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TOPIC: New to machine piecing

Re: New to machine piecing 29 Sep 2013 02:43 #110614

  • EditorAnne
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Welcome to quilting, Mathew. Your hand-pieced nine patch looks great. :)

You're getting great advice on this forum. I just want to add a few points to help you get comfortable with your sewing machine. I don't know what kind you have or how old it is, but these points are true for all machines.

1. Put in a new needle after about 8 hours of sewing time, or every time you start a new project. Needles are about $1 apiece. They're cheap. You're allowed to replace them often. Your machine will work better if you do.

2. Always hold the thread tails when you start sewing. On some machines this isn't critical, but on other machines you have to hold them taut or they'll get sucked down into the machine and create a mess of thread called a bird's nest on the back of your work.

3. Clean and oil your machine every 8 hours of sewing time. Your manual will tell you how to do this.

4. Resist the temptation to pull the fabric out of the back of the machine as you sew. Let the machine feed the fabric through for you. All you need to do is rest your fingertips on the fabric before it goes under the presser foot, with your left hand to the left of the presser foot and your right hand in front of the presser foot. All you're doing is guiding the direction of the fabric--you're not helping it to move in any way. This will help prevent bent or broken needles.

5. Make sure the thread take-up lever is in its highest position before you pull your work out of the machine. This ensures that the stitch cycle is complete, so there's no stress on your needle as you pull the work out of the machine.

6. Remember to lower your presser foot before you start stitching. If you don't, the tension discs won't be engaged, and the machine won't make a proper stitch. Remember to raise the presser foot (and disengage the tension discs) whenever you want to pull the thread out through the needle, such as when you're pulling your work out of the machine.

6. Turn the flywheel (also called the handwheel) ONLY by pulling it down toward yourself. If you turn it in the wrong direction when the machine is threaded, you can damage the machine. This is about the only way you can damage the machine, by the way, so there's really not too much to worry about. Oh, except that you MUST STOP SEWING if the needle breaks. You need to find and remove the broken tip, so it doesn't get caught in the mechanism under the feed dogs and damage the hook.

That's it. Everything else is a matter of trying things and seeing if you like the results. And remember, the more you practise, the better you'll get. It's all part of the fun.

Enjoy yourself!

in Vancouver, Canada
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Re: New to machine piecing 29 Sep 2013 00:49 #110612

  • beckyezra
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welcome to the forum.
you will mess ( a little) the quilt and the machine but you will learn from it!
it will not be that bad!
you will learn to listen to your machine, and listen to your quilt.
listen, see and feel those are very important feature in quilting.
good luck! and dont forget to enjoy quilting!!
the machine will be your best friend! and quilts ...no need to say a word about those...
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 22:59 #110611

  • loise98
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Yes, Matthew, welcome! Where are you?
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 21:19 #110610

  • Margo
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:lol: :lol: Matthew, I'd say that you have officially been adopted by the Forum Lounge Lizards! :lol: :lol:

I hope we haven't scared you off!

It's Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter
That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived !
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 21:19 #110609

  • clhdabb
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Welcome, Matthew! I really have nothing to add-- just go for it! You'll love the classes, projects and all the helpful advice and encouragement on this site!

in 'Yes, I Know the Way to San Jose...', California, USA
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 19:07 #110608

  • rehak
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Hi Mathew -

I thought I'd just add my 2 cents worth.

I can't remember what it was like to learn to use a sewing machine because I learned when I was little, although I didn't really start sewing until college (that rebel against the home-made clothes thing as a kid). Then I bought a $100 Brother sewing machine and don't remember ever feeling worried about hurting it. I used it for over 10 years, never getting it serviced and I don't remember if I ever cleaned it, and it worked great until the end when the mother board died and it was going to be more expensive to fix than what I had originally paid for the machine. At that point I bought my first Bernina.

As far as quilting and piecing, I say just go for it. You certainly can't hurt anything in a quilt. First, it's just fabric. If something really didn't work, then you can just throw it away. However, I very rarely throw anything away. I come at quilting with 2 "truths" in mind: it's a hobby so as long as I'm having fun then it doesn't matter what I do or make and as long as a quilt is put together so that it won't fall apart, then it can always be used to provide warmth so it's always a success. Because of the second truth, I actually started off never making anything smaller than a baby or lap quilt. But now that I'm more experienced, I'm willing to make smaller items since I'm more confident that they'll turn out in a way that I will still be willing to use or hang them.

So, I think the most important thing you can do is relax and enjoy the ride. It's a wonderful hobby and stressing out about things will just take away the fun and will also cause you to tense up and have trouble getting things to go together nicely. And remember to share with us everything that you make because we love to see everything and you'll be amazed at how much support you'll get here. It's a great group of people!!

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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 18:01 #110607

  • kathyst2
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Hi Matthew, welcome to the quilting life!

You've gotten a lot of good info here, I'll just chime in for a couple of specifics:

Start out with a size 80/12 needle and 50 weight thread. (That's regular sewing thread). We all have opinions on which thread we like but honestly, just start with the thread you can buy at JoAnn until you know more what you like. If you can get all cotton thread, that's what most of us sew with.

Get a decent seam ripper. I use mine ALL the time and it's frustrating using a crummy one. usually the ones that come with sewing machines are crummy.

If your stitches look funny, maybe you didn't thread the machine right or your tension is way off. You can come on here and ask away, believe me you'll get advice on what to do :D . If your machine makes loud whining noises, stop sewing immediately and figure out what is happening. It's mostly related to misthreading or thread jams.

You're in good company here. We love quilting and we are very friendly, so just join right in! :D :D
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 17:56 #110606

  • Lorchen
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Mathew, 'messing up' it's not an option. It's a certainty. I'm speaking from experience! :)

You should see my first couple of quilts! They are both still very much used, and their imperfections are part of why I like them so much.

If you are worried about tackling a big quilt, and you are not used to your sewing machine, you could start by making several smaller pieces, so that you can practise. A set of tablemats, or a table runner for Christmas might appeal to you.
From the edge of Sherwood Forest, home of Robin Hood
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 14:30 #110604

  • Renata
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Great colors on your nine-patch, Mathew and welcome to the Forum!

I purchased my first sewing machine almost four years ago when I decided I wanted to learn how to quilt. I can say I worried as much about messing up the quilt and the machine as I did about cutting fabric and getting it wrong! It turns out that none of that matters because as you practice and make mistakes on the smaller project you should be trying (a runner instead of a bed quilt, for example), you'll find that you get better and better. As you get better at piecing, you won't be messing up as much and you'll also find that even if you mess up something, you can always take your trusty seam ripper and unpick the stitches and redo.

But to address your concerns, let me take them one at a time:

1. If you mess up something on the quilt, redo it. If ripping out the stitches too many times causes the fabric to stretch too much, you can always cut another piece of fabric and redo the block. My rule of thumb at the beginning was that if I had to rip a seam out three times, I would just cut fabric for a brand new block and try again.

2. When I wanted to try piecing something I had never done before, I would take scrap fabric or cheap fabric from the 50 percent off bin at Joann Fabrics and make a smaller version of what I wanted to make to practice making the blocks before doing the actual quilt I wanted to make. Here is my first quilt:

Attachment {!-- ia1 -->First Quilt.JPG{!-- ia1 --> not found

It was insane of me to want to tackle this as a first quilt, but I made table runners out of cheap fabric using those blocks until I got comfortable enough that I could do the larger quilt. The runner fabric was so ugly that I did not feel bad wasting it. After all was said and done, I LOVED the runner (including the fabric combination) I made and still use it as a "table mat for two" to this day. Four years later, the quilting on that first trial project looks better than I thought back then! Here's the runner:

{!-- ia0 -->P1010155.JPG{!-- ia0 -->

3. So I guess my point is, just be fearless and have fun. Some of the worries now, ten years from now you won't even remember, so let go and enjoy the process of learning. Some of our best learning comes from making mistakes. Some of the best innovative things we create come from mistakes, so let that be part of the journey.

There is probably not much you can do to permanently ruin a sewing machine. My first machine (and only machine) was a top-of-the-line Bernina 830. I thought there was plenty I could do to ruin the machine, especially since I'd never sewn, let alone done it on a "sewing computer" with lots of bells and whistles.

1. Whether a simple machine or a complex one, take the time to read the manual and learn your machine's capabilities are and how to operate it. If you have a problem with something, stop, check the manual.

2. Look online and see whether the website for the brand of machine you have provides tutorials or projects that help you learn the capabilities of your machine. Make one of those projects to learn your machine. It's all about practice.

3. Keep your machine in good working order. At the end of the day, when I'm finished sewing, I take a few minutes to clean my machine so that when I turn on the next day it's ready to go and also never gets so dirty that it interferes with stitch quality.

4. Learn that there is a relationship among thread, needle and tension (I call it TNT). Learn the different needles available and what they are best suited for, the size of the opening of the needle and how that relates to the size thread you use. Practice getting good tension with your seam. Your manual probably has all that. Go to a nearby sewing machine dealer and ask one of their specialists to help you better understand that, if you need it (you can probably find some good online YouTube tutorials on this).

5. Take a class on how to operate your machine. Make sure you read the manual before you go and be prepared to ask questions.

6. If you really think you've messed up badly and don't know what to do, call someone (perhaps your technician or dealer or post on the Forum here). Never feel that you can't ask for help. We learn so much from others!

These are the things I remember most from when I started not so long ago. I am doing things today that I never thought I could do but it's all been part of a journey I chose to embark on because it was something I really wanted to be doing and enjoyed. I thought about quitting a couple of times, but just took time-out and came back to it when I was ready to try again. And I feel pretty fearless nowadays because the seam ripper has become my best friend and I can always cut another piece of fabric. You're going to get a lot of great advice from lots of folks on this forum--try things you learn and see what works for you and what doesn't. There is no one way of doing things in this hobby, there are many paths. Hope this helps and look forward to hearing about your adventures with quilting. :D

PS Think about joining a local guild--lots of seasoned quilters who would love to teach you the ropes! :D

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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 14:18 #110603

  • Margo
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Hi Matthew! Welcome to TQS and to the forum and to THE QUILT LIFE!! :D

I don't think it will take you long to get over the "fear" of your machine if you spend some time getting to know her! Take your manual and go through each page so that you understand how the machine works, what you need to do to maintain her, and when you may need professional help with service.

It will also help to make a "bible" of all the stitches your machine can make. If you have access to TQS episode #1011 with Carol Ann Waugh [url]watch/watch-shows/video/show-1011-stupendous-stitching[/url]
you will see how she made one that starts with the default settings on the stitches, and how you can totally change the look of the decorative machine stitches just by changing the length and width of the default settings! That will give you some bonding time with your machine and help you understand how to get it to do exactly what you want!

Attachment 5305_Bernina_Bible.JPG not found

Other than that just keep learning new techniques and have fun!!

And, here is a link to the tutorial that Rosemary suggested for your 1/4" seam allowance: [url]learn/classrooms/[/url]

It's Not What You Gather, But What You Scatter
That Tells What Kind Of Life You Have Lived !
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 14:05 #110602

  • PosyP
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Hi Mathew, and welcome to the forum.

Starting any new hobby can be fraught with fear that we might mess up. You won't be turning out beautiful prizing winning heirlooms immediately, but likewise don't let the fear of messing up stop you from trying either. Tell yourself, that you can do it and jump on in anyway. Heather/Learning-as-I-go is an excellent example of this. If you go to the Classrooms section and look up the classes by Margo Clabo you will find some excellent tutorials to help you along (she will probably be along shortly with a link for her seam test which is very useful information too). Also if you have any queries/questions just post them on the forum and one of us will be along to help fairly soon. (We also like to chat about all sorts of things, do join in :wink: )

Since you are new to sewing machines,
a) take it slowly at first (just like learning to drive a car)
b) try and keep your hands to either side of the needle instead of having your fingers right in front of the needle where you might accidently sew into them. (At least until you confident to do this)
c) Practice - little & often is best. An exercise to get used to the machine &sewing straight lines - unthread the machine, take a sheet of lined paper and 'sew' on the lines. When you get good at that, try it with a sheet of unlined paper taking your first guide as 1/4" from the edge and then put the next stitching lines parallel to that.

And just remember there are no 'design mistakes' just 'design variations' - but don't be afraid to take the seam ripper to anything you are not happy with either, lots of us are best friends with out seam rippers :wink:

PS I learnt to use a machine as a teen for clothing and tend to be of the type that if it involves needle, thread & fabric I can probably do it (whatever the technique) and jump right in without worrying too much, but that is just me....

Embroideress Extrordinaire & Mad Hatter
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Re: New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 13:38 #110601

We all have had fears of one type or another when it comes to quilting. I made two quilts before I had a clue what I was doing and one still lives on our bed. The other one was given away, fought over in a divorce and inherited by the second wife with the same first name. I haven't checked on it lately as we have moved away from the recipient but the last I heard it was still intact. Next I made a sampler quilt for my step grandson and his wife ten years ago. It is still alive and well and resides on their bed through many washings etc.

We all start somewhere. (Ricky started with a sampler quilt and look where he is now!!!!! Alex started with blocks made by her grandmother - I think - and the rest is history, too)

Do the best you can with your piecing, the machine will survive especially if you have a good technician you can take it to when things go wrong. (My first machine lasted over thirty years with minimal repair until the bobbin mechanism went haywire and could not be fixed) Since then I have had two Vikings and now a Bernina. My granddaughter has one of the Vikings now and I still use the other one and the Bernina.

Good luck to you and HAPPY QUILTING. It is a great and rewarding (and sometimes expensive) hobby but I plan to keep on quilting until I die at the machine.

Hugs to you, Ann
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New to machine piecing 28 Sep 2013 13:04 #110600

Hi i am new to machine piecing, and actually very new to quilting. and i was just wonder how long it took everyone to get use to the machine. to be honest the machines scare me a little. i am afraid that i am going to 1. mess up the quilt and 2. mess up the machine. did everyone have this fear at first?

Thanks Mathew
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