As I’ve already said that it doesn’t take much specialised equipment to make good fabric miniatures perhaps I ought to start by describing what we use at The Dolls House Bedding Co. to make our products. I’ll begin with our sewing machines and machine accessories.
We have two sewing machines – a Husqvarna and a Bernina. Both of them can produce embroidery, but since we only hand embroider at DHBC that isn’t important to us. Both machines were the cheapest in their respective ranges and we chose them because they give a good regular stitch. The Husqvarna is 10 years old and considering that it’s been used almost every working day in all that time, it’s been marvellous. The Bernina is the model most often bought by schools as it’s easy to use and hard to damage. In a later post I’ll be saying how you can customise machine embroidery to give it your own individual touch.
Here’s the Husqvarna
This is the Bernina
The Husqvarna came with a standard stitch plate. The one on our machine has metric guides and we bought another one that has inch markings. Using the measurements on a stitch plate will improve the accuracy of your seams without your having to do too much tacking.
Most sewing machines come with a box of accessories that nobody knows how to use. Narrow hemmers, which we find invaluable, seem to defeat a lot of people but there is a knack to using them which we’ll show you. We use two sizes of narrow hemmer – 2mm and 5mm. The 2mm is good for the edges of sheets and the 5mm is good for sheet ends and pillow cases. They work best with very light fabrics and we find that they really only give a reliable finish on lawn and batiste.
We also use edge stitch presser feet, we’ve got two of them for different widths. They’re particularly useful for making piping.
If you want to produce even stitches you’ll need to change your machine needles regularly. You won’t be able to see when they need changing but if you take them out of the machine and pass the points through a light fabric like silk habotai, you’ll be able to feel if the needle catches and needs replacing. We find size 70/10 and 80/12 suitable for most of the fabrics that we use.
Since we use lots of different coloured threads and have several spools on the go at any time, we find that a good way to stop the threads from unwinding and getting tangled is to cut up little pieces of foam and wedge them into the spools but they’ll spring out again unless you keep them in a spool case.
More about our workroom equipment next time.