Looking after your sewing machine is the one things us quilters are apt to forget. We want to sit and stitch, but to do so effectively, your machine needs a little love. That means cleaning regularly.
How often is that? Recommendations vary from after finishing sewing for the day, to after you complete a project, to once a month and so on. It all depends on how often you use your machine and how long for each time you do use it.
Sewing machines work better if they are used almost every day.
Modern sewing machines
A modern machine often has the advantage of you not having to oil it. It will have been oiled at the factory with sufficient lubricant. If you have an older machine, refer to your manual for how and when to oil. For most of us, that is the oiling taken care of.
However, every sewing machine needs cleaning. The exterior is easy to keep clean. Just wipe with a damp cloth. It is also advisable to keep your machine covered, out of direct sunlight and not in extremes of temperature.
Even the best sewing cotton thread makes tiny particles of ‘dust’ called lint. Lint gathers in and around the bobbin case out of sight. Again refer to your manual for cleaning. Basically you will be removing the plate (keep the screws safe) and usually the bobbin casing. Use the small brush that came with your machine to clean any lint. Never blow the lint, this will disperse it and it may go into the machine, where it should not be. Also clean the back of the sewing needle and where the spool of cotton sits.
N.B. If you are using fleece it will cause more lint that quilting cottons.
This will enable your machine to run smoothly and there should be no problems at your yearly service.
Sometimes your machine will become noisy or may even skip stitches. If you have not cleaned it for a long time, check to see if a good clean makes a difference before ringing a service engineer.
New products – a look back at the last six months. I have worked so hard on my core skills of writing, teaching and publishing. Here are the new products:
The last six months have seen me create a brand new website of new products
In the last six months, I have launched six new ebooks providing inspiration for artists in every field. These include numerous photos you can use to create your own work, no matter what kind of artist you are. The ebooks also include examples of my work (these cannot be used but can inspire). The six titles are
6. Stone and Strata
They can all be viewed here
The next title in preparation is Desert.
My digital work receives a lot of interest. The question I am most asked is ‘How did you do that?’. To answer that I created an Advanced Photoshop ecourse. It is Advanced in that it takes a few processes but is still simple to use and produce the effects I do. You can purchase it here.
As my main focus is now quilting, there are many ecourses and tutorials I have created for quilters. I am still finishing the writing of two ecourses for hand quilting, which will be launched shortly together with a beginner’s quilting course. I have been busy hand dyeing and rust dyeing fabric too. I intend to expand the range further. These are found under the supplies section of the website.
A future focus will be an ecourse in colour and themed work.
My main focus for the next two months is getting ready to take part in the Festival of Quilts for the first time and to showcase my ecourses and quilt kits. You will find me on Stand C5, come and say hello.
Why is quilting fun? Two weeks have gone by without a blog post. I apologise – the first week was missed because I was in fabulous Newcastle, discovering Hadrian’s Wall. I thought I had wifi, but it was iffy in the hotel, so that plan fell apart. Then I simply forgot the second week! It’s been hell on wheels here. So normal service is resuming today.
I have been stitching I promise. So this week’s post is all about how much fun it is to quilt. I do so love quilting on so many levels. Sometimes we look at incredible quilts and doubt our own ability – just keep going, you will learn with every quilt you make.
1. Choosing fabrics is part of the fun. Try to keep it within what you would use in a lifetime.
2. You really can indulge your love of colour.
3. Quilting is for all – no matter what your experience, you can achieve finished products on one level or another.
4. You can play with design – each quilt can be totally different from the last. So the enjoyment is endless.
5. You can sit at the machine for a few minutes and achieve something.
6. Hand quilting is totally portable.
7. Everyone has a favourite bit – whether it is designing (that’s me), piecing or actual quilting, binding etc. Just enjoy the process. Start small.
8. You want to go wonky – yeah, you can be wonky. Wonky log cabins, wonky houses. Wonky can rule.
9. Every day can be a quilting day.
10. There is always something to keep your interest – new techniques, new fabrics, something you have not tried yet.
What is your favourite bit of this exciting craft?
On my travels I spotted these quilts at Beverley Minster.
Crewel Creatures by Hazel Blomkamp, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215257, price 15.99 available from www.searchpress.com
Always a delight to see Hazel’s work and the new slant on crewel embroidery in this book Hazel has transformed 6 animals into crewel creations. The book offers sound advice on embroidery basics including a stitch dictionary, needle stitching and needle weaving and beading techniques, illustrated with line drawings. For each project, you see an image of the design plus close-ups, the dimensions, description, materials needed, general and stitching instructions. These instructions are very detailed step-by-step; for example, Norman the Tortoise has 11 pages of instructions. The other projects are ostrich, owl, snake, elephant and finally my favourite project, shown on the front cover, the rhino. There are templates, but they are not given actual size. Surprisingly the book has no index, although it is fairly straightforward, an index would have been useful to locate stitches and techniques in the book. This book was previously published in South Africa and is the third in a series. Hazel’s work is aimed at experienced embroiderers, who are also interested in beading.
Sew Cute Creatures by Mariska Vos-Bolman, softback published by Search Press. ISBN 9781782215790, price 10.99 available from www.searchpress.com
A fun, cute creatures to sew book. The style reminds me of the style of a fabulous Japanese book I used to have 40 years ago. Slightly large heads and smaller bodies. Just 12 patterns to choose from but they do come with full-sized pattern pieces that you need to trace off. Sew by hand or machine. What you get – clear large photos, clear diagrams and written instructions for assembly. An appealing selection of toys that are easy to make. This book was originally published in Dutch in 2016. The author also had a similar book published in 2014 by a different publisher.