When I first started sewing I ran into a whole host of problems. My new hobby was like a little cute Mogwai, and what I failed to realize was that there are certain rules to follow when you use a sewing machine. To keep the Gremlins and frustration to a bare minimum, here's a short list of rules to always follow when you use your sewing machine.
1. Always roll the hand wheel toward you, never turn it away from you. I learned this the hard way at first, and every time I turned the hand wheel away from me the needle would get stuck, break and a whole slew of swear words would follow.
2. Keep your sewing machine covered when it is not in use, and be sure to clean and oil your machine when it needs it. With my sewing machine I can tell that it needs cleaned if it starts skipping stitches. The manual that comes with the sewing machine should be kept in a safe place so that you can refer to it for the proper care instructions for your sewing machine.
3. Keep the thread tension set to standard, and if the sewing doesn't look right change the needle. I used to try to set the tension on my sewing machine and it was damn near impossible. So if you have a sewing machine with a standard tension setting, don't stray from that setting too much. Even shifting the tension dial a few millimeters makes a huge impact.
4. Some people change their sewing needle for each project, however I don't follow that practice. I tend to use a larger needle, Size 14 or 16 for just about everything. If the sewing starts to look off or the needle starts catching the fabric, then I change the needle. I have had it happen where the needle breaks, which happens if it gets a burr or chip. So if you want to change the needle for each project then go for it. I also change to a smaller needle for delicate fabrics...most of the time. :)
5. The two basic stitches I use for every project are the straight stitch and the zig zag stitch. Typically I set the straight stitch to a 4 stitch length and set the needle so it's in the middle setting. For zig zag stitch and finishing edges of fabric I usually set the stitch length to 5 and the width to 5. Basting stitches are when you set the stitch length as high as the number will go, and are good for when you sew sample projects that aren't meant to last. I rarely sew basting stitches because they don't stay in the fabric very well. Also if you set the stitch length too low for straight stitch it makes it damn near impossible to pick out the seam if you make a mistake.
Over the years I have developed my own methods for sewing. I like to think of them as contemporary. Through my blog posts I will share my methods and if you find you like doing things a different way than that is great too! Everyone does things in their own way and you will develop your own habits in time. Hopefully this list will help your Mogwai sewing hobby stay cute and adorable and fun! Keep the gremlins at bay and your sewing will be smooth sailing!