Sewing 101: Getting to Know Your Sewing Machine


When I teach the sewing 101 class for Joann’s many ladies come in with machines they have had, sometimes for years, but have been too afraid to take them out of the box. Others have taken it out, looked at it and then promptly boxed it up. When I ask why the answer is usually, “It scares me, I don’t know what does what”.

We begin class talking about the tools of the trade and then move on to the parts of the sewing machine and I end the class with how to clean and maintain your machine.  Regardless of brand all machines have the same basic parts.

I have labeled most of the important parts of the machine on the image above. Below you will find a brief description of the parts function. In the video I will go through everything more thoroughly.

I am going to start on the top right side and work my way across and down the machine.

Power Switch: Turns the machine off and on

Hand wheel or Fly Wheel: Raises and lowers the needle

Spool pin: Holds the spool of thread

Thread guide: Holds the thread in position

Tension disc: Controls the portioning of the thread

Tension adjustment: Adjust the tension on the thread

Take Up Lever:  Its up and down motion feeds the thread to the needle and tightens the loop formed by the shuttle.


Needle screw: Holds the needle in place.

Presser foot lifter: Lifts the presser foot

Shank: Holds the ankle and foot

Face Plate: A cover that gives access to the bobbin area

Feed dogs: A set of teeth that grab the fabric and feed it

Bobbin Housing: Holds the bobbin and moves into position to catch the top thread and form the stitch as the needle is lowered into the bobbin chamber. 

Your owners manual usually includes a diagram of your machine and sometimes a description. I suggest keeping your owner’s manual near your machine or at least where it is accessible while you are learning to sew.

Are there any parts on your machine that give you trouble or you are unsure about? Please feel free to leave questions or comments




Homemade Rotel Tomato Recipe


This year when planning my garden I decided that I wanted to plant a few extra plants in hopes of canning and freezing up some recipes. I haven’t had to buy canned tomatoes for several years but I was still buying canned rotel. In my mind I was going to can up or freeze enough to get me through to next spring. In reality I probably have enough to last until February or March, 24 jars and 3 quart size bags.

Homemade “Rotel” Tomatoes


  • 12-14 cups peeled and chopped tomatoes (any variety) In this video I show how to peel tomatoes 
  • 3-4 Jalapeno peppers or other hot variety or peppers, diced
  • 3-4 Poblano or bell peppers chopped. I roasted and skinned mine.
  • 2-3 cloves of Garlic (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (optional)
  • Juice from 2 limes (optional)
  • 1 tbsp. sea salt


1. Place all ingredients in medium-large saucepan.

2. Simmer until mixture is reduced by half

1 cup is equal to about one 10 oz. store-bought can of Rotel. If you want to can this you will need to add lemon juice to your jars. The amount of lemon juice depend on the size of the jar. Processing time and temperature will depend on the type of canner you use.

Husqvarna Viking Ruby Deluxe For Sale

I have decided to go ahead and upgrade to a commercial machine. In order to make room I HAVE to part with my Viking Ruby Deluxe. I currently have it listed on e-bay here.

I bought it new in January of 2014  as a second machine and has been used for 3 hours of embroidery time and no sewing. An image of the machine time is on e-bay.

It features a wide bed for quilting. Included are 2 embroidery hoops, as well as a walking foot and it has an interactive touch screen. It includes more than 1000 built in stitches and 337 embroidery designs, plus 4 embroidery fonts in 3 different sizes.

I comes with everything including the original boxes, and 2 extra hoops besides the ones that came with it: the 80×80 and 200×200. I am also including the extra stitch plate, a package of new bobbins, 1 package of pre-wound embroidery bobbins, and three extra feet. The books are included and in new condition along with the usb stick and several dvd’s filled with designs.

An Unforgettable Experience

Designed and engineered in Sweden, the DESIGNER RUBY deLuxe™ sewing and embroidery machine offers a wide array of features to fulfill your heart’s desire.

The DESIGNER RUBY deLuxe™ machine makes it easy and rewarding to create unique, personalized projects for your special occasions and everyday moments of love.

Innovation to love…

  • Embroider more beautifully than ever with less adjustments thanks to the innovative deLuxe™ Stitch System. It provides perfect results with all kind of threads.
  • The Design Positioning feature joins large embroideries with perfect precision.
  • The Resize feature enlarges and reduces an embroidery design to the exact size you need.

Capability to love…

  • Enhance your embroidery experience and make it easier than ever with the Embroidery Design Editing feature.
  • The Large Interactive Screen provides vibrant colors and an excellent view.
  • The sewing surface is designed for large projects and unlimited possibilities.
  • The large embroidery area allows you to stitch spectacular designs with just one hooping.

Convenience to love…

  • The unique EXCLUSIVE SENSOR SYSTEM™ technology senses your fabric thickness for perfect, even feeding and provides for excellent presser foot pressure.
  • The Exclusive SEWING ADVISOR® and EMBROIDERY ADVISOR™ feature optimizes your sewing and embroidery.
  • Automatic Jump Stitch Trim is a true time-saver.
  • The Smart Save feature saves the progress of your embroidery project, even if you unexpectedly lose power.


More than 1,000 stitches, including; Utility Stitches, 11 different Buttonhole styles, Quilt Stitches, Decorative Stitches, 6 Programmable Alphabets and 30 Personal Memories.



Features 337 Embroidery Designs and 4 Embroidery Fonts in three different sizes



DESIGNER™ Royal Hoop, 360 x 200 mm
DESIGNER™ Splendid Square Hoop, 120 x 120 mm

Presser feet:

Utility Foot A, Decorative stitch Foot B, Buttonhole Foot C, Blindhem Foot D, Zipper Foot E, Non-stick Glide Foot H, Edging Foot J, Quilter’s 1/4″ Piecing foot P, Embroidery/Darning Foot R, Side Motion foot S, Decorative Stitch Foot Transaprent, Sensor one-step buttonhole foot, Self-Adhesive Glide Plates and Sensor Q-Foot.

And more:

5D™ Embroidery Machine Communication CD, Carrying Case (attached on the machine upon delivery), Scissors, Foot control, Power cord, USB PC cable, Needles, Embroidery thread, Pieces of fabric and stabilizer, DESIGNER RUBY deLuxe™ Sampler book, User’s G uide, Microfiber cloth, Stylus, Thread net, Edge/Quilting guide, Felt pad (2), USB embroidery stick (1 G B), Screwdriver, Seam ripper, Brush, 2 spool caps, large, (1 attached on the machine at delivery), Spool cap, medium, (attached on the machine at delivery), Spool cap, small, Multipurpose tool/Button reed, Hoop clips (16), 11 Bobbins (1 in machine at delivery) and PICTOGRAM™ Pen

Peeling Tomatoes


This summer I have had an incredible tomato harvest. I planted a mixture of tomatoes all of which were organic heirloom tomatoes. I have three rows of tomatoes with about 6 plants to a row. Normally the birds get a lot more than they have this year and I usually loose a lot to the heat. This year however has been a little milder that normal. I have official claimed this year as the unofficial summer of tomatoes.

When I was planting, my husband cautioned me that I was planting too many tomatoes. Not so I exclaimed and told him not to worry I had plans, big, big plans! I knew I wanted to freeze, dehydrate, can and make my own rotel this year. To do all of that I would need lots of tomatoes!


Once the tomatoes started coming in I was excited. Before you can do much with tomatoes you need to peel them. Peeling isn’t hard but it is a tad messy and time consuming if you are doing a lot.

Instead of taking a lot of pictures I decided to turn the video camera on and grab a video of the process. That way I knew I wouldn’t miss anything; I hope you enjoy it.

I recorded several canning videos at the same time so be sure to subscribe on YouTube!

Supplies you will need:

large pot of boiling water
large container of ice water
extra ice
slotted spoon or hand held strainer
small knife


Changing the Gauge on your Canner


When I got ready to start canning this season I knew I was going to have to do something about my current canner.  I had it tested and even though it was still reading accurately every time I use it the gauge fills with steam and becomes hard to read.

At first I thought I was going to have to buy a new pressure cooker/canner. I went ahead and checked Amazon and found that I could order just a gauge for less than $20, score! The only down side was several people left comments about it not coming with a nut and that it didn’t include instructions. I looked at my current one a figured it couldn’t be that hard to install so I ordered it. We have an Amazon Prime account so 2 day shipping was free. I assumed since I was ordering it on Friday I wouldn’t have it until Monday but Amazon just added Sunday delivery to our area which is also free for Prime members. If you are interested in an Amazon prime account you can try it out for Free for thirty days. You can use it, take advantage of the free shipping as much as you want during the trial and cancel if you don’t like it.


Anyways, back to my gauge! I received it Sunday and immediately dug into the box. Imagine my surprise when I saw this beauty next to my current one. It is 1,000 times better. I was happy to see that replacing it was easy but like others warned it did not come with a nut to hold it in place. The nut from my old gauge did fit but if for some reason yours does not or you no longer have the gauge take your new one to Home Depot or Lowes and you should be able to get one for less than .25. My new gauge looks great and I am ready to start canning tomatoes!

I went ahead and made a quick video of how to replace it. It really is simple and worth doing to ensure you can read your gauge accurately and that it is reading accurately.

Summer of Tomatoes


It has been an amazing summer so far! I started my summer off visiting my daughter for her college graduation. A few weeks after I returned my husband and I took an 11 day motorcycle trip last month to The Blue Ridge Parkway and since school is out I have been able to spend a lot more time with my boys! School being out has also meant I have gotten to teach more kids sewing classes, I always enjoy those. Summer time also means gardening and lots of canning!

While we were on our trip Texas received a lot of rain. That is good and bad for the garden. I left with plants about to my waist and returned to a jungle where most the plants were to my shoulders or head. The weeds also went wild, that’s the bad part of so much rain.

This should be filled with herbs but the weeds and fallen tomato plants took over. I spent several hours trying to pick the tomatoes, getting rid of the bad ones, pulling weeds and trying to pull out dead plants. After three days of work it began to look like a garden again. Cart
This was my first harvest after getting home. I still had another two bags worth of tomatoes I went back and picked that evening after it cooled down. I was pleasantly surprised to find that despite it being around 100 degrees out most days lately I have tomato blossoms and baby fruit still forming. BagsSo, instead of working on sewing post I have been canning tomatoes, making homemade rotel, drying tomatoes and much more! I can’t wait to share some of the recipes with you later this week. I have also been canning black beans, pinto beans and black bean soup.

Sewing 101: How To Clean Your Sewing Machine


 If you’re not sure what pieces you can take out of the machine or how to put them back – consult your owners manual, still not sure contact a professional!

When I teach sewing 101 the first thing I go over is the tools of the trade. Then we go over the parts of a sewing machine and end the class with showing them how to clean a sewing machine. It is the number one thing you can do to keep your sewing machine running smoothly.  Keeping it clean will prolong the life of your machine and help ensure your projects come out nice.  Lent is an unavoidable part of sewing. The more you sew, the more lint settles into your machine, use cheap thread and fabric and you will create even more. A little regular cleaning will keep your machine running smoothly. And a clean machine is also a quiet machine. Not only will regular maintenance  help your machine to run better, it can also save you money in major repairs.

 How often you clean your machine depends on how often you use it. Viking recommends cleaning a machine after at least every 15-20 hours of use. But more often is fine. Take a peek inside the bobbin case. If you see lint beginning to accumulate, it’s time to do some maintenance. 

Any time you experience trouble with your machine, check to see that it is threaded correctly, change the needle and then try cleaning it. Quite a few problems are caused by mis-threading, bad needles and an accumulation of dust, lint or thread bits accumulating on the working parts of the machine.

Change Your Needle: It’s important to remember how much work your needle does. It goes up and down through the fabric at an incredibly fast speed. Needles are thin and a lot of stress is put on them.  A bent or dull needle can result in skipped stitches, broken or looped threads, runs or pulls in your fabric or worst of all, damage to your machine.

 In this video, you’ll learn how to thoroughly clean your sewing machine. If you are unable to view the embedded video, click here to watch >>Cleaning Your Sewing machine << on YouTube.


  • Screw Driver
  • Small Lint Brush
  • Vacuum
  • Vacuum cleaner attachment kit
  • Tweezers
  • Owners manual

 A Note On Canned Air: “Compressed” or “canned” air is actually fluorocarbon gases that are compressed into liquids. These gases are ozone safe but are potential greenhouse gases. I DO NOT suggest using it for several reasons but the biggest is because most service centers say not to!  When you use can air you are pushing lent and thread particles further into the machine not to mention all around you. Secondly because it does leave a residue and moisture behind. Why not just blow with your own breath? For the same reasons. Your breath contains moisture also and will eventually cause erosion damage to your machine.

Oiling: I don’t recommend oiling your machine. Viking machines do not require oiling and I believe that this step is best left to the professionals.  Actually, I recommend getting your friend a yearly check up.  That’s right, sometimes they need a little preventive medicine to keep things in working order. I view it the same way I do my truck, a little preventive maintenance and TLC will prevent larger problems down the road.

Professional Service: A good service person adjusts tension and timing during regular service, as well as cleaning areas of the machine that you cannot reach without taking the machine completely apart. Pay special attention to your warranty and owners manual. Do not remove parts that are not listed in the owners manual. Do not fiddle with parts you are unsure about, this can void your warranty.

Do you have any other tips regarding good machine cleaning habits? 

Texas Women Bloggers

ModCloth Gifts for Guys Collection and Summer kick Off

You may not know it, but ModCloth isn’t just for the ladies. They have an awesome selection of dude-approved goods, too!  With Father’s Day just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to find a gift for dad in the Gifts for Guys collection. Don’t forget to mention the Free Express Shipping offer on US orders of $125 or more with code EXPRESS, making it the perfect time to  also stock up on some loot for yourself.

Here are a few of my favorite featured products:

Every Sizzle Day Beverage Sleeve from ModCloth Job Well Done Spatula from ModCloth Wrench Your Thirst Bottle Opener from ModCloth What’s Up Croc Bookends from ModCloth

It’s almost officially summer, which means the start of backyard BBQs, outdoor activities, and road trips. Their adorable Flair for Adventure jewelry collection, inspired by exploring the good ‘ol U.S. of A., is great for those that want to show off their wanderlust this summer. Grab your favorites from this curated collection of nostalgic treasures before they all get scooped up!

Midnight Train to Gorgeous Bracelet Set from ModCloth Interstate of Bliss Bracelet from ModCloth Arty in the USA Earring Set from ModCloth Drive-Ins and Moonlight Bracelet from ModCloth

Sewing 101: Tools of the Trade


When I teach Sewing 101 at Joann’s the very first thing I cover are the tools of the trade. You can easily spend a small fortune on tools so I suggest starting with the basics and adding to your sewing basket as you find tools you know you need or want. The tools you need vary based on the type of sewing you do but the ones below are your all purpose tools.


Scissors: Buy good ones and take care of them. Sharp tools are the key to enjoyable sewing. Cheap scissors will eat your fabric and make you miserable! Make sure you have a separate pair that you use for cutting paper, patterns and anything other than fabric.  I like Gingher because of the reliability. I can cut through 3-4 layers of heavy fabric and the cut is just as clean as if i was cutting through one layer. Bonus: If you stick to only cutting fabric with them you will never have to sharpen them!

Small craft scissors or  Snip-Eze  Embroidery Snips: I always keep a pair of small craft scissors or snips nearby when I am sewing. I find them much easier to use when clipping threads.

 Seam Ripper: This tool has a sharp edge and hook that snip through stitches to remove the.  Sadly sooner or later, you will make a mistake and this little gadget will become your best friend. You might want to have more than one on hand. I have a small one and a large one. These also do become dull and must be replaced.


Pins and a pincushion: You will need regular pins for cotton fabric and ball point pins for knits.  I use the Grabbit Magnetic Pin Cushion. I have one by machines, one on my cutting table and one next to my ironing board. I love not having to worry about spilling my pins!


Sewing machine needles: You’ll need extras for your machine since they will gradually become dull with use (remember, sharp is best!), and you’ll want to swap out your needles for various fabric weights. Larger number = thicker fabric. Here is great article by Sew Mama Sew on Sewing Machine Needles & How to Choose Them.

Hand sewing needles: Most sewing projects will require a little bit of hand finishing, like sewing on a button.

Tape Measure: Compact and flexible, it is a must no matter what type of sewing you are doing.

Water soluble pen and/or tailor’s chalk: I prefer Pilot FriXion Ball Erasable Gel Pens. They have a fine point, come in a variety of colors and best of all when you iron the marking instantly vanish.  When I can’t use my FriXion pen I use a chalk pen. * always test a scrap piece of fabric first*

Seam gauge: A short ruler with an adjustable flange, a seam gauge is typically used for measuring seams but it can double as a ruler. I often use mine when making adjustments on a paper pattern.

Steam iron: A good quality iron makes all the difference. You want it to be heavy, have several settings and make sure it has steam!

What are your essential sewing tools? Let me know in the comments!

Sewlosophy Serendipity Swing Coat and Beret


 One of the things I do each morning is read through a few of my favorite sewing blogs. Working from home can get lonely and reading the blogs is a way to connect and I usually find some wonderful inspiration.  A few months ago while reading my Bloglovin list I noticed a call for pattern testers  from The Mother Huddle! Destri was launching a new pattern company – Sewlosophy Pattern Co. and wanted testers. I knew her readership was big and getting picked wasn’t very likely so you can imagine my excitement when I got the e-mail letting me know I was in!

As part of the pattern testing process, I received a free copy of the pattern for the swing coat and the beret. I received no other compensation and all opinions in this post are 100% mine. With that said I have nothing but praise for this collection. Destri thought of every detail. I often think ahead when I am sewing and no sooner than I would start to wonder about something Destri was answering it.


I made the swing coat and beret in a size 8 for my niece. The coat was a little bit small for her but that is because she had grown since the last time I measured her, I forget how quickly they grow. Despite it being a little short in the arms my niece loved it, so much that I am making her one in a size 10 right now!


The instructions were easy to follow and very detailed. My favorite part though has got to be the videos! That’s right videos are included to walk you through making each piece. The videos make such a difference even if you have been sewing for years.

The swing coat with a reversible design features sweet gathered raglan sleeves, a button closure at the yokes, and a 3/4 length cuffed sleeve adding to the relaxed style of the swing coat.  You can use a hook & eye closure or a faux button technique included in the tutorial too. This style has so many possibilities to suit your little one’s personal style you’ll be sewing it over and over!


The beret is a quick project with the sweetest results.  Fully lined with a hidden elastic casing in the back, the hat can be worn reversible making it great for coordinating with different ensembles.

If you have a little girl that you sew for this set is a must! Right now you can use the code SEW10 for 10% all purchases until Monday June 2. So if they buy the bundle it will be 40% off. Want something even sweeter than that? How about the chance to win the complete set? Yep, Destri gave me a set to give-away on the blog!
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