You Asked ~ SMF Tells: May 12, 2014

Happy Monday Everyone!  Something very interesting happened this week and I thought I would share it with my readers.  In my segment last week, I answered a question sent to me from one of my readers about top stitching.  That question has inspired yet another question from another reader on the same topic.  I thought it was great,  reading one question here brought another question and an interest in learning more.  Thanks!!

You Asked:
Last week I read your question and answer about top stitching.  Could you share an easy method for making my stitching straighter and more uniform looking?
SMF Tells:
Use a seam guide!  It’s not always easy to guide your fabric through the machine right along the edge to achieve a nice clean top stitch.  There are many accessories and implements to help with this job.  My favorite is a magnetic seam guide.  It attaches by magnet right to your sewing machines throat plate and your fabric just rides along next to the guide holding it in position.  I used it for years and years on my mechanical machine because that machine didn’t have a numbered throat plate. On my computerized machines, I use a seam guide that screws to the throat plate of the machine for this purpose.  I’ve read both pros and cons about using a magnetic seam guides  so I don’t recommend using them on electronic or computerized machines.

You could also use a double needle in combination with a seam guide for an even more professional appearance.

This is an older seam guide I own.  They are still available if you’re interested.  Prym Dritz Seam Guide.
Here it is attached to my machine.
This guide came with my machine and attaches easily with a screw.
You Asked:
Why does my sleeve always seem so much larger than my arm hole?  How do I ease in all this extra fabric?
The ease is there to accommodate your shoulder and bicep. If the armhole of the garment fits you properly, it’s perfectly fine to remove some of this fullness along the center of the sleeve. Only do so if you’ve measured the sleeve and it fits properly.  When easing in a sleeve, run a long machine basting stitch along the seam line of the sleeve cap. Gently pull the bobbin thread in smoothly as you fit and pin the sleeve into place. Make sure to match “dots” and “notches” so your sleeve will be inserted in position.
You Asked:
I just purchased a serger and I’m having a terrible time adjusting the tension to get a nice stitch.  Why does it seem that when I change the tension dials, it has no effect on the stitch?  I’m so frustrated.
SMF Tells:
The most common cause of this issue is that the thread isn’t passing through the tension disks properly.  The first thing to do when threading the machine is to set all the tension dials to -0-.  Make sure to lift your presser foot to release the tension in the machine.  If the thread isn’t down into the disks firmly, changing the dials will have no effect on the stitch tension.  I show how to properly thread a serger in my Video Part 1:  Serger Basics.
Thanks again for all the support of my new blog feature and for being inspired by a question someone asked!  We all learn by asking questions, so don’t be shy!! Please keep all the great questions coming.

DISCLAIMER:  All of my advice is given as my own opinion from my professional experience as a Fashion Designer, Textile Drafter, and Production Pattern Maker.  Keep in mind that there’s more than one way to approach any sewing technique, sewing equipment, or construction process. 
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4 Responses to You Asked ~ SMF Tells: May 12, 2014

  1. Merissa says:

    I have trouble sewing in straight lines sometimes, it looks like a seam guide will have to go on my wish list!

  2. Hi Merissa! It's a handy gadget to have on hand for many different applications. Glad I could introduce you to it!

  3. seam guide is a must for me! I remember when I was little, my mom used to glue a piece of a – fingernail file I think? lol – to the machine as a guide.

  4. Great answers. I don't have a seam guide for my machine, but should probably get one. I do have a food with a 1/4 inch guide for quilting. So helpful!

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