How to Create a Professional Quality Sewing Workroom at Home

No seamstress starts a project with the hopes that it will turn out “alright.” You want your efforts to look professional so you can make an impression with your sewing skills and creativity. Starting every project with a well-organized and adequately stocked sewing workroom will go a long way in helping you achieve this goal.

The best way to create a professional quality sewing workroom is to have an entire room dedicated to your craft and not just an “area” where things can get mixed up or lost in the shuffle. If you have no other resort than to use the home office or the family den, at least divide the room into half so that you have a designated workspace to call your own. If you really want to get serious about your craft, it may be time to finally get that basement finished!

Choose Your Tools

Start with the Sewing Machine -

 A good quality sewing machine that has a good selection of stitches and a free arm is going to be at the heart of your sewing workroom. You can’t do anything without it. If you plan to sew all types of items and use different materials, you will want a machine that is as versatile as your agenda. To get the best quality results, it’s a good idea to stick with brand names like Brother, Bernina, Pfaff, Janome, Juki, and Singer.

Once you have the sewing machine, get a sturdy sewing machine stand that will keep your machine securely in place. One thing that many seamstresses overlook is the need for a good seat that allows them to work comfortably without straining their back. Invest in a good quality ergonomic chair that has adjustable height so you can create a custom fit. Adjust it so that you can rest your feet flat on the floor while keeping your work at elbow height.

The Right Size Sewing Table –

 There are two things you will need to consider when choosing a table: What you will be using it for and your height. If you are going to use your sewing room to make custom draperies or ball gowns, you will be cutting larger pieces of material and will need a larger table. On the other hand, if you are going to be working on kids’ clothes, you don’t need nearly as much space.

The ideal table will accommodate the fabric you will be cutting most often while not requiring you to lean across it. Like the sewing machine, try to keep the work area at wrist height. Getting the right height might be the most challenging part of the job. If all you can find is a table that is a little too short, you may be able to use wood blocks to raise it to the right level.

Scissors, Shears, and Other Cutting Instruments –

 If you have any sewing experience at all, you know the value of a good pair of scissors. What you may not know is that is a difference between scissors and shears. The latter are usually longer and have a small handle for the thumb and a larger handle for the other fingers for more comfortable cutting. Beyond this distinction, there are many different styles of scissors available for sewing today.

A good way to stock your workroom is to invest in a really good quality pair of shears for basic cutting of fabric and then supplement the collection with a pair of more affordable backup scissors and any specialty scissors that you might need for the types of sewing you do. Embroidery scissors, ergonomic and/or soft grip handles, and those designed for cutting through extra-thick fabrics are just some examples of what are available today.

Of course, there are electric scissors and some sewers swear by them, but the majority of users prefer the control and sharp cut they get with handheld scissors.

Basic Supplies –

Nothing is more important to producing quality work than having the right tools available when you need them. When your niece calls to have her hot pink prom dress hemmed the night before the event, you need every available minute to do the job! A trip to the fabric store to buy hot pink thread or the right needle for the delicate fabric will put a big wrench into getting the job done quickly and professionally.

Some of the basic supplies that you need to keep on-hand at all times include:

· Thread in a wide assortment of colors with extra black and white. Consider keeping clear acrylic thread on hand for those odd shades that really contrast with every shade you have.

· Extra Bobbins

· Seam Rippers

· Marking Pens and Chalk (I use plain children’s chalk in multi-colors because it is easy to see on any fabric and brushes off easily)

· Magnetic Pin Base with Long Sharp Pins

· Safety Pins

· Steam Iron and Ironing Pad (A full-sized ironing board is best if you have room)

· Yard Stick, 1-Foot Ruler, Tape Measures

· An Assortment of Machine Needle Types and Sizes and Hand Sewing Needles

· Black and White Interfacing

· Assortment of Buttons, Snaps, Zippers

· Adjustable Sewing Form

· Any Specialty Tools Needed for the Type of Sewing You Will Do!

Getting Organized –

Without having the organizational tools you need to keep everything in a designated area, you may as well end up running out and buying what you need every time you start a sewing project. Starting with the thread, everything needs to have a designated space where you can find it easily and your workroom will have a professional appearance instead of just looking like chaos.

A thread rack will keep thread organized and help prevent it from unraveling from the spool so there is less mess. If you end up with more spools that you have storage space, put those that you use less often into a basket or drawer after securing the ends with a piece of scotch tape.

A combination of shelving and drawers is best for separating notions of all sizes. You can use plastic storage units with drawers for an inexpensive fix or any type of cabinet that you can place smaller plastic bins in to keep clutter out-of-sight. The important thing is to create a system that will work for you.

Place your sewing books, pieces of fabric, rulers, and any other large items on your shelving to create a little decorative interest. You may also want to display one or two of your recent projects! Consider putting a pegboard up on the wall to hang items you use frequently like scissors and rulers so you always know where to find them.

Another idea for small work spaces is to put a shelf along the top of the wall to store books, magazines, or patterns that you won’t access as frequently to take up vertical space and save room for things you need more often closer to you and your machine.

Canisters, jars, and other decorative containers are good for storing small notions too. Just don’t mix things together thinking you will be able to “fish out” what you need later. Put buttons in one container, snaps in another, etc.

Look at the local discount store for clever storage items that will fit your needs. You may even have unused items at home that will work well with a little imagination. For example, an unused spice rack with jars is an ideal way to store buttons with each color stored separately. There is no better place to use your creativity than in the design of your sewing workroom.

Creating a professional quality sewing workroom isn’t about buying the most expensive furnishings and gadgets you can find. It’s about creating a well-stocked space that has everything organized to inspire you and put your skills to their best use.

What is the Difference between Hand Quilting and Machine Quilting?

Quilting

Most quilts begin as quilt tops which may be in any of hundreds of designs. Quilts may be pieced, embroidered, appliqued, or any combination of these methods. Once the quilt top is put together, it is matched to the middle and the backing of a compatible size. Now, all that is left to decide is how the quilting will be done; by hand, or by machine but first you will need to know the difference between hand quilting and machine quilting.

“Quilting” refers to the stitching process used to sew these three layers together. Although most quilters have a favorite way of stitching quilts, many use a combination of both processes for different types and sizes of quilts.

Hand Quilting

Hand Quilting

Quilting by hand is a centuries-old process that can be seen in any heirloom or vintage quilt. Many quilters prefer sewing by hand as much for the enjoyment and satisfaction of the project as the appearance. A quilt that has been stitched by hand is typically a source of pride for the crafter. As for the difference in appearance, these quilts usually have a looser appearance to the fabric than those quilted by machine.

If you are going to be doing a lot of hand quilting, invest in a floor frame or standing hoop that will help prevent errors by keeping more of the quilt held tight at one time.

Many quilters who prefer hand quilting feel relaxed by the process. Some quilters compare hand quilting to therapy and find that it is highly calming. If you have the time to put into quilting by hand and enjoy the process more than getting to the final product, this might be the best choice for you.

Machine Quilting

There are many sewing machines today that include quilting stitches, in addition to specialty quilting machines which are made with a long arm to accommodate a large quilt. Most people lack the money and space it takes to invest in the latter but today’s advanced home sewing machines include a variety of features that make quilting by machine easy while producing a professional-looking final product.

Machine Quilting

Some machines also combine embroidery with quilting features for even more diversity in the types and designs of quilts and other artwork you can create. Quilting on a machine leaves the pieces more tightly sewn and gives them a crisper appearance.

Machine quilting is not without its challenges, especially if you take on too large of a project before you have mastered the techniques. Many quilters use fusible batting to hold the layers in place and to make the fabric stiffer so that it is easier to handle without the need for a lot of pins. Although machine quilting is the recommended method for larger quilts, keep in mind that they will have to be maneuvered in the space between the needle and the body of the machine. Start small and leave room to make some mistakes to master your craft before you end up with a major do-over.

How to Decide

Size

Although you might want to hand quilt a baby quilt or twin sized quilt to create an heirloom, larger quilts that are made to fit queen or king sized beds will obviously take a lot more time and work. Unless you want to make a single quilt into a long-term project, quilting on the machine is going to be your best option for anything large. This is especially true for inexperienced quilters who tend to take a little more time.

Fabric

Some fabrics are easier to handle than others, making it more or less difficult to stitch by hand. Fabrics that are thick or stiff are difficult to push the needle through and they can be hard on the quilter’s hands. Others, such as satin, silk, or sateen are slippery and difficult to hold on to.

Use
Art Quilting

Quilts are made for everyday use, competitions, and everything in-between. For those that are used and laundered regularly, machine quilting is the better approach. Although hand stitching gives you more room to express your creativity and give it a more authentic appearance, machine quilting is actually stronger and often the choice for functional quilts.

Many quilters claim that they can’t tell the difference between hand and machine stitched quilts but those used in shows or competitions may have to abide by guidelines, usually requiring them to be stitched by hand. Although the overall appearance of the quilt may be the same or similar, a close examination is going to make it obvious to any other quilter what types of stitches were used.

Once you have tried both methods, you will probably find that you favor one over the other. If you are like many quilters who enjoy a diversity of projects, you will likely use both methods to get the best results for each. Either quilting method can be satisfying to the crafter who enjoys the art of quilting and the comfort and beauty of homemade quilts.

How to Adjust a Sewing Pattern for the Best Fit

Just as all clothes you purchase in the store are not a perfect fit, sewing patterns also vary so that they need to be adjusted to get a good fit. There are multiple methods of fitting patterns from pinning the tissue pieces together to create a paper garment to making a sample garment out of a cheap fabric like muslin. Although either of these methods may be preferable to you, there is a simple way on how to adjust a sewing pattern that will take less of your time and give you just as accurate a fit.

Most advice on how to fit patterns often starts with taking your measurements and writing them down. It is nearly impossible to do this yourself and many people are uncomfortable asking someone else to take their measurements for them.

Although you might think a “custom fit” starts with matching the pattern to your measurements, this isn’t entirely true. Pattern pieces need to be cut with a certain amount of “ease” or extra room, requiring the best-fitting pieces to be a little bit larger than your actual measurements. Otherwise, the garment will be binding and won’t move with you.

The Garment-to-Garment Fitting Method

Most of us tend to tend towards similar styles in the clothes we wear in regards to style and the way they fit. That means that whatever you are preparing to make, you probably have something similar in your wardrobe. Select a similar garment that you can wear comfortably and that is made of a similar type of fabric. If you are happy with the way this garment fits, using it as a guide to fit your pattern should produce an equally well-fitting garment.

Select a garment that is as close to what you are making as possible. Regardless of the style, there will be several key areas that you will measure. For example, when making a pair of pants, you will need the waist and hip measurements, along with the lower waistband to inner inseam measurement in the front and back and the length from the outer lower waistband to the hem and the inside inseam to the hem. These measurements can differ according to the style of the pants and those without a waistband should be measured from the very top.

For a blouse or top, you will want to measure the bust, waist, shoulders, shoulder-to-hem, and underarm-to-hem. If the top has sleeves, you will also want to measure the length. Some new tops are made in tunic styles that come down over the hips. If that is the case, you will want to measure here, too. If you don’t have any tops this long, use your own measurement to make sure the pattern will fit here as well.

Get It Down on Paper

You don’t have to be a great artist to draw the pattern pieces but you can trace them from the sewing guide if needed. Leave enough room around the edges to place your written measurements.

Next, draw a line across the area that you will be measuring and place arrows at the ends of the lines to indicate which direction that measurement is for. For example, if you are measuring across the top of a piece of pants pattern, use ←------------------→ and place the measurement either at the end of one of the arrows or in the center of the line. Although the pants pattern will either be for the back or front and you will cut out two pieces of each, measure for a single piece as you did in your garment sample. Do not round off the measurements. If you add 1/8th of an inch to one pants piece, by the time you cut all four pieces, you will be adding ½” to the overall fit and that will sabotage your fitting efforts!

The seam allowance on most standard patterns is 5/8” unless otherwise noted. Since this is not usually marked on the pattern, you will have to keep the seam allowance in mind when measuring the pattern. The same is true for hems and do not include darts or pleats in your measurements.

Once you have all of your drawings completed, you can compare the drawings you made to determine what changes need to be made. In the example above, we can see we need to make the following changes:

-Reduce the back waist by ¼”

-Reduce the front waist by ¼”

-Reduce the back inseam by ¼”

-Reduce the front inseam by ¼”

-Increase the hem length by 1”

-Reduce the waistband by 1”

Place the pattern pieces on the fabric according to the pattern layout. Since the only increases you will be making are to the hem, the alterations you make to the pattern won’t interfere with the spacing of the pattern pieces on the fabric other than the bottom of the pants pattern. Allow for an extra inch of fabric at the hem.

With the pattern pieces firmly pinned to the fabric, use a sewing marker or chalk to outline the top of the pattern where the alterations will be made and several inches below. Unpin the top of the pattern and fold it over so it is out of your way. Measure and mark the outside seam at the waist ¼” inside the pattern line. Use a ruler to taper the line downward into the seamline. Do this for both the front and back pieces on the outside seam only.

Place the edge of the pattern on the newly marked line and pin in place. If there are darts or pockets, as in this pattern, shift them 1/4” towards the inner seam to keep them centered.

The same approach is used to reduce the inseam. The ¼” reduction is taken from the top and it will extend across the entire pattern piece. The dart will also need to be lowered by the same ¼” increment.

Adding to the measurement works in the same way as reducing does. For the added 1” to the hem, add the additional inch to the bottom of both pattern pieces and drop the hem line indicated on the pattern the same amount.

Finally, don’t forget to adjust the length of the waistband so that it fits the pants once the pieces are sewn together. This waistband is cut on the fold so you will need to reduce the length by ½” to get the 1” reduction. Adjust the line for the center waistline by the same amount.

When fitting a pattern for a top, there may be several more pieces to work with than with pants or skirts. If you are using a pattern that has front and/or back inserts, you will need to consider the seam allowance for each piece when taking your measurements.

Changing the size of the bodice will also require you to change the size of sleeves, collars and collar bands, facings, and interfacings. Start by fitting the bodice pieces and listing the changes you need to make to the pattern. Any change made to the bodice and/or the shoulder seam will have to be duplicated in the sleeves. Adjusting either of these seams will affect the size of the armhole. Try to avoid patterns that require adjustments of more than ¼” to prevent the need to alter the armhole significantly.

Changes to the shoulder seam or the front opening will change the fit of the collar and collar band if one is included in the style. Any piece that requires a facing or interfacing will also need to be adjusted for length or style changes that affect the area where they will be used.

A Possible Exception to the Rule

Sewing with stretch fabrics is more challenging when fitting a pattern because of the variations in stretch. Try to stick with similar fabrics until you have mastered the garment-to-garment fitting method and have a better handle on how to accommodate special needs.

Practice Makes Perfect

Everyone’s body is made a little different, making it more challenging to get a perfect fit from any pattern. Although you may not get perfect results the first time, after a few attempts you will be able to adjust any pattern to make it fit like the go-to pieces that you love to wear.

What You Need to Turn Your Passion for the Craft Into an Embroidery Home Business

Nothing is more satisfying than turning something that you enjoy doing into a profitable business. An embroidery home business has many of the same advantages as other types of businesses run from home, including setting your own hours and prices for your services but with the added twist of doing something that you really enjoy. To get started turning your passion for embroidery into a business, you will need to have some basic tools on-hand so that you can just focus on providing the best customer service and quality products to your new customers.

Start with the Right Embroidery Sewing Machine

Woman operating embroidery machine.

There are many styles of embroidery machines on the market including those made for home use and those for commercial use. Most people who start a home-based business opt for a home machine. Commercial machines are designed to handle larger jobs and are built stronger to hold up to repeated use. Also, commercial embroidery machines can cost thousands of dollars more than home use machines, making them a poor investment for a business that you are just starting.

Do your research on the different type of embroidery machines and the warranties on each one. All embroidery machines use special embroidery software and a computer. When you find a design that you want online, you purchase it and then download it onto your computer. From there, it is transferred to the embroidery machine using a USB memory stick or directly from a laptop.

If you have the option to purchase a commercial embroidery machine that is used at a lower cost than a new one, consider how it transfers designs. Some of the older models work by reading cards and they are not as likely to be compatible with the newest technology. You are better off to buy a new machine at a comparable price.

Some machines include free embroidery software while others must be purchased separately. Some software is available for free while those that are for sale are quite expensive. Before you purchase a machine, find out if the software is included and how many designs are already programmed into the machine. This will determine whether you will also need to buy a USB storage device, a laptop or computer, and expensive embroidery software. If you already own a MAC, you will also need to know if the software is compatible with your existing computer or if you will have to upgrade.

Once you have purchased an embroidery machine, it will help serve as a guide for buying other tools you will need for your business including:

· Stock Embroidery Designs –

The designs you keep on-hand and programmed into your machine for your business will depend on the types of customers you serve. If you will be embroidering caps for a sports team, monogramming gift items, or using a selection of designs to use as your signature on purchased or created items, you will only need a limited number of designs that you can edit to suit each individual need. On the other hand, if you plan to encompass a broad range of designs according to the customer’s interests, you may want to start with a significant stock and then add new options as customers request them.

· Needles –

 The variety of needles that you need to stock up on will depend on the types of embroidery you will do and the different types of embroidery material you will be using. What you do need is to have enough needles on-hand to change the working needle regularly to keep your embroidery clean and sharp.

· Thread –

Polyester thread is becoming the standard choice over Rayon due to its resilience and colorfastness. You want to use high-quality thread to ensure your machine works optimally and to prevent the potential for thread breaks. A good way to save money on this basic supply is to purchase thread collections that are made to match those of the leading brands that are available at a much lower price. The key to getting quality and savings is to go with a brand that has been making embroidery thread for many years and which has a high rating among users.

· Hoops –

If you will be embroidering a variety of flat items, then get a variety of hoop sizes that are compatible with your machine. You want to use the smallest possible hoop for any design to keep the fabric tight and secure during the embroidery process. There are also specialty hoops for embroidering oddly shaped garments or those that are hard to access such as baseball caps or the legs of jeans.

· Pre-Wound Bobbins –

 Black or white thread that is made specifically for use in the bobbin is an essential tool for any home based embroidery business. Purchasing pre-wound bobbins will save you a lot of time and frustration instead of worrying about whether you have enough thread on hand and keeping it separate from your other embroidery thread. If you don’t purchase pre-wound bobbins, you will probably need to invest in a bobbin winder unless your machine has a bobbin winding function that works independently from the sewing function.

· Stabilizer –

There are four types of stabilizers including cutaway, tearaway, water soluble, and tacky. Each style is useful for different types of projects. Determine whether you will need more than one type according to your potential embroidery projects. The best rule of thumb is to keep some of each type on-hand so that you are prepared for any challenge.

· Tool Kit -

Keep a small toolkit with embroidery and regular scissors, tweezers, touch pen, seam ripper, cleaning brush, oil, and a needle-threading tool nearby for all the little details that you will face each day.

· Tax ID Number –

Although you will find most of the embroidery materials you need online at prices that are below wholesale, you may want a tax ID number if you plan to stock the items you will embroider and sell them as an entire unit. For example, men’s baseball caps, baby layettes, or women’s scarves that you can buy in bulk for consistent design, material content, and appearance will be more affordable when you purchase wholesale.


The most important factor in making your home-based business a success is to be prepared for whatever job will come through your door next. Delivering high-quality embroidery in a timely manner will help spread the word and build a reputation that will help your embroidery business thrive.

Where to Find Designs for Your Embroidery Machine

Once you have chosen a home embroidery machine, you are probably anxious to get started creating beautiful designs. Before you can get started, you have to know where to get designs for your embroidery machine. There are thousands of designs to download on the internet, some for free and others at various costs. Before you download any design to your computer, you need to determine the type of design your computer uses. Just check your user manual to see what file type to look for. Most designs are available in multiple file types.

Another thing to consider is the method of transfer used to get the design from your computer to your sewing machine. Your machine may work by direct cable connection or with a USB memory stick. Some machines use a card but these are pretty much limited to older models.

Once you know which kind of designs to purchase, you are ready to start shopping! A simple search for embroidery machine designs will take you to many, many websites. Some carry a vast number of all types of designs while others are private owned stores where people who love machine embroidery just like you have turned their passion and skills into an online business where they digitize unique embroidery designs.

Below is a list of popular websites where you can get embroidery designs from established businesses that have large followings.

Anita Goodesign is one of the top embroidery design companies in the world. With more than 50 full-time employees, they manufacture all of their products in Charlotte, NC, from conception to completion! They offer club memberships, which include access to webinars, pdf and video tutorials, and Embroidery Parties!

StitchX Embroidery offers many hand-digitized machine embroidery designs on compact disc. Most of their CDs include many designs in the most popular formats. From seasonal design, to animals and nature, you can find almost any motif at StitchX.

ThreaDelight offers embroidery supplies such as a wide assortment of polyester, rayon and metallic threads, netting and prewound bobbins. They also offer project oriented embroidery designs on CD, in a variety of popular formats, for varying hoop sizes.

Kimberbell Designs specializes in quilt and home decor patterns, including many creative machine embroidery designs. Kimberbell is the creation of Kim Christopherson, who is also the co-host of "The DIY Dish" show featuring sewing, quilting, and craft projects.

AmazingDesigns.com – True to their name, Amazing Designs has been providing high quality embroidery designs that stand out since 1996. All of their single designs and collections are offered as instant downloads and they add new designs regularly. They also offer free projects and free embroidery designs.

Amazon.com – Amazon is a great place to find embroidery designs! Collections like the one linked here are ideal for anyone who wants a lot of versatility in their embroidery or who is planning on starting a home based machine embroidery business and needs a large stock to choose from. Offerings change regularly so that there is always something new to choose from.

DesignsBySick.com – Designs by Sick has been offering embroidery designs online since 2002 and they offer a lot more. Join in their chat and forums to socialize with other embroiderers to see what they have to say. They offer a “This Hour’s Free Design” a “Today’s Free Design”, and “Today’s Free Facebook Design” in addition to their current selection of more than 31,000 unique designs and more than 2,000 designs sets or packs.

Urban Threads – Urban Threads is a small company that operates as a part of a larger team at Embroidery Library. They go in a different direction with their designs and post at least one cool new design every weekday to inspire embroiders with their artistic talents.

EmbroideryLibrary.com – This is the parent company to Urban Threads and home to embroidery designs in nearly any category that you can imagine. They have more than 100,000 designs and design packs. If you have something in mind, you will probably find it here and each design is instantly downloadable. Prices are low, from $1 to as little as $7.99.

RustyNeedleDesigns – There are many embroidery design stores on Etsy, and Rusty Needle Designs is a good one if you are looking for designs that are a little less mainstream. Check out Esty.com for even more places to get unique designs.

SwakEmbroidery.com – This company has a lot of choices in alphabet designs for monograms and other types of personalization and signage. They have designs in a wide range of categories including embossed designs and mega hoop designs.

Brother-USA.com – Or sign up with the company that made your embroidery machine. Brother offers free tips and tricks, free designs and projects, and special offers on the purchases you make.

EmbroideryDesigns.com – This company offers a lot of choices including top selling designs and packages, themed design packs, and custom packs so you include only what you want. They also offer custom digitizing so you can turn your artwork into a unique embroidery design. You can choose three of their free embroidery designs per week at no charge but you must make a specified purchased each week to receive more.

EmbroideryOnline.com – Oklahoma Embroidery Supply & Design (OESD) has more than 25 years of experience providing in-house, high-quality digitized embroidery designs. Their designs include transfer methods for PC cards, USBs, and CDs. They also offer designs that have been created by licensed artists to ensure each design is of the highest quality and will produce the best embroidery.

Ebay.com – Like Amazon, Ebay has listings for thousands of embroidery designs, both from Ebay stores and individual sellers. One advantage is that you have a wide variety of styles and unusual designs to choose from. But be careful about purchasing designs from individuals who don’t have a selling history or who don’t have a nearly perfect rating.

This is just a sampling of the online websites where you can find embroidery designs for your machine but they represent a diversity of styles and options. Most require you to sign up for an account to begin trading with them but the bonus is in getting tips and tricks offered to members and having the chance to chat with other sewers who may have had some of the same challenges as you and have overcome them.

Once you have tried your hand at creating a few designs, you will probably begin to get an idea of the styles you prefer and where to find them. If you aren’t happy with these choices, you can always find more with an advanced search for the specific type of designs you have in mind!

Tips and Techniques for Sewing Leather

Sewing Leather

Leather is a type of fabric that is always in style to some degree but it has been showing up in more fashions than ever before. The material that is most often seen to make outerwear is being combined with other types of fabric to make tops, bottoms, and dresses for all types of unique looks. Granted, sewing leather can be challenging but it is manageable if you know what to expect and how you can prevent making mistakes. When working with leather, you don’t get a second chance to get it right. Once the needle has gone through the fabric, the hole is there and there is no making it go away. Follow these tips and techniques for sewing leather -  real and faux -  to get the desired results the first time!

· Fit Before You Start – Do your measuring and fitting before you sew the leather fabric together and find out you need to let it out. If you have any doubt about the fit, err on the side of making it a little too big so any stitches will be on the inside of the garment once you take it up.

· Think Clips, Not Pins – Just as sewing machine needles leave holes in the leather, so will pins. Instead of pins, use paper clips or quilting clips that will hold the layers together without doing any damage. Don’t use tape, either, as it may stick to the surface and damage the fabric.

· Use a Leather Sewing Machine Needle- A specialty needle that is made for sewing leather is made with a wedge point so that it makes a smaller perforation in the material. Use one of these needles whether sewing real or faux leather.

· Reverse Pattern Pieces – Normal fabrics are folded when cutting out so that double pieces that go on each side are cut in the right direction. With leather, the thickness and the irregularity of the shape of real leather work better if you cut out in a single layer. If you do, make sure you reverse the pattern for the second piece. Otherwise, you will be left short!

· Limit Markings to the Wrong Side – If you need to transfer markings to the fabric, do it on the back side. Use chalk or a soft market and avoid transfer wheel that could leave holes.

· Be Cautious with Glue – Leather seams and hems are often glued down to prevent bulk. No finishing is required so getting these areas to lay flat is your primary goal. Use fabric or leather glue made for this purpose and be careful not to spill or smear on the surface of the leather. Other types of glue can expand and harden, making an irregular finish to the seam. Press down firmly to ensure a flat finish after gluing.

What is the best sewing machine for leather

· Use the Right Foot – If your machine includes a Teflon foot, this is the best choice for sewing leather. A roller foot is also a good option and can be identified by the small cylinder in the foot that rolls around as it goes across the fabric. If neither option is available, place a piece of clear tape securely on the bottom of your regular foot to prevent it from sticking to the fabric.

· Choose the Right Fabric – Whether sewing with real or faux leather, opt for those that are of the lightest weight. This is especially important when combining with other lightweight fabrics or sewing full garments like gathered skirts that you don’t want to be too heavy. It will also prevent you from having any problems sewing that you might have with thicker fabric.

If you don’t have a fabric shop near you that carries real leather fabric, there are options for leather in a wide range of colors online. Keep in mind that minor flaws in the material are natural and part of the beauty of the fabric but there should not be any damage that creates weak spots in the material. Purchase from a reputable dealer with a positive track record to ensure you get the quality that they guarantee. As an alternative, you may want to try your hand at sewing less expensive faux leather before you give the real thing a try!

The History of Embroidery

History of embroidery

Embroidery is a craft that relies on needles, thread, and a variety of stitches to create designs on fabric. Embroidery may be a hobby, a source of income, or a necessity for bringing beauty and art into every area of the home. The skills of the crafter determine the quality of the final project, while the techniques and choice of materials make the difference between a realistic work of art and a merely functional piece. While the craft of embroidery may seem entirely new to some,the history of embroidery has led to the perfection of the craft and the improvement in tools used to create it.

Embroidery’s Primitive Roots

History of embroidery -  hides

Primitive man relied on animal hides to craft clothing. The tools used to sew the clothing were made from ivory or bone while fibers from plants or the fibrous tissue from the animal’s flesh to make thread. Over time, the sewing technique used to hold animal skins together was transformed into a method of embellishment that implemented stones, bones, and beads into the work to make their clothing more decorative.

Prehistoric Embroidery in China

Possibly, embroidery goes back further in history in China than any other place on the planet. The practice has been dated back in that country to 3500BC with a number of impressive pieces still available today from the era of 1045BC to 246BC. One of the distinctive features of Chinese embroidery is the use of fine strands of silk thread which result in a more realistic representation of the subject matter. The use of silk thread and the variety of stitches used in this embroidery has been passed down through the generations to preserve the artistry that is still performed today. It is also important to note that many cultures including the Babylonians, Ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, and Phoenicians have a long history and their own styles of embroidery.

Embroidery Through the Middle Ages and Beyond

History of embroidery - tapestry

During the middle ages, the practice of embroidery grew rapidly. Wealthy traders and merchants would pay high prices for embroidered clothing, considering it a luxury. During the Renaissance Period, embroidery was no longer used primarily for clothing but also to decorate tapestries, curtains, and other household linens.

The Age of Enlightenment

Following the Renaissance, the Age of Enlightenment brought with it a number of changes in how women dressed, particularly the focus on the color yellow. Clothing styles transformed from wide skirts and back pleats to neater, close robes with fitted pleats. Chinoiserie, the use of Chinese motifs and embroidery techniques, became popular and was used in the design of elaborate clothing. Men’s clothing remained in the previous styles of waistcoats and breeches, but with the addition of elaborately embroidered dress fabrics, specifically silks and velvets.

The Introduction of the Embroidery Machine

Jacob Schiess started the first commercial embroidery manufacturing business in America in 1848 soon after coming to this country from Switzerland. Unlike today’s industrial embroidery businesses which rely on high-tech computerized embroidery machines, the facility operated with fifteen women who stitched by hand to create intricate designs.

Machine embroidery was introduced to America in the 1800’s when Joshua Heilmann designed a hand embroidery machine that is credited more for revolutionizing the industry than for the sales it inspired. The invention was soon followed by more modern embroidery methods, such as chain stitch embroidery and the shuttle method.

During the late 1800s, Issac Groebli of Switzerland is credited with inventing the first Schiffli (German for “Little Boat”) embroidery machine. He based the design on the principals used in the new sewing machine, utilizing a continuously threaded needle with the shuttle which contained a bobbin. The name of the Schiffli came from the shuttle’s resemblance to the hull of a boat.

When Dr. Robert Reiner recognized the need for industrial embroidery machines in America in 1903, he secured a position as the American agent for Vogtlandishe Machine Works in Plauen, Germany. Reiner started importing embroidery machines to Hudson County, New Jersey which continued until 1938 when the company in Germany stopped production because of WWII. In 1953, Reiner introduced the first Schiffli machine made in America.

Modern Embroidery

Today, embroidery continues to be a popular craft that is sometimes collected for its beauty and uniqueness. Both hand embroidery and machine embroidery are popular, depending on the specific goals of the crafter. Many prefer the uniqueness of hand embroidery when the craft is done for pleasure whereas embroidery machines are the obvious choice for any degree of commercial use.

The diversity of cultures in America has brought an influx of embroidery techniques to the country that give embroiderers more option for attaining a broad range of results. High quality threads and needles facilitate the creation of beautiful works of art that compare to the beauty of those kept from centuries past.

Most of today’s embroidery machines are connected with a computer to download and digitize embroidery designs that the machine will then translate onto fabric. There are thousands of designs available online that can be edited and used repeatedly to produce identical or varying designs. The ease and diversity of use have resulted in a growing number of home and small businesses that offer embroidery of different types of items.

Embroidery has been a decorative method for nearly as long as people have made clothes to put it on. It has also been used to record history and to symbolize important events throughout the times. For many, it continues to be an artistic form of expression that is just as decorative and beautiful as it is functional.

Hand vs Machine Embroidery: What are the Differences?

You might imagine that the only difference between embroidery done by hand and that created by machine was the method used. There is also the notion that items embroidered by hand have a greater value and are more sentimental than those embroidered by machine. But when you get down to the details, there are numerous other differences as well. Here we will explain the differences between hand vs machine embroidery.

Hand Embroidery

Hand embroidery begins with a piece of fabric tightly stretched over a wood or plastic hoop. From the time the first stitch is made, the crafter will make decisions about the color of thread and the type of stitch used. As the work of art unfolds, they may change their mind about which choices will produce the best results.

Hand stitching results in a unique piece of work every time it is created. Even if the exact pattern and thread colors are replicated, there will be subtle differences in the way the stitches are made and the area where colors and shading are used.

The type of thread used for hand embroidery differs from that used in embroidery machines too. Hand embroidery thread is stranded and comes in silk, cotton, or wool. The strands may be separated to make some areas flatter or more delicate, or combined for bulkier areas. This process gives the embroidery more texture and distinction between various areas.

Machine Embroidery

Hand vs Machine embroidery

The process of machine embroidery is much more exact and uniform than that of hand embroidery. Although the crafter can choose from thousands of designs and determine the thread colors they want to use, there is no room for editing along the way. Pre-designed patterns are loaded into the machine and the exact same pattern is produced every time. Machine embroidery is like running papers through a copy machine; each piece is identical to the original.

The thread used in an embroidery machine is heavier than what is used for hand embroidery and it is typically made of polyester, metallics, or rayon. This thread is not stranded and cannot be separated to change the texture of any part of the embroidery. The same thickness will occur throughout the pattern, giving it a flatter appearance.

So Which Is Best?

Hand embroidery and machine embroidery are two very distinct methods of stitching and each has its purpose. It just depends on your end-goal.

A hand embroidered work is more artistic and personal, making it the ideal way to create a special heirloom or a source of pride for the embroiderer. The process requires an investment of time and heart to include the details that will make the embroidery stand out. Depending on the skills of the person with the needle, hand embroidery can result in a lifelike piece of art that will make a unique display to be enjoyed by all.

Machine embroidery, on the other hand, produces more professional looking work in a fraction of the time it takes to do something similar by hand. The broad selection of designs available today provides everything that is needed for personal use and for small businesses as well.

Some home embroidery businesses focus on monograms while others might embroider men’s caps. These are all uses that require the professional results of an embroidery machine.

The same is true for sewers who want the versatility that an embroidery machine brings to their craft. They may want to add decorative detailing to home items like placemats or curtains, or add cute animals or cartoon characters to their children’s clothes. Even the smallest embroidery detail adds interest and value to all types of everyday items.

If embroidery is a new area of interest for you, your lack of experience doesn’t mean that you are limited in your choices. Every person who has become an artist with a needle and thread had to start with their first piece.

If you prefer machine embroidery, no previous embroidery experience is required. Today’s embroidery machines are virtually decision-free! Once you decide what you want to embroider and in what colors, the machine will do the rest.

Singer EM200 Superb Embroidery Machine Review

Singer EM200 Superb Embroidery Machine

The Singer EM200 Superb is a dedicated embroidery machine that features a sleek new design inspired by iconic machines from the Singer brand. The embroidery machine includes a lot of features that make it easier to maneuver the hoops and the fabric while also providing exceptional visibility. The versatility of this machine and the user-friendly functions make it ideal for personal use or for home-based embroidery businesses.

Pros

Users like the extra-large embroidery area that gives them the room they need to create larger designs. Many of the automated features, like the thread sensor, thread cutter, and automatic thread tension make it easier to focus on the project at hand without worrying about the small details.

Cons

We found that the machine takes some trial-and-error to get the right combination of fabrics, needles, etc to get the best quality stitching. Although the numerous features and options can make it difficult for beginners, they make it the ideal choice for more advanced sewers who want to get professional quality results. We found that if followed the instructions in the guide found that it was fairly easy to resolve most of our issues.

Customer Reviews

Many customers who bought the EM200 Superb feel that the large embroidery area makes this machine a great value in comparison to more expensive machines with the same feature. Most agree that there is a learning curve for the machine but that it can be used efficiently when buyers take the time to learn about the operation in the manual. The touchscreen display, snap-on embroidery hoops, and easy design transfer using the provided USB stick are just some of the features that get this machine high ratings.

Even those users who give the EM200 the best reviews agree that the machine was not designed with the beginner in mind. Many suggest that the company make more video tutorials to make the machine easier to use. Buyers can find an assortment of YouTube tutorials here.

The EM200 comes with two embroidery hoops including the large 10-1/4” x 6” and the small 4” x 4” hoops for more versatility in embroidery options. The machine includes 200 built-in embroidery designs and six alphabet options and complimentary software can be downloaded to enhance creativity by providing even more embroidery options and ideas. The software is also updateable so that sewers can enhance the machine’s capabilities as technology continues to grow.

Price

The list price for the Singer embroidery machine is $1,400 but buyers can find the best prices at Amazon.

Singer EM200 Superb Features

Endless Design Options

The 200 built-in designs and 6 alphabet options make the EM200 an endless resource for embroidery and monogram designs.

LCD Touch Screen

The generous LCD touch screen makes it easy to select embroidery settings.

USB Stick Embroidery Design Transfer

Use the included memory stick to store and transfer designs from your computer to your machine.

Speedy Stitching

The Singer EM200 Superb features a 700 stitch-per-minute speed that means projects get finished faster.

Automatic Needle Threader

You never have to waste time trying to thread the needle again.

Automatic Thread Tension

Automatically balances stitches for more even sewing.

Thread Cutter

Just touch a button to cut the top and bottom thread.

Bobbin Winding During Embroidery

You don’t have to stop your project and then start over when the bobbin runs out. The machine winds the bobbin at the same time it embroiders.

Start/Stop Button

Lets you operate the machine without using the foot pedal.

Upper Thread Sensor

Signals you before the thread runs out.

Accessories

Other accessories include an embroidery foot, spool pin felt, needle plate screwdriver, thread spool net, screwdriver, seam ripper, thread spool caps, lint brush, auxiliary spool pin, USB embroidery stick, bobbins, and needles.

The 5 Best Books for Learning Embroidery

Embroiderers have the same goal at every level; to learn more about creating the perfect stitch and broaden their capabilities for making more designs. Even the most talented stitcher needs a reference to come up with new ideas and understand the combination of stitches, colors, needles, thread, and fabric that will produce the best results. Learning embroidery is an ongoing journey. Following is a list of five embroidery books that will help inspire both hand and machine embroiderers in every situation and at every level.

1. Embroidery by DK

The one-word title sums up what this book is all about. It includes 160 pages of instruction on techniques for sewing clothes, doing needlepoint, and making embroidery stitches. There are 200 stitches featured along with step-by-step instructions for users at all levels of difficulty and ideas for their use. The book includes lots of illustrations that make it easy for even beginners to follow and make the right choice in stitches for every project.

2. The Sewing Machine Embroiderer’s Bible by Liz Keegan

There are hundreds of embroidery designs available online in a variety of types and formats. The Sewing Machine Embroiderer’s Bible explains the differences between them and what you need to do to transfer them to your machine. It also contains tips on stabilizing material, selecting needles and threads, and making the most of each embroidery project. Owners of any type of embroidery sewing machine will benefit from this 128-page guide and help you use the features that would otherwise go unused. There is even an extensive section on editing and organizing designs so you can save them in your machine and have them ready to go the next time you want to use them.

3. The Embroidery Stitch Bible by Betty Barnden

This embroidery book is 256 pages of full-sized samples and fully described and illustrated stitches along with a list of uses for each stitch. This book really takes the confusion out of embroidery by giving alternative names and providing notes on the working method. There is a chapter on choosing appropriate materials and equipment for different techniques in addition to basic tips that apply to all styles and types of embroidery to achieve the specific effects that you want.

4. Colour Confidence in Embroidery (Milner Craft Series) by Trish Burr

This 256-page embroidery book focuses on the impact of color on embroidery. Color can be used to make embroidery designs pop, create a sense of softness, or to add dimension. The book acts as a guide to help crafters bring life to their designs through the best choice in colors to create contrast and shading needed to give definition that makes the details stand out. It includes over 200 stitched examples along with a number of color schemes and projects for crafters to try their skills on.

5. Mary Thomas’s Dictionary of Embroidery Stitches by Mary Thomas

This 298-page book of embroidery has been around since its original publication date in 1934 and continues to provide valuable information to embroiderers of all levels. The version available today has been updated by Jan Eaton to include more than 400 embroidery stitches with pictures and includes their usage. The broad range of stitches, from basic outline and border stitches to those that are more complex, make it the ideal companion for any embroiderer looking to master their craft or expand their skills.

Making the best choice in an embroidery book will depend on the type of embroidery you do and your goals for expanding your capabilities. Any book that is designed for use by crafters at all levels is more likely to be easier to comprehend through the illustrations and instructions provided. Whether you are just getting started at hand embroidery or you are attempting to get the most from an embroidery sewing machine, the right embroidery companion will help you make the best choices in color selection, materials, and techniques to achieve the final project that you have in mind.