28 February 2011

sewing machine trouble shooting tips

It's been some time since my last back to basics post, and I feel terribly guilty! I feel a little like going to church and asking for forgiveness in the confessional booth....

I was rather poorly in January with a series of viruses,  frankly I was plain wiped out! I  had 3 weeks away from my theatre work, which i planed to fill with lots of lovely blog postings, course development, and having a life, but sadly being sick took all that away.

My theatre work re-started at the end of jan, and i've been up to my neck in 1950's glam ever since. We open "Million dollar quartet" on monday 28th feb- today! From now on my work should level out to an even pace, and I can resume my resolution to blog more.

Last week a roman blind student got in touch after having some problems with the brand new machine she'd just bought. I've also had a few sewing surgery students drop by with similar problems. It's unlikely that a new machine is faulty, problems usually occur for a few simple reasons. So here is my trouble shooting advice for problematic sewing.

1- Make sure you are using the same quality/brand of thread in the top and bottom of your machine-if not then this may be the problem. Different colours of the same brand are alright, but if the top is cotton, and the bottom polyester then they will fight and make your stitching bad.

2- Have you adjusted the top thread tension? The manual tells you to do this but in my experience it isn't necesary, and is usually the problem if the stitching is puckering either underneath, or on-top. Reset the top tension dial to the factory default of 5( This is usually outlined/coloured and is the middle point on the tension dial.)

3- When stitching goes bad, I suggest you change the needle particularly when you're unsure what weight of fabric was last stitched, and the needle may have blunted. I really recommend using a good quality needle. I prefer schmetz needles which although are a touch more expensive, have proved to be of a superior quality, and last longer than other brands.

4- Check that your bobbin thread is tightly wound on. If it's baggy then re wind it, ensuring that the thread is in the bobbin tension guide( this will be in your manual if you're not sure) 

5-Completly re-thread the upper thread and re-insert your bobbin, ensuring that the thread is to the left as it drops in, and turning anti-clockwise( for top loading bobbins) or that the thread is to the right and turning clockwise ( for front loading bobbins) 

Generally most problems are with incorrect threading, bobbin insertion, or getting too excited with a new machine and playing with all the dials. If you try all the above, and still have problems, then give your sewing machine dealer a call.

Happy stitching...

25 February 2011

Friday giveaway

This Sunday i'm teaching our starting from scratch beginners sewing day. The morning is spent making a hand-sewn fabric corsage. I love fabric flowers, and they're a great way to use up scrap fabrics.

This week I am giving away a pair of brand new clover Yo Yo makers, a brilliant way to make fabric corsages.

Yo Yo makers

To win the Yo Yo maker please leave a comment with the answer to the following question either here on the blog, our facebook page or on twitter.
Where was my first theatrical costume job?

Winner to be announced next Thursday march 3rd

fascinating fascinators!

Here at The Thrifty Stitcher we are a little bit in love with fascinators. But what is a fascinator?

With the royal wedding looming, many of us think of Kate Middleton when we hear about fascinators, as she has often been spotted wearing them.

In actual fact the fascinator has been around since the 18th century, and was an indicator of an individuals wealth and status. Hats used to be worn primarily for warmth, and protection. the fascinator developed as way of decorating the head or hair purely for asthetic reasons, and were never worn to keep warm! Think Elton John and his fabulous ship wig, and that's the sort of confection worn in the 18th century.

With the rising interest in all things vintage, fascinators have had a massive resurgance over the last few years. Unlike hats, which need to fit your head perfectly, fascinators are one size and much easier to wear. Often fascinators are made with less materials than hats, and so are a more cost effective option for formal occasions like weddings.

Modern day fascinators can be anything from an elaborate sex and the city style head-piece to a simple flower behind the ear. The popularisation of burlesque has launched the sexy into mainstream culture.


We run fascinator classes and parties, and constantly look for new inspiration and materials. As Thrifty stitchers, we like to think outside the box, and use non traditional materials and techniques. We do also follow some simple millinery rules too, and we're so happy that from next month Chrissie the fabulous expert behind "hat therapy" will be writing a monthly millinery tips, techniques and what's hot blog for us here. Chrissie runs an amazing shop and online millinery business and we love her blog!
I Love Chrissie's work and her blog. She gives little glimpses into her working life, and shares her passion for hats.  I can't wait for her monthly slot here on the thrifty blog, but here is one of my favourite pieces from Chrissie's blog.

Our next Fascinator class is on feb 26th- tomorrow so do get in touch if you fancy a creative saturday afternoon... Otherwise see you next month.