Show, Tell, Share is no longer an active blog. You can find us at our new homes:
visit Ideleon here
visit Dora & Rachel at Untrendy Life

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Reversible Bag Revisited With Sewing Tips

OK, I may be a tad bit addicted to making these. Reversibility opened up a whole new world! No more having to decide between favorite fabrics. With the right color combination I can use 2 instead of just one. The first bag was an experiment, I wanted to see if my idea would work. I was  so pleased with the results, that while I was still working on the pattern, I started to make a second bag. And a third.
 I finished Reversible Bag #2 and started working on #3. Unfortunately, my sewing machine started acting funny. My top tension was off no matter what I did. I struggled with it for a few frustrating hours, then  I had to admit to myself that I needed to call the only person I would ever want to tinker with my machine. Thankfully, I was able to drop it off at Melvin's, an elderly gentleman, who is a genius when it comes to sewing (yes, he sews with great skill) and sewing machine repair.  While I was there, I got a lecture from him. Yes, it was a real lecture!

 I am passing along what I can remember, and hopefully others will be able to benefit from it also.

"Are you using the right thread and needles?"
That was the first question Melvin asked me when I told him that my upper tension was not right. {I tried adjusting it, trust me. And got in trouble for that too!}
About threads:

 "You wouldn't think about putting kerosene in your car. Then why do you use low quality thread? Using high quality thread will make you machine sew smoother and you will have less problems." Yup, I got lectured for using cheap thread. It frays, clogs up your machine with bits of thread, lint and does not last as long. Get the good stuff! It is better to splurge and get high quality thread in a few essential colors, than having cheap thread in a myriad of colors and shades. And never, ever use old thread. I know it is tempting to stock up on thread at garage sales or happily accept decades old thread from Grandma's sewing box, but it is not a good idea. We all know what happens when something gets old.  Enough said.

Links about types of threads: Link 1, Link 2,
Link to article about quality of sewing threads: Link 1,
And the brands I got from Melvin: Mettler and Gutermann you can find both at Joann's.

About needles:

Do not use all purpose needles! (That's pretty much all I had). For woven fabric use sharps, for knits use ballpoint. You do not have to throw away your all purpose needles, they are great for polyester.  Do not be afraid of changing  needle sizes during projects. A lot of people make the mistake of using a medium size needle for all their projects. Please don't.  Your thread will pucker and your tension will be off if you do not have the right size needle for the job. Here is a great article on how to choose the right needle for the fabric you are working with.  And change those needles often! A good rule is to change your needle after about 4 hours of sewing time. You read it right. Every 4 hours of sewing time. So stock up when there is a sale!

About tension:

Do not touch the dial! Do not change it! If you have good thread and the right needle size, you should not have any trouble with tension. I am talking about the upper thread tension. I hope you already know not to EVER change the tension on the bobbin. If you really need to play around, get a new bobbin case. But do not mess with the bobbin tension that came with your machine. EVER!

In general:

Do not let others use your machine! Seriously. Melvin will not even let his mother or wife sew on his machine! If you really need to help a friend out, do the actual sewing yourself. You know your machine. You know its quirks and how to handle it. Your friend does not. She may unintentionally do something that you will end up paying for later.

Melvin  is definitively old fashioned, but I trust him. When I dropped my machine off, he told me it will be ready later the same day. I was not going to be able to come back, so I told him not to worry about it, I will pick it up next Saturday. He stared at me and said, "But that's a week from today. What are you going to do all week?"  Hmm...take care of the kids, clean my house, homeschool, have a life. OK, I did not say my thoughts out loud, I just told him I can always cut patterns out. He just shook his head. "A whole week without sewing? No. How about tomorrow? Can you come and pick it up tomorrow?"
We finally agreed that my husband will swing by after work on Monday. Melvin was happy with that answer. I know my machine is in good hands and he will do his best. I also asked him to go ahead and do the yearly maintenance work also (a must:  take your machine in once a year have it cleaned thoroughly and checked over).

Can't wait to get my machine back. I know it will sew like a dream again! Then I can finish the third Reversible Bag and start on some pants for the boys. They need shorts and the warm weather is around the corner in Texas!

{Note: my machine is back and it is sewing so  much more quietly,  smoothly and no trouble with the tension...It just needed a good cleaning. -  and I am almost done with the 3rd bag!!!}

A couple more pictures of the new bag, just to show off.

Oh, see the DIY tag peeking out?

This post was shared at:
Home Stories A2ZTip Junkie handmade projectsChic on a Shoestring DecoratingThe DIY Show Off