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On Friday I went with some friends to the Creative Crafts show at Five Lakes, near Tiptree, Essex. It is the first time I have been to a large show for crafters rather than a craft fair. It was held in a very large venue and was very well attended. I was pleased to find that the price of goods was lower than I expected, with most suppliers discounting what they were selling. It is a great opportunity to buy good quality fabrics at a very reasonable price. I had to restrain myself and just bought fabric I needed for my daughter’s wedding makes, apart from one pretty piece of cotton to cover the cork notice board in my sewing room which has just been painted. There wasn’t as many sewing related stalls as I had hoped, the event was much more aimed at card makers. However I did get some good ideas as I wandered around and it was great to see how many people are interested in crafting, it was incredibly busy. There were some good workshops to do, although I didn’t join any of these as I hadn’t budgeted for the extra cost.  I shall definitely be going again next year, and now that I know what the event is like I shall be making the most of the cheaper prices!

Five Lakes hotel

Five Lakes complex

Today I thought I’d share some tips to help those of you who are not so confident using their embroidery machines or perhaps new to this addictive hobby. These are things I have found useful to know or have discovered through time and experience.

  1. Your machine needles are your most important piece of your machine embroidery equipment. You need to change your needle regularly! If it is blunt it won’t give you a decent result and machine embroidering blunts your needles fast. I change my needle after about 10 hours of sewing or if I am having problems with thread breaking, stitches not looking right etc. Buy the best quality needles for your embroidery machine. Schmetz are excellent and are my recommended choice.
  2. Stabiliser can be tricky to get right but as a basic rule of thumb the lighter your fabric the more you need to stabilise it, so for lighter fabrics like cottons use cutaway stabiliser as it is thicker than tearaway. If you are sewing on a heavy fabric such as denim or canvas you can use tearaway or may not even need stabiliser, but light fabrics always need stabilising. There are of course many other kinds of stabiliser for particular projects but I am just giving a basic rule here.
  3. Sewing with metallic thread can be tricky if you are not used to it. Always use a special metallic needle as it has a bigger eye for the thread to go through, and turn your tension right down. I have mine on 1 when I sew with metallic thread. Also slow your machine down and sew on the slowest speed.
  4. The tools I find the most useful are a pair of embroidery scissors with  very small, fine blades and also tweezers. These are used for trimming jump threads and any other bits of thread that are left poking out. By holding the end with tweezers you can cut very close. Decent lighting is also a must! If your eyesight is not great I would also invest in a large magnifier to hang round your neck too.
  5. Cheap thread is NOT an economy. It will break easily and give you lots of problems. Buy a good quality machine embroidery thread such as Madeira, Janome, Guterman Sulky, or Robison Anton, to name a few reliable brands you could use.
  6. Bobbin thread can be an issue as embroidery machines are temperamental and may not like every brand! For example my Janome 350e will not tolerate Madeira bobbin thread, although this is a perfectly reliable make!! It happily uses Janome or Brother bobbin thread. Although I now use so much of it I buy a very large cone of fine bobbin thread from an online supplier, which works out much cheaper.

I hope you find these tips useful. Most of all have fun with your machine exploring all the possibilities. It can quickly become an addictive hobby once you get to know your machine and how it works.

Finally, because I don’t like to post without adding a photograph, here is the sunset I took the other night. Isn’t it beautiful!

The sun is shining and we’ve had a restful weekend. While I was out for my fitness walk along the beach this morning I decided I should put some helpful articles on our blog. So today I am going to start with a very important factor for machine embroidery – stabilisers. You can read the article by clicking here.