Welcome to Simply Sewing with Laura. Last time we did a no-sew sewing method where we sewed with no thread at all, and that gave us the ability to learn to drive the machine like a car, learning the speed and learning to go reverse, following the guidelines and just generally getting used to the different speeds and the sound of the machine. Today we need to get this machine threaded so that we can do some sewing. Let’s talk about thread, tension, bobbins, and the smallest notionthe sewing machine needle. At a glance all sewing machine needles look the same but there are lots of differences. I have a great big needle that I’m going to be able to show you all of the differences. We’ll start with the back end. The back end has a round portion and a flat portion. This flat and round part is designed so that it’s going to fit into home sewing machines. You have a 99% chance this is the type of needle you’re going to have. Some needles are perfectly round and they’re designed for more industrial machines. Chances are you’re going to need a needle that has this flat end. That is designed so that when it goes up into the machine it fits like a key. It can only go in one way. As we go down into the needle we’re going to have a little area here that has a little divot cut out. Thread gets to rest in there. On the other side of the needle we have this long channel. That channel is designed so that the thread sits inside, so this channel must be different in size depending on your thread. If you have a very thick thread you’re going to need a larger, thicker channel. If you have thin thread you need a thinner channel. As this needle is going through the fabric, the channel protects that thread from fraying and breaking. So if your thread is fraying and breaking, it could be that that little channel is the wrong size for your thread and fabric. If the thread is too thick, it’s sticking outside of that channel and it’s going to get caught every time that goes through the fabric. If your thread is too skinny and you have a very big channel, that thread can be pulled out and cause loops as you’re stitching. So these channels are different in different needles. Then we have the eye. The eyes are different. You have longer ones, rounder ones, smaller, and bigger. They also are designed for different threads and different applications, and different fabric. And of course we have the most important end and that’s that little tip. You can get tips that are very pointy and sharp, and they’re designed to spear right through the fabric. Then you get some that have a little bit of a rounder tip and they’re designed to move the fibers so that goes in-between the fibers. Needles are designed very much like kitchen knives. You wouldn’t use a butter knife to cut a steak and that works the same for needles. It’s better to have the right needle for the right job. And just like a kitchen knife, these needles can get dull, bent, or broken. You’re going to change needles for projects and you’ll change them about every six to eight hours of sewing. Even though this is the smallest notion that you’re going to need on your machine, it’s going to be the most powerful notion. This needle needs to be put up into the machine into this tiny little area. You will have a thumb screw that you’re going to be able to unwind and that needle is going to come out. To replace that needle you just take that needle and place it into that little hole and make sure that it goes up all the way. If that needle is not up all the way it’s going to be too long. Make sure the needle is up all the way and then tighten that thumbscrew. Because that needle has that flat back, it’s going to fit like a key up inside of this little area. You won’t be able to put it in the wrong way, but there is a rule of thumb on putting those needles in. If your sewing machine bobbin is in the front or on the top, that flat part is going to go towards the back. If you have a machine like an antique machine where the bobbin is coming into the side, that flat part is going to go towards the side. The reason is is the needle is always threaded from the front going towards the flat back. In the case of the machines where the bobbins are in the front, the thread is going to come from the front and go towards the back. In the machines where the bobbins are on the side, the thread comes from the inside, going out. Once that needle is in position we’re going to be able to thread the machine. There are many different threads on the market and there are just as many different spool shapes. Regardless of the shape of the spool, there are two things we need to look for. One is how the thread is put on the spool. Some thread is put on so it looks like little crosses, little X’s. Other threads are stacked so they start it at the top and they put the thread up and the thread has come down. All of the threads can go on the machines, but some threads like a different position than others. Some threads like the horizontal spools; other threads like the vertical spools. However, they will all fit on any machine. Some machines will only have one pin. The newer machines are usually horizontal. The older antique machines are vertical. Let’s talk about the differences between the two. The vertical spools are designed so the thread turns the spool. That’s how the thread is going to come off. The horizontal ones are designed so that the spool does not move. Only the thread will come off. The vertical spool works best for the thread that is stacked or sitting upright. If you have a little foam disk that comes with your sewing machine it works great. You’re going to put that on first and then put that spool of thread there. That little foam helps keep that stable so it’s not wiggling as you’re stitching, but it’s still going to allow the thread to turn that spool all the way around. Something to keep an eye out for is if you’re using a short spool of thread. It might get caught around that pin. So if your thread is breaking you should always check that. The horizontal spools work a little bit differently. They like having the thread that is laying crosswise. So if it’s crosscut, it likes to lie across. As the machine is stitching, the thread comes off but the spool does not turn. That’s where these little spool covers come in handy. They’re designed to hold that thread in place. There are a little teeth on that spool cover that are going to fit right over top of that little hole. We’re going put that thread on and we’re going to put a spool cap on. That cap keeps this spool stationary as the thread comes off. It’s also designed to help prevent tangles. Some spools of thread have little teeth all the way around the outside, or they’ll have a little notch. That notch is to hold that thread end for storage. But if a notch is on that end, the thread can get caught. Your thread cannot move so it will break the thread. That’s where these nice big spool caps come in handy. They cover that end so that the thread can come off easily without getting caught. If you have a small spool of thread and a large pin, just like the vertical one you’ll just have to make sure that your thread is does not get tangled as it is moving. You can always move that thread to the end by using the two different spool caps. Now that thread is right at the end. By changing that position, thread is not going to get caught at all and will come right off. It doesn’t matter if we have the larger spools; we still need to put these caps on. That cap is going to hold that spool so that only the thread comes off, and it keeps it from wiggling around. Both threads will fit on both different spools. Sometimes the thread unwinds better in one direction than the other. So if you find your thread is not cooperating you can just take that spool and flip it over and that might be all it needs to just set that tension a little bit better. A good rule to start with if you have a choice between two pins: The thread that is done CROSSwise likes to lie aCROSS. The thread that is stacked UP likes to sit UP. To thread the machines they all work on the same principle. There are guides, there are take-up levers that are usually covered, and tension disks. Every machine is going to have a slightly different path for the thread to take. We start at the top and we’re going to come all the way down, bringing it up, and then inside you’re going to see a little hook. It’s just going to go on to that little hook. That’s the take-up lever. Then it’s going to come down, then it goes into some front guides. The last guide you need to go through is a little bar that’s right in front of that needle. That’s going to help keep that thread in a straight line as that needle is going up and down. From there we get to thread our needle. Some machines have automatic threaders and others you need to thread on your own. In this case the thread is going from the front towards the back. Some machines will actually have printed threading directions right on the machine. If not, be sure to check with your manual to make sure that you have it going the right way. Inside here you are going to have tension disks. They’re like two plates that are held together. That thread needs to go between those two plates. The stronger those plates are pushed together, the tighter the tension is going to be. The looser the plates are together, the looser the tension is going to be. So if you use a thicker thread you’re going to need it a little bit looser. If you have a very thin thread, you’re going to need it a little bit tighter. Most machines have settings to have it standard so start with those settings. On my machine I have a little line. That’s the average tension that I’m going to need. You’ll notice that if your foot is down, so your take-up lever is down, that thread does not pull out very easily. That’s because having that foot down has engaged those tension disks nice and tight. If you need to move that thread you need to lift up the foot. When you lift up the foot that thread is going to come out a lot easier because it’s released from the pressure on those disks. Now we need to work on the bobbin so we can get the machine sewing. Bobbins are loaded in three different ways: They’re loaded in the front, loaded on the top, or loaded on the side. This is an example of a top load machine. There’s a little window and that cover comes off. In there sits that bobbin. There is a bobbin case but it stays in the machine. You’re going to be able to put that bobbin in. In this case the thread is coming out towards the outside of the machine. That bobbin just gets placed inside. Take that thread and wrap it around that little slot, then pull the thread out. From there you’re going to be able to take this thread and pull it up to the top. A front load has a little door at the front of the machine. That little door is going to open and in there you’re going to have that little bobbin case. In that case is the bobbin. You’re going have a little handle that you can flip up. Holding that handle, you’re going to be able to take that bobbin case out. In the bobbin case is the bobbin. When you let go of that handle, that bobbin is going to come right out. We have a little bobbin case. It looks like a little cup with a thumb. The bobbin is going to go in the one side; the other side has that handle. The direction of the bobbin depends on the machine. In the case of my Bernina, my thread is going clockwise. In my antique machines, the thread is going counterclockwise. You’ll have to check your manual for which way your bobbin needs to be put in. Once that bobbin is full, we’re going to be able to take it and put it into its case. You’ll see a little slot. That thread goes in that little slot. Just give that thread a little tug and it’s going to come through that center opening. That thread will be able to be pulled out of that bobbin. As you hold the handle the thread is not going to move. We’re going to be able to hold that handle to put this back into the machine. This is just going to slide inside. Where we have that little “thumbs up” there’s a little thumbs up spot to put it in. That’s going to just fit right in. You can see where that thumb is up and there’s a little groove that that’s going to fit in. You can snap that right in. It is the same system if you have a machine where the bobbin is coming from the side; it’s just on the side instead of the front. From here. I’m just going to be able to cut off this extra thread with a little knife blade here. Shut the door. Now I’m going to be able to pull that thread from here up to the top of the machine. Once that bobbin is in, we need to pull that thread up to the top of the machine. It won’t matter what system you have; it’ll all work the same. The first thing we’re going to do is hold that top thread and put down the foot. We’re going to take this wheel and move it so the needle goes all the way down and all the way up. Some machines will have a feature that you just push it and it does it on its own. Move this wheel towards yourself so that needle does a full rotation. You can still hold on to this top thread but you don’t need to hold too tightly. When that needle comes back up, it’s going to pull that bobbin thread up with it. Now we have the bobbin thread and the top thread. We can now raise the foot as needed. Each machine will have its own system to fill the bobbins. The bobbin is going to need to be put on a little area on the machine in order to fill it. We’re going to put that bobbin on and push it on tight. We can put the thread on either of those spools to use. Following the directions on the machine, we need to have it pass through a tension disk. That tension disk holds that thread in the proper alignment and also puts just the right pressure on it so that we have a nice tight bobbin when we’re done. There are different ways to get the thread on this bobbin. One way is just to take that thread wrap it around the center of that bobbin. Once your thread is there you’re going to be able to engage this bobbin. Now some are going to automatically start turning; others you’re going to need to turn it with the foot pedal. As you push the foot pedal it’s going to adjust the speed. As this turns you’re going to be able to just drop that thread and it’s going to bury inside of that spool. We’re going to just continue until that’s nice and full. There is another way we can hold the thread onto this. Have your thread go through that tension guide. Take the end of that thread and put it through one of the holes at the top of that bobbin. The bobbin is still going to go on tight and you’re going to be able to hold that thread. As you engage this you’ll just go for a second, then you can stop and trim off that thread. Now as you continue it’s going to stay inside. Most bobbins are going to stop when they’re filled. When I have enough on I’m going to be able to remove it from that disk, and I have a little knife here built right in. I’m going to cut that thread and remove the bobbin. If you’re only going to do a very small project you don’t need to fill them up full. If you’re doing large projects I would definitely start with more than one. Bobbins all have the same type of shape. However, they’re not all the same size. Bobbins need to have a perfect fit in order to maintain that tension. If you have the wrong bobbin in your machine it might wiggle and jiggle and that’s not going to allow that tension to be perfect. Or it might be too tight and that thread is not going to come out. It could be too high and it could be too low. It’s really important to get the right bobbin for your machine. They might look the same, but they’re really not. I’ll put a link in the description from Schmetz Needles. They have a great guide on the needle that is recommended for the thread that you’re going to need or the application that you’re going to use. It’s a great one to have and it’s very handy. The other one I’m going to give you is a troubleshooting guide. That also is from Schmetz. They have a lot of great information on that site and that troubleshooting guide is one that will be great to print out and keep with your manual. You just never know when you might need it. Knowing how the thread, tension, bobbin, and needle all work together is really the key to being able to sew. Now that we have that knowledge we are going to be able to get sewing. I do hope you’ll join me next time on Simply Sewing with Laura. Thank you for joining me today, and we’ll see you soon. Bye now!