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August 31, 2015

how to thread a sewing machine

How to thread a sewing machine
Back when I worked at the craft store, the most common question I was asked, other than "How much fabric do I need to make a toga" (it was a fraternity-rich neighborhood), was "How in the world do I thread my sewing machine?" I even had one girl physically bring her machine into the store & ask me how to thread it. Sewing is one of those things that seems easy until you sit down at your machine. Then you see all these knobs, buttons, & numbers that are totally foreign, & it's totally intimidating! Fortunately, once you understand the basics, it's fairly simple.
How to load the bobbin on a sewing machine
| Loading the Bobbin |

Place your spool of thread onto rod #1, called the thread spool pin. Place your bobbin on spot #2, called the bobbin winder. Your bobbin will click in place. Next, wrap thread from the spool around spot #3, called the bobbin winder tension disc (it's a little disc on top of your thread guide, it wraps around under the disc), then around the bobbin. Wind the thread around the bobbin a few times, then slide the little lever next to the bobbin until it clicks. This regulates how much thread can be wound onto the bobbin. With your machine on, slowly press on the pedal. Your machine should begin to wind thread around the bobbin (your needle will also be moving, this is totally okay). The lever next to the bobbin will pop when your bobbin is full of thread. Cut the thread from the spool.
Step-by-step diagram on how to thread your sewing machine
| Threading the Machine | 

Let's talk threading! Fortunately most modern machines have handy arrows showing you where to run the thread, but in case you're still confused, here's what you do:

1. Load your spool of thread onto the rod at point #1. 
2. Run thread from the spool through point #2, the upper thread guide, which will be a hook on the top of your machine. 
3. From point #2, run the thread around point #3, the tension control. This will seem weird, but you want to run the thread between the tension discs on the knob, starting from the right side. On the left side of the knob is a wire spring loop that controls tension. With one hand, hold the spool of thread steady, then with your other hand pull up on the end of your thread. The thread will move the wire loop up. Pull up on the thread until the wire loop moves past the top hook & the thread slips into the hook. 
4. Run the thread through the hook just above the tension control knob, at point #4. 
5. Feed the thread through the eye of point #5, the take-up lever. 
6. Run the thread back down & hook through point #6, the thread guide. 
7. Hook the thread through point #7 on the right side, the face cover thread guide. This point isn't really a hook, so you basically push the thread in-between the prongs.
A step-by-step guide on how to thread your sewing machine
8. After running the thread in the tongs at point #7, feed through the right side of the thread guide at point #8. You'll be able to pull the thread from the back to the front in order to hook it in place.
9. Feed the thread through the eye of the needle. You can either cut or wet the end of the thread to make this easier.

Done with the top thread! Now onto the bottom thread. 
A step-by-step guide on threading your sewing machine
| Threading the Bobbin Case |

The bobbin is threaded under your machine. To thread the bottom, remove the hand hole cover plate. This is the plate located at the bottom left of your machine, sitting under the needle. You will now be able to see the bobbin shuttle, which moves the bottom thread. 

1. The bobbin sits inside the bobbin case. To remove the case, pull on the front latch
2. Insert the bobbin into the bobbin case & feed the thread through the slit on the side of the bobbin case with the thread running through the opening on the side of the case. Leave some thread dangling. 
3. Holding the front latch open, replace the bobbin case containing the bobbin, then release the latch. The arm on top of the bobbin case should snap in place.
4. Finally, hold the end of the top thread running through the needle, & slowly rotate the hand wheel (the large dial located on the top right side of your machine) until the needle pulls the bottom thread through the top. 

Now you're ready to sew! I know it seems like a lot, but once you get the hang of it it'll be a breeze. Keep stitchin', guys!


August 28, 2015

life | links

Breakfast for dinner!
Mexican food Friday

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

This weekend we're going to the Minnesota State Fair & I am SO PUMPED you guys. Apparently it's "mandatory," but even if there wasn't pressure to go I'd still be down. I remember listening to a Minneapolis-based podcast back in 2009 where the host went on for a whole hour about their experiences at the state fair - the food, the animals, the rides. When Heather & I decided to move here one of my first thoughts was, "We can go to the fair!" I'm going to eat everything on a stick. & it will be wonderful.

This week's links:

Have a super weekend!


August 26, 2015

faux marble necklace

DIY faux marble necklace
DIY faux marble necklace

It's been a hot minute since I've done a polymer clay tutorial! I wanted to add another piece to my collection of pretty dangly things, & through pure accident this faux fun was born. I was trying to mimic one kind of rock (trying to make agate, actually), got frustrated, then ended up with marble! It's great when mistakes work out in the end. 

August 24, 2015

sewing machine basics

Tour your sewing machine!
A bunch of the tutorials here on the blog involve using a sewing machine, because sewing is awesome! That being said, for those who don't sew, the whole thing can seem kind of intimidating. All those knobs & levers, talk of "tension" & "pressure," zig-zag versus straight stitches - eek, right? If you are terrified of your sewing machine, don't fret. It's not as scary as it seems. 

If you're a beginner, knowing your way around your sewing machine is one of the first steps in becoming an expert seamstress. Here are the things that I know about my machine, & hopefully they'll be helpful to you too. While my sewing machine is SUPER old, the mechanics are essentially the same as the newer models. Just ignore the fact that it doubles as an end table (apparently the 60s were all about functionality). Let's look at the basics of the beast, shall we? 
A look a the mechanics of the sewing machine
Your sewing machine works by interlocking. When you sew by hand, you run a single thread through  your fabric. When your sewing machine sews, it loops the top thread around the bottom thread (check out this nifty gif for a visual on this magic). This means that you have to load thread on the top & the bottom of the machine. A spool of thread is loaded on the top of the machine, & the bottom thread runs off of the bobbin (a smaller spool located under the machine). 
A look at the operations of the sewing machine
First, let's look the machine as a whole.
  1. Thread Spool Pins | This is where your top spool of thread sits.
  2. Hand Wheel | If you turn this crank, the needle moves up & down. It's basically like the "manual" knob for the machine. You can run the needle forwards & backwards.
  3. Special Stitch Dial | This is going to be different if you have a newer model. I think some models even have this dial represented digitally! Regardless, this is where you can pick the stitch. Zig-zag, overcast, elastic stretch; just turn the knob to the stitch you want. On my machine, I've got orange & white stitches. The lever above the stitch dial moves from orange to white. If the lever is on orange, I have the orange stitches as options, & vice versa with the white.
  4. Reverse Stitch Control | If you hold down this lever, the sewing machine will run backwards! This is how you "backstitch," or tie off a seam. 
  5. Stitch Length Dial | This dial controls the length of the stitch. Setting this dial to zero will give you a straight stitch. 
  6. Top Thread Tension Control | Turning this knob will adjust the tension of the thread, or how much slack is given per stitch. The higher the number, the tighter the tension. Whenever you sew with a new kind of fabric, you'll want to test-stitch to figure out what kind of tension is best. 
  7. Presser Foot | This foot holds the fabric in place as you sew & guides your stitch. You'll raise & lower it with the presser foot lever (#9). 
  8. Hand Hole Cover Plate | On my machine this is a plate under the needle. On other machines it is a plate that covers the entire left side of the machine. Removing this plate will give you access to the bobbin shuttle when you need to thread the bobbin. 
  9. Presser Foot Lever | This is the lever on back of the machine right above the presser foot. Raising & lowering this holds & releases the presser foot. Before you start a seam, lower the presser foot. When you've finished a seam, raise it. 
  10. Foot Control Pedal (not seen) | This is the pedal that powers the machine. When you want to start stitching, press down lightly on the pedal with your foot. Remember, this is not a car, it's a sewing machine. You need to apply pressure slowly & lightly. 
A tour of the sewing machine - inside & out
If you remove the hand hole cover plate (#8), you can see the whole bottom-thread contraption. This is where you'll load your bobbin.
  1. Shuttle Race Cover | This holds the bobbin case in place. 
  2. Bobbin Case | This holds the bobbin & can be removed from the shuttle by pulling on the lever in the middle. The hook at the top of the bobbin case slides into the indention on the top when it's properly in place.  
  3. Shuttle Levers | The levers hold the shuttle race cover in place. They can be snapped outward to remove the shuttle race cover.
  4. Shuttles | These half-moon things are the shuttles, & they wrap around the bobbin case. To see them in action, turn the hand wheel! To remove the shuttles, flip back the levers & remove the race cover. You will rarely have to do this, but if your thread ever gets knotted or tangled, you may have to take the bobbin shuttle apart. 
See? Not so scary. Now find out how to thread this bad boy


August 21, 2015

life | links

The couch hunt continues - at Room & Board!
Homemade chocolate syrup

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

I have no idea what I'm up to this weekend, because I haven't planned a single thing. This entire week I've been channeling my inner lazy bones & refusing to do much else outside of eating peppermint patties & binge-watching NCIS. Hopefully I'll overcome this self-indulgent slothfulness & get my butt in gear over the next two days. Here's to a productive weekend!


P.S. Shout out to Better Homes & Gardens for featuring our book hideaway tutorial!

August 19, 2015

market shopping list (+ free printable!)

Printable DIY Shopping List

If you are looking for ways to save money and reduce stress, I highly suggest planning out your meals. It's awesome to get home after a long day of work, look in the fridge, & see options. Heather & I have been planning out our meals on a weekly basis for over a year now, & it's a game changer for real. While I've never calculated it, we've definitely saved money by going out less & not letting any food go to waste. 

Printable grocery list

I've made this printable for easy weekly shopping plans. Meals are planned in the left hand column, & any ingredients you need for those meals goes in the right. Easy peasy!

Materials needed for a printable grocery list

To make a market list notepad, you'll need: 

How to make a grocery list notepad
How to make a grocery list notepad

Step 1. // Stack your lists on your cardboard so they are lined up at the top. Clamp in place, then apply a line of glue along the top. Make sure the glue permeates all of the papers & the cardboard. Smooth the glue with your finger if necessary. 

Printable shopping list

Step 2. // Move your binder clips to the top & let dry for a few hours!

Make it magnetic to hang on your fridge!

Step 3. // While you're waiting for your shopping list to dry, adhere your magnets to the back. Any magnet will do - you could even cut up an old refrigerator magnet. Apply to the back with tacky glue or more of the neutral PH adhesive.

Now go plan your weekly shopping! Save that money! Reduce that stress!


P.S. Hang that pretty list on a colorful DIYed refrigerator.

Affiliate links are used in this post. 

August 17, 2015

diy roman blackout shades

DIY Roman Blackout Shades

It's August. It's the hottest month of the year. Temperatures are reaching all-time highs & sweat-stains are just part of the everyday routine. You know where it's cool though? In my dark, dark apartment. I've finally hung blackout curtains in every room, the kitchen being the last. Don't get me wrong, I love sunshine, but I can't take the heat. Once fall arrives I'll throw open all the shades & embrace the light, but for now I'm thoroughly enjoying my cool, cave-like abode. 

I made regular blackout curtains for each of the rooms, minus the kitchen. I had to brainstorm for ideas outside of regular curtains for this room. The problem with curtains was that it would present a fire hazard. There's a gas oven below the window, & it has a constant pilot light on the stovetop. Not wanting curtains to sway in the breeze & possibly ignite on the stovetop, roman shades were in order.  I'm so happy with how these shades turned out, & I only had to use fabric, glue, & a cheap set of mini-blinds. 

Make your own Roman Shades

August 14, 2015

life | links

One on One Coffee in Minneapolis, MN
Delicious brunch at the Bachelor Farmer in Minneapolis, MN

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

There are so many good places to eat here in the twin cities. Since I now have weekends free thanks to my normally-scheduled job, Heather & I have been brunching it up every Sunday. There's a list on the fridge of all the places we want to go - it's going to take months to visit each one (that's a lot of mimosas, guys). This past Sunday we went to an adorable place in the North Loop & had blue cheese butter hash browns that were to die for.

Big weekend plans? Let me know what you're up to in the comments - I love hearing from you!

This week's links:


August 12, 2015

out & about | new things

Out & About

Doing | I'm in my second week of my brand spankin' new job & things are feeling a little more familiar. Being the new kid sucks - especially in a new field of work - but fortunately everyone has been super nice to me as I've bumbled along.

Additionally, I haven't been cranking out new tutorials, but I have been busy using making things from past tutorials. I'm doing a second grid-drawing map (as seen above) for my mom. The "YAY" pot now has a matching "WHOO!" (they're enthusiastic plants), & all the windows have been equipped with DIY blackout curtains.

Watching | Instead of talking about what I've been watching (which btw has been a month-long stint of NCIS on Netflix), let me tell you about what I can't stop playing: Crossy Road. It's literally just a reboot of Frogger, but I can't put it down & I find myself playing it whenever I have a spare moment. 10 out of 10, would recommend if you don't plan on doing anything productive for the rest of your life.

Listening | My morning walk to work is around 30 minutes, so Pandora has been my savior. My current jam is the alt-J station.

Feeling | I'm all out of whack! For the past decade I've been working nothing but erratically scheduled retail shifts. Now I'm working a 9-5, plus I'm sitting all day! Who knew having a set schedule & a desk would alter my world so much. I'm super happy with my job, but it's definitely been an adjustment. You know what's the bomb though? Having a real weekend!

Loving | My fancy new mint green shoes.


// Affiliate links are used in this post. //

August 10, 2015

homemade chocolate syrup

Easy chocolate syrup - perfect for flavoring coffee!

Furthering my attempts to be my very own in-house barista, I've added another syrup option to my arsenal. I know I've mentioned before that I have a problem with going out & buying coffee. Slowly I'm reigning in on my expensive addiction hobby. Making cold-brew in batches has helped me save money, the simple syrup makes iced coffee a sweeter treat, & now chocolate syrup gives me some variety. It's nice to have choices at home - that way I don't get bored of any one combination. This chocolate syrup mixes nicely with iced coffee for a mocha-like drink. 

Chocolate syrup recipe - super easy

I've made my chocolate syrup on the more liquid-y side so that it blends better in my morning cold brew. If you want to make syrup for topping ice cream, I recommend using a little less than half a cup of water instead. 

Ingredients // 

  • 3/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • Pinch of salt
  • Splash of vanilla extract
Directions // 
  • Combine all the ingredients in a small pot & heat over medium-high heat.
  • When the mixture begins to boil, stir constantly for 60 seconds. 
  • Remove from heat. Let cool, & store in refrigerator. 

I mix this in my iced coffee with some milk, a splash of whipping cream, & a few ice cubes. I still need to come up with a name for this drink...


P.S. If you think this chocolate syrup is easy, check out this one-step caramel syrup.

August 7, 2015

life | links

Down by the Mississippi River - Mill City
Planters in the windowsill

Instagram @wecanmakeanything | Twitter @wcmanything

The impromptu break from blogging continues - it's not intentional. This weekend I have a few projects in the works that I'll be able to share with you all next week. If you follow me on Instagram you know I've started a new job this week! I'm loving it, but it's been a transition trying to reschedule blogging into my new work schedule. This weekend I'm hoping to get to work on some projects for the house - stay tuned!

Links of the week:

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