Hints and Tips


Sewing Machine Basics
Threading Your Singer Machine
How to make a Four Step Buttonhole
Darning Foot
Blind Hem Foot & Opperation

My machine skip stitches
  • Replace the needle and re-thread the machine.


My machine breaks the thread
  •  Take a pin and move it up and down through the tension plates, there might be loose dust stuck.


My machine have no upper tension
  •  Take a pin and move it up and down through the tension plates, there might be loose dust stuck.


Embroidery & Stabilizers

The Stabilizer Basics
Stabilizers really can be the difference between something looking okay and something turning out amazing. But if you use the wrong stabilizer, they can make your project look awful too.

Why the heck do you need a stabilizer in the first place? The answer to that, strangely enough, is right there in the word stabilizer, it is for stability! When a needle is going through fabric thousands of times and layering up a bunch of thread, the fabric itself can pucker, tunnel or distort. Stabilizers relieve the stress placed on the fabric and eliminate these unwanted reactions.
Where do you use stabilizer? Stabilizer is most often used as a backing to support machine embroidery stitching on fabric. It is also used as a topper on top of fabric to help hold down the nap of the fabric, to keep stitches from sinking into some fabrics, and/or to enhance the clarity of fine lettering and detail stitching. Toppers are also used as a pattern, stencil or template to follow when stitching or thread sketching.
Increasingly, sewist and fiber artists are using stabilizers beyond machine embroidery too! I will show you some of the cool new ways people are using Stabilizers as well.
Why should you use Stabilizers? Stabilizers are carefully and thoughtfully engineered to enhance every creative project and solve even the most difficult problems.
They are made of the highest quality materials, and quality is extremely important since inexpensive, poor quality stabilizers can cause poor registration of embroidery and premature tearing, among other problems. Think about it. You spent a ton of money on your embroidery machine, a small fortune on fabric and have spent more than the cost of a good cup of coffee on thread. When a good quality stabilizer can be the difference between a great project and one that you wouldn’t even show your closest friends, why wouldn’t you use the best? Most of the Stabilizers available to you have actually come from the industrial side of the business. So they have been thoroughly tested on the professional side of embroidery, too.

The Stabilizer Basics - Cut Away and Tear Away Stabilizers

When I started doing research for this series, the more I uncovered, and the more I realized there was to learn! One of my first questions was “How many stabilizers are there?!?!” It can feel like there are 4 million different kinds and they all seemed to have a very specific use.
There are basically four different types of stabilizer: Cut-Away, Tear-Away, Wash-Away and Heat-Away. All of our stabilizers are color-coded, too. In this post, I will give you the basics and primary (most common) uses for Cut-Away and Tear-Away stabilizers. This is not a list of embroidery rules. This is a list of the most common uses of these stabilizers. You may find that for your specific project you need a completely different stabilizer. This list is not the boss of you, it’s just a guide to help you get started if you are as lost as I was when you first start out in this new world of machine embroidery.

Cut-Away Stabilizers

Cut-away stabilizers are permanent stabilizers which range from rather heavy, like Sulky Cut-Away Plus™ to very light like Soft ‘n Sheer™. They are perfect when you need a design to be stretch resistant and you need continued stabilization through many laundering and wearings. Cut-Away Plus is what you see on the back of most of your sweatshirts and golf shirts that have embroidered designs on them. Most t-shirts will use the lighter Soft ‘n Sheer which stabilizes and is stretch resistant so your design tends not to distort over time, but doesn’t have the bulk of Cut-Away Plus. (You know how some embroidered designs tend to “wad up” after washing? Using a permanent, cut-away helps to prevent this.) Cut Away Plus is used to stabilize this monogram on a purse I used Soft ‘n Sheer to stabilize this applique for this shirt.
Sulky Fuse ‘n Stitch™ is a permanent stabilizer and one of my favorites! I love it because it is a permanent iron-on stabilizer that provides extra support to your project. This is the perfect stabilizer if you are making a purse or tote bag and you want that extra stiffness. I also use Fuse ‘n Stitch when I am making coasters and mug rugs. I did a tutorial for a 45 minute mug rug that uses it here. Anytime you want the fabric to have extra body. Also great for framed embroideries.
I used Fuse ‘n Stitch to give these bag tags the stiffness they needed.
The last stabilizer in this category is Sulky Tender Touch™.
Tender Touch is a soft, fusible stabilizer that is usually put on a completed embroidery design to cover the stitches on the wrong side. You most often see this on baby clothes. (You get the best adhesion for these often-washed, and often-stretchy items by using a pinking shears or wavy-blade rotary cutter to cut the piece you need.) I also like to use Tender Touch as a fusible interfacing for clothing projects. Check out this blog post from Mimi G Style. She used Tender Touch to line a dress and loved it. It is also a great way to stabilize t-shirts for a t-shirt quilt. Helps minimize stretch, but still keeps it soft and cuddly.

Tear-Away Stabilizers

Tear-away stabilizers are temporary stabilizers that are easily removed once you have stitched out an embroidery design. This is most likely what you will use when embroidering on towels, scarves and regular woven fabrics. They prevent an embroidery design from tunneling, distorting and puckering while the design is being stitched out but since they are torn away once the design is sewn on, they do not give the on-going support like cut-away stabilizers do. Tear-away stabilizers like Sulky Tear-Easy™ are great, because although you sometimes only need one layer, you can use several layers (and you can even float one or two layers under the hoop “just in case”) and then tear them away individually so you don’t have to worry about your design getting messed up while pulling off a heavier stabilizer.

Sulky Totally Stable™ is an iron-on, tear-away stabilizer that feels and looks a lot like freezer paper, only thinner and not made of paper, so therefore it won’t hurt your really expensive embroidery machine and doesn’t dull your needle!
This is good when you need a lighter amount of stabilization for a design, like when stitching out a line drawing or less dense design, but the fabric can be ironed. I have talked to many machine embroiderers that love Sulky Totally Stable simply for the fact that it does iron onto the fabric and yet, it is not permanent. “It allows me to get my stabilizer in the exact place I want it and I don’t have to worry about anything shifting around when I hoop it,” one embroiderer said. “In my sewing room, Totally Stable is totally a staple!” Totally Stable is also great for design placement by tracing the design onto the stabilizer and then ironing it onto the front of the fabric, and it’s re-positionable and can be reused many times. (It would be for placement only, though. Normally you won’t use a tear-away on the right side of project to stitch through, just for placement or to stitch around.)

Sulky Sticky+™ is a wonderful stabilizer that is not only a strong tear-away stabilizer, but it has a backing sheet with a grid on it that is torn or peeled away to reveal a sticky back. Discovering this stabilizer allowed me to stop cussing at my machine. Well, more specifically the hoops. If you have been embroidering for any amount of time at all, then I guarantee that you have had run-ins with the hooping process. With Sulky Sticky+, you can simply hoop the stabilizer, score the release sheet with a large X using a pin, then peel away the backing sheet to reveal the sticky stabilizer, and then stick whatever it is that you are embroidering to it! I have done nylon tote bags, baseball caps, towels, grosgrain ribbon, linen napkins and scarves all with this stabilizer – all unhooped! You just have to love a stabilizer that allows you to take out the worst part of embroidery. HINT: It’s best to remove Sticky+ within an hour or so after use, for easier removal. AND DID YOU KNOW…. All stabilizers with a release sheet tend to get stickier with heat and less sticky with cold!
Using Sticky+ to embroider on ribbon
Is your brain swimming yet? I hope not! I hope this helps you understand the basic uses for these two stabilizers.


Sewing Machine Needle Troubleshooting Guide

Important Points to Remember

-Needles DO NOT last forever, they should be replaced approximately every 8 hours
-The eye of the needle should be 40% larger than the diameter of the thread
-When going to a larger size of thread, a larger needle should be used
-Use the appropriate needle for the type of fabric being sewn

Problem Causes Solutions
Upper Thread Breaks Incorrect threading Rethread machine properly
Knots or twists in thread Replace thread
Tension too tight Reset bobbin and top thread tension
Damaged/old needle Replace needle
Needle too small Use correct needle for thread and application

Bobbin Thread Breaks Bobbin case incorrectly threaded Remove bobbin and re-thread with bobbin
turning clockwise
Bobbin case incorrectly inserted Remove and re-insert bobbin case
Bobbin does not turn smoothly in bobbin case Check that bobbin case and bobbin are in
“round”; replace if necessary
Lint in bobbin case Clean bobbin case and surrounding machine area
Bobbin tension too tight Check and reset bobbin tension

Skipped Stitches Thread tension too tight Reset top and bobbin tension
Needle damaged Replace needle
Needle wrong size Use correct needle size
Sewing machine out of adjustment Take sewing machine to Elna Piekfyn for a service

Frayed Stitches Needle too small Increase needle size
Tension too tight Reset tension
Damaged thread Replace thread

Thread Loops on Bottom Thread not in top tension Rethread machine with presser foot “up”
Machine incorrectly threaded Rethread machine incorporating take up lever
Top tension too loose Reset top tension
Burr on hook mechanism Bring machine to Elna Piekfyn to remove the burr

Irregular Stitches or Malformed Wrong needle size Ensure correct needle for fabric & thread
Stitches Incorrect threading Un-thread machine and carefully rethread
Upper tension too loose Reset lower and upper thread tension
Operator pulling fabric Check presser foot pressure
Bobbin wound unevenly Rewind bobbin

Fabric Puckers Excessive stitch length Decrease stitch length
Needle point is blunt Change needle often
Excessive thread tension Check bobbin and upper tension
Fabric is too soft Use stabilizer
Thread displacement — too much thread Decrease field density; scale embroidery
in a small area designs; increase stitch length
Fabric not feeding Check presser foot, needle plate, feed dogs