Since I'm having some problems with my machine, I thought I would share some of the tips and tricks I know about sewing. Perhaps you can avoid some of the problems I have experienced or learned along the way.
Sewing Words of Wisdom
1. Take care of your sewing machine
Don't do what I did and toss it in a closet in its box every time you put it away. Moving it around often can really affect your tension. If you have to store it away from little fingers take it in to get adjusted every once in awhile, at least every year. Otherwise you will end up with very irregular stitches despite your attempts at new thread, bobbins, needles, and countless amounts of praying to the sewing gods.
2. Use Good Quality Thread
Your 2 for a $1 Walmart thread will not make your homemade items look as nice as something you can get in the store. A nice quality thread will have less slubs or joining sections on the spool and should make your machine run better. Cheap thread will often break, come off in pieces, create a horrible amount of lint in your bobbin case area (that you should brush out occasionally), and will not be as smooth of a thread because it is made of shorter fibers.
If you want to make something really nice go out of your way and get the matching Guttermann or Silky thread. The difference is drastic.
3. Fabric Scissors are for FABRIC
If you want to have nice scissors, you need to treat them well. Use your fabric scissors for fabric alone. Paper or other items will damage, nick and dull your blades. If you plan on doing a decent amount of pattern making as well, invest in some nice scissors for your kraft paper. If you maintain your items and treat they well, they will last you a very long time.
4. Make sure you have the right bobbin for your machine
(This is actually the problem I am facing right now)
Many machines come with a few bobbins when you purchase your machine. If they don't or you've lost them, you may have to buy new. When you buy new make sure you buy the right bobbin for your machine. Look up the size in the manual or search online for the correct size. Once you get to the craft store, don't go for the cheap stuff.
I bought some Dritz bobbins which said they were the correct size for my machine and they are wrong!! The Dritz bobbins are actually a fraction smaller in diameter than what should be in my machine. Because the size is not quite right it will constantly bounce around the bobbin case and often un-thread itself from the guides producing some wicked sounds of being possessed and creating a terribly wicked rats nest.
5. Iron your Sewing
This may sound lame but a properly ironed piece of sewing can make a drastic impact. All you really need to do some nice ironing is three things: an ironing board, ham and iron. With these you can make a big difference.
If you just spent 3 hours sewing it, take the 20 minutes to really finish your piece off with a nice pressing.
Bust open those seams to make it lay nice and flat, press that hem down so it doesn't curl and pucker, clip and press the curves, and turn out and press those nice collar points you made! Turn that item from "I can tell that's homemade" into "WOW! That is homemade?!".