Sewing tips and tricks

Published On: October 15, 2018

One of the trickiest things facing the sewing industry is finding qualified workers. Many new employees may be unfamiliar with the basics of sewing machine operation, says Faith Roberts, owner of Banner Canvas in Ham Lake, Minn. In her IFAI Expo session “Sewing Tips and Tricks,” Roberts points out that many young people didn’t grow up with a sewing machine in the house and didn’t have access to a sewing machine in school or elsewhere.

Roberts walked session participants through basic sewing machine operation including threading, thread tension and tips for increasing efficiency and accuracy. She says the key to training proficient operators is having them spend time “messing around with the machine and reading through the manual.” She offers the following advice for newer operators:

  • The newer servo motors on machines may be too fast for beginners. It can help to slow the servo down at the start, and speed up the motor as worker proficiency increases.
  • Thicker threads may not seat properly on tension discs if the tension is not properly adjusted. This can put wear on the tension guides, which can abrade the thread.
  • The coating on threads can create residue in guides and tension discs. Clean the machine regularly with a small brush or canned air.
  • The knot of a proper lock stitch should not be visible on the top or bottom of sewn fabric. If a knot is visible, readjust the thread tension.

More information on basic and advanced sewing techniques is available to ATA members through workshops and online industrial sewing training videos. For more information, visit