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Sewing in General & Machine Embroidery Tutorials

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October 03, 2015 09:28:53 AM by hannnahmaree
Views: 8296 | Comments: 5
Hello There! Today I'll show you step-by-step how to sew five different types of finishing seams. These are suitable for everything from curtains to garments.

This tutorial is originally from my blog. The specific post can be found here: http://palindromedrygoods.blogspot.com/2015/10/sewcabulary-part-3-five-ways-to-finish.html#.Vg_ywbRc3Vk

The original post is slightly more thorough.

Why finish your seams?

Well, firstly, they make the inside of your garment look professional and neat and if you're like me, you always want the inside to be as pretty as the outside.
Secondly, they prevent your fabric from raveling when laundered.
Thirdly, they can actually provide some structural importance, in the case of jeans, for example.

As my sewing knowledge has advanced, I find myself using finishing seams for nearly every project. If you're a beginning seamstress, don't be afraid! Now is a great time to learn these techniques and start incorporating them into those simple projects like pillowcases and curtains. If you're an intermediate or an advanced seamstress, these seams may be an overview for you, or perhaps one of them will be new to you! Comment at the end of the post and let me know if there is another one you'd like demonstrated, or if you sew one of the following seams differently than how I show you!

*We'll be using 5/8" seam allowances through this tutorial.*

1. The French Seam

This seam is great for sheer, lightweight fabrics such as voile, lawn, silks and lace. This is, hands down, the finishing seam I use the most. I use it to finish the majority of the dresses and blouses I make. I also finish all the pillowcases I sell on my Etsy store will french seams so that they don't unravel after being washed.

We're going to start with wrong sides together. If that seems weird to you, you're right, it is weird, but I promise I'm not leading you astray. Trust me!


Sew a 3/8" seam.

We're then going to trim both of the seam allowance to just under 1/4".

Then, fold the fabric right sides together and press.

Pin and sew again, this time with a 1/4" seam allowance.

Ta da! Now you have encased the original seam allowance inside the second seam.

The french seam is incredibly neat on the inside and doesn't change the external appearance of your project at all.

2. The Clean Finished Seam

This seam is excellent for light to medium weight fabrics. Because this seam results in visible seams on the outside of your garment, it is good to use for garments such as unlined jackets and skirts where top-stitching can add be a cute detail. It can, of course, be used for plenty of other projects as well.

We'll start with right sides together. Pin.

Sew with 5/8" seam allowance.

Press seam allowance open and down each edge of the seam allowance, turn under 1/4".


Stitch down each side of the seam allowance, just a hair from the edge.

Your resulting finished seam will look like this on the outside!

3. The Flat Felled Seam

This great finishing seam is often used in denim jeans (take a look at the seam on the inside of your leg if you have jeans on. That's a commercial version of what I'm about to show you!). It is also good for sports clothing and kids clothes because it's tough and adds strength to the seams of your garments.

We'll start with right sides together. Pin.

Sew with 5/8" seam allowance

Press open seam allowance.

Trim one side of the seam allowance to just under 1/4".

On the other side of the seam allowance, fold over 1/4" and press.

Then, fold the folded edge over the trimmed 1/4" seam allowance.

Pin and stitch close to the folded edge.

Your resulting finished Flat Felled seam will look like this on the inside.

And will look like this on the outside.

4. The Bias Bound Seam

This finishing seam looks so darn cute when done in contrasting bias tape. It's perfect for unlined coats, skirts and jackets. It is best for medium and medium/heavy weight fabrics.

Start with right sides together. Pin.

Sew with 5/8" seam allowance.

Iron out seam allowance.

Cut a piece of bias tape 1/2 longer than your seam. Fold out right edge of bias tape and press.

Place your fabric right sides together, leaving one seam allowance out.

Place your bias tape over the seam allowance, long edges even. Pin.

Stitch in the "ditch" left by the fold of the bias tape (that's what my scissor tips are pointing to). You'll be stitching through two layers: one layer of bias tape, and one layer of seam allowance.

Fold bias tape over the seam you just made.

Flip the whole thing over. Now you'll be looking at the opened seam allowance. Your main fabric pieces are still right sides together.

Fold half of the bias tape over the raw edge of your seam allowance.

Iron and pin.

Stitch along the edge of the bias tape (the edge towards the original seam).

When it's all finished, one of your finished seam allowances will look like this!

Repeat all steps on the other seam allowance and then both finished seams will look like this on the inside!

This finished seam doesn't make any changes to the external appearance of the project. Keep in mind that this creates a bit of bulk, and is not suitable for very lightweight or sheer fabrics because the seam finished would create 'lines' that you could see from the outside.

5. The Self Bound Seam

I'll be honest. This is not my favorite finishing seam. It's a bit tedious, but it does make an excellent finish on lightweight fabrics that don't ravel easily.

Start with right sides together.

Stitch a 5/8" seam.

Press open seam allowance.

Trim one side of the seam allowance to 1/8".

Fold over the edge of the other side of the seam allowance 1/4" and press.

Tuck the 1/8" seam allowance into the folded over seam allowance.

Fold the folded edge over the 1/8" piece again and press. (Lots of folding goin' on, eh?)

Push the main fabric pieces to one side and stitch along the edge of the folded seam allowance that is closer to the original seam.

When you're done, it should look like this! You'll have two rows of stitching very close to one another.

And this is what it looks like on the outside. This seam doesn't change the outside appearance.

So there you have it, five different finishing seams that should be in every sewists bag of tricks. What are your favorite finishing seams? Is there another one you'd like to see completed? Thanks for reading!

September 08, 2015 09:32:28 PM by hannnahmaree
Views: 16416 | Comments: 24
Hello There!

I taught sewing lessons at The Tin Thimble in Loomis, CA for 5+ years. At the end of one of my favorite classes "Get to Know Your Sewing Machine" I would show my students how to maintain their sewing machines. I always loved that little end segment, and I never felt that I had enough time to really dive into it. My sewing machine is used several times every week, for hours on end, and I take it to be professionally tuned about once a year. As long as the belts, power cords and tension stay in good condition, I can service it myself. I do what I'm about to show you once a month, to ensure my machine stays in good working order. Some of you may find that servicing your machine yourself solves problems such as skipped stitches, pulling, tucking, slightly-off tension and will greatly increase the longevity of your machine.

Your manual can be a crucial resource to assist you in this process. Look for the sections labeled "maintenance" or "troubleshooting". The manual will also have helpful diagrams of your machine that you can reference throughout this tutorial. If you don't have a manual, most can be found online to download, or on sites such as Ebay or Etsy to purchase.

I would like to say that these instructions are best for older machines. By older I mean most machines from the late 90's and older. Most brand new machines don't leave you the option to service them this thoroughly, and therefore you'd have to take them to a sewing machine repair shop.

There is a slightly more thorough version of this tutorial on my blog here: http://palindromedrygoods.blogspot.com/2015/09/service-your-sewing-machine-yourself.html

What You'll Need:
Screwdrivers in many sizes. You can purchase a kit of small screw drivers from most fabric stores & sewing machine repair stores. You can also use the screwdrivers that come in your eyeglass repair kit. You'll also need a regular sized one that you use around the house.
A knitting needle
A rag or towel that can get (very) dirty.
Sewing machine lubricant. Also available for sale at most fabric stores & sewing machine repair shops. I recommend the singer brand that comes in a tube. I don't recommend the very liquid-y stuff that comes in a squirt-type bottle, but to each their own.
Several brushes. I use old makeup brushes and paint brushes, but you can also purchase a cleaning brush for your machine at the aforementioned stores. You may also use a toothbrush.

To Begin:
Remove all thread spools, the bobbin, the bobbin case and the needle. Set them aside, somewhere safe.

Remove the screws from the top of your sewing machine. Mine in particular has 3, yours may have more or less. Some machines don't have any screws at top, but instead have a hinged lid that opens.

Note if there are washers with the screws and that they may be different sizes. Be sure to make a note of which screw fits in which opening. I recommend using a piece of paper to place your screws on, and to write where they go. Something that looks like the photo below:

Next, remove the top cover. Some machines have a metal bracket underneath that keeps the lid on tight, you may have to push the lid back (away from you), or forward (toward yourself) to get the bracket to unhook.

And then you'll see this! The inner workings of your machine. Take a moment to appreciate all the work it does for you Smiley Turn your hand wheel towards you and take a look at everything that moves in there.

Cleaning the Top of the Machine:
You're now going to take a rag and clean out all the old, nasty, dirty grease. A knitting needle tucked inside a rag becomes a handy tool for reaching those smaller spaces. A toothbrush may come in handy during this step as well. I wouldn't advise using your soft brushes for removing grease, they're better for lint removal later on.

Be gentle: Use kid gloves when cleaning your machine. It doesn't require a lot of force or pressure to get your machine nice and clean. No sharp jabbing! Being too rough will greatly increase your chances of bumping springs, and dislodging crucial pieces.

Watch out for springs! These little babies are sensitive, fragile and will screw up the entire function of your machine if they're dislodged or broken. See the photo below for examples of placement. If they are covered in lint, use a soft brush (like a makeup brush, or the sewing machine-specific cleaning brush) to brush it off. If they are coated in dirty grease, use the rag to gently wipe it off.

Below are pictures of the gross stuff you may encounter in your machine. Hunks of dried grease, dirty grease, lint, threads, etc. all needs to come out! Be sure to clean each place, then turn the hand wheel 1/4 turn so that you can see and clean all sides of the wheels, cogs, etc.

You'll also want to turn your stitch selector, stitch width, and stitch length knobs (depending on where they're placed on your machine) to make sure that you clean all sides of their mechanisms. The photo below shows the built up grease on my stitch selector knob. To get it all clean, I turned the knob through each stitch to clean entirely around the cog.

Oiling the Top of the Machine:
Once you've thoroughly cleaned the top part of your machine, we need to replace all the grease we just removed. Oil helps to keep all the parts and pieces moving smoothly, and prevents excess wear, friction, heat and noise.

We are going to grease any two parts that move against one another.

Below I have pointed to the places I put oil. Your machine may have more or less moving parts.

What not to do:
Don't grease the belts. I am pointing to the drive belt in my sewing machine in the picture below. If any of the belts looks frayed, or cracked, take your sewing machine to a professional to have it replaced.

Don't over oil. Too much oil can cause the pieces to slip and malfunction. If you're using the liquid oil, it only takes a drop or two per part. If you're using the thick stuff, a half-pea sized will be more than enough.

Cleaning the Left Side and the Bobbin Housing:
Now, open the left side panel on your machine. Mine has a hinged door that opens, yours may have screws. If it has screws, be sure to add them to your paper sheet and label them so that you don't forget where they go! It's also a good time to brush any lint off of the tension knob (if that's where yours is placed), and the thread guides along the front of the machine.

Next remove the foot, and the needle if you haven't already. Take a soft brush and clean the dogfeed (those are the little teeth that stick up from the bottom of your machine).

Now remove the needle plate (also known as the throat plate). Mine has screws (see below), some have a bracket underneath so that you can slide the plate off by pulling it towards you.

Remove the lint that builds up underneath the needle plate. Below, you can see that mine was so dirty, I used a small screwdriver to gently push out large pieces of lint. Here's a good time to use your soft brushes & grease-free toothbrush as well.

Removing the Bobbin Housing:
Taking apart the bobbin mechanism can be a little intimidating, but follow along and you shouldn't have a problem. If you have a top loading bobbin, you do not need to follow these steps. Because I don't currently have a top loading machine in my possession, you may want to see what you can find on YouTube, and I will add pictures of that process as soon as I can!

For a front loading bobbin: you should see two small arms on either side of the bottom of the bobbin mechanism. Gently push those arms away from the case. See the photo below.

You can then remove the first metal piece (known as the 'race'). See below.

You will then be able to remove the second metal piece (known as the 'hook'.)

Gently brush out the entire bobbin mechanism. Brush over the hook and race and collect all the lint you find. Mine is below. Gross.

Oiling the Left Side and the Bobbin Housing:
Again, turn your hand wheel and watch what moves inside the left side panel. Place a drop of oil anyplace where two mechanical pieces move against one another.

Be sure to place a small amount on the needle bar (the cylindrical piece of metal that moves the needle up and down).  

For the bobbin mechanism, be sure to place a small amount behind the part that swings back and forth (move the hand wheel in full rotations to find this part). See the photo below.

Cleaning the Underside of the Machine:

My machine has a small plastic arm at the side that holds the machine into it's bottom case.Whether your machine is in a case like mine, in a table, or not in any kind of housing, you'll need to tip it back so that you can look underneath it. I rested mine on a stack of books, but you could also lay a towel down on your workspace and set it in on it's back.

Take your soft cloth and gently wipe down the underside as well as the bottom of the case, if the machine is in one.

Oiling the Underside of the Machine:
Once more, turn your hand wheel and watch what moves underneath the machine. Place a drop of oil anyplace where two mechanical pieces move against one another. Look for very small movements at the underside of your machine, not all parts here make drastic movements.

Reassembling the Bobbin Housing:
Firstly, turn your hand wheel until the inner crescent moon shaped piece in the housing is on the right.

Secondly, pop the 'hook' into the housing, it will only fit in all the way if the crescent-moon shaped piece is in the right place. You may have to adjust it's position using the handwheel.

Third, place the 'race' over the top of the hook and the crescent-moon shaped piece. See that itty-bitty notch at the bottom of the housing between the two black arms? That notch helps align the 'race' to the rest of the housing.

Lastly, pop the little black arms over the little metal buttons on the housing. Be sure that the dogfeed lever to the right of the housing (it usually has little red arrows on it), is in it's upright position.

To Finish Up:
Lastly, replace all the screws in your machine (top, side and bobbin), and give the machine one last good wipe down. My machine gets especially dusty on the back side and in the grooves of the case.

Then, replace the needle, and using a piece of fabric that you don't care about (you could even use the rag you've used through this whole process), run the machine at full speed, without any thread in it. This moves the oil throughout the machine and allows any excess oil to work it's way out. You may see oil on the fabric, and that's OK. Continue using the machine without any thread until you don't see oil on the fabric anymore. Then, using thread you don't care about, thread the bobbin and the top of the machine and sew some more. You may see that the thread is greasy (either on the top or the bottom), and this is OK too.

So, phew, there it is! I think it looks a lot more daunting in pictures than it is in real life. When I service my machine it only takes about 15 minutes.

What did I forget? I'd be happy to add pictures and descriptions to anything. (You can check the blog post for a few extra pictures too!)

What questions do you have?

Would you guys be interested in a tutorial on fixing the tension on your machine?

Comment below and let me know!

Happy sewing, thanks for reading.

July 18, 2012 12:15:46 PM by jungrrl
Views: 81545 | Comments: 0
Here are links to almost completely thorough lists of the tutorials that are available on Craftster's Sewing in General boards.  Some tutorials were excluded for lack of clarity and no tutorials listed solely on other sites were included. 

If you find another tutorial that you feel should be included here, please reply! This has obviously been quite a big undertaking and with so many pieces to the puzzle, some things may have fallen through the cracks. If you notice that a link is incorrect or a description is not correct, please let us know either here or in the specific tutorial list thread. We want this to be as easy to use as possible.

Sewing in General: Discussions and Questions: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=411614.0

Machine Embroidery: Completed Projects: https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=411615.0

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