Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Help! My Sewing Machine Is Sewing By Itself!

About 10 years ago, I purchased a Janome sewing machine (DC 3050). It was my very first computerized sewing machine and I loved her!  She was so quiet and had so many stitches...I was in heaven.

A couple of years after I had the machine, the machine would literally sew on its own after I had taken my foot off from the pedal. I would be sewing along and then it would just keep on stitching after I would stop pressing on the pedal. It was a little frightening as I thought she was seriously broken and I had to turn off the machine to make it stop. So of course, I consulted with Google.

It turns out that I was not alone. Other sewers had reported the SAME thing!  Here is what I discovered. First, you need to know that this machine has a pedal that is ALL METAL. Most pedals nowadays (even my sewing/embroidery machine combo) have plastic pedals. I have never had this happen with them.

Basically what was happening was that there was a build up of static electricity in the pedal that was causing this phenomenon to happen. I am not sure if it is because the pedal is on carpet or because I always wear socks when I sew or what but that is what was happening. I found another person on the internet who gave a solution that has helped me and so I wanted to post it again to maybe help someone else in this situation.

Here is what you need: your pedal, a tool kit with small screwdrivers, and a pencil with a rubber eraser.


First things first, UNPLUG YOUR FOOT PEDAL FROM YOUR SEWING MACHINE.  Yes, it is worth mentioning as it would not be wise to go through the steps in this tutorial with it plugged into a power source.  Thank you, Susan M., for catching that!

Next, see that little screw at the base of the pedal?  Go ahead and unscrew that.  Choose the right screwdriver for the size screw so that you don't strip it.  Ask me how I know, lol.

Go ahead and take the cover off from the pedal.  My pedal only has two parts that come apart at this point.  If you are afraid that you won't remember how yours goes back together, take pictures with your cell phone as you work to help you remember later on.

Here is what the inside of the pedal looks like.  It is a little overwhelming to look at but we will walk through it.

See those connectors that my pencil tip is pointing at?  If you press down on the pedal, the little connectors (sorry, I don't know the proper term) slide along the brown plate where the black marks are.  That is area we need to focus on.  

Take the rubber eraser on your pencil and rub that area down.  I rub all along the brown plate where both of the black track marks are.  From what I read, the rubber helps to take away the static electricity.  Do a good job as you don't want to have to do this again for awhile, lol.

Now comes the fun part of putting everything back together!  I put my two pieces back together and make that the holes for the screw match up.  Go ahead and use your screwdriver to put the screw back in its place. 

That should do it!  At the most, I do this about every 1-2 years or as buildup occurs.  Folks on the internet suggest to just buy a new foot pedal and you may need to if this solution does not immediately take care of the problem but I am not convinced that this wouldn't happen with a new metal pedal.  Others have suggested putting a rubber mat under the pedal to help keep down the static electricity and I did do that for awhile and it did help.  I should get that mat back out again now that I don't move my machines around as often as I did when I taught sewing classes.  

I would love to hear if you have had this problem and if this solution helped!

Friday, January 27, 2017

iPhone Stand

On my Facebook page yesterday, I posted a picture teaser as to what I was working on for today.  Here is the finished project...an iPhone holder/stand!

I had pinned on Pinterest the link to this tutorial by Factotum of Arts.  As I sew, I will often catch up on shows or watch old tv series on Netflix on my phone.  I normally just prop up my phone next to my machine but then the machine would vibrate and then, well, you can see where I am going with this.  

This tutorial was SO easy but I do realize that I had everything on hand which helped. The peacock fabric I purchased at Joann Fabrics. It is in their premium quality quilting cotton section.  A little more expensive but it was just too pretty to pass up...and I had a coupon.  You might remember this BAG that I also made with this fabric.  

The tutorial also called for rice and polyester stuffing to stuff it with.  Check.  Then the tutorial called for ultra firm Peltex.  This is for the small, flat area where the iPhone sits.  I actually had some of that on hand too from my sewing teacher days.  You might be able to used something else instead if you don't have that.  Maybe just a thicker fabric like denim or a home decor?  It just needs to be a little stiffer/thicker and you need to be able to sew through it so a piece of cardboard wouldn't do. 

The tutorial pictured a small loop at the top for the cord but I didn't do that.  That cord is for the older iPhones and mine is the newer one with the tiny plug in end so it would just fall out anyhow.

I am pretty happy with how it turned out!  I have already used it to start catching up on shows that I missed this week.  If you decide to make one, I would love to see pictures...you can also post them to my Facebook page HERE.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Seeds Table Topper

A little over a month ago, a close friend of mine had a birthday.  I wanted to make her something special for the upcoming holiday so I decided to make her a table topper that I had been wanting to make for myself.  Sometimes making things for others creates a greater motivation and things get done quicker!

I decided to make the Winter Seeds Table Topper from The Crafty Quilter.  Even if you don't quilt but just want to look at some fabric pretties, her website is fun to browse through.

Years ago, I had purchased a set of winter fabric fat quarters at a fabric store near Lancaster, PA.  My friend is also originally from that part of the state so I decided to use them in her table topper.  Here is how it turned out:

That snowman fabric in there is some of my FAVORITE.  

I did my make my "seeds" a little differently than in her tutorial to try a different technique. I have the circle magic plus (now called the small orange peel) template from the Missouri Star Quilt Company and I used that to cut out two pieces of fabric for each seed.  I sewed them together and then cut a slit in the fabric that would be on the bottom to turn them right side out.  I then ironed them (really well) and then sewed them on the table topper.  In my next one, I will use more of her method but probably do fusible web on the whole seed as opposed to just the edge.  I am pretty sure that I have enough patience to do all of that cutting like she did to have the fusible web just at the edges! 

I forgot to measure the table topper before giving it my friend but it is a good size.  The Crafty Quilter lists the final size as being 27 1/2" wide.  It really is a fun and not too hard of a pattern to make.  And the color options are endless!  I think I will make one for spring next!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

How to Finish Fabric Edges

A couple of weeks ago, I posted some pictures on Facebook of the little travel tissue holders that I made for the Operation Christmas Child boxes that our church put together.  In case you missed it, here they are again.

They were a lot of fun to make and are a great way to use up scraps of fabrics as well.  This is the TUTORIAL that I used to make mine.

I thought I would use this project to write a little tutorial on how to finish off fabric edges to keep them from fraying after washing or use.  If you make a project that has exposed seams on the inside, you will need to finish them to keep them from fraying after much use or washing.

I used woven, cotton prints for these little pouches so that is what we will be working on in this tutorial.  Woven fabrics like to fray so we need to treat the edges.  Let's begin!

3 Ways to Finish Fabric Edges

1.  Zig Zag Stitch

If you have a sewing machine at home, chances are it can sew a zig zag stitch.  There are some straight stitch only machines but the majority of machines have several stitches to choose to from and the zig zag stitch is one.

To finish my edges, I set my machine to the zig zag stitch and then adjusted the stitch width and stitch length.  My stitch length is 2.5 and as you can see from this picture, my stitch width is 3.5.  This is how wide the zag is.  You can make it bigger if you would like but I didn't have a lot of fabric in my seams after I trimmed them so I kept this number at 3.5.

Most machines do come with a special presser foot to do the overcast stitches (which is what a zig zag stitch is) but for this tutorial, I am just going to use the standard presser foot "A". 

I put my fabric under the presser foot and what you want to happen is when the needle goes to the left, it stitches in the fabric but when the needle moves to the right, it should go off the edge of the fabric by just a little.  You can turn your hand wheel towards you a couple of times to make sure you have lined it up correctly.  You can reverse with a zig zag stitch so don't forget to do that at the beginning and end line of stitching!

Here are all of the tissue holders where I zig zagged the edges!  There is a seam on each side of the holder but this picture only one side of the holders.  If there aren't perfect or if you didn't go off the edge of the fabric perfectly, don't worry!  These are one on the INSIDE and normally are not seen.  They really are meant to be functional more than pretty.  This will help keep your edges from fraying.

2. Pinking Shears

You remember these shears from Grandma's sewing box.  They looked really cool to cut with but she wouldn't let you near them!  Now you will find out why!

These are the shears with the little triangles in the blades.  They are super sharp and you want to keep them that way so do NOT use them on paper!  They aren't the easiest to have sharpened so keeping them sharp is a high priority here.

You can use these in a couple different ways to finish off fabric edges.  You could cut out your pieces of fabric with pinking shears before sewing OR you can trim off your seams with them after sewing.   In this project, I choose the latter.  I sewed all of my little holders together and then went back and just slightly trimmed off the fabric edges with the pinking shears.  These little triangles cut the fabric on the bias and when that happens, it is less likely to fray.

Pinking shears are a great thing to have on your Christmas list too.  Here is a *link to where your loved one can buy a pair for you!

3.  Serger

Now I do realize that most folks don't own a serger but I still wanted to cover it in case you find that it would be helpful in what you mainly sew.  As you know, my Etsy shop offers catheter bag covers and these are not lined so all of them have exposed seams on the inside.  I use my serger to finish off all fabric edges so that they don't fray from all the washings they will receive.  My serger provides a very sturdy overcast serger stitch so I prefer this over a zig zag stitch on my regular sewing machine.

This is my serger.  I actually bought it used at my local Janome dealer here in Stallings called AAA Sewing Shoppe.  The owner knew that I was in the market for one and that I didn't really want to pay a lot for a brand new one since I didn't know then how much I would really use it.  She called me when the local school district decided to trade in their "old" ones for the year (mine was barely 3 years old and hardly used).  My Janome serger is an 1110DX.

You can either finish off the edges of fabric with the serger BEFORE sewing the fabric pieces today or you can serge the seams as you sew your project.  I just serge my seams for this project after I was all done.  Here is how they look.

Serging the fabric edges is a really durable way to finish them especially if they are going to be handled or washed a lot.  Now, see that thread tail in the second picture?  What I do with those that are left hanging out is to thread that tail through a large knitting needle and then run the tail back through the serged loops of thread.  This is a great way to finish them off so they are less likely to come undone.  There are other ways to finish off the tails but this is the method that I use the most.  

So there you have it!  Three common ways to finish off the fabric edges in exposed seams.  Hope one of these methods works well for what you make.  

* Affiliate Link

Friday, October 14, 2016

Support Your LQS - Local Quilt Shop

Support your local quilt shop!  

Some folks think that local quilting stores are "just for quilters" or are "too expensive" when in fact their fabrics can be used for LOTS of projects and they often have sales to help make their high quality fabrics more affordable!  

My local quilt shop is Quilt Patch Fabrics here in Stallings, NC. This weekend is Barefoot Weekend at the shop where members get 20% off fabrics and supplies. I became a member years ago by paying a small fee and enjoy this once a month sale more than I care to admit.  

Check out their Facebook page and join their newsletter to find out more about their fabrics and classes! Support your local small businesses!