Cleaning the Feed Dog on Your Sewing Machine- The Easy Way

Jan. 20, 2018 by

If you sew on regular basics, you never want to find yourself in the situation where your sewing machine doesn’t feed the fabric anymore. You may want to go ahead and just throw it, or you can simply ask around and find out what’s really wrong with your machine.

Here’s some breaking news for some of you: nine times out of ten it’s the dirty feed dogs the reason of your machine not feeding anymore. And we’re not talking about the little dirty situation. We’re talking about the feed dogs full of junk, leaving no chance to the machine to feed anymore. Is it possible to get all the dirt out of the feed dogs or not?

The good news is that you only need some patience and grease to do it. You should also keep in mind that this isn’t a tip only for the vintage sewing machines, but for all sewing machines.

What you need

We’re not going to explain how the feed dogs really work, we’re going to leave that topic for another time. We’re only discussing the situation when the feed dogs don’t work.

Here’s what you need to have at reach:

  • Sewing machine oil
  • Tweezers
  • Paint brush
  • Wire detailing brush
  • Cotton swabs

Cleaning the feed dogs on regular basics is going to minimize the risk for them not to work anymore. All the lint piles into the feed dog area act just like the ones in the bobbin area. Next time you’re brushing out the bobbin area, don’t forget to also brush out the feed dogs. Use the paint brush and cotton swabs too. it’s always better to be safe than sorry so cleaning the feed dogs the easy is going to eliminate the need for the more complicated cleaning.

How to clean the feed dogs

If you’re not cleaning often enough the feed dogs, going through the next steps is going to be of great help. You also need to grab some elbow grease on the way too as you’re going to use quite a lot. The feed dogs didn’t get all dirty over night, so you may need more than just a couple of minutes for a thourough cleaning. In the end, it’s going to be worthy, though.

Cleaning the feed dogs isn’t that difficult, but you need to spend a bit more than you’d expect. Here are the steps:

  • Put oil onto the feed dogs.

The oil is going to soften all the dirt and junk from the feed dogs. You need to let it stay for quite some time in order to be very efficient. You may have to use the tweezers to pull off all the big chunks. If that’s not possible, you should add a bit more oil and let it soak for more minutes. Being patient about it’s the secret of a successful cleaning of the feed dogs. Wait until all the junk is loosened up and continue with the next step.

  • Scrub the feed dogs.

Use the wire brush to scrub around, adding oil if necessary. You want to be careful and not to get the brush on the paint. The wire brush may scratch the paint on the machine and you don’t want that. You don’t want to add re-painting the sewing machine on the list too.

Keep on adding oil and pull off the big chunks, using slowly the wire brush for the scrubbing.

One last thought

Some may want to take their machines to a professional for a cleaning of the feed dogs area. As long as you’re only using the paint brushes and cotton swabs, you can very well do it at home. Never use canned air as it’s going to pack all the junk into your sewing machine. And that’s the last thing you want.


Which Machine Feed to Use when Quilting?

Jul. 24, 2017 by

First thing to learn to do on your quilting machine is to sew a straight ¼”. But this is only one seam to begin with as there are so many other specialty sewing machine feet that allow any quilter to give variety to his/her quilting projects.

The ¼” foot

This is one little helper for all the quilters out there. It’s a foot that comes standard with many models, but you may have to buy it separately in case you don’t have it on your machine.

The ¼” foot helps you maintain the distance from the needle to the edge of the foot at precisely ¼” which you need when piecing and quilting. Play it safe and don’t forget to measure the seam even when you’re using the ¼” foot. You can never be too sure.

There are sewing machines that only need an adjustment of the needle to the left or right in order to stitch the ¼” seam.

The free motion/darning foot

Any quilter knows that this foot is very reliable when quilting. If you’re using it for the free motion quilting, you should also lower the feed dogs on the machine so that you may move the fabric easier during your quilting. Many of the sewing machines come with a lever that lowers the feed dogs. You may very well cover it with painter’s tape for free-motion quilting when the machine doesn’t come with a lever, though.

The walking foot

When you don’t have a quilting machine, a walking foot on your home machine is going to allow you to do machine quilting. The walking foot holds the bottom fabric feeding at the same speed as the top fabric, giving you even stitches.

You may need the walking foot when you’re attaching binding to the edges of your quilt. As you’re trying to attach binding, you’re going to have to sew through multiple layers: batting, the backing, quilt top and the two layers of binding too. The walking foot is fundamental for making sure that all the layers move together so that there’s not puckering in the quilt fabrics from attaching the binding.

The open-toe machine foot

This foot is quite common for quilting. It may have an open center or a center with a see-through plastic base. This is how you’re sewing exactly what you’re stitching and where they are as well. This foot helps you a lot especially in the machine applique stitches and you may want to have it too.

The quilting bar

This is rather a specialty attachment that quilters like to have. The quilting bar is attached to the back side of the presser foot and lets you quilt spaced lines on the quilt. You may adjust the bar to different widths and use it for the topstitching too.



Sewing Quilt Borders with Corner Squares- The Easy Steps

Feb. 20, 2017 by

If you’re interested into adding an interesting vibe to your quilt, try making quilt borders with corner squares. You may easily cut the corners from plain squares of fabric or you can make them from patchwork or applique quilt blocks.

The first thing to know is that you may create borders from lengthwise or crosswise cuts of fabric. The crosswise grain cuts are typically around 42” long so you need to piece them together if the quilt isn’t small. You may want to go with this kind of grain cuts as they’re a bit stretchier than the lengthwise grain cuts.

Keep in mind that if you want to use the lengthwise grain, you need extra yardage for cutting the longer borders, parallel to the selvage of your fabric.

The size of the corner squares

If you’re using pieced quilt blocks at corners, it’s important to know that the unfinished width of borders need to match the unfinished dimensions of the corner blocks. Let’s say that the border strips are 4-1/2” wide before sewing them to the quilt. This means that the blocks or the squares should be 4-1/2” x4-1/2”.

In case the corners squares join in multiple borders, you should cut squares or even make blocks that fit the entire border width.

The border lengths and the corner squares

You should to continue with measuring the quilt through its vertical midpoint by the same way you do it when joining borders to the quilt. Cut or build two borders to use on the left and right size of the quilt.

Measure the quilt the same way through its horizontal midpoint, cutting or building two borders to use along the top and bottom edges of your quilt.

Continue with sewing the side borders to the quilt, following the rules for butted borders. Sew the corner pieces to every end of the top and bottom borders too. You should also press seams towards the borders.

Match the seams where the corners and side borders meet and sew the borders to the quilt, matching all the way of the edge.

Measure when sewing the borders

Always measure the quilt through its vertical point the same way when adding butted borders to the quilt. Don’t measure for borders along the outer edges of the quilt as they’re always a bit off.

Sew some strips or cut individual panels, in order to create two borders, the same length of the right and left sides.

Match the endpoints and midpoints and sew the side borders, using the tips for butted borders. Ease any differences and secure fabrics with some straight pins.

Don’t forget to also press seam allowances.

Measure your quilt through the horizontal midpoint and build two borders for the top and bottom edges of your quilt.

Quilt a block or sew a corner square to every end of both top and bottom borders, pressing seams towards the borders.

Continue with sewing the borders to the quilt, but make sure that you match it where the corners and side borders meet. Match midpoints all the way the whole edge.

One last tip

Try not to piece the long borders. If it’s possible, cut the whole border length from yardage for the shortest sides of the quilt. Reverse the directions above and start by sewing the short borders to the quilt.