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Tips for new employees

Shop Techniques | January 1, 2019 | By:

One of the trickiest things facing the sewing industry is finding qualified workers. Many new employees may be unfamiliar with the basics of sewing machine operation, says Faith Roberts, owner of Banner Canvas in Ham Lake, Minn. During a presentation at IFAI Expo this past October, Roberts pointed out that many young people neither grow up with sewing machines in the house nor have access to one at school or elsewhere.

Roberts says the key to training proficient operators is having them spend time “messing around with the machine and reading through the manual.” She offers the following advice for newer operators:

Dirt, fibers, tape residue and coating on threads can gum up guides, tension discs and the bobbin case and shuttle area. Use compressed air or a small brush to clean out these areas regularly to keep sewing machines running smoothly.
  • The servo motors on machines may be too fast for beginners. It can help to slow the servo down at the start, and speed up the motor as worker proficiency increases.
  • Thicker threads may not seat properly on tension discs if the tension is not properly adjusted. This can put wear on the tension guides, which can abrade the thread.
  • The coating on threads can create residue in guides and tension discs. Clean the machine regularly with a small brush or canned air.
  • The knot of a proper lock stitch should not be visible on the top or bottom of sewn fabric. If a knot is visible, readjust the thread tension.

More information on basic and advanced sewing techniques are available to MFA members through workshops and online how-to videos. For more information, visit

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