Do you have a sewing machine but it intimidates you a little? Take a basic sewing class back in junior high but forget most of what you learned? Well we are going to go over a few of the things that will demystify your machine and make it one of your favorite tools in your craft room!
The first thing to do is understand a few things about how the machine works. The thread is wound through the "engine" of the machine and the needle pierces the surface of the item you are stitching on and loops through the thread that is brought back up through from the bobbin. Start with your straight stitch and on a scrap piece of paper run it through a few times adjusting the tension to see what it looks like with different settings.
When you find a tension setting that looks right, play with the length of your straight stitch. Paper is a pretty fragile surface compared to fabric, so the more holes you punch in it, the more likely it is to rip, finding a balance between getting the stitches into your paper for your project and not making it to fragile is a fine line.
Making sure that your tension on your top thread is appropriate for the material that you are working on is really important. My tension adjustment looks like this (see photo below), yours probably looks similar and can be found in about the same place.
Use your needle down position as much as you can, it helps you control what you are doing and lets you lift your presser foot without letting the project run away.
Play with your zigzag stitch too. It is a great look and you can get a lot of variety in how it looks by adjusting the length of the stitch and the width of the stitch in infinite combination's.
And check out what types of options you have for specialty stitches on your machine. Mine is designed primarily for use with embroidery and is about twenty years old so the stitches aren't exactly the trendiest, but by playing with them I can get a fresh look. You may not have this many options, but really you don't need them, it is all about playing with what you do have! And with paper most of these aren't useful anyway because they destroy the fragile nature of the paper's fibers, they are better suited for fabrics.
Use the guide marks that are on your machine. I don't think I could function without these, and my presser foot has very useful marks as well. These help me "measure" distances on my projects and create spacing as well.
So with that, we are on to the projects that I am sharing today! I stayed with a basic straight stitch so that everyone who has a machine and wants to play along can.
First we are going to practice, so draw a spiral on a 4" x 4" piece of cardstock. It doesn't have to be perfectly spaced, so just let it flow.
Start on the outside of the spiral, with a shorter stitch. Any round shape looks better with shorter stitches, again just be aware that if the stitches are too close it destroys the papers ability to hold together. Continue around the shape with your needle in the down position and going slowly, rotate your paper and guide the needle along the pencil lines. Don't worry about being right on the lines, we can erase the lines later if we want. When you get better at this you will be able to do this without the pencil line just by using the left edge of your presser foot as a guide, it just takes a little practice.
This is what it looks like finished. So lets make something from this that we can use on a project!
Again draw the spiral, for this we don't want to wing it...
we are going to take little pieces of double sided tape and put them along the lines.
Then we are going to take a 1/2" wide silk ribbon and lightly tack the slippery ribbon onto those little pieces of tape. This makes the stitching process so much easier! If we were using fabric we would use straight pins for this part, but because it is paper we need to be a little more creative!
Keep going around the spiral shape until you have it filled in.
Then the beautiful rosette goes into the machine! Carefully stitch the inside edge of the ribbon, and make sure that the edge of the next spiral doesn't get caught in with the stitching you are doing on the current line you are on. I used a black thread so that what was going on would be obvious, but it could be done with a thread that is the same color as the ribbon you are working with or one that compliments the paper you will sew on.
This is what it looks like when you are done, so pretty!
Adhere using your favorite adhesive to the card base. Glue Buttons into center. For the sentiment, stamp onto cardstock with Mona Lisa Moments "Friends Centers", and then lightly adhere under button. Elegant and so many different ways to give this a different look, have fun with it!
For the next straight stitch adventure, we are going to practice first again. Start with another piece of 4" x 4" white cardstock and draw a circle. Take it to the machine and straight stitch right down the center of it. Turn it to the side with your needle down so you have a nice pivot point, stitch across a few stitches and then turn it again and stitch back across the middle of the circle again. Repeat a few times. When you get to the end, you should be pretty close to where you started, so look for that first straight line to stitch across to.
We are going to practice again, this time with a super cute piece of Cosmo Cricket paper from the "Jolly by Golly" collection that was punched into a very large circle shape.
Again start with that first straight line down the middle and repeat until you get back to where you started.
Now you are going to see how the above piece inspired this project, when I was done with it, I saw a snowflake! (I have done this many times and have made lots of things, wheels, and flowers, but had never seen a snowflake!)
So I got out another piece of my Jolly by Golly paper (I worked in the 12' x 12') and started stitching on a piece of paper that was cut 4" x 5 1/4" and made lots of little "snowflakes" on it, so fun!
When I was done, I stitched it onto a card base.
I filled in the spokes of my little snowflakes with a delightful color of Stickles called "Cotton Candy" (yum!) and set it aside to dry.
When it was all dry I hand stitched a few pink buttons into the centers of the snowflakes and attached the sentiment with a large pink button. I also gave the sentiment a little extra oomph by lightly bending the middle out, and then bending the end back up as well, so festive!
It all starts with being comfortable with your tools, so find a little time to hang with your sewing machine and become close friends, you will be glad you did!
Thanks so much for spending some time with me, and if you have comments or feedback about this article, I would love to hear it.