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GrandmaO | Posted in Gather For A Chat on

Hello to all and I am so glad to have found this forum!  I haven’t sewn for about 30 + years except for repairs, hems, badges for little scouts and some alterations in seams.  I have a really nice new sewing machine, gift from my husband, with all sorts of stitches, most of which I do not know how to use.  Singer didn’t include a very good instruction booklet unfortunately.  But I can sew a nice straight seam. My new project is  a first communion dress for my granddaughter who also lives out of state!  So this will be a challenge but I feel more confident since I now have this forum to get some help when needed.  I am married with three grown children, two are married  and one is a professional umpire.  My daughter blessed me with three grandchildren, two girls and one boy.  My husband and I live alone with two small dogs.  I love to crochet, paint ceramics and want to learn how to quilt!  I am looking forward to getting to know this forum!



  1. solosmocker | | #1

    Welcome, Grandma O! Aren't grandchildren the most inspiring little creatures? I really enjoy sewing for mine. If you need any help at all just holler.


    1. GrandmaO | | #2

      Thank you I will!  I am in the process of searching for an instruction booklet that may help me with this new mac hine and all the different patterns on it.  This should be interesting!

  2. SAAM | | #3

    Hello, GrandmaO.

    It's wonderful to have you join us. You will get lots of good advice from the forum members, so when you have questions, just ask.

    I'm sure you will have lots of fun getting to know your new machine. Take some time to play with it; try out all of its different features and take notes along the way. Pretty soon your machine will feel like an old friend.


  3. rodezzy | | #4

    Welcome GrandmaO:  Yes, you will have lots of help and guidance from the ladies at this forum.  I've done many quilts among other things and have some excellent links to quilt patterns to share with you.


    This is the most extensive site for quilt blocks, book references and anything quilty that I have found.  Of course theres more, but I'll send them latter.  I believe your mission right now will be consuming enough, just give a shout when you are ready to look at more, or need a question answered on quilting.  I did some teaching withing my quild.

    1. GrandmaO | | #6

      Thank you for the welcome.  And I will save your message for when I am ready to tackle quilting to keep in touch.  Looking forward to your experience sharing in the future!


  4. User avater
    VKStitcher | | #5

    Welcome GrandmaO!  We're glad you found us.  :-)   What machine did your husband buy for you?  You'll have fun playing with it and making things for your grandchildren.  If you can sew a nice straight seam, you can make a quilt.  Good luck with the first communion dress.  There are lots of very talented sewists here that will help if you run into a snag.

    1. GrandmaO | | #7


      The sewing machine my husband purchased is a Kenmore Elite and has about 69 different stitch settings~ Anyway it will be fun to just try to experiment on scraps of material to figure out the different uses and settings... also the application and uses of the different feet!  Each setting you put in actually tells you which foot you need to use.  It'll be an adventure for sure. I will keep in touch with my future experiences to share!  Thank you for the welcome and the response.


      1. MaryinColorado | | #8

        Hello!  When you use the decorative stitches on your machine, it may help to use a stabilizer.  This helps prevent "tunnelling".  You can find this in the "embroidery" or "thread" section of most fabric stores.  Also, I like to use the machine embroidery thread for these stitches.  Have fun with your new machine!  Mary

        1. GrandmaO | | #9


          Thank you so much for the suggestion!  I finally got the material for the first communion dress I am going to make for my granddaughter.  The basic dress is White Crepe Satin and there is a little "overskirt" that is made of organza.  I am going to cut the organza with pinking shears, hopefully that will decrease a bit of the tendency to "shred" while I prepare the seams. I don't think that the crepe satin will be a problem though I have never sewn with it before.  Would you think that all purpose thread will be okay to use with these materials?


          1. MaryinColorado | | #10

            Yes, my favorite is Metler/Metrosene for basic sewing of most fabrics.  You might want to use a 75/11 universal needle too if the fabric is lightweight.  (I never use that old cotton wrapped polyester that we used to have!)   

            What a wonderful gift for yor grand daughter!  She will treasure this heirloom that is made with your love in every stitch! 

            I always love seeing the children make thier First Communion, it's often the first time to see them so focused, quiet, and serious.  They look so darling in thier finery.

              I remember the sisters preparing us with "practice hosts" and memorizing the prayers and songs.  That's when I got my first pair of white gloves, a white prayer book, and a tiny pink rosary blessed by the priest.  I even remember Father Myers!  (That's pretty good for a person who doesn't remember much about her childhood.)

            What a treasure these special times are!  God bless you.  Mary

        2. Josefly | | #11

          Hi, Mary, I'm just catching up on this thread. Would you tell us why you like to use embroidery thread for decorative stitching on your sewing machine? Do you use it in the bobbin also? Is it a finer thread, stronger, more lustrous, etc? Does it cover better, and is it as easy to use - do you change needle size or type for the thread, or do you have to adjust the tension? Thank you in advance for enlightenment!

          1. MaryinColorado | | #12

            I started using the embroidery thread the first time I saw it because it is prettier and shows up more.  Thread weight is upside down so 12wt. is heavier than 30,40,60, or 100wt. so the needle tension will be on a looser setting as the thread gets thicker. 

             (Rayon will be finer than cotton thread even at the same weight.)   Rayon has more sheen like silk and is my favorite, usually 40wt.  The mercerized cotton is more soft and mat looking and is used in heirloom sewing, cross stitch, and redwork or outline stitches, & quilting and looks more like handwork.  Polyester emb. thread is denser but shiny and strong, some prefer this for childrens clothing and denim and the lower cost.   Most sewing thread is polyester with less sheen and finer than emb thread.  Serger thread is even finer and so won't hold up well when used in a regular sewing machine.

             The embroidery needles have a larger eye than universal needles and you can usually use a size compatible with your fabric for 30-40wt rayon and polyester. 

            Topstitching needles have a large enough eye and deeper groove for the 12 wt. thread but put a larger hole in your fabric.  I prefer to use 12 wt. thread in the bobbin, bypassing the tension, and work from the wrong side of the fabric.  (I don't recommend changing the factory setting on your bobbin case.  I did buy a specialty bobbin case that I do adjust inside a plastic baggie so I don't lose the tiny screw.) 

            For satin stitches I often use the microtex needles as they have sharper points for those tight stitches.  You will have the best results using stablizer under your fabric, it prevents the pulling and puckering. 

            Delicate fabrics and satin stitching need a stabilizer and a finer bobbin thread for the best results.

            On denim, I use a size 90 denim needle (sharp and strong) , regular sewing thread in the bobbin. emb. thread in the needle and if there is any stretch in the denim, a stabilizer.  (Jeans can really tolerate those heavier threads and bobbinwork well.) 

            Allways test stitch on same fabric you'll be using for your project.  Some decorative stitches look cool done in bobbinwork with the right side of the fabric down.  Some just look strange. 

            I have drawers full of thread, but few metallics as they are fussier to work with.  Some swear by microtex or embroidery needles, I actually like to use small gauge denim needles and a second thread that is invisible polyester threaded together as one with a large enough eye to accomodate it. 

            Some machines will adjust the tension automatically for the heavier threads, check your manual and test test test. 

            Hope this answers your questions ok.  Mary

            cotton thread breaks the easiest, polyester the strongest.  good brand threads should all be colorfast and tolerate many washings. 

            Edited 11/7/2007 7:37 pm by MaryinColorado

          2. Josefly | | #13

            Thanks so much, Mary, for that detailed answer. I would've thought that embroidery threads, like serger threads, were finer than regular sewing threads, so you've straightened me out there. Also, I don't think I've ever noticed the embroidery needles, so I'm going to check out Hancock Fabrics for one...I like to do the decorative stitches, too, with my old Singer.

          3. MaryinColorado | | #14

            My dad bought me a Necchi for my 16th birthday, (many moons ago).  I remember being frustrated with the results on the decorative stitches.  Then I finally figured out to use a lightweight interfacing under them (the days before all the nice stabilizers).  The manual said to use Schmetz needles, still my favorite today.  (With the  older Singers, I had to use Singer needles, but the one from 1980 takes the Schmetz).   Eventually I figured out to increase the stitch width and length to create more dramatic looks.  (I broke alot of needles figuring out which stitches couldn't be done wider because they wouldn't clear the throatplate.)  I love playing with the decorative stitches and also freemotion embroidery.  Have fun!  Mary

          4. Josefly | | #15

            My 1966 Singer does take Schmetz needles. So is there a Schmetz embroidery needle, or are those needles made only for embroidery machines?

          5. MaryinColorado | | #16

            The  home embroidery machines take the same needles as regular machines.  Check out the Schmetz display, you will see lots of variety now that you can use.  (Just be careful not to get the really wide double and triple needles and the larger wing and topstitching needles as these are too large for a regular machine.)

            The embroidery needles are sized like regular needles 75/11 for really fine fabrics, but I usually use the 80/12.  They emb. needles have red marks so you don't mix them up with your regular ones.  I usually use 40 weight Sulky rayon thread for it and a light to medium weight tear away stabilizer that should be in the same area.  (You don't have to buy a big roll, they come in little packages like baggies too.)  Oh, or you could try tissue paper under the fabric and tear it away carefully after stitching.

            Hope this is helpful.  Mary

          6. Josefly | | #17

            Mary, thanks again. I've emailed your posts to myself for reference on a project I expect to start soon. I appreciate the suggestions for stabilizer and your thread preference, as well as the needle sizes. I know this is off the "New Member" topic, but if you will indulge me for another question or two...Would an embroidery needle handle multiple threads of the rayon thread you mentioned? I'm thinking of straight-stitching an outlined motif on boiled wool. Tried it last year, drawing the design on Sulky water-soluble stabilizer. I used cotton thread, and it worked fine, but now I think I'd like to try the rayon for more sheen. I think I used two strands on top. Or would you use the rayon only for satin-stitching or more dense or filled stitching? I know a top-stitching thread or buttonhole thread would show up better for straight-stitching, but colors I find locally are too limited.

          7. MaryinColorado | | #19

            There are several possibilities that come to mind: 

            1. a topstitching needle with two 40 wt. Rayon emb. threads might work if you run each spool completely seperately through thier inividual thread tensions as if you were going to use a double needle, then thread them both through the topstitching needle because it has a larger eye.  The problem with putting two threads through one needle is that the thread may "shred" or tangle unmercifully, or look fine on top as you are working for awhile, then you discover it is getting tangled in the bobbin.  Even with it going through two different tensions, they may not "play well together".  It can be done, but watch out for the pitfalls!  I haven't used this method in years because it is easier to buy heavier thread or varigated thread. 

            2. Just use a heavier 30 weight Rayon thread through one embroidrery needle.

            3. If I was using boiled wool, my first thought is to use 30 wt. or 12 wt. Sulky blendables cotton.  This might work in the topstitching needle with a loose needle tension.  It does in my machine.

            4. Silk thread or ribbon floss with a topstitching needle. 

            5. Use regular thread the color of your boiled wool in the universal needle.  Put heavier thread in the bobbin, and work with the wrong side of the fabric facing you. 

            Just use scraps of the same type fabric and "audition" the techniques till you find one that pleases you the most.  To me, playing around with a variety of techniqes and products is the best part!  Let your Muse be your guide and go for it girl!  Hope you will post a photo.  Mary 

            for #5, bypass the tensions when you put the heavy threaded bobbin in the machine.  (With really heavy thread in the bobbin like Perle Crown Rayon or the sparkly Glamour, I use the foot pedal to wind the bobbin more slowly as the "auto bobbin winds it too fast.  You could also wind the bobbin by hand with these heavier threads.  If you like shiny, you would probably love Perle Crown Rayon!  Mary

            Edited 11/10/2007 10:37 pm by MaryinColorado

          8. Josefly | | #21

            Oh, those are good ideas. I'll play with them and let you know how it goes. Thanks again for all your tips.

          9. merimore | | #18

            You mentioned free motion quilting in your post so I thought I'd ask.  When I try to free motion everything looks ok on top, but when I turn it over, I have very messy thread loops on the back of my piece.  What am I doing wrong?

          10. MaryinColorado | | #20

            This is how I would troubleshoot, trying one thing at a time.

            Loosen the needle tension in small increments.

            Did you remeber to lower the presser foot?  You need to do this wether you are using a foot or not so it will engage the tensions.  This is the most common booboo, I think. 

            You did drop the feed dogs?  Reingage them and then drop them again to see if they might have not switched properly the first time. 

            Rethread the machine completely.  It sounds as if the bobbin thread isn't going through the tensions. 

            Change the needle.  Are you using a needle size and type that is compatible with the thread, fabric, and thicknesses?  I have used quilting, embroidery, topstitching, or metalfil needles for this. 

             Recheck to make sure it works okay for regular stitching. 

            Try a different bobbin.

            Are you drawing the bobbin thread to the top by turning the flywheel before you start to freemotion?  Take a few stitches, then clip the thread close to the fabric.

            Are you using a hoop?  If not, maybe the layers are shifting.

            Hope this helps.  Sorry it's so long, but I tried to cover all the possibilites I could think of at the moment.   Good luck!  Mary


          11. Josefly | | #22

            Just to emphasize what Mary said about putting the presser foot LEVER down before stitching - this is the hardest thing to remember to do. I had the same problem you are having - loops of thread on the bottom of the fabric - and it was because I had removed the presser foot, and kept forgetting to lower the lever; if the lever is not down, the upper thread tension is not engaged.

          12. MaryinColorado | | #23

            My serger won't go and makes a beeping alarm at me so I know the presser foot isn't engaged.  It would be nice to have on all my machines but good old "operator error" is usually my problem.  I was distracted once when I was in the process of changing needles.  The next day, I sat down to sew and it took me a few tries before I realised I didn't have a needle in the machine.  I felt like I'd entered the "Twilight Zone".  I mean, how can you not see that there is no needle in front of your face?  Mary

          13. Josefly | | #24

            Oh, Mary, I laughed and laughed at that! It sounds sooooo much like something I would do!

          14. merimore | | #25

            Thanks for your response.  I don't get online every day, but I did get your tip on making sure the presser foot is down.  Will give it a whirl this weekend and see if my results improve.  Thanks again

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