Gizmos, Squissors, And Feed Dogs


You had all better put on a pot of coffee and grab a couple of danish for this folks!It is going to be a long one this time, I have so much to share with you! First I would like to start with a brief history lesson.

Did you know that the first commercially successful sewing machine was built in the 1850's? Before that there were a few others that had patents, some did not on similar types, but it was Issac Singer who really brought it to fruition. He also invented the up and down motion of the needle, while others had it moving side to side. He also copied the idea of Elias Howe by using the lock stitch and the eye pointed needle, and lost a lawsuit against him by Howe and had to pay him royalties for patent infringement. We still use these methods today.

In 1863 Ebenezer and Augusta Butterick invented the idea of using tissue paper for patterns, and in 1867 formed a company to get them into every home in America. They changed sewing forever with their first graded pattern. These are just a few fun facts that I thought you would enjoy!



This is a clothing label from one of the first mass produced articles of clothing in the 1860's.

Now I can move on to the real reason for the history lesson, and that is I am going to be discussing sewing machines and their parts. Parts is Parts, as they say! Another reason for the lesson is to show how far we have come since the first sewing machines were invented. We went from deciding whether a needle should move side to side or up and down to computerized machines. Back in the early days when I first began sewing, you could actually see the working parts of the machines, which really made them easier to take care of than the ones we have now. However since they still need some care, but for the most part we cannot do much of the repair work ourselves. It has to be done by an experienced technician. We can make sure that the working parts we can see are well cared for, such as the bobbin casing area.

I like to take it apart and clean it out once in a while, of course it will depend on how much you use your machine as to how often you should do this. When you do take it apart, Do Not Blow it out with any type of air hose or Duster! All that does is is push it further into the inner workings of your machine and can cause problems. I like to take a 1" paint brush and sweep away as much as I can out of the casing area. Then I take an artists brush( less than1/2"one) and put the tiniest bit of sewing machine oil on it and lightly brush the inner workings of it, and any visible moving parts. I also take my paint brush and clean off around the needle area, then take the needle out and use the other oiled brush to very lightly brush around that area. I also move the hand wheel a little so it moves then I can oil all the moving parts. Keep in mind that the machines of today use far less oil than even a few years ago, so very ,very lightly with it please.

Now lets talk about the feed dog! No I don't mean go and feed the dog! The feed dog on your sewing machine, and how important it is to Not force anything through it. By forcing fabric through it you can bend the needle without even realizing it, until it is too late. The operator must let the machine do it's work. That means letting the feed dog pull the fabric through the machine. We are there to serve as the machines guide. A bent needle can cause so may problems with your machines, so if you think you may have bent the needle in any way, Change it! If you hear something like a "hitting" sound when you sew, stop the machine immediately and change the needle, even if your thread keeps breaking for no apparent reason, change it! If you don't it can become a costly repair bill in a hurry!

  These are my two machines. (see my sticky notes Ha!)


To learn the parts of your particular machine, look inside your manual and you will see a drawing with numbers on it, each number is representative of a part for your machine. You should always take the time to read through this, so you know where all the parts are. I can show you mine, but it won't do you much good for your brand of machine, even though they are basically the same, they are different.

Alright , enough with the history lesson and the machines for a bit! I have had the opportunity the last few weeks to use some new tools. One of them, get this, is called"Squissors" or squeeze snips, and are the ones I have heard some chatter about lately,so I had to try them! Oh My Stitches!! I am here to tell you that even if you have the slightest bit of arthritis or carpel tunnel, you have got to get a pair of these! They are light weight, and extremely easy to use and are very easy on your hands! I got two pair, one with pointed ends and one with rounded ends.



The pointed end ones were Wonderful, and very sharp, ( I know they shouldn't have given me any sharp objects!) They are really wonderful for trimming those pesky jump threads and get really close when you are trimming anything from the embroidery at all. I defiantly give those a thumbs up Yes ! You have to put these on your list of must have gizmo's! They are very nicely priced as well!

The rounded ones I thought would be excellent for cut work, and they did exactly what I thought they would do. They are also very sharp and are really designed for appliqué but they are also wonderful for cut work, being rounded you don't have to worry about them catching on any of the threads and accidental pulling them up. You can get really close to the embroidery again, without having to worry too much. I give these a thumbs up as well! Yes These should also go on your list of gizmo must haves as well! They are also very nicely priced!

Now, LaRue you are going to love this one!! It is called a "Hera Marker."       

  Before "Hera Marker"     After "Hera Marker"

 As you can see by the photo's that there is a definite crease in the fabric. I tried to use it on one that was a bit darker so it was visible for you. I tried it on several different types of fabric, as well as different colors. While it won't work for fabrics like fleece, it did work on everything else I tried it on. The mark really stays on the fabrics, so I am thinking it would be great to mark out the fabric and use this to get a straight cutting line. You could actually mark all of your fabric then cut it out later. I am also thinking that it would work for tracing around the outline for placement of designs onto items. I tried and it worked pretty good for placement. Rather than pinning paper to the garment you could use this marker and not have to worry about it leaving some sort of residue behind on your garment. I think it would be wonderful for endless hooping projects as well as for Quilting! I found it easy to use and hang onto as well, with the arthritic hands. This product also gets a big thumbs up!! Kudos to the inventor on this one! Yes I highly recommend this product! Very inexpensive item to add to the list of gizmos!

So stay tuned folks! I will let you know when I try new products and will also let you know that if they make a claim as to what it will do, I will let you know if it really does! Sort of like the Ralph Nader of sewing!!

Now on to the fun stuff, Sewing and ME, my two favorite combinations!! I have had a lot of folks ask me about the Flour Sack Towels, so here they are!! All I do when doing them is first to find the center.  Then I stabilize the hoop with Ann The Gran Water Soluble Stabilizer with adhesive.   Then I center it on the hoop,using the marking on my hoop as a guide. Smoothing out with my hands gently to set the adhesive and get out all the wrinkles.

  I then set it on my machine and add the top layer of Ann The Gran Water Soluble Stabilizer for the topping.

 Then I just let it sew out the designs, I used Ann The Gran Floral Butterfly Redwork Design Pack for this one,I love the way it sewed out and I also added lettering( thanks Cathy for this idea) with Alphabet Xpress,then hit the 3D feature on it, it turned out really nice.

 I love Ann's Redwork, it sews out beautifully for flour sack towels. For the second set I did I used Ann's Jacobean Style Design Pack, and it turned out fabulous,the colors are spectacular as well and will spice up any kitchen for sure!


I love using Ann's designs, they always sew out well, they work well on any type of fabric and they never have a lot of jump threads. That's a good thing! I also love the bright colors ! That is just how easy the flour sack towels are. With Ann's Water soluble with adhesive it makes fast work of them for sure. The red work one took 18 minutes to sew out, and I found that they are exceptional redwork designs and the Jacobean one took 38 minutes, so not very time consuming for a great gift! When finished, you just cut off the excess stabilizer, wash the rest of it off then launder, press, done! This project is fast and easy!

Alright, I told you it was a long one this time, Whew! Did you get to all of your danish?! So that is it for me this time, I hope you all enjoyed your Holiday weekend and I will see you next time !


Suzy's Tip Of The Week>>>>> Keeping your thread organized according to color will make your work faster. By color coding them you need only to glance at them to know which color you will need for your project. It is a lot of work to do this but will save so much time later that it will be well worth it !

Take care everyone...........til next time.........Remember to kiss someone you love today! 

 Happy Stitchin'!

Comments (19) -

travelbug1237 9/12/2008 6:54:55 PM

HH Judy,

 What a GREAT and INFORMATIVE blog!!!....just love it!!!

Yep...I totally agree about those 'squeezers' ...they are really really easy on the hands!!!

  I love the Ann's Redwork designs...yes, yes!!

THANKS TOO for putting in that really CUTE clothing label. ( I got a little gift bag at the beach that had 'ads' on it and I was really really interested in them and even opened up the sides to see if I could get the WHOLE ad of some items!!! I think there is really something to going back to 'them thar' days!!!!"

  Continued success Judy...your blog is just GREAT!!!



travelbug1237 9/12/2008 7:00:25 PM

HH Judy,

 Not sure what happened to my comment...It didn't post...oh well I am sure I didn't hit the ADD hard enough or something, so I will try again....

I won't repeat myself in case it DOES show up again sometime!!!

Anyway...GREAT job on your blog....It is very informative and thanks too for sharing your project photos and the 'old timers' ones too. JUST loved it!!!



Thanks for the info and the flour sack towels.  Those towels are not always square.  Using the adhesive backed wss was a great idea.

You are so right, a redwork design is quick.  With a single color, making those color changes unnecessary its a great time saver!  This is a quick gift that looks really like you spent a lot of time on.  


BTW, I love the squeeze scissors too.  I have 4 of them so that I always have one by my side.  They do make short work of the jump stitches.


I love my squeeze scissors - don't have that brand though.  My favorite pair finally wore out so I may pick up on of these!

I have a tale to tell about using those kind of scissors that stay open until you squeeze them shut!  I dropped them while I was sitting using them, and instinctively caught them between my legs!  I impaled them up to the hilt into my inner thigh, right through my jeans!  I now think twice before I catch anything between my legs again!!

Thanks for the great, informative blog.  The history lesson was fun, too!  And now I want to go try some flour sack towels!

SunRai Pat

jalcumbrack 9/13/2008 8:30:43 AM

Hi Cathy,

Thanks! I am glad you liked the blog, I too like a lot of the things I have found with the "old timey" look to them. I love my Squissors!! They are the best! They are also great for cutting the stabilizer from around the design,I like them because you can get so close to the design with them and not have to worry too much as you can see so much better with them. You don't have a large scissor to contend with and can get closer.

Hi Pat,

Thanks! Yes I do have a good idea once in a while,LOL. I know the towels are not square, but that is part of their charm! I just got 4 orders for many sets of these for Christmas gifts, and imagine there will be many more to follow as well as some other things I make to sell. When I do them for gifts and sales, I do add some things to them.So I am working like mad on them,as well as my own gifts for this years holiday season. Glad you liked the blog! I love the Squissors for jump stitches as well,they just get so close to the work,easy to handle,and very easy on the hands!

Hi Sunrai Pat,

This brand seems to be very easy to use,some others I tried, were not as sharp, and didn't seem to operate as easily as these.

One question to you Sunrai, Are you sure we are not related???

Ouch, I can only imagine how that must have hurt! I do that all the time,but guess I won't any more after reading your comment! I never really thought about doing that either, until now.

Glad you liked the blog and the history lesson!! I was just reading some things the other day and happened to run across this article about this,I love hearing how this wonderful craft got started and how it was in the early days. Glad you are going to do some Flour Sack Towels, I love them, they are so easy,make a beautiful gift, and look like you virtually spent hours on them! I like to keep a few sets of them made up for a quick last minute birthday gift or hostess gifts. Lets face it, who can't use more kitchen towels? I like them because they are so big!

Thanks everyone! Anything I can help with,give me a shout!


jalcumbrack 9/13/2008 10:11:49 AM

Sunrai Pat,

Just a note to let you know that your puppy is adorable and my daughter has one also, he is a very good grandkid!


Hi Judy,

You have out done yourself again.  Thanks for all the tips.


glendel1944 9/13/2008 11:08:15 AM

Re: cleaning the machine.  I use a special adapter for my vacumn which has very small crevice tools & suck the thread & lint out of the bobbin area. This is especially important after doing a project out of flannel or any fabric which has a lot of fraying.  Then I polish & oil with the small paint brush.  

Hey, Judy,

That was a great blog.  Mine posted yesterday too, all about tools.  I already have a Herra marker, but I don't use it as often as I should, I'll have to remember to use it more often.

Those squissors are wonderful.  I just need a pair ot the blunt point ones for cutwork.  That's what I love to do, out of about six pair of curved point scissors, none of them get close enough.  I need to find just the right combo of stibilizer and Fab for cutwork.  I'll keep pluggin along.

I've been sucessful at some t-shirts this week, though, and I agree with you about the flour sack towels.  They make the best dish towels.

Loved your blog.

Stitches . .


Check out:    LaRueSews-Quilts

What a great blog....I wonder if there are any of those "old time" designs that can be ME'd? Does ATG have any of these.

Where can you pick up flour sacks? I have purchased towels and used them to ME on, but I love the idea of the flour sacks.

One thing about the towels. It is best not to go tooo cheap. Cheap shows... I did buy some at costco and they are really good, but some from the local discount ones are rrrreeeeaaalllly discount... know what I mean?

I love the history... My husband always loves to learn how and when and where things originated.. I showed him this infor... now he has more info in his head to pass on during idle chit chat times... he is a fountain of information... gotta love him ...

jalcumbrack 9/13/2008 12:57:57 PM

Hi Marge,

Thank you so much! I do so appreciate your input!! We still need to get together!

Gendl1944 Hello,

I am glad you found something that works for you, I would however, never use any kind of vacuum on any of my sewing machines, the reason being that if a tiny screw some where happened to jog loose, it would be gone. I still use my paintbrushs,then take them in for routine maintinence once a year, it is a lot less expensive to get to any problems before they start. Thanks for being a valued reader and offering yet another way to do things!! I do so love this input from everyone, that is how we all learn!

Hi LaRue!

Just read and printed your blog so I can read again later when time is more available,too many irons in the fire today as always,lol. I love the Hera Marker and will be using it a lot with ME,as well as the squissors! I so love them! My hands feel so much better since I have used them it is amazing!

hang in there as talented as you are I am certain you will do just fine with ME! I also agree with you that the flour sack towels are the greatest things since sliced bread! I love a nice big towel! Putting a wonderful design(s) on them makes them even better!

Thanks always for your input and am so happy that you enjoy this blog and I do so enjoy yours! I always read it, but sometimes it takes me a bit to get to it with all I have going on! I have several orders to fullfill this week as well as prepare for the next issue,as well as, just Life in general,(yes still have to cook hubby's dinner,Drat it! I keep telling him Martha does not live here, but he still insists on eating,LOL) Take care and keep on plugging away, it will come to you, just give it some time!

Hi CME, there is a lot of history within the sewing industry and it is amazing how they managed to invent such an amazing machine!

I get my flour sacks online but you can also get them at (walmart). Most of the different flour sacks I have found are about the same,meaning they are all very light weight! The best ones I found, I picked up at a store in Michigan,but cannot remember where. Still they seem to wear like iron and I love the nice size of them! I just can't stand a wimpy towel! The trick with them is to remember that it does make a diiference what designs you use on them,meaning don't put a very large stitch count design on them and expect them to hold up well ,they won't. I always remember what a very nice lady said to me a very long time ago and that is that you can never over stabilize something. So if you have to use a few sheets of stabilizer on something , it is better than having it look bad.

I try to keep the designs fairly on the light side if at all possible,they not only look better, but they hold up better.

I would most likely choose a vintage or Red Work design to give the towel the appearence of being vintage. Flour Sack towels have been around for a long time,I can remember Granny using them!

I do know what you mean about the "cheap" towels, even with a design, they are still "cheap" towels, lol. The dollar store towels are great to practice on though. I always use a very nice towel for gifts or to sell, you are right, cheap  shows! Putting a design on it does not improve the quality of it,nor the density of the towel. You can "never" change the makeup of any fabric, you can only add more stabilizer to it to be able to hold the design you put on it.

I too love the history,especially with sewing and machine embroidery (ME). There is such wonderful information out there! Isn't the internet wonderful!!!

I also have often wondered if there isn't some old timey designs out there some where of old clothing labels and things,wouldn't that make a great tote bag or purse?! I guess we will just have to digitize our own!!

Thanks for reading and commenting on this issue, I hope you will continue to read as time moves on. Take care and again Thanks, I hope I answered your question!

Thanks everyone!


serenemachine2 9/13/2008 4:04:26 PM

Judy, another great blog and more$$$ on my investment in this hobby!! Not!!! More of a vocation at this point!!  Thanks for sharing.

jalcumbrack 9/13/2008 4:47:05 PM

Hello again Serenmachine2,

Thank you so much! I am happy you liked it,I do know what you mean about it being a "hobby". No one said it was going to be an inexpensive one,Ha! I look at it this way, no matter what you do for enjoyment (hobby), there is an amount of cash that goes into it, so like I tell my hubby, you want that new lens for your camera, fine. I want the new machine,when I get the new machine,then you can get your lens,see how that works!! ( so far not working here either)



On the issue of hobby costs, there are many which have the same issue.

The first costly hobby I think of is pottery.  I think the kiln is not inexpensive, and then there are so many tools.

I think hobbys are meant to give you satisfaction and a creative outlet.  What price do you put on those things in todays crazy world?


I love my squissors too.  Guess the Hera Marker is next on my list of sewing tools.  Thanks for a great blog,


jalcumbrack 9/14/2008 5:51:45 PM


You are correct in that,and cost really isn't the issue. I have seen so many that retire with no hobbies,soon they become withdrawn and unhappy. Most don't usually last long as they have nothing to challenge their minds. I feel everyone should engage in some type of hobby or interest to them. After almost 4 years I finally talked hubby into joining the photo club here,at first he balked,but now he is glad he did. We all have some sort of creative side,be it music,art,sewing or photography. It is simply a matter of what you makes you personally happy. Life is short, we need to use what we have been given us to the max! No matter what any of us spend on our hobbies(addictions,LOL) it is worth it in the end. Without sewing and ME, I would be lost.


You are very welcome! I love my Hera Marker! I used it today to mark out a neckline for a top I had that was just too plain,so far it is wonderful! I did a color on color. I hope to have it finished soon,still working on some other things too. See if I have more than one project going, I don't get bored!! LOL

Again,Thanks Joan!


Thank you for the idea.  I have 4 weddings before Christmas and have been trying to decide what to do for all of them.  I think I'll try the towels.


p.s.   Talking about expensive hobbies.  My husband's hobbies are hunting, welding and cows.   I've been feeling a tad guilty about my new-to-me Viking SE until I got to thinking....several rifles, 4-wheeler to drag the deer out, ammunition, welding machine, cow feed.....I haven't nearly caught up with him yet.......Hum-m-m the new Brother machine or Viking Diamond just might do it!

jalcumbrack 9/15/2008 3:10:04 PM

Yes I know about that as well, mine is into phtography, big time. I have yet to catch up either,lol

The flour Sacks Towels make a great wedding or shower gift,but if I do them for a wedding I always usally take something else as well,like a set of monogrammed Bath towels. No matter what ,it still does not equal what you would likely pay for them all.

Take care Linda and ejoy, so happy you liked the blog!


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