January 1, 2013
totally not quilting
January 4, 2013
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starting fresh

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Got my sewing/crafting room straightened up and somewhat clean today. Starting fresh for 2013.

Changed the blades on all of my rotary cutters. I always write the date on one side of the blade when I put a new one in. In a few weeks or months, depending on how much I use them, I will clean the blade, add a drop of sewing machine oil and flip it over. I write the date on the other side then. I can get awhile longer out of it usually. But it doesn’t pay to be stingy on those blades. A sharp blade can make a lot of difference in your cutting accuracy, and will reduce some strain on your wrist. I see many quilters in my classes using the smaller diameter blades. If you do a lot of cutting, consider moving up to the largest diameter. Again accuracy goes up and strain goes down. You also can cut through more layers at once with the larger blade. I’ve tried a few of those gadgets for sharpening your rotary blades, but haven’t noticed any improvements. Never have tried the electric rotary blade sharpeners that appear in the catalogs now and then. Anyone out there have any luck with the sharpeners?

Gave my machine a thorough cleaning, inside and out. Actually got out the mini vacuum and cleaned up the nooks and crannies of the machine and table, and got lots of lint out of the inside of the machine as well. Don’t forget to clean up on the needle bar, around the dials, and inside or around your walking foot. Whenever I do this, I am reminded of the story about the woman who complained to the sewing repair man that when he returned her machine to her, the felt pad that goes around the feed dogs was missing. Ladies, I’ve never seen a felt pad inside the machine–that might just be a ton of compacted lint!! Lint is actually very abrasive, particularly for those of us who have the newer electronic/computerized machines. You do not want lint “sanding” the insides of your machine. That’s another reason to buy better quality thread, so less lint is generated. The static electricity the machine generates actually attracts the lint. Well worth the time spent regularly cleaning out the innards of your machine of lint and mini thread ends. Your machine will reward you with better performance.

Checked out which of my good scissors need to be sharpened. I don’t see the guys at the fabric stores much anymore. Perhaps we could bring one to a guild meeting again, as we did a while back. All the points in favor of sharp rotary blades apply to sharp scissors as well. I’ve also been told for years, starting with my father, that sharper blades are actually safer since they don’t need as much force. When a dull blade hangs up and you apply more force to it, accidents can happen when the blade finally cuts through. If you have something in the way of that forced blade, it will likely get badly cut. Hopefully- it will be just fabric or a cutting mat, and not a finger!

It’s time for me to get off my soap box now.

So how about you, all you all set for a fresh start on a sewing project?


  1. Loretta says:

    I think we will have the scissors sharpener guy at one of our meetings this spring. We will let the members know asap so they can bring scissors to get sharpened then. OR, the techs at Threads of Time will sharpen them for you. You have to leave them as Wally takes them home to work on. But, he returns them quickly. He does a good job, too.

  2. marie says:

    How are compressed air cans (like you would use for a compute) for removing lint?

    Sewing room cleaned yesterday ahhhhh

    • Roxanne says:

      I am in the process of cleaning my sewing room also. It is a great feeling to put things back where they belong. Now if only I can keep it that way in 2013.

    • joann says:

      I read in one of my quilting magazines NOT to use canned compressed air because it can force more lint into the innards of your machine and cause more damage.

      • Mary Ellen says:

        I think there are two concerns with compressed air. One is, as you said, the concern of forcing lint deep into the innards of the machine. The other is a concern about the propellant causing some kind of damage. I use this hint instead that was recommended to me by a machine repair tech. I saved a small squeeze bottle from liquid dish detergent and washed it out really well til I was fairly certain no soap residue remained. When I want to get a stubborn piece of lint out, I am able to aim the squeeze bottle from the rear of the machine so the lint will not go into the machine’s “bowels”, and give the bottle a quick, strong squeeze. Also no moisture from breath goes into the machine either, as it might if we just tried to blow the lint away. Since I am fond of other crafts as well, this improvised little “bellows” can blow away other pesky bits. (Like glitter or embossing powder, since the holiday card making is fresh in my memory. There still are sparkles peaking from the carpet in the craft room, after multiple vacuumings. You know how glitter is; I’ll still be finding traces in June!) This works great on stubborn bits on your computer keyboard too.

    • Mary Ellen says:

      See my reply to Joann’s comment for an alternative to compressed air.

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