Atlanta Sewing Machine Co.

1510 Southlake Parkway, Suite 1H Morrow Ga 30260 (770) 968-9911

Sewing Tips
Are there any special techniques for working with 2-way-stretch knits?
I’m having a difficult time putting in a zipper, can you help?
What are nap and selvage?
What do I need to know about handling and sewing lightweight soft fabrics and soft transparent fabrics?
What's the difference between a ‘denim’ needle and a ‘universal’ needle?
How often should I change my needle?
How often should I oil my sewing machine/serger?
When should I have my machine serviced?
What does a serger do and do I still need my regular sewing machine.
My thread is making loops on the underside of the fabric, do I need to adjust my bobbin tension?
Do I need to have my embroidery machine plugged into a serge protector?
Will my sewing machine use a twin needle?
Will serger thread work in my sewing machine?
 

 

Do not allow the fabric to stretch when cutting and marking. Do not allow it to hand over the edges of the table.

Do not use pins to secure the pattern. Trim the excess paper along the cutting lines of the pattern, and use weights to keep the pattern from shifting around.

Mark around the edges with chalk. Lift the pattern out of the way to mark notches and avoid using small nips in the edge to mark them. If you use even the smallest of cuts for notches, the cuts have a nasty habit of "growing" larger.

Use a new sharp needle (not a ball point or universal point). A sharp, violet-band needle, size 10 or 12 in both your sewing machine and serger is recommended. If you are having trouble getting the fabric to feed evenly without bunching when using your serger, try this needle before you replace your cutting blade.

Serging is best for all seams. If you don't have a serger, use a small zig zag (1 mm wide and 1.5 mm long) on the sewing machine.

Use the differential feed on the serger, and the walking foot on the sewing machine. This usually works to tame the slipperiness and uneven feeding of layers.

If you are finding it hard to get started at the beginning of each seam on the sewing machine, place a lightweight machine embroidery tissue underneath the fabric and hold the thread. Remove the paper gently after you're done.

What you do depends on where the hem is, and your equipment situation. For all hems, first serge/zig zag the raw edge and mark the hem allowance on the right side of the fabric with chalk. To hem side slits and simple necklines, turn the hem allowance to the inside and sew from the right or wrong side. To hem bottom hemlines and simple necklines, the treatment of choice is to use the twin needle from the right side. Blind hemming works well for hemming bottom edges too. Forget about hand hemming-the fabric is so stretchy the stitches will pop once you've worn the garment a couple of times.

Are there any special techniques for working with 2-way-stretch knits?
I’m having a difficult time putting in a zipper, can you help?

Steps for putting in a zipper

  1. It's hard to pin the zipper in place-- so use sewing tape or masking tape - or even hand baste.
  2. Don't forget to put your zipper foot attachment on!!
  3. Make sure both sides of the zipper tape are evenly matched at the top.
  4. Don't sew down one side and then up the other-- this will often skew the zipper as the fabric creeps. Sew from the top down on both sides.
  5. Basting the opening closed while you are installing your zipper helps tremendously - it stabilizes the fabric and ensure that it is centered.
  6. If all of the above fails, buy "Invisible" zippers - these are nearly impossible to do wrong, as they have very detailed instructions, and have a special zipper foot.
What are nap and selvage?

Selvage refers to the lengthwise finished edges on a piece of fabric. These edges are usually a little stiffer and firmer than the crosswise, or cut edge of the fabric, and will not ravel.

If you buy a piece of fabric that is 45" wide by 2 yards long, the selvage edges are along the 2 yards, and the cross wise edge is along the 45" side of the fabric.

Fabrics "with nap" will reflect light differently, or have a one way pattern or design. If your fabric has nap, it is very important that you follow the "With Nap" layout on your instruction sheet. Fabrics with nap include the following:

  1. Pile fabrics - like velvet, velveteen, velour, and corduroy.
  2. Fuzzy surface fabrics, such as brushed flannel, fake fur, plush felt.
  3. Shiny fabrics, such as satin, damask, and some knits.
  4. Plaids and stripes with an uneven repeated pattern.
  5. Printed or woven motifs with a "this end up" look, or one way design.
Stay stitching is a line of regulation length (about 8 stitches per inch) stitching that prevents curved or bias edges, such as necklines and armholes, from stretching out of shape as you are handling your fabric pieces. If your pattern instructions require it, this should be the very first thing you stitch on your garment. To staystitch, stitch 1/2" from the cut edge of the fabric. On deep curves, shorten the stitch length so the stay stitching doubles as reinforcement stitching.
What do I need to know about handling and sewing lightweight soft fabrics and soft transparent fabrics?

Lightweight soft fabrics include crepe de chine and charmeuse. Soft transparent fabrics include chiffon and georgette. They are all fragile and elusive. Follow these tips for easier cutting and handling.

When cutting out, lay the fabric on a non-slip surface, such as one that is padded or covered with cloth. Or, if the fabric is transparent, trace the required number of pieces onto tracing paper with a pen. Place a single layer of fabric on top making sure the grainlines are properly aligned and the fabric is as straight as you can get it. Cut through the paper and fabric all at once. Hem or sew as soon as possible; allowing the pieces to rest causes the edges to relax and "grow" larger.

To minimize wobbly seamlines, use a walking foot for even feeding of the layers, and sew slowly for greater accuracy. If the fabric gets pulled below the needle plate, you may need to stitch on top of tracing paper or embroidery paper, removing it carefully afterward.

Avoid backstitching-use a smaller stitch at the beginning and end of each seam instead.

Use narrow hems. Included are: the rolled hemmer on your serger/overlock machine, hand rolled hem or narrow machine rolled hem.

Consider trimming the seam allowances and darts to ¼" (6 mm) on very sheer fabrics. French seaming of seam allowances is another option.

Use sharp shears or a rotary cutter. Use pattern weights rather than pins. If it is absolutely necessary to use pins, use silk pins and pin only into the seam allowance.

Use a new needle, Universal Point, Yellow Band, in a smaller size, such as 60/8 to 70/10.

Use a loosely balanced thread tension.

Iron with a low temperature. Sheer and lightweight fabrics are easily damaged by hot ironing.

Avoid excessive handling and unpicking of seams.
back to the top
back to the top
What's the difference between a ‘denim’ needle and a ‘universal’ needle?

Most needles you purchase off the wall are a universal unless otherwise noted on needle package. Universal needles are slightly rounded at the tip and are used for both knit and woven fabrics.

Most people mistake larger needles for denim needles. Using a size 18 would be like driving a nail through fabric due to the slightly rounded point. A denim needle has a very sharp point so that it will penetrate tightly woven fabric much easier, therefore a size 14 denim is all that is generally needed.

How often should I change my needle?
Sharp needles make better looking stitches so needles should be changed fairly often to keep your stitch quality consistent. When doing machine embroidery, change needles every 10,000 stitches. This means if you are doing large embroideries, you'll need to change needles after every design to get the best possible stitch quality. In garment construction, you'll need to change needles about every third garment. In quilting, change needles after every third bobbin.
How often should I oil my sewing machine/serger?
With constant use, you should oil your sewing machine or serger about every 10-12 hours of use. A rule of thumb for a machine that is used less often, or used quite a bit and then left to sit for extended periods of time, is to oil it after you are through with your project, and then remember to run it every so often so that the oil is kept distributed through the machine. Of course, you never oil a computerized machine.
When should I have my machine serviced?
We recommend that a machine sewn on regularly be serviced once a year.
What does a serger do and do I still need my regular sewing machine.
Sergers seam, overcasts, and trim in one step. This process takes you two or three steps on your sewing machine. The serger gives you the professional seam and/or finish that you have always wanted. With a 5-thread serger you would be most likely to complete a garment with the exception of buttonholes or zippers. The most widely purchased serger is a 4/3 thread with differential feed. There are some sewing techniques that cannot be done on a serger, such as topstitching, buttonholes and zippers. A serger, like a microwave oven, is a wonderful tool and makes the job go much more quickly, but will not replace the conventional machine.
My thread is making loops on the underside of the fabric, do I need to adjust my bobbin tension?
No! Absolutely not. If the thread is looping on the underside of the fabric that means that the needle tension is too loose--the loops are formed because there is insufficient top tension to keep the thread on top. If the bobbin thread is coming to the top of the fabric it means the needle tension is too tight and is pulling the bobbin up. You should be able to get a balance stitch by adjusting the needle tension. We don't recommend that you adjust the bobbin tension. This could cause more problems than it will cure.
Do I need to have my embroidery machine plugged into a serge protector?
: Yes, absolutely. All computerized machines can be damaged by power serges and should be plugged into serge protectors.
Will my sewing machine use a twin needle?
If your sewing machine loads the bobbin in the front or is a top drop in bobbin it should have no problem. Your manual should tell you. Older machines that thread the needle from the side will not use twin needles.
Will serger thread work in my sewing machine?
Serger thread is made to be use in a serger, which uses three to four threads to finish a seam. Therefore, when you put serger thread on your sewing machine your stitch quality will be affected. For garment construction you should use good quality polyester or cotton covered polyester all purpose thread for the best results.
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
back to the top
1323 Metropolitan Parkway Southwest, Atlanta, GA 30310 (404) 752-7817