Sewing Tools

Let’s take an in-depth look at sewing tools and notions for the Modern Quilter! These are some of my favorites in my own sewing room.

  • Is Dollar Tree Fabric Worth the Bargain? A Picky Shopper’s Honest Opinion

    It looks like there’s a new fabric spot to add to our sewing projects – Dollar Tree!

    I’ve been hearing some rumors and other quilters have told me that Dollar Tree now carries fabric. At first, I thought some of you were making it up, since the craft section at Dollar Tree is usually quite small… but it turns out they’ve grown their selection and now have all kinds of materials for our creative ideas. Let’s get ready — time to stock up on some fun fabrics from Dollar Tree. Who said you can’t find quality material while shopping on a budget?

    A picky fabric shopper shares opinions on fabric purchased at Dollar Tree. Find out if Dollar Tree fabric is worth the bargain or if it falls short of expectations.

    My Dollar Tree fabric purchases

    So, off I went to Dollar Tree to buy some fabrics to test them out, and to be honest, the first fabrics I saw weren’t cute at all. However, after looking a bit harder, I did find some 18” x 21” fat quarters in a fun fiesta design. Although the fabric felt a bit rough and a bit on the thin side, it was still 100% cotton, and only cost $1.25.

    I’m not saying I would buy 30 of these to make a quilt out of instead of going to my local fabric store or online shop, but for the price, they’re pretty good. 

    I also checked out the 20pc fabric rolls of block colors, 2.5” x 42” strips, and found most of them around the $5 mark. If you’re thinking of using this for a table runner or a gift, rather than something that gets a lot of use, this type of roll would be perfect.

    Also at the $5 mark were packs of fat quarters (18” x 21”) with 5 different prints. The one that caught my eye had a French metro vibe featuring the Eiffel Tower, hot air balloons, cityscapes, coffee and cupcakes, and macarons. 

    While the fabric feels like regular fun fabric and not high-quality quilting cotton, it’s still a good deal. These work out to $1 a piece for each fat quarter and would be perfect for making zipper bags, small trinkets, or microwave bowls. 

    What to look for in discount fabrics

    When you’re looking at fabric in budget stores like this, you want to make sure it’s 100% cotton and doesn’t have glitter on it because I guarantee glitter is going to wash off and flake off on everything. You certainly don’t want to make any microwave bowls out of that because glitter in the microwave doesn’t work out very well. 

    Final thoughts

    I was ecstatic to discover a hidden treasure trove of fabric at Dollar Tree! It looks like they’re rapidly expanding their craft section, and it’s truly fantastic news. The quality is outstanding considering the very low price – definitely suitable for crafting multiple projects in my opinion. All things considered, this has been an incredible buy; what a great find!

    Next steps

    If you’re looking for more free quilting tips, tricks and tutorials to improve your work and increase your confidence, be sure to check out all of my courses and classes.

    And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you never miss a hot quilting tip from the Queen of Quilting (me! 🙂)

    A picky fabric shopper shares opinions on fabric purchased at Dollar Tree. Find out if Dollar Tree fabric is worth the bargain or if it falls short of expectations.
    Patchwork block on craft mat, stack of fabric, sewing accessories on white wooden surface
  • The 10 Best Quilting Tools I Use ALL THE TIME

    When I first started quilting, I remember feeling overwhelmed by all the different tools and gadgets available. It was hard to know which ones I actually needed, and which ones would stand the test of time.

    Now, as an experienced quilter, I want to share my top 10 quilting tools I use all the time, and wish I had known about when I first started quilting.

    Scroll down to see this post in video format!


    10 Best quilting tools that are the must-haves for every quilter. From scissors to rulers, these tools make quilting easier and more fun!

     1. Magic Clips

    The first item I cannot live without as a quilter are these magic clips. They are absolutely irreplaceable. I use pins nearly all the time, but some days I want a change. On those days, when I need something else to hold and keep my pieces together, these clips do the job.

    I now own several sets of them, but even starting out with one set should help you stay organized and keep your quilting pieces together.

    2. The Right Seam Ripper

    The second thing I can’t live without is a seam ripper, and your ordinary starter model will never compete with this guy.

    At first, I thought this one was a joke because it’s on the ugly side. But it turns out, I can’t live without this odd-looking seam ripper.

    The secret to this tool is the rubbery, almost eraser-like end to it.

    When you’re ripping out seams, this end grips onto threads and pulls them out. Now you don’t have to pinch with your fingers to try and pull out all the tiny threads. It’s fantastic.

    3. Ergonomic Rotary Cutter

    Another tool you’ll want to invest in is an ergonomic rotary cutter

    Although they all promise to be ergonomic, you want to select the one that suits your hands and fingers. You’ll discover some cutters are easier on the wrists, while others may have extra padding. 

    As with most things, it’s better not to base your choice on the price. Safety is essential, as is how comfortable the cutter feels when you’re working with it.

    4. Lasers for Sewing Machines

    This one was a game changer for me.

    These lasers are amazing. I have a full tutorial video on this product here:

    I explain everything they do, why they’re so awesome, and why it took me so long to try them out. 

    But honestly, I use them every single time I sew and I love them. They have been absolutely phenomenal in helping me get accurate points and create precise seam lines.

    5. Square Up Block Rulers

    The fifth tool I highly recommend investing in is a set of block rulers, also known as ruler blocks. These rulers are set at exact sizes so you can square up your blocks. 

    It’s easy to use the lines on your cutting board or an all-purpose ruler, but having specific sizes can be very helpful. One of the first things I invested in was a 6×12 ruler block, and I still use it all the time. 

    There’s a great set on Amazon, it’s pink, super cute and is well-priced. Although it doesn’t cover every size, it has the most common ones and it’s a really good starter set. 

    6. That Purple Thang

    The next handy tool I always keep in the drawer next to my sewing machine is That Purple Thang. It’s a really helpful gadget with a point on one end that can be used for reaching tight spaces or when you don’t want to put your finger close to the needle. 

    The other end is a bit sturdier and I use it to poke out corners of my bags and other projects. 

    And if you look closely, you’ll see the square end has a quarter-inch measurement on the side, which makes it useful for measuring, fixing bindings or other detailed work. 

    It’s a really handy tool to keep nearby when you’re working on your quilting projects.

    7. Project Boxes, Baskets & Bins

    Individual project boxes are one of my favorite ways to organize. Over the years, I’ve switched from using baskets to boxes, but the container itself doesn’t matter as much as the method. 

    I put everything I need for a particular project in its own box — pattern, fabric, cut fabric, instructions, choices I’ve made etc. When it’s time to clean up, I put all the components in the box, put on the lid and store it on a shelf.

    The key is that everything for that project is in one place and can be easily accessed when needed. 

    This way, I don’t have multiple projects out at once, and it helps keep my sewing room tidy. Once the project is complete, I have an empty box for another project, and I can reuse them over and over.

    8. Thread Stand

    My thread stand is irreplaceable in my sewing room. 

    I love this device because, while most sewing machines come with a built-in thread holder, they can only hold small spools of thread. This extra stand lets me use larger spools of thread which is more economical as I can buy in bulk. 

    It also provides me with better control over my threading process, making it easier to change thread colors and types.

    I love this thread stand because it allows me to use my next tool — a larger spool of thread. 

    9. Larger Spool of Thread

    Buying a larger spool of thread is not only more cost-effective because you get more thread for your money, but it also makes sense for quilters who use a lot of thread.

    The spools I usually buy are around 6,000 yards although you can get spools way bigger than that. I like to have a variety of different color threads, so the 6,000-yard size is perfect while I build my collection. 

    You should try to buy higher quality thread, as it goes hand in hand with the quality of fabric you’re investing in.

    I always stock up on white thread in large quantities because it’s essential for piecing, which needs long-lasting and reliable thread.

    10. Pre-cuts

    I absolutely love pre-cuts. The reason I didn’t use them as much when I first started quilting was that I thought I knew better. I assumed they were for people who didn’t know what they were doing. But I was wrong, and I regret not jumping on this train earlier. 

    Now I love pre-cuts and I collect them. Even though I don’t have all the time in the world to use them, I still love having them as an option.

    I hope these top 10 quilting tools will be a great addition to your quilting toolbox. 

    Remember, quilting is about having fun, so don’t stress about not having every tool under the sun. Start with the basics and as you become more comfortable with quilting and know what you need, you can add to your collection. Happy quilting!

    Next steps

    If you’re looking for more quilting tips, tricks and tutorials to improve your work and increase your confidence, be sure to check out my Quilty Tutorials playlist on YouTube.

    And if you really want to get better in the quickest time possible, have a look at my foundation skills quilting course Modern Quilting Made Easy designed especially for people just starting out. 

    10 Best quilting tools that are the must-haves for every quilter. From scissors to rulers, these tools make quilting easier and more fun!
    Patchwork block on craft mat, stack of fabric, sewing accessories on white wooden surface
  • Swag Gear For Your Creative Business: A Detailed How To Guide To Get Started

    If you’re looking for a way to create personalized swag for your creative business, look no further! No matter where you are in your business, it is a good time to start researching swag gear for your creative business!

    Swag is a great way to show your customers that you appreciate their support. It also helps to promote your brand and create a connection with your customers. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of swag that you can create, as well as the importance of having professionally created swag gear.

    What exactly is swag? Swag is a term that is often used in the business world to describe promotional products or items. In most cases, swag is given to customers or potential customers as a way of thanking them for their support or as a way of advertising your brand.

    Thinking about Swag Gear For Your Creative Business?? You're in luck! I'm sharing my favorite ideas and process for finding the perfect match!

    What You Need To Know: Small Business Swag

    Yay for you! You found a way to take a passion/hobby of yours and turn it into a business where you can make money AND get to create beautiful things! What a great combination! This is like the ultimate holy grail of crafting wishes – To have something that you love doing and have someone pay you for it!

    What can swag gear do for your creative business?

    Swag can do a lot for your business, but let’s start with the basics. It is a tangible item that you give to someone in order to promote or show gratitude towards them. Swag can also be seen as a bribe – “Hey if you buy my thing I’ll give you this cool thing!”

    Simply put, swag promotes your brand for you. Two things to remember: People love free stuff and they LOVE to show off the companies that they love.

    It is a good way to keep your name in front of your customers so they remember you and remember to return to you and your shop.

    You can increase exposure.

    When people see swag from companies they love, they are more likely to share that swag with others (and tell them where they got the swag!).

    Swag provides memorability. People love swag because it’s fun and interesting. They also like to show off the companies that they love, which means more exposure for you.

    The point of swag isn’t just getting free stuff; It’s creating an opportunity for connection between businesses and customers by giving them something useful or meaningful that represents who they are as a business owner/company representative while building trust among consumers through customized promotional products showcasing their personal style choices too

    There are many different types of swag gear for your creative business that you can create for your customers. Some of the most popular items include tote bags, hats, stickers, patches, and T-shirts. However, there are many other options available, so be sure to explore all of your possibilities. When choosing what type of swag to create, it’s important to consider your customer – what would they like to have? let’s look at a few companies that have been doing this for a while and see what their strategy is.

    What are some of the most recognizable swag gifts?

    Some of the most recognizable swag gifts are coffee mugs, mousepads, and pens. These swag ideas are great for those on a budget or who just want to keep things simple. It’s easy to create swag items that will catch people’s attention without breaking the bank!

    Does it have to cost a lot to order in bulk?

    Absolutely not! There are many options for swag gear for your creative business available at a low cost. It is important to keep in mind that swag should be fun and unique, so don’t get too caught up in trying to find the perfect swag item. The most important thing is that your customers enjoy it!

    Thinking about Swag Gear For Your Creative Business?? You're in luck! I'm sharing my favorite ideas and process for finding the perfect match!

    How much should I spend on each swag gear for my creative business?

    There is no set answer to this question – it really depends on what type of swag you choose and how many you order. It also depends on the size of your business. However, as a general rule, it is best to keep your costs low so that you can order more swag (and give it away to more people)!

    What swag gifts should I look for?

    What does your audience like? Do you know what do they need? Better yet, what can you afford to give away without breaking the bank? When looking for swag gifts, it’s important to consider all of these factors. If you’re not sure what your audience would like, ask them! Survey customers or hold a contest on social media to see what type of swag they would most like to receive.

    If you’re not sure, ask them! Contact a few family members or friends and help them brainstorm with you. They should be more than happy to give you some ideas or at least give you a second opinion.

    Why is swag important for a small business?

    Swag is an important part of any marketing strategy, but it’s especially important for small businesses. Small businesses often don’t have the same resources as larger companies, so they need to grow in every way shape and form to maintain success.

    The best way to share about your company is through word of mouth.

    It is also important to have swag because it shows people who you are as a company while helping build relationships with customers through personalized promotional products showcasing their personal style choices too!

    Thinking about Swag Gear For Your Creative Business?? You're in luck! I'm sharing my favorite ideas and process for finding the perfect match!

    The big question – Does swag gear for your creative business help with customer loyalty?

    Ok so now we know that it doesn’t have to cost a TON of money to get started with a little swag, but… does swag actually work?

    It can feel counterproductive at first… to SPEND more money (part of your profits even!) to purchase swag that you’re going to give away for free.

    But swag is an important part of marketing, and it’s a great way to show your customers that you appreciate them. Studies show that a customer is more likely to stick with you if they feel like they’re a part of something special.

    Swag can play an important role in your business by reinforcing customer loyalty, as well as helping to attract new customers. It also provides a way for you to connect with your customers on a personal level. As we all know, people do business with those they know, like and trust!

    But… What if I am just starting out?

    If you are just starting out, it is important to think about what the swag gear for your creative business can do for you. Swag can help increase brand awareness and exposure, connect with customers on a personal level, and create customer loyalty.

    When selecting swag items, be sure to choose something that is fun and unique. Something that will make your personality (or the personality of your business) shine through. You want something that someone looks at and makes them think of you and the lovely experience they had working with you!

    Thinking about Swag Gear For Your Creative Business?? You're in luck! I'm sharing my favorite ideas and process for finding the perfect match!

    *How to find the right Swag*

    1. Try to find something that your customer will likely use every day. (Do you see why promotional pens are such a popular idea?)
    2. Try to look for something that isn’t so so common that it’ll just get thrown in the endless pit that is the junk drawer. Eventually awaiting the next time someone cleans it out to throw it in the trash.
    3. Research companies that specialize in promotional swag gifts. and see where your budget falls. Obviously, there is a greater discount if you order in bulk… but maybe you don’t need 600,000 flashlights with your name on them for your craft booth??

    It is a careful balance based on what you can use and what will serve your business just right.

    My Personal Two Cents: My Favorite Swag Product recommendations:

    I love swag products that are useful and practical. If you can’t find something practical that your customer will want to keep and use and is in your budget… The other option is to make your swag gift something that your customer will want to proudly display.

    I don’t like to feel like a walking billboard. If a product isn’t useful, it needs to be pretty. (absolute bonus if it is both!) I would suggest staying away from items with your logo on it. These tend to be thrown in the trash after a few uses… or lost forever before they’re even used once! PS – Read the example below. You’ll understand why it is good to steer clear of using your logo.

    You could have a graphic artist create a design that speaks to a common interest or a popular mantra/phrase.

    Let me share an example from one of my marketing projects years ago (before I was a quilt blogger, I was a marketing director and freelance graphic artist)

    Thinking about Swag Gear For Your Creative Business?? You're in luck! I'm sharing my favorite ideas and process for finding the perfect match!

    Put yourself in your customer’s shoes.

    A Marketing Example:

    Let’s say you visit a local farmers market. A farmer gives you one of their new FREE stickers with your purchase: It has the farm logo on it. It’s cute. It feels fresh and updated as their trying to rebrand their company. You take it and say thank you.

    When young et home and you put away your peaches, you pull out the sticker… Do you have room for a random sticker from the farmer that you just met and purchased peaches from? He was nice, but unless you’re absolutely obsessed with peaches or you’re an avid follower of the farmer… I’m going to guess the answer is that the sticker is going to be lost or trashed eventually.

    You might keep it for a little while. It is a perfectly good sticker and you feel guilty throwing it away, but ultimately… it will end up in the trash. (This is so absolutely me. I hate to let things go to waste!)

    This situation is super familiar to me from my marketing days.

    Now let’s imagine a different scenario… you go to buy peaches and the nice farmer has the same excellent and knowledgeable customer service. As you check out with your fruit bounty, he hands you a FREE sticker that is a gift. It is just a token of his appreciation for your support. It has a cute colorful picture of a peach and a catchy well designed phrase that reads, “Life is just peachy”.

    You think it is a super clever saying and you absolutely love the cute peach design. You put it on your laptop, water bottle, or in one of those special places in your office (like a favorite journal or planner).

    The next time someone sees this sticker, they ask about it… because after all – how could you not? It’s adorable! And then you share about the day you stumbled upon this random pop-up farmers market and bought fresh fruit for your picnic that weekend.

    Do you see the difference in the two situations above? It’s the exact same product but the frame of focus is completely different. One sticker is completely focused on the farmer and his rebranding. The other sticker is focused on the customer experience and the farmer’s genuine appreciation for loyal business.

    The second sticker will be kept, used, and admired. It becomes a conversation starter and helps to build brand loyalty because the customer feels appreciated. The customer continues to enjoy their sticker. They feel like they are part of something special. Being associated with a cool farmers market that has an original design/phrase on their swag gear.

    There is no wrong answer when it comes to choosing swag products for your customers – as long as you put yourself in their shoes! What would THEY love to receive? What would make THEM feel special and appreciated?

    If you can nail down the perfect swag gift for your customers, they will love you for it (and tell all their friends too!)

    So… What companies work with smaller quantity orders, but still deliver stellar customer service?

    I’ve worked with a ton of companies throughout my marketing career and again as a business owner.

    I love a company that doesn’t make me feel like just another $ dollar $ sign on their monthly revenue. If I have a question about my order, I don’t want to feel like I’m emailing an endless void hoping for some poor intern to stumble across it… (I know, my standards are high, right? 😂)

    The point is that I feel like what I do matters and I want to support a company that feels the same way.

    I like sharing the companies and products that I have used and loved myself. Allow me to introduce another gem that you’re going to love. Sticker Mule. After you’re done reading this… go ahead and go visit their site. You’ll love it. They are so much more than stickers, but since we went into great detail with the farmer story above and the peach sticker… check out their superior sticker ordering process here.

    So much more than stickers. They are a company that specializes in customizing just about anything you could need for your creative company!

    The Takeaway:

    When creating swag for your customers, think about what they will want to use and/or display. If it isn’t practical or pretty, your swag could get tossed aside eventually. Try to find a balance between the two that fits well within your budget! And don’t forget to say thank you! 🙂

    Thank you for reading! I hope this gives you some ideas on how to create personalized swag for your customers. Whether it’s custom keychains, t-shirts, or laptop stickers​, swag gear is a great way to show your appreciation and build brand loyalty. What are your favorite swag ideas? Share in the comments down below – I would love to hear from you! 🙂 Have a wonderful day! 🙂

  • What You Need to Know About Sewing Machine Needles

    If you are a sewer or quilter, then chances are that you have spent at least some time looking for the best sewing needles to use. There are so many types of sewing machine needles on the market today, and it can be overwhelming to find the right one.

    I want to share with you the different types of sewing needles used for different fabrics, how they should work with your projects, and when you should change out your needle.

    The most popular type of sewing needle is one that is made of steel. It has a perfectly sharp point that pierces through the fabric and can easily be threaded through the eyelet on your sewing machine needle plate

    I really like the Schmetz brand sewing needles, but I have recently tried the generic brand and I haven’t had any complaints yet.

    Most sewing needles are relatively inexpensive and cheap enough to purchase in bulk. (We’ll discuss why you need to have extras on hand in just a minute)

    There are many different types of needles available on the market today: there’s really no one size fits all when it comes to choosing what type you need for various projects (i.e., embroidery, quilting).

    Different Options For Needles

    The Universal Needle

    A universal needle is generally my go-to when I’m shopping because I know that it can handle MOST of the projects that I work on. The machine that I sew with is a relatively recent model on the market and does not require specialty sizes or parts.

    The Universal needle was designed to be able to handle various fabrics.

    It has a sharp point, which means that it will poke clean holes in your fabric while sewing.

    A universal needle is also inexpensive and easy-to-find at most craft stores!

    Larger/stronger Jean Needle

    If you are sewing with material types other than cotton, you may need a stronger needle made from titanium. These are great for using with heavyweight denim or upholstery work because they stay sharper longer than cheaper alternatives while being less brittle under high stress.

    Delicate fabrics

    For thinner or more delicate fabrics, you may want to use a ball-point needle. These are great for fabrics like silk or satin because they don’t create as much friction and pass through the fabric more smoothly.

    Embroidery Needles

    Embroidery needles differ from your regular sewing needles because they are designed to pass through fabric with a lot of ease. They have smaller eyes so that you can embroidery without your thread catching on the needle. It also makes it easier to push your threads back and forth between stitches.

    These needles also take into account the type of thread that will be passing through. Embroidery thread tends to have a sheen and often has a coating to it different from standard threads.

    Notes about needle sizing

    It is important to know that needles are sized according to their diameter, and sewing machine needle sizes can range from size 60-100.

    You’ll definitely want to consult your sewing machine manual or search the internet for recommendations for your specific machine.

    What do the colors on the tops of the needles mean?

    So glad you asked! It is actually a really helpful code that is built into your needle that will tell you exactly what it is meant for!

    The colors at the top of the sewing machine needles are crucial.

    • Red: Nylon and other synthetics, polyester
    • Yellow: Cotton and linen fabrics
    • Blue: Denim, woolens, draperies
    • Green: Silk, rayon, acetate-coated fabric such as satin
    • Purple (or more rarely orange): Leathers and vinyl.

    Why do I need to replace the needle on my machine?

    Read the packaging on your needle. It should have instructions that tell how long each kind of sewing machine needle lasts so remember to check these when purchasing new ones.

    Wear and tear on your machine

    Something to consider: Continuing to sew with a slightly dull or well-used needle may appear to be working just fine, but the wear and tear on your sewing machine isn’t worth the risk, in my opinion.

    Your sewing machine is a complex system of gears and mechanics that force the needle up and down through your fabric. Any pushback or resistance from a worn needle is going to cause further wear and tear on those internal parts. How much wear and tear depends on the age of the machine, the frequency in which you sew etc.

    Here is a real-world example to consider: You can definitely use a dull butter knife to cut your dinner steak. It will eventually cut the meat into the bite sizes pieces you desire, right?

    Wouldn’t it be a much better and more efficient method, not to mention less stress on your hands, wrists, and elbow if you use a sharpened steak knife? Absolutely!

    Think of your hand, wrist, and elbow like the gears in your sewing machine.

    Love your sewing machine and take care of it. Make it easier for it to make you happy for a really long time!

    So, how often should you replace your sewing machine needle?

    No one likes the idea of having to buy more supplies than they need to.

    The general rule that I follow is about every 10-12 hours of sewing.

    Let’s make it even easier to know when to switch…

    When you are sewing in little spurts here and there and broken up bits of time throughout the week… the hours that you actually sew can be super hard to keep up with! …I KNOW!

    So let’s make it even easier by saying that it is a good idea to replace your needle at the start of every quilt project you work on.

    Use your good judgment here. If you know you’ve spent a very long time piecing a large quilt and you’re getting ready to quilt it, your machine may need a new needle for the quilting stage. More layers = more work for your machine and needle.

    The needle packaging might suggest a longer sewing life. It is worth noting that different sewing situations can wear your needle down faster, such as quilting.

    Quilting is sewing through multiple layers of fabric and batting at the same time. That is going to leave a different amount of wear and tear on the needle than sewing through just 1-2 layers of thin cotton.

    Check-in and do a quick comparison when you change your needle

    I always like to compare the needle that I pull out with the brand new needle to see the wear and tear on the needle and help keep myself accountable.

    When you put your old and new needles side by side you can really see the differences! As yourself:

    • Did I wait too long? Is the needle really dull this time?
    • Does the needle hole look evenly worn? (can be a sign that the machine needs a tune-up or a trip to the shop)
    • Should to try to keep in mind to change it sooner next time?

    Hopefully, that helped you know when and why you should switch your needle on your sewing machine!

    If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment down below or contact me. I would love to hear from you!

    Happy Sewing!

    Love Shopping on Amazon? Meeee too! Here are 30 of the greatest quilting tools I've found while shopping on amazon! You can't miss these!
  • Get Your Sewing Machine Ready for 2021!

    Whew! I hope you have been doing a TON of sewing these past few months! I tend to sew heavier in the later months of the year getting things ready for the holidays and finish up the projects I said I would finish by the end of the year (and find myself WAY far behind on). Anyways, your sewing machine could probably use a little extra pampering right about now, right?… Here is how to quickly get your sewing machine ready for more sewing!

    4 ways to tune up your sewing machine!

    4 things to do to get your sewing machine in tip/top shape!

    New year, new season, new projects and LOTS of creativity on the horizon? Then it is time for you to get your sewing machine ready! Let’s take just a few minutes to set yourself up for success!

    image of my sewing work area with clean workspace.
    Tour My Sewing RoomSewing Room Renovation! – Before & After Pics

    1. Give your machine and work area a good dusting!

    I know… we work and work and work and *sometimes* it is easy to just ignore the mess that we’ve created. You can even go blind to it! – As in, you may not even see it as a mess or clutter anymore. It’s just the way it always is.

    1. Take a second to step back and look at your space. Really look at it and what you have in it.
    2. Look at the table/work surface your sewing machine is on. Is it big and open with room for you to work on your projects? or is it 90% occupied with tools, baskets, piles and work to be completed?

      Consider cleaning off your workspace and re-arranging things to give you a little more room. A change in perspective and surroundings can make way for all sorts of new inspiration to come your way!

      Take a light dusting cloth and go over your machine. I don’t use any cleaning products other than water when needed or if there are any smudges to remove.
    3. Dust and wipe your work surface clean. Pick up any little bits of thread or fabric clippings and maybe even give your room a once over with a little air freshener. It doesn’t have to be a complicated huge overhaul or spring cleaning! Just do a light cleaning to bring in some good creative energy!

    2. Open up your machine and clean the insides!

    When was the last time you cleaned out your machine?

    This can either be a really fun, or horrifying task. If you want more tips on how to clean your machine, you can check out this post: How often should you clean your sewing machine? + A How To

    I recently discovered a SUPER handy tool – that totally blew my mind. I would have never thought it would be my favorite for this task and also… it is super inexpensive! Absolute win/win!

    Check it out in the video below!


    *Check your manual on other cleaning tips. Each model sewing machine varies on the recommended practices. Only add oil if your manual suggests it. Do not unscrew or take off pieces that you are not familiar with.

    3. Change your needle!

    Part of getting your sewing machine ready means making sure it is in the best possible shape, right? An easy part to change out regularly is your needle!

    Changing your needle is easily overlooked, especially if you’re excited to jump right into a new project and you’re used to having your trusty machine do whatever you ask of it! However, if you are sewing with a dull needle, you are adding extra wear and tear on your machine that you may pay for down the line.

    A good general rule (which can widely vary based on who you ask and the age of your machine) is a new needle every 10-12 hours of sewing.

    Personally, I think measuring sewing time is really weird, right? Like, who does that?

    If most quilting projects average around 9-15 hours (some more, some less)… you should look to change your needle at the start of every project-ish. I’m adding that ish in there because this is just a guideline, not a hard rule. You are the only one who knows what projects you work on…

    If it has been a while since you changed your needle, just start with a new one now and try to keep up with it from now on.

    Leaving your machine to push a dull needle through multiple layers of fabric and batting over and over again is a hard job. A sharp pointy needle sews so much better!

    comparison side by side of a brand new sewing machine needle and a used sewing machine needle

    Also, another note… next time you’re shopping for needles, take into consideration what kinds of projects you’re working on. Thicker and more durable fabric such as denim sews better with a more durable needle than thin cotton fabric!

    4. Consider if it is time to take your machine in to be serviced by a professional

    I know quilters who are like clockwork about taking their machines in to be serviced and cleaned up. I know quilters who’s machines haven’t seen the inside of a professional store since the day it was purchased.

    There is no judgement either way!

    I tend to fall into the category of every 2-3 years… depending on how much sewing I am doing and if I notice anything weird going on.

    I like to take mine in because I plan on using it for a very long time. Even with all the manual cleanings I do myself and trying to keep my machine in tip-top working mode… there are places that you just can’t reach within your machine without taking it all apart.

    the inside view of a sewing machine with wires and motherboard exposed.
    (😲Note: This is NOT my sewing machine!)

    I definitely DO NOT recommend taking it all apart on your own unless you know what you’re doing! Leave that to the professionals, please. The last thing you want to do is show up at the repair shop with a bag full of parts that used to be a working machine and have to pay the extra hours of service while he tries to put it back together again!

    If you’re doing regular cleanings on your own, there is no reason why your machine shouldn’t last you a really good long time… that being said, if while you’re sewing you notice the tension keeps getting off or things just aren’t working properly… there is a weird knocking noise or a squeak every now and then that won’t go away… I would recommend taking it into a repair shop, just to make sure whatever is going on doesn’t get worse.

    If you aren’t aware of a sewing machine repair shop, check around for vacuum repair shops (don’t ask me why… they’re often linked together). Or you can check with your local fabric or quilt shop to point you in the right direction.

    What you’ll need to do: Call and ask what their turnaround time is right now (i.e. how long you’ll be without your machine) and how soon you would be able to bring your machine in for a tune-up. They may ask when the last time it had a tune-up was and if anything specific is wrong with it at the moment.

    Should they find anything else wrong with your machine while it is in the shop, you can specify for the repairman to call you with estimates before the added work is completed.

    a link to a blog post on how much does it cost to get my sewing machine serviced?

    WRAP IT UP: Getting your sewing machine ready!

    1. Dust and clean off your machine and sewing area.
    2. Open it up and clean the insides.
    3. Change your needle.
    4. Consider if your machine needs to be serviced by a professional.

    I don’t know about you, but I am SUPER PUMPED up about all the fun projects I have in mind for the next year… so many wonderful things lie ahead to create!

    So get to it! Go get your sewing machine ready to create more beautiful things!

    If you need more help to plan out your next year, check out this popular resource: Framework for a Creativity Audit – How to plan for more creativity

    Creativity Audit Featured Image - to set new creative goals

    Lastly, I hope you have a wonderful start to the new year or new season… or new week (depending on when you get around to reading this!) Talk to you again soon!

  • What I Have Around Me When Sewing!

    It is no secret that if you have chosen sewing and/or quilting as a hobby… you are going to amass a rather large collection of gadgets and tools rather quickly. And no matter how many you have… there is always more that you COULD add to your collection! Today I’m going to give you a quick tour of the items I keep close by and what I have around me when sewing.

    If you prefer to watch the video to get the rundown, you can catch that and a few other side notes from me in the video below. 😘

    Follow me on YouTube to keep up with the latest modern quilting tips & tricks.

    In my sewing room, there is quite a bit that can be considered “occasional use” items. A few tools have their specific purpose and that is it. They have their moment to shine and the rest of the time they spend waiting around in a drawer.

    The tools that I use most often and find myself reaching for over and over again have a special place right next to my sewing area.

    So, let’s dive into the tools I have around me when sewing…

    This is where I sew = where the magic happens 😍

    I have a large table area that is roughly 30″ x 60″ (exact IKEA Linnmon table top is 59″ x 29.5″).

    My table is held up on one side by an IKEA Alex drawer set that hold a lot of my sewing machine tools. The other side has a small 4 cube shelf that holds… what I like to call my oddball crafts – jewelry making, beading etc. The things I don’t get into very often, but I still enjoy having it around and accessible.

    On my right hand side is where most of my cutting and ironing is done at a counter height table so I have access to that via my spinning chair if I run out of counter space or need a little more room to spread out.

    After Sewing room Renovation picture

    If you’d like to see a full tour of my sewing room and the setup, check out this post! Sewing Room Renovation! – Before & After Pics

    I also have details on the furniture and organizational products I use in these posts:

    The top of my work area…

    I do require a lot of space to spread out while working. (I don’t think that it’s a bad thing, is it? 🤷‍♀️🤣)

    This table area was designed with SPACE in mind so I keep what is on top of my table to a very minimum. (It doesn’t always look like this… sometimes if I am in the middle of a large project you wouldn’t even know that there is a desk under all of the mess!)

    Creativity can get pretty messy, can’t it?

    Usually the only things that remain on top of my sewing table (when it is clean) are these items:

    I know. It isn’t much… The only reason I can get away with these few tools is because I have the drawer set to my left that holds and organizes a few more of my tools!

    I tried to find the equivalents of my favorite storage items on Amazon for you.
    Most of them were purchased from either Amazon or Target.

    If you’re wanting to make the cute little fabric baskets that I keep my scraps and my little plastic clips in, you can view the FREE full tutorial post below. The Perfect (Easy!) Catch-the-MESS Fabric Bin

    This cute fabric bin can be made in an hour and can be used all over the house! No extreme sewing skills required... its so easy!

    I use these bins all over my sewing room because 1) they are useful 2) I get to display my favorite pretty fabrics where I can see them – and 3) I can usually make them using scraps of batting so it is a way to save money on organizing bins. Win. Win… and um… Win!

    Ok let’s look down into the drawers that I keep on my left-hand side!

    The top drawer holds my MOST used items – bobbins, extra thread spools, all of my sewing machine feet, my seam rippers etc.

    The second drawer holds the lesser-used items, but still, things that I want to keep close – Pincushions, thimbles, safety pins for basting, and a few other tools.

    Where do I keep my other tools?

    Just to clear up any confusion… no, this is NOT ALL OF MY SEWING SUPPLIES! It is however, the MOST USED tools of my sewing supplies.

    I do have other tool storage solutions around my sewing room.

    For example, this drawer that lives over by my Embroidery machine. It houses my thread collection that at one point used to hang on the wall.

    I have found that finding/making drawer space for my tools not only drastically reduced the clutter in my space but allowed for a more streamlined and open canvas for creativity to flow too.

    My embroidery machine/area mirrors my sewing area in my “T” shaped work area. So it is set up similar to my sewing machine area but with the IKEA ALEX drawers on my right instead of my left.

    The desktop is also similar with just a few essentials on top, but because I tend to need less workspace here than on my sewing machine where I do a lot of my quilting… I have a few extra knickknacks and treasures on display that I like to keep where I can see them.

    And that is pretty much it… I have a few other areas where I keep tools organized and stored but I like having only the essentials around me when sewing.

    I also organize my tools based on where I use them within the room. Example: Cutting tools are stored with the cutting table, embroidery needles are stored by the embroidery machine, seam rippers are stored… everywhere! haha, just kidding, but I do have several of them around.

    What about you? what do you keep on hand and within reach while sewing?