Friday, January 15, 2010

A Little Sewing Encouragement

I have two words for you my friends- The Nester!!!

I just got a comment from the Nester! That's right, this Nester!! I can't believe it. I am so stinkin' starstruck.

As I just told her in my response email to her I totally credit her for giving me the encouragement I needed to give up all my excuses and do the best I can to decorate the home I have with the budget (or lack thereof!) I have. I just love her.

She was asking if I ever posted instructions for how I made my sofa slipcover, and I know I promised months ago that I would tell you how I made it as well as the slipcover for my wingback chair, and now also my coffee table, but I feel like that might be putting the cart before the horse a bit since some of us don't yet know how to thread a sewing machine. So, I've decided to try to help everyone get started with using a sewing machine today, then tomorrow I will post instructions for making the table slipcover, and on monday I'll post instructions for slipcovering a sofa or chair. Sound good? Good!

How to Thread your Sewing Machine and Get Started!

I have this theory about sewing-

if you can drive a car, (even a bumper car!), you can sew.
Once you get it threaded (which is really easy after doing it a few times) you just push the foot pedal and steer! My family is totally laughing at me right now (you can stop snickering, Chrissy!), because I don't have the cleanest driving record.

So, there you have it. You don't even have to be able to drive well!

I don't know why so many smart capable women are scared to use a sewing machine.

It wasn't so long ago that most women had to either sew their own clothes or go without! Plenty of people far less intelligent, educated and fabulous than you have conquered this task, but now that sewing has fallen out of the repertoire of the average american woman, it seems completely daunting to figure it out on our own.

Lucky for you, there are a gazillion online resources to help you figure it out!!

You are fearfully and wonderfully made and perfectly capable of running a sewing machine!

First of all, don't think of sewing as a foreign language. Like taping, glueing, pasting or stapling (all things we mastered in grade school) it's just another way of binding two pieces together. You can do this!

Okay, first off, go get that sewing machine you have tucked away in a closest somewhere. Maybe you got it from your mom three christmases ago and it's still in its original box, or maybe your great aunt Mabel left hers to you and it's several decades old.

Either one is fine. Sewing machines, although they may look different, all have the same parts and function the same way. If you don't have one, borrow one! Now, find the cord and plug 'er in!!

In the interest of time I've decided not to reinvent the wheel. Find yourself some thread and a scrap piece of fabric and watch these videos on youtube.

I thought this one was pretty well done and how cute is her accent?!

Okay, this guy is not nearly as cute, but he is really thorough- so much so that his instructions are in two parts! Here's part 1 and part 2.

I also found this great web page for you which has threading diagrams for most sewing machines out there! So helpful! They also have manuals available for purchase for most machines in case yours has gone missing! Your machine may already have a threading diagram printed right on the side of the machine, but if not I totally recommend printing out the diagram for your machine and taping it to the side of your machine.

If you've done all that and are still having trouble, please, please email me! I will be happy to help you troubleshoot!

Now that your machine is threaded, get out that scrap piece of fabric and noodle around a little. Fold the fabric in half and try to make a seam along the edge. The stitches should look flat and even.

If you find that there are little loops of thread sticking up on the top side of the fabric, the tension is too tight. Decrease the tension by turning the tension dial (it should be the dial closest to the needle of your machine) down to the next lower number. If loops appear on the underside of your fabric, turn the tension dial to the next higher number. You may need to adjust the tension several positions on the dial, it's just trial and error. It's also possible to adjust the tension at the bobbin- email me for more info if the upper tension dial doesn't seem to be doing the trick.

If you'd like some practice outside of a scrap piece before you start on a slipcover project, get yourself two matched squares (or rectangles!) of fabric, in the size of your choice and watch these video instructions for making a pillow and these instructions for stuffing your pillow. Don't get nervous- it's just 4 straight lines of sewing! Once you feel comfortable with "straight line sewing" you can easily jump to sewing a table cover- so come back tomorrow for the tutorial!



  1. Oh, I'm so excited for the slipcover tutorials! I love to sew, but have never attempted anything so "big" before. It's gonna be fun!

  2. It's official, you are insane with your crazy self!

    Anyhow, I don't believe I've ever seen the words "fearfully and wonderfully made" paired with a photo of wonder woman, I must say a brazen and delightful combination.

    Can't wait to read all about your lovely slipcovers! thank you so much, I know it can be more work to actually write a tutorail than do the ding dong project alone.

  3. Yay! :) Once I figured out how to thread my machine and practiced with it some, the sewing part isn't hard. For me, it's the measuring and cutting! I am really unsure when it comes to measurements...I have like, a 2nd grade math level. :s

  4. Pam, my dear, you make it sound so EASY. I have the threading the needle thing down, but sewing a straight seam is proving quite difficult. Must practice before I even dream about trying the stuff you make! :)

  5. Thank you, thank you!! for posting the link to the threading diagrams! I have a "new" vintage Singer 401 and could not figure out how to wind the bobbin!!!

    Love your website!!


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