Gallery of past work

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Servicing machines and embellishing a landscape

At this week's meeting of the group I stitch with, the topic for the day was sewing machines, their servicing and use. We are a very varied group so this session included a wide range of traditional sewing machines as well as overlockers and embellishers (or needle felting machines). We brought along any of the above on which we wanted advice and then took advantage of the opportunity to play and practice.

Before we began playing, Maggie Harris, chair of our group and a most experienced and knowledgeable stitcher, took us through the process of servicing our machines. Although I do (from time to time ...) service mine, I picked up two really useful general sewing tips.

The first of these was that when replacing thread on a machine, it is a good idea to cut off the thread at the reel on top of the machine and then pull the remaining end down through the mechanism rather than pulling it up and winding it all back onto the reel as I usually do. This apparently lessens loose fluff and reduces wear on the mechanism as the thread is not pulled back 'against the grain' but moves down as it is designed to do.

The second was that machines should be stored with the presser foot down onto the feed dogs which are covered by a small piece of folded fabric. The needle is then lowered into the fabric. This anchors everything and lessens the likelihood of damage to the needle and loss of the presser foot in transit. As I once lost a foot en route from home to a day course, I will certainly be adopting this practice!

Babylock embellisher

This over, we all worked on our chosen machine. I took along a Babylock embellisher that I'd bought some time ago from a friend who was down-sizing and then not used much. I knew I definitely needed to play as I'm sure the machine has great potential but, so far, I have only very limited awareness of its capabilities.

I worked a sample on wool felt, using black and red wool tops and various threads and yarns. I worked from the front and then turned the fabric over to work on the reverse, exploring some of the possible effects. As always, when I play spontaneously like this, the results rapidly became a landscape. This day reinforced how much I have to learn to get full control of the medium. However, small snippets are shown here (the piece was definitely best shown in small snippets!).

My thoughts so far are that I especially liked both the random textural effects produced on the reverse when I couldn't see what I was doing and also the way the embellisher needles split and contorted the threads I added, giving movement rather than a thin straight line.

After this, architectural explorations may follow ... but not for a while. I have my new printer to get fully familiar with first.


  1. les paysages sont belles...j'ai peinte une robe et la couleur n'a pas pris.. j'essaie de broder par dessus pour me

    1. Pour mois içi, ces petites coupures sont mon rattrapage ... on doit avoir toujours un plan de secours!

    2. le tissu, un lin pour l'ameublement( trop d'apprêt ...)
      après lavage en machine + teinture ...finalement je peux

  2. The snippets stand alone ! I have never used an embellisher ... lovely results !!
    Great sewing tips ... I had never heard of pulling the thread down through the machine ... but makes sense ! Thank you for sharing ;)

    1. Good to hear from you, Sharron, and thank you for your comments. Cutting off and then pulling the thread down through the machine somehow feels wasteful - but I know that is ridiculous considering the cost of a whole reel of thread, so I will try to remember the tip!


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