbin or where the needle dips down can be a problem. It's worth having a little paint brush with your machines bits n bobs for dusting out with. 

    * Was the presser foot down?

    Doh, we've all done it! 

    And lastly...

    *Is the bobbin case tension too loose?

    There's a little screw in the case which creates the tension, normally this should be left alone but they do undo sometimes and need a little tighten. Occasionally they will need replacing. If it does need to be tightened, move it in very small turns at a time. Bobbin tensions are set correctly when made, so shouldn't have to be turned very often and certainly not as a first call.

    Hopefully this will help you get to grips with your machine and give you confidence for happy sewing!