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Frequently Asked Questions


DIRT!!!


When should I get my machine cleaned?
The most obvious answer is - the machine should be cleaned when it gets dirty. A better answer is - it depends on the thread you're using, the material you're sewing and the number of stitches. A good rule of thumb is about a million or so stitches per year - whichever comes first.

Sewing machines and sergers are complex precision devices built to exacting tolerances. Modern computerized sewing machines are even more so. Dirt is their biggest enemy. Dirt can make a sewing machine old before its time. Dirt can dramatically increase machine failures while dramatically reducing stitch quality. It just doesn't make any sense to spend serious money on an expensive sewing machine and then fail to take proper care of it with regular maintenance and cleaning.

Don't let your BERNINA machine get to looking like this...






Is it OK to use compressed air to blow dust out of the hook and bobbin?
No. No. No. No. No. And furthermore, no. Blowing dirt around inside the covers of a sewing machine only drives dirt deeper into the innards of the machinery and makes it just that much harder to clean. If you find your sewing activity generates an excessive amount of lint, then purchase a small inexpensive vacuum cleaner and suck as much dirt out of the machine as you can.

When a sewing machine comes into my shop looking like this, I charge by the pound...




THREAD


What kind of thread should I use?
You may be surprised to learn that thread has an expiration date. Unless there is a compelling reason otherwise, it does not make sense to buy that tempting box of antique thread at the neighborhood yard sale – especially if it happens to be on wooden spools. Thread manufacturers have not used wooden spools in several decades because of the chemical deterioration effects that the wood spool has upon the thread wound upon it.

The same is true of that stash you might have inherited from a previous generation. The cotton, nylon and polyester materials used in fabrics and thread do not last forever. They become brittle and fragile with age and cannot stand up to the demands that a modern sewing machine places upon them.

As expensive, precise and well-maintained as your sewing machine might be, you will not get great quality results from poor quality thread. I don’t know about you, but my least favorite part of sewing is fighting with machine jams, thread breaks and the dreaded ‘Bird’s Nest.’ Nothing spoils the mood (and the sewing project) quite like ripping out loose loopy stitches and / or rethreading the machine. The best, easiest and cheapest way to avoid the majority of these problems is to use fresh, high-quality thread.

On a regular basis, customers bring machines into my shop with complaints about stitch quality while using thread that was manufactured twenty years ago. Not even the best and most expensive Bernina sewing machines will deliver the great results you have come to expect using thread that was manufactured twenty years ago. It just ain’t gonna happen. And so my advice to you is this – if you’re going to take the time, trouble and expense to plan your next project, don’t skimp on the thread. Go ahead and spring for some new thread. You and your project are worth it.








NEEDLE


What kind of needle should I use?
The obvious answer is - use needles that are new, straight and sharp. What is not so obvious is that the number one complaint about the performance, quality, accuracy and reliability of a sewing machine is related to the needle.

I don’t care how new or old your machine might be. It matters not how much or how little you paid for your machine. It matters not who manufactured or maintained your machine. It matters not how experienced or novice at sewing you might be. There is no use arguing with physics. A sharp straight needle will yield great results. A dull bent needle will yield tiresome aggravation.

If you bring your machine to me for service, the very first thing I will do is install a new needle and dispose of the old one. Then, and only then, will I test how the machine functions. I do this because the needle is, quite literally, the heart of the sewing machine. If the needle is not sharp, straight and true, nothing else matters because nothing else will work. Even though seemingly simple, the sewing machine needle it is a finely engineered device and carefully manufactured to exacting standards. Despite this, the needle is the first thing to be damaged and/or wear out even in ordinary use.

Not to put too fine of a point on the argument (pun intended), a sewing machine is nothing more than an expensive doorstop if it does not have a sharp, straight and true needle installed.

If in the process of servicing the machine I accidentally snag or bump the needle (which happens a lot), I change the needle. If there is any question in my mind about the integrity of the needle, I’ll change it – again. When returning a machine to the customer, I’ll install a fresh needle – again.  Yeah, I have a sharps container on my workbench to dispose of all the old needles.

For that matter, so should you.

Needles are easy to change. In fact, you should be generous about needles. They are cheap when bought in bulk. It is not an unreasonable thing for you to purchase a 100-count pack of needles. If you ever break a needle, you’ll have a plentiful supply of replacements.  Whenever you start a new project – change the needle. After you finish off three or four bobbins – change the needle. Should the machine break the thread in the middle of a project – change the needle.

Here is a small sampling of needles - every one of which was causing a machine failure...


And so my advice to you is this – if you’re going to take the time, trouble and expense to plan your next project, don’t skimp on the needles. Go ahead and spring for a pack of new ones. You and your project are worth it.


TENSION


What is thread tension?
Blah Blah Blah


SOFTWARE / FIRMWARE


What is a software / firmware update?
Blah Blah Blah


Spicy Spiral Table Runner



Students should purchase the pattern and supplies prior to the first class session.   Please review the pattern and follow cutting instructions as noted in the class materials that you will receive when you register.


Skill Level: intermediate
Skill Details: Students should be comfortable cutting and sewing basic patterns. The cutting angles in this project may seem a little scary, but with guidance, you'll do fine!
Materials Included: none.
Requirements: Pattern and supplies should be purchased ahead of time to allow for some preliminary cutting and preparation before the first class session.
Instructor: Margaret Persinger
Instructor Bio: Margaret developed a passion for quilting during her first visit to the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2001. Since that time, Margaret has developed her skills by quilting with friends, taking classes in local shops at at the Quilt Festival, leading a Quilt Ministry at her church in Spring, Texas, and teaching classes at a shop in Tomball, Texas. By preparing and teaching classes at various levels, Margaret stays up-to-date on new trends and products.
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Included Materials


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This class cannot be purchased online. Please contact the store for more information.