When you invest in a sewing machine, you are exposed to an array of different stitches that can be used for construction or decorative purposes. With a sewing machine, it is actually possible to rapidly do a series of different stitches that otherwise cannot be done by hand. Sewing machine stitches also tend to be far more resistant and solid than hand stitches, hence ensuring that your work does not unravel. Consequently, sewing machines are very commonly used in clothes, especially athletic or evening wear.

Luckily enough, sewers can choose between several types of stitches. Here are some of the most popular types of machine stitches:

Straight stitch

Ideal for craft projects and clothes, straight stitches are created by bobbin threads and interlocking needles. While more expensive machine do include a straight foot, budget-friendly ones offer it as an option. This foot actually secures the fabric against the feed dogs. It is actually often used to replace all-purpose feed since it delivers far more stability. It is good to know that the straight feed can be used on lightweight and more delicate fabrics since they protect the fabric from being pushed down or punctuate by needle holes.

Decorative machine stitches

Decorative machine stitches are ideal for larger project since they enable you to craft intricate seams with minimal effort and in no time at all. Since they are used for embellishing purposes, decorative stiches are often used on accessories such as fabric handbags or on clothes, especially eveningwear. This type of stitch can also be used on bedding or to monogram towels, pillows, covers and the likes. The most popular types of decorative stitches are scallops, snowflakes and trains. In fact, in some cases, these types of stitches can even be used to attach appliques.

Zigzag stitch

Zigzag stitchesPresent in virtually every contemporary sewing machine, the zigzag stitch does exactly what it implies: one stich goes to the left and one to the right to secure the hems and prevent the fabric from unraveling. If you want to use a zigzag stitch on a machine, it is quite important to invest in a presser foot that has a wide hole. Sewers should also try to find a needle plate with a matching hole. Given the rather complicated nature of the stitch, the needle might break if the foot and plate are not perfectly aligned. If you’re working with a more delicate fabric such as satin or silk, it is important to ensure that your presser foot carries a small indentation that will prevent any consequent stitch built-up. The zigzag stitch is also used to finish seam allowances. In fact, your fabric can even be trimmed close to the finish because of the decorative nature of this type of stitch.

Blindhem stitch

Blind Hem stitchWhen done on a machine, the blindhem stitch is designed to be nearly completely invisible. This is why sewers often try to find a thread that closely matches their fabric. Professional sewers can even go for invisible threads. The great majority of sewing machines come with edge-stitching or blindhem feet that has a vertical edge guide designed to ensure that the stitches remain aligned and evenly spaced. The blindhem stitch is actually found on the majority of sewing machine because it is a basic seam that is used for construction purposes. In fact, if you’re ready to invest in a more expensive machine, chances are that you’ll probably be able to benefit from more than just one type of blindhem stitch. This type of stitch is commonly used for patch pockets, appliques, scallops, beading, zipper insertion, couching and the likes.

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sergerA seam is normally used to describe the join where several layers of fabrics are held together by stitches. Sewers can normally choose between various types of seams for their projects. It is quite important to adopt the proper seam for your fabric to ensure that your project remains durable and professional-looking. Indeed with the proper finishing seam, it is possible to bring a far neater look to your garments, which is why they are particularly important when it comes to clothes-making, including evening wear.

There are several seams that can be used during clothing construction. The four basic types of seams include lapped seams, abutted seams, French seams or plain seams. While these are mainly used during the construction process, it is also important to apply seam finishes to your projects to ensure that they last for several years- if not decades.

Finishing your seams with a serger

A serging machine, also known as a overlocker, is commonly used to finish your seams and ensure that your work does not unravel. A serging machine also encloses the seam allowance inside the fabric, which makes your finished project far more durable. A serger can also be used to trim the seams. It is important to note that not all sergers provide the same option. The market normally provides three main types of serging machines: the 2-4 thread serger, 3-4 thread serger and 5-thread serger. You can find out more about sergers at My Sewing Adventure. These apparatuses are also available in various price ranges. Check out some reviews before making your buying decision.

Seam positioning by hand

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to invest in a serging machine to indulge in successful finishing seams. Quite on the contrary, it is actually recommended to sew finishing hems by hand for added precision. Sewing finishing hems by hand will also allow you to find the perfect positioning for your seams. A center front seam, for example, should preferably be placed in a vertical position down the front of your garment. Similarly princess seams are positioned in the front and run down to shape the fabric to the wearer’s body shape. This completely eliminates the need for adding stitches at the shoulder, waist and bust.

Types of finishing seams

There are quite a few finishing seams to choose from, according to the type of fabric that you’re using. The main types of seams to finish your projects are:

  • Bound seams: Bound seams basically consist of enclosing the raw edges in a strip of fabric, net binding or lace. Not unlike the double fold bias tape, bound seams are commonly used to secure lightweight and delicate fabrics such as unlined garments made from chiffon, silk or satin.
  • Hong Kong seams: With a Hong Kong seam, sewers normally need to cut the width of the seam allowance in such a way so that it is more than ¼”.
  • Abutted seams: This type of seam can be used in either the finishing or the construction process. Ideal for both hand and machine sewing, this type of seam is used since the 19th century for chemises or shirts. It is also ideal for linen garments and bedsheets.
  • Plain seams: The plain seam is the most common type of machine-sewn finishing seam. Like the abutted seams, it can either be used during the construction or the finishing phrase of your project. A plain seam basically involves sewing two pieces of fabric in a face-to-face position. A seam allowance involves leaving raw edges inside your project. To render your fabric more secure and prevent your work from unravelling with time, it is recommended that you insert either cording or piping into the plain seam.

laminated vinyl fabricYou should be especially careful when choosing your pattern because, unlike other fabrics, laminates and vinyl are not exactly known for their flexibility. By this token, it is best to go for a pattern that does not come with a lot of fittings. For example, try to avoid any vinyl and laminate that comes with gathers and darts. According to expert sewers, set-in sleeves should also be avoided. On the other hand, you should preferably go for cut-on sleeves or raglan to enjoy a far easier sewing experience. Another important thing to look out for is whether your fabric is on-grain: indeed, because of the vinyl coating, it would be difficult- if not impossible- to straighten the pattern if it’s crooked in anyway. Beginners who aren’t used to working with this type of fabric should preferably ignore the fabric grainline and follow the pattern design instead.

Finishing touches

Using pins can be somewhat useless with laminated or vinyl fabrics since they don’t stay open every time and they can lose their shape if forced open. Pins also tend to leave visible puncture holes when used on these types of fabrics. Consequently, you might need to use finger-pressing to ensure that your fabric remains flat. In some cases, you might even need to fold open the fabric to one side to do the final hemming. If you have any excess fabric, you can use edge-stitching to ensure that the fabric remains entirely while you trim it. As far as caring for your fabric is concerned, you should remember that it is not recommended to machine wash vinyl or laminate, at the risk of completely ruining the fabric. While some sewers prefer to brush their fabrics with a soft-bristle and damp brush, it is actually recommended to wipe them off with a damp cloth.

Zippers and buttonholes

In some cases, you might need to put buttonholes in your vinyl or laminated fabric, especially if you’re making raincoats or regular vinyl coats. In these cases, it would be best to make bound or slit buttonholes. However, some machines also come with features that enable you to make buttonholes with larger spaces between them. With these machines, you can also adjust the overall density. Sewers should bear in mind that it’s best to avoid machine buttonholes since these can damage the laminate, because it delivers thicker-than-average stitches.

Choose the proper foot

When working with laminated and vinyl fabrics, sewers should imperatively invest in a proper foot to ensure that they manage to successfully complete their project. The Teflon foot, for example, comes with a plastic coating that will allow your fabric to easily slide across the plate. This foot is available in nearly every offline and online sewing store. However, a plastic foot might not properly work on a metal plate. In such cases, you can prevent the fabric from sticking to the plate by sprinkling just a small amount of talcum powder across both the plate and the fabric. You can use a damp sponge to wipe it off after use.

Cutting your fabric

If you’re working with a heavy sheet of laminate or vinyl fabric, it is advisable to let out your fabric in room temperature since they can stiffen up in cold weathers. Afterwards, you can cut the fabric in a single layer. More experienced sewers can attempt to do several layers at the same time, but in such cases, you should preferably place a sheet of tissue paper between each layer to keep the fabrics from sticking to each other. If you want to mark the fabric, you can do so with sewing chalk.

If you’re a beginner, you will soon find out that sewing involves more than just threading a needle. Whether you want to sew by hand or through a machine, there are some basic necessities that you need to acclimatize yourself with before you indulge in any project. For example, sewers should know that it is important to buy good-quality equipment and accessories, even if you’re trying to stick to a budget. This will save you quite a few unnecessary expenses in the long run. You should also plan your project in advance while planning the number of days that it will take you to complete it.

Fabric scissorsHere are some basic essentials that you should follow to bring your project to a successful completion.

  1. Gridded cutting mat: A gridded cutting mat will enable your rotary blade to glide even more smoothly across your fabric. By the same token, a gridded cutting mat will largely extend the life of your rotary blade. The OLFA Professional 18 x 24” rotary mat, for instance, is an extremely popular choice. Cutting mats should be kept away from extreme temperatures. They should also be kept flat instead of rolled up.
  2. Fabric scissors: The one mistake that most beginners make is buy just about any pair of scissor for their sewing. This will undoubtedly result in uneven and blotchy cuts. Consequently, don’t hesitate to go for a pair of good-quality fabric scissors with stainless-steel blades.
  3. Bobbin: While most sewing machines do come with bobbins and bobbin holders, it’s always best to go for extra bobbins to easily change thread colors. However, if you do not have any prior sewing experience, it is best to keep one thread color per bobbin. Sewers who are using a machine should check the settings on their machines beforehand to ensure that their bobbins are compatible with their selected model.
  4. Rotary cutter: Most rotary cutters, like the Fiskars Comfort Loop Rotary Cutter include a 45mm blade, hence enabling you to cut different types of materials designed for sewing, quilting and embroidery. Most rotary cutters also include a loop handle for added comfort and control. This provides you with greater precision while providing you with more visibility- something that can come in quite handy to left-handed users.
  5. Supply box: Every sewer requires a bobbin and supply box to facilitate their sewing. These normally come with different compartments that allow you to easily sort various accessories such as pins and needles, metal and plastic bobbins as well as magnetic strips for your extra needles.

Sewing machines can be quite versatile if you know how to exploit the different features and options that it offers. Indeed, sewing machines can be used to make small adjustments and create different types of items such as clothes, curtains, tablecloths and the likes. Contrary to popular belief, sewing machines can very easily be used for embroidery- especially if your apparatus has a wider work table. These sewing machine do not necessarily need to be on the more expensive side: quite on the contrary, they come in various shapes, sizes and price ranges.

Brother XR9500PRW

Brother XR9500PRWIdeal for users who are interested in both regular sewing and embroidery, the Brother XR9500PRW Limited Edition Project Runway Sewing Machine comes with a plethora of accessories included in the machine’s storage compartment. Its wider-than-average work table is ideal for embroidery as well as larger projects such as drapes, tapestries, curtains, bedsheets and the likes. In fact, it even includes multiple stitch functions including no less than 100 built-in heirloom and decorative stitches. A built-in sewing font has also been included for monograming, which means that you can easily adorn and personalize your cushions, pillows and the likes.

SINGER 9960

SINGER 9960The SINGER 9960 costs between $300 and $400. Because it comes with an extension table, this sewing machine can very easily be used for embroidery. Best of all, it even includes no less than 600 stitches designed to provide variety in your embroidery. The 600 stitches even includes 5 different types of fonts and 13 fully automatic one-step buttonholes. Because it even comes with stitch editing capabilities, sewers can even find and replicate the exact length and thickness of a particular stitch pattern.

Brother SE400

Brother SE400Ideal for embroidery, the Brother SE400 costs between $300 and $400. Along with embroidery, it can also be used for regular sewing as well as quilting. This computerized machine also includes a touch screen LCD display screen which allows you to shuffle through the different options. With this apparatus, you can easily access 70 built-in embroidery designs, 67 sewing stitches as well as 5 different lettering fonts. Thanks to the computer connectivity system, this apparatus easily connects to iBroidery.com, where you can purchase additional embroidery designs.

SINGER 7258 Stylist

SINGER 7258The SINGER 7258 Stylist is an award-winning machine that costs between $100 and $200. In spite of its low price, this apparatus can be used for regular sewing as well as embroidery and quilting. With 10 presser feet, it also includes 100 sewing stiches as well as an automatic needle threader. The LED Display Screen can be used to adjust the stitch width and length. The Drop-In Bobbin system is extremely easy to load and even features a clear cover, hence allowing you to view what’s happening in the bobbin case. Most importantly, it even includes an electronic auto pilot system that will help you sew without the foot pedal.