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Thread: Newbie- Have basic questions. Please help!

  1. #1
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    Smile Newbie- Have basic questions. Please help!

    After buying a $750 quilt that I just fell in love with from an Amish woman in PA, I now want to start quilting and sewing myself. I bought a sewing machine and I've watched countless videos and read "how to's" but I still have questions. Some are very basic.

    1. Where exactly do I start my needle when sewing? Do I start it before the fabric, at the edge of the fabric, or a little onto the fabric?

    2. When I reach the end of the fabric and get ready to pull it out of the sewing machine how do I avoid it bunching up at the end with the thread pulling too tight. It either happened then or when I was backstitching.

    3. If you are trying to keep your fabric aligned with the edge of the foot to sew a 1/4 stich or etc. and you notice the fabric is moving away to the left (getting closer to the middle), what do you do? I have tried pulling the foot up and repositioning it back on track, guiding the fabric back in line(harder to do with it moving and tugging in wrong direction), and I've tried just continuing on the same line. What is the best way?

    4. How much thread is too much thread to put on your bobbin?

    I'm sure I'll think of more questions that seem simple to everyone but me.

  2. #2
    Super Member PaperPrincess's Avatar
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    I think that #1 and #2 of your questions would be to use leaders and enders. These are small scraps of fabric, maybe 2" square that you start off with. You start sewing on a leader, sew off, sew a few stitches "in the air" then sew your block. You can chain sew as many blocks as you have ready, then at the end sew a few stitches onto an ender. Leave this last piece in the machine and clip the thread between it and your last block. The ender is now your leader for the next group of blocks. Snip the stitches between your blocks to separate.
    Don't back stitch your blocks.
    3. You can try using a block of post it notes positioned at the appropriate spot to keep your stitching straight. A sticky from a Command hook can also be used.
    4. Don't know how old your machine is, but I've never seen a machine made past the 50's that didn't automatically stop winding the bobbin at the appropriate time.
    "I do not understand how anyone can live without one small place of enchantment to turn to."
    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  3. #3
    Super Member paulswalia's Avatar
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    I start sewing on a little scrap of fabric, then, without cutting the thread, maybe sewing without any fabric under the needle, start sewing my block. At the end of the seam I do the reverse, sew right off the block onto a scrap.

    This method saves thread in the long run and helps avoid the occasions where thread "balls up" under the fabric and potentialy snags the fabric under the needle. This will help with problem # 2 above. I wonder if your tension needs adjusting so that the threads don't pull so tight.

    Question # 3 leads me to think that you may have too much or too little pressure on your presser foot. Try adjusting it to the mid point on a scrap of fabric and see if that's any better.

    A bobbin should move freely in the bobbin case, too much and it will drag. Too little and you will drive yourself crazy refilling the bobbin every 5 minutes.

    Best advice for a newbie is find a local quilt shop . There's always help available there. If they can't help, they usually know where to send you. Welcome to our addiction! We love newbies.
    We are here to learn how to live in heaven - I'm still learning.

  4. #4
    Super Member Dina's Avatar
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    I m not as experienced as some, but will start the answers.

    1. Many people start their sewing with a "starter piece," a small piece of fabric...like 2 or 3 inches square. They sew on that and then sew onto their "real fabric" ...sort of meeting the edges and then just clip. Me, I just start at the edge of the fabric, holding on to the top thread, to keep it out of the way.

    2. You don't need to backstitch when you are sewing pieces together. That should be one way to avoid the bunching up you are having.

    3. Do you have a 1/4 inch foot attachment? That makes the 1/4 inch easier to do. Either method you mention works. I usually just try to get back to the 1/4 as quickly as I can.

    4. I stop my bobbin thread just a shade inside the bobbin, so that there is no way it can rub against the bobbin case.

    Welcome to the Quilting Board, by the way. You will probably get many different answers to your questions. That's okay. You can figure out what works best for you.

    Dina

  5. #5
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    she's not piecing, she is machine quilting a quilt she paid $750.00 for. Do go see if anyone at a Senior Center can help or a quilt guild near you. you do need some simple instruction. you will do well, just with a bit of help. good luck. (())

  6. #6
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    I didn't understand it as her wanting to quilt the quilt she bought. I think she is trying to start making her own.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Patti25314's Avatar
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    Another way to keep those seams straight is to draw a line on the material. You can use pencil or any type of pen that comes out later. I prefer the friction pens that iron out. It says they erase, but that's too much trouble. Also, using a straight stitch plate will help. I've quilted for years and just learned that new trick. Practice, practice, practice.

  8. #8
    Senior Member batikmystique's Avatar
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    Welcome to the Quilting Board, Paydapigg2!

    PaperPrincess, you gave great suggestions and I ditto them all. The only suggestion I would add would be to use blue painter's tape as a 1/4" guide instead of the sticky notes. I tried sticky notes for a while, but they lost their stickiness very quickly and it seemed like I had to stop a lot and change the papers. I suppose I could have scotch-taped the sticky notes, but I don't like the residue left from the tape.


    Quote Originally Posted by PaperPrincess View Post
    I think that #1 and #2 of your questions would be to use leaders and enders. These are small scraps of fabric, maybe 2" square that you start off with. You start sewing on a leader, sew off, sew a few stitches "in the air" then sew your block. You can chain sew as many blocks as you have ready, then at the end sew a few stitches onto an ender. Leave this last piece in the machine and clip the thread between it and your last block. The ender is now your leader for the next group of blocks. Snip the stitches between your blocks to separate.
    Don't back stitch your blocks.
    3. You can try using a block of post it notes positioned at the appropriate spot to keep your stitching straight. A sticky from a Command hook can also be used.
    4. Don't know how old your machine is, but I've never seen a machine made past the 50's that didn't automatically stop winding the bobbin at the appropriate time.
    Creative clutter is better than idle neatness.

  9. #9
    Senior Member PlanoDebbie's Avatar
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    All wonderful advice!

    I took four years of sewing in high school and it was always drilled in to our heads that you always back-stitched at the beginning and end of every seam. That was such a tough concept to get over when I started quilting. I kept hearing my Home Ec teacher's voice in my ear yelling that I didn't back-stitch.

    For little starter pieces, I tend to hold on to the triangle pieces that I trimmed while making my binding from quilts. Since I acquire so many of those pieces, I just use them a few times, then toss them out. To the OP, using a leader scrap of fabric is extremely useful whenever you are making half-square triangles or sewing anything that may be on a bias or starts at a point. As you may have already discovered, sewing machines tend to eat those innocent little points!

    For a first project, I would really recommend that you do alternating squares to make a baby quilt. Gotta start somewhere. If it turns out nice and you have no babies to give it to, look for your local Project Linus group. They will find a baby that will love it!

    Even the best of us occasionally get our 1/4" seam a little bit out of whack. When I see it happen to me, I quickly stop and cut my threads. I will put my needle back down about an inch before my stitching went wonky and simply start stitching again from there.

    Lastly, know that quilting is quite addictive! Unless you have a lot of time and money for fabric be sure to stay away from the Missouri Star Quilt Company quilt video on YouTube!!! Just kidding. I discovered their videos this summer and LOVE to watch Jenny create something new. They have several beginner videos that you may find helpful if you haven't already watched some of them. Vanessa from the "Crafty Gemini" also posts a weekly tutorial on either sewing, cooking or gardening. Most of her sewing/quilting videos are really aimed towards a true beginner. Good luck in your new quilting ventures.

  10. #10
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    Use your left hand to guide the fabric by placing your little finger more toward the back of the machine and your thumb to the front. Let your other fingers lay down comfortably somewhere in between. Only light pressure with all of your fingers letting your hand move to back of machine as it stitches. For now stop and reposition your hand for the next segment. Practice on some scraps first. Don't be hard on yourself. Sewing a straight seam is more difficult than it sounds. Your right hand also helps guide, but the left does a lot of the work. Kudos to you for asking for help. I read this here on the board or somewhere.
    Cheryl Robinson
    http://www.silverneedlestitching.com
    APQS Millenium Longarm with Intelliquilter

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