Pink Castle Blog

How to Travel with your Sewing Machine and Supplies

Posted by Katie Remski on Oct 13, 2017 10:57:36 AM
  

How to travel with your sewing supplies

With Glamp Stitchalot just a few weeks away, it's time to think about packing! It can be nerve wracking to take your sewing machine away from home, so we thought we'd share with you a few tips for safely traveling with your sewing machine and sharp supplies!  

For Air Travel

  • According to the TSA website (link below,) the biggest concern for sewing machine travel is size. As long as it fits in the overhead bin or under the seat you are good to bring your machine as a carry on. If it doesn't fit in either place, you'll have to bring it as checked luggage. 
  • Remove needle from machine and put it with your hand sewing needles and pins. It may seem like overkill, but any sharp, pointy object can raise a red flag at TSA, and it might just make life easier to take it out. 
  • Really, you'll want to avoid checking your sewing machine luggage. It's always the safest (and cheapest) bet to bring it as a carry on. You don't need to bring a super fancy machine to Glamp Stitchalot-- just something that reliably sews both straight and zigzag stitches. 

Sharp stuff: 

  • Hand sewing pins and needles are okay to take in carry on luggage as long as they're secure, such as in a latched box or soft needle book. 
  • Scissors under 4" long can be taken in carry on luggage as long as they're in a sheath or case. Any bigger and they need to be in checked bags. No circular thread cutters are allowed on planes, even those little rings with a bladed notch for thread clippings. 
  • Rotary cutters are typically not allowed in carry on luggage. The easiest way to deal with this is to remove the blade from the tool, take the handle as carry on, and purchase a new blade when you arrive at Glamp (discard the blade before your return trip.) We will also have some Olfa rotary cutters available at each cutting station during the classes.

Here's a link to the TSA website: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/household-and-tools

For Car Travel:

  • Try storing some of your fabric for the trip inside your sewing machine case, rolling it around the machine to help pad it in case of tipping or bumps. 
  • Use a magnetic pin box for pins and needles so there's no risk of spillage 
  • Stash a plastic trash bag with you so you can cover your machine/case with something waterproof in case of 

 General Considerations for Both:

  • You'll need to haul your machine through the airport four times over the course of the trip or in/out of your car, and sewing machines tend to be a bit heavy. We reccommend a case with wheels (as long as it still fits in an overhead or under the seat compartment) such as the Tutto. If a wheeled case won't work, a sturdy bag with comfortable shoulder straps is best. Janome makes a sewing machine tote, and Jeni Baker has a great pattern for a roomy and strong tote you can make. 
  • If you really enjoy going on retreats or just want to be able to sew on vacation or out of town trips, a small-ish, light sewing machine is a good investment, especially if your at-home machine is very large or expensive. 

Topics: Glamp Stitchalot, Janome, glamp 4, flying with a sewing machine, travel, air travel, retreat

How to Free Motion Quilt with the Janome 6700p

Posted by Katie Remski on Oct 3, 2017 3:18:27 PM
  

free motion quilting on the Janome 6700p

One of our most commonly asked questions is how to free motion quilt on their sewing machine at home. Free motion quilting (FMQ) is fun and simple with a little practice, and lets you really customize your quilt exactly the way you want. Today, I'll show you the basics on one of our favorite machines, the Janome 6700p! Even if you don't have this specific machine, the basic procedures still apply. free motion quilting on the Janome 6700p

1. If your machine has an extension table, attach it to the machine. The 6700p is sold with the extention table, but if your machine does not have one, most have the option to purchase one separately. This makes it easier to quilt because the weight of the quilt will be displaced over the table and you can better see where you're going! 

free motion quilting on the Janome 6700p

2. Drop the feed dogs. This is the single most important step in setting your machine up for FMQ, as the feed dogs "pull" your fabric in a straight path and do not allow for side to side movement. How to lower the feed dogs will vary by machine; check your manual first to see how. On the 6700p, all we have to do is flip the side lever to lower the feed dogs. 

free motion quilting on the Janome 6700p

3. Attach the FMQ foot. The 6700p includes this as well, but again, you can also buy one for your machine. 

free motion quilting on the Janome 6700p

4. Set your stitch length to 0. 

5. Once everything is set up and tension/speed is correct, use a fabric pen or pencil and practice drawing lines and squiggles and other designs on scrap quilt sandwiches. Practice FMQ, following the drawn lines and feeding the fabric smoothly through the machine. 

free motion quilting on the Janome 6700p

When you're confident with your design, you can move on to quilting your quilt! 

See all Janome machines online!

Topics: Janome, Tutorial, machine quilting, Quilting, 6700p, free tutorial, free motion quilting

The Best Sewing Machines for Teaching Kids

Posted by Katie Remski on Sep 19, 2017 9:41:08 AM
  

Teaching kids to sew can be a fun and rewarding experience with a little patience and the right tools. Since "kids" sewing machines often found at a toy stores are typically poor quality, a basic sewing machine is a much better investment (on the same note, a real, effective sewing machine isn't a toy and should only be used with adult supervision.) Here's a few things to look for and keep in mind when choosing a sewing machine for teaching children:

1. Size

Just because the child is small doesn't mean their machine should be tiny-- a small/medium sized machine will accomodate a wider variety of projects such as quilts and apparel while still being light enough to stash away when not being used. 

2. Speed

A machine with adjustable stitch speed is helpful for teaching kids, especially because they tend to be rather "lead footed" on the pedal at the begining! Adjusting the speed lets you start them slow and gradually increase speed as they get the hang of sewing straight seams. 

3. Features

Having a machine with limited options may seem like a good idea to keep things simple, but there are a few features that will make sewing more fun and more efficient for kids just starting out. Decorative stitches help kids learn to sew straight lines with a big reward in the pretty pattern, and an easy buttonhole tool gives them the opportunity to practice sewing buttons and make easy closures for pouches and pockets. 

Here's a few machines we like for teaching children how to sew: 

Janome Sew Mini

The Sew Mini is the smallest, most basic and affordable of the Janome lineup, but it's still a great first machine option! With its compact size and cute colors, the Sew Mini has just a handful of stitches and would be good for teaching young sewists. 

Janome Sew Mini at Pink Castle Fabrics
Janome Hello Kitty at Pink Castle Fabrics

Janome 18750 Hello Kitty

Though it looks cute as a button, this is no joke of a sewing machine-- it's got all the features of a good basic machine, with a decent selection of stitches and a clear LCD screen. This one isn't sold online, but if you're near our shop in Ann Arbor, feel free to stop in or give us a call to try it out! 

 DC2015

The Janome DC2015 is a machine that combines simplicity and efficiency in one snappy red package! with a wide range of stitches and feet, plus a speed adjustment slider, the DC2015 could easily be anyone's everyday go-to machine. 

Janome DC2015 at Pink Castle Fabrics

Janome 6100 at Pink Castle Fabrics

Janome 6100

This one's a brand new member of the Janome family! The 6100 is similar to the DC2015, but updated with new stitches and also has the speed adjuster. 

Anna Maria Horner M100

While this is no beater machine, the AMH M100 is a beautiful investment machine that makes you wonder why anyone would want anything different. 99 stitches, removable extension table, speed adjuster, and automatic thread cutter are just a few of the features of this lovely machine. Am I biased because this is the machine I own? Maybe, but look at those roses! Any young girl would be happy to have this machine out on display. 

Janome AMH M100 at Pink Castle Fabrics

Remember, if you're not sure which machine will best fit your needs and budget, contact us and ask! We're always happy to help, especially newbies just getting introduced to the sewing world. 

See all Janome machines online!

Topics: anna maria horner, hello kitty, Janome, kids sewing, kids, m100, beginner, beginer, new to sewing, sewmini, 6100, dc2015, teaching, learn to sew, amh m100

Do I Need a Walking Foot for my Sewing Machine?

Posted by Katie Remski on Sep 13, 2017 2:25:28 PM
  

 

WalkingFoot For this week's Sewing Machine School, let's talk about the walking foot, also known as an even feed foot. Some Janome sewing machines (such as the Skyline series) also feature AccuFeed, which is a more advanced version of a walking foot. 

What is a walking foot? One of our recent blog posts by Jason Elliott, 10 Sewing Machine Parts Explained has a great description: "Feed Dogs move up and down, back and forth, in a vertical circular motion, while Presser Feet move just up and down. Since the two surfaces are moving in different directions, this can cause the fabric to be pulled or stretched. In many cases, this 'pulling' doesn't affect your sewing. In some cases, such as with very thin fabric or with multiple layers of fabric, a presser foot called a Walking Foot is needed. 

A Walking Foot is a special type of presser foot with a mechanized system built into them. This system allows the Presser Foot to move not only up and down, but back and forth in time with your Feed Dog system. The Walking Foot is timed to your machine, and will ensure that even several layers of fabric are fed evenly through your machine, giving you a cleaner stitch."

While a walking foot sounds great, how do you know if it is something you will actually use? Here's a few applications for a walking foot: 

Quilting

Probably the most common use of a walking foot is for straight line quilting. Keeping the quilt top, batting, and backing smooth and secure is almost impossible with a normal presser foot because the feed dogs are always going to grab only the bottom layer. Quilting in lines (grids, stripes, diagonal grids, etc) is far less stressful and even fun with a walking foot. 

 Cables and Calico's Pineapple Quilt

Photo from Instagram @cablesandcalico

 Quilt Binding

Quilt Binding 

Even if you send your quilts out to be long-arm quilted, binding still needs to be attached. If you use a traditional double-fold binding, you have the quilt top, batting, backing, and 2 layers of binding fabric for a total of 5 layers to stitch through! The walking foot, especially with a 1/4" seam "shoe" attached, makes for fast and accurate binding. 

 

Bag Sewing

If you enjoy sewing purses, totes, and other bags, you're probably farmillar with the layers of material involved: fabrics (often canvas or leather,) stabilizer such as interfacing and/or Soft and Stable, and lining fabric. A walking foot helps layers of different types of material in sync with each other as they're being sewn, and can be particularly helpful for sewing handles or topstitching. The basket at right required sewing through 3 layers of linen, 1 of canvas, and 1 layer of Soft and Stable in some places!

Noodlehead divided basket

Noodlehead Divided Basket Pattern

Many Janome machines come with a walking foot, so be sure to check before you buy one! If you do not have a walking/even feed foot, click here to find the right one for your machine. 

Topics: Bags, Janome, machine quilting, Sewing Machines, accufeed, accessories, walking foot, even feed foot, binding, machine binding

How and Where to Use Decorative Stitches

Posted by Katie Remski on Sep 6, 2017 12:08:12 PM
  

DSC03799.jpg

Welcome back to Sewing Machine School! For a lot of modern sewing machines, it's common to have decorative stitch options, from scallops to stars to simple swirls. These stitches can add a lot of character to projects with minimal effort, but how do you use them?

The mechanics of using decorative stitches varies from machine to machine-- always check your manual to see what the specifics are before you jump in and try one out. No matter what the make/model of your machine, there's a few questions to consider before you start sewing:


1. Do I need to use a specific foot? Decorative stitches are typically wider than the average straight stitch and need a foot with enough space for the needle to move. 

2. What tension/stitch length should I set my machine to? The Janome 6700p used for this article (along with most other Janome machines) automatically adjust the tension and stitch length for the selected stitch, but other machines may require you manually change the settings. 

3. Does my machine need to be oiled? This goes for all sewing, but the repetitive and concise needle movement/placement means a well-oiled machine will preform much better. 

Now the fun part-- what kind of projects work best for decorative stitches? For me, anything that requires topstitching is prime real estate for some fun stitches. Curtain or skirt hems, purse flaps, tote bag handles, patch pockets, cuffs, wallets, zipper pouches, headbands, cloth napkins, and pillowcases are just a few examples. 

Now let's see how it's done-- again, I used the Janome 6700p, a machine that's perfect for both quilt/apparel sewing and heavy duty applications (like sewing through thick canvas and free motion quilting) and as a bonus has a lot of beautiful decorative stitches!

 Janome 6700p

First, thread your machine. The color is up to you-- go for a subtle, monochromatic look with a color that matches your fabric, or use a fun contrasting shade (like neon or varigated thread!) 

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

Pick your design and type the number into your machine with the keypad. If you have a Janome, the screen will tell you which foot to use with your design. For this stitch, we need the "F" foot, as indicated in the upper left of the screen. 

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

Attach the designated foot for your decorative stitch. This foot has a little red arrow to indicate where the stitch will be centered as to make following lines easier. 

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

The machine we're using automatically adjusts the tension and stitch length for the selected decorative stitch, but if yours doesn't, adjust accordingly. Now you're ready to start stitching! 

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

If your machine lets you adjust the speed, start off slowly and make sure to feed the fabric evenly through the machine to avoid skipped stitches. If you have a start/stop button instead of a food pedal, this is a great place to use it since it will maintain a smooth, even pace. 

Leaf Stitch on the Janome 6700p

When you're done stitching, backstitch just once or twice to lock the seam in place. 

Want to see which Janome machines offer decorative stitches? check out these models: 

Anna Maria Horner M100

Janome 6700p

DC2015

NPCF50

Skyline Series

 

Topics: Machine Embroidery, anna maria horner, Janome, skyline, Sewing Machines, 6700p, 6700, m100, decorative stitches, stitches

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