Using Machine Stitching on Scrapbook Pages
If you have a sewing machine you can add a new dimension to your scrapbook efforts. We will do our best to guide you through the machine stitching process. There are a some “tips of the trade” you will need to help you create elements using this technique on your scrapbook pages.
Before you start on a project review these helpful tips to save you time, and possible grief:
- Make sure your sewing machine is clean and in good repair.
- Ensure you know how your machine works . . . read, or re-read the instruction manual if you need to.
- Check your thread tension for proper adjustment (more on this specifically in the article).
- Use the same weight thread for both your spool and bobbin.
- Unless you do a lot of sewing–limit your thread colors. You’ll want light and dark tread for contrast: white & black or brown should do well to get you started.
- Check your bobbin thread before starting on each project to be sure you’ll have enough thread to complete your project. Run out early and see the “dry” stitch holes–not easy to restitch through.
- You may try “dry machine stitching” for an added affect.
- Using the presser foot as a guide for straight stitching will help give you a uniform line. Your particular machine may have additional guides to assist you.
- Don’t be in a hurry. Sewing slowly can keep you out of trouble, and you should expect better results.
- Needles dull much quicker when sewing paper vs fabric, so be wise and change your needle regularly. Dull needles are harder on your machine.
- We recommend you stitch no more than three layers of paper or card stock at a time . . . more and you can stress your machine. Plus, you will find yourself replacing broken needles frequently.
Sewing on paper may seem easy, and it is for the most part, but with these tips in mind you should be ready to stitch up a page or two. Like most crafts, a little practice goes a long ways–here you may well find this to be especially true as you learn this new medium , and how your machine handles it.
The Sewing Process:
First, on a scrap piece of card stock practice the stitch you wish to start with. We recommend the simple straight stitch. This is a great time to check and adjust your tension (as noted above). If the tension is too light or loose your reverse side threads will be loose as well. To correct this problem–tighten your tension.
Too tight a tension will cause stitch loops to come up through the stitch holes from your bobbin. To correct this–loose the tension.
You can tell if your stitch tension is right when the stitches are uniformly or evenly distributed on top and bottom, and you have no threads too loose or too tight.
A word about adhesive/gluing and stitching. Frequently you will need to glue two items together before you stitch. This is where less is best. Use enough to attach your items. Remember the stitching itself, when completed, can act as the adhesive to your page.
Try to start you stitching in an area that is inconspicuous, and will be covered by something else–like another embellishment, or a photo, etc. To lock your stitch use a couple reverse stitches, but don’t go over board. You may want to eliminate reverse stitches when the beginning area will show. Generally, machine stitches hold reasonably well.
This reverse stitch process can also be used at the end of your stitching. You can also pull the loose threads to the backside of the stitching using a pin or needle. Knot the loose thread, or add a small dot of adhesive to secure it.
As you stitch follow a defined line or pattern. Your can “free hand” a design as noted below if and when you feel comfortable with this special medium.
As you can see, the process isn’t complicated. With some practice you’ll be stitching up a storm. Be creative, with confidence from practice, you can add varied stitches–like zigzag, or other stitches available on your sewing machine.
You would be well served to make a “Stitching Guide” of all the stitches you could use from your sewing machine. Just take a dark colored piece of card stock and sew samples of your available stitches using a light colored thread for easy contrast and visual identification. Be sure to follow a patter of use as they are noted on your sewing machine. Label each stitch on your card for easy reference.
We’ve talked mostly about a measured straight stitch process, but don’t be constrained. In addition to using different stitches, try your hand at “free styling” your stitch–kind of like monogramming. You create a great “artsy” look.
On final point–don’t over stitch, or make your stitches too short. You want stitches with a comfortable length to them. Stitches too close together can weaken or allow your page to be torn. While stitching adds a unique quality to your page DON’T OVER DO IT!
If sewing machine stitching isn’t for you try “Hand Stitching.”
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