ESFB 004: Tips for Maintaining Your Sewing Machine at Home – An Interview With My Sewing Machine Technician

ESFB004 featured image700

ESFB004 featured image700

In This Episode:

I interview my local sewing machine technician to get some helpful tips and advice for how to maintain and care for your sewing machine at home.

I’m out and about interviewing Malcolm Vaughan from Vaughans Shoe Store and Sewing Centre in my local area. He has been servicing sewing machines for 25 years, so lets just say he knows a bit about sewing machines! Wait until you hear what his most interesting thing was that he found inside a sewing machine during a service. It’s gross and will leave you wondering how it even got in there!

Do You Still Have Unanswered Questions?

This podcast episode has inspired me to create a video and printable resource guide for maintaining and caring for your sewing machine at home so if you have any other questions on this topic then contact me here and let me know or leave your questions in the comments section below and I’ll do my best to answer them in the video tutorial or resource guide that will be coming in the near future.

The Podcast is Now Available in iTunes! Yay!


It can be annoying listening to the podcast from the website so now you can listen to it from your smartphone or tablet device wherever you are. You can now download the podcast from iTunes. You can find it here. If you’re not sure how to listen to podcasts on your smartphone or tablet device then leave a message in the comments below and I’ll create a video to show you how.

Happy listening!

How To Print On Fabric Update and Why I Need a New Printer

comparison of homemade solution700

In a previous post I talked about how I had explored printing straight onto fabric using my inkjet printer. Through my previous experiments I did find a way to get the fabric through the printer without jamming it. Yay! The one thing that I didn’t consider at the time was how to make the printing colourfast and washable. It would only take a bit of contact with water or a baby dribbling on the printing to start making the colours bleed and wash out.

If you’re wondering, I’m using a Brother DCP-J725DW ink jet printer for these tests.

The Homemade Recipes for ‘Faux Bubble Jet Set 2000′

This week I decided to tackle that challenge. I’m sure it couldn’t be that hard. I also came across this product called Bubble Jet Set 2000 preprinting treatment,  which is supposed to make your fabric washable when printing on it with an inkjet printer. There is also a Jet Set Rinse available as well. It would cost double the amount to buy these products from Australia. Not a worthwhile investment at this point in time for me.

I found a couple of home made recipes online that would enable the printed fabric to become washable. Cool. This will work….I thought. You can find the recipes that I tried here and here.  The basic ingredients for these recipes were Alum powder, washing soda, fabric softener and hot water. I included both tutorials because one involve doing a post rinse after the ink had been printed and dried and the other one didn’t.

My Disappointing Results

My printing looked awesome after it had been printed onto the fabric. When I rinsed with water? well, that was a different story. You can see from the photos below what just a rinse with water did to my beautiful printing. I did wash the fabric after I rinsed it, but the rinsing washed most of the ink out anyway.

comparison of homemade solution700

The black definitely didn’t hold and the rainbow is not very bright and happy looking anymore. To me this was an epic failure and I couldn’t work out why it worked for some people and their printers and not others. I tried a few other tests, but really, the results turned out very similar and weren’t worth writing about.

A New Recipe to Try

I have since come across this recipe from The Quilt Rat. This recipe still has the Alum powder, but the washing soda is replaced with soda ash. With a bit more reading I soon found that soda ash is the active ingredient in washing soda. It’s just more concentrated by itself. There is no fabric softener in this recipe and I couldn’t really find a good reason to include it so I’m definitely going to try without it.

These instructions suggest using Retayne in the after treatment to help the dye fix to the fabric just that little bit more. I’ve ordered some of this online and am waiting for it to arrive. I’ll need to retest the printing when i get this magic liquid in the mail.  I’ll keep you posted on that one.

Why I ‘Need’ to Get a New Printer

No, I didn’t break my printer. During my obsessive/dedicated research after the epic failure, I stumbled across the fact that inkjet printers can come with two different types of ink. There’s dye-based ink, which is the kind that runs as soon as water touches it or comes off on your highlighter when you’re trying to highlight something. You know the one. Then there’s pigment-based ink. Now this ink is colourfast so that means it can be washed. Hmmmm. I found this great resource that lists a whole heap of printers and whether the printer comes with pigment based ink or not.

From this list I worked out that Brother printers use all dye based inks and no pigment based inks at all. Boo for me! Canon use pigment based inks for most of their black cartridges, but not for their colours. So this might explain why some people  had success when printing with black on their fabric and and not with the colours. HP seems to do the same thing, but some of their printers use pigment based ink for the coloured cartridges.

Epson, Kodak and Primera (I’ve never heard of this brand before) seem to use pigment based inks for all of their printers. I did some extra reading about the Epson ink and they’ve designed a specific pigment based ink called DURABrite Ultra, which sounds like the best kind of ink to go with for washability and durability factor that I’m looking for.

This blogger shows the difference of using pigment based inks compared to dye based inks over time. She recommends using an Epson printer with the DURABrite ink as well.

So, if all else fails, I’ll be trying to convince my husband that I ‘need’ to buy a new printer or plot a way to kill my existing printer. Printing with pigment based ink definitely sounds a lot easier with no pretreating and post treating of fabric to be done. I’ve even got my eye on the printer I want!

Have you had a great success or failure with printing on fabric? If so, share your thoughts in the comment section below. I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time, happy sewing :)


How to Use Snap Pliers

how to use snap pliers featured image700

how to use snap pliers featured image700

I love using snap pliers. They can give your sewing project an extra special touch and make something extra practical with removable parts due to the ability to snap and unsnap at ease. You can find my recent tutorial for How to Sew a Lanyard with a snap here.

I’ve made a video tutorial showing you exactly how to use the snap pliers. I use the KAM snap pliers, which are an inexpensive tool and worth the investment, as they add loads of flexibility to your sewing projects. You can watch the video below and then keep on scrolling to see where you can get this great tool from.

Or watch it here on YouTube

Where To Find Snap Pliers

KAM snap pliers700You can find the snap pliers on Amazon* and eBay*. They tend to come with free snaps and some sellers include and awl, but these can be bought easily from just about anywhere. Check out my new favourite clear snaps herefrom eBay.

There is also another great site where you can buy snap pliers, snap presses, snaps and find other great information on snaps, including troubleshooting, at

Need Ideas On What to Make With Your Snaps?

You can also check out my Pinterest board below for things you can make with snaps or click here if you don’t see it.

Let me know if you have come across a great sewing project using snaps and I’ll add it to the board.

Follow Domenica Tootell’s board Things to make with snaps on Pinterest.

Until next time, happy snapping :)

*This post contains affiliate links and I thank you if you choose to make a purchase through one of my links. It helps me to spend more time creating.

A New Mission:To Work Out How to Print on Fabric and Make it Washable!

sample printing on quiet book700

sample printing on quiet book700

A couple of months ago I played around with the idea of printing on fabric using my inkjet printer. I was making a quiet book cover for my little girl and I wanted to personalise it with printed images and writing. “Easy!” I thought.

My first challenge was getting the inkjet printer to print on the fabric without jamming the printer. I was using the freezer paper method, but I found the littlest bit of fraying on the fabric could smudge a great print or cause that dreaded jam. So I now had more challenges floating around in my head ready to solve.

I also had the question in my mind about whether the ink on the fabric would allow the fabric to be washable without fading and washing out the ink? I tested a piece of my printed fabric in the washing machine and it did wash out the ink a tad and that was only from the black ink. I am yet to experiment with printing a colour image.

So, I have come across some methods of making fabric washable after it’s been printed on using an inkjet printer at home and I will let you know the results of those tests as soon as I’m done. I think I’ll even make a video or two to go along with it.

The other questions I have in my mind include;

  • Will a normal prewash of new fabric give a better printed result?
  • Do I need to prewash my fabric at all? Will it affect the result!
  • Will a homemade solution to make your fabric washable work as well (or better) than a premade solution, like Bubble Jet Set 2000?
  • Have I become obsessed with the idea of printing on fabric?

I have my fingers crossed for this testing to work, as I have so many ideas floating around my head with what I could do with it! My mission for working out how to print on fabric and making it washable has begun!

If you have any questions about printing on fabric then let me know in the comments section below and I’ll see if I can work them out for you!

Wish me luck!

Loving Your Thread – The Key to Knot Free Hand Sewing

loving your thread featured image700

loving your thread featured image700

My sewing machine is in for a much needed service at the moment. So I thought I would use this opportunity to watch some of the awesome Creativebug videos on their website.

The Physics of Sewing video caught my attention as I had no idea how the ideas of physics and sewing would come together (I really don’t have a science brain!). The main ideas within the video covered some old wives tales and the truth behind them, especially in the world of hand sewing. If you have ever had to stitch up a hole by hand or sew on a button some of the old wives tales might just make you think about how you do it next time.

The video featured Natalie Chanin from Alabama Chanin, who I’d never heard of before a week ago, but she definitely sounded like she knew her stuff. Some of the old wives tales included:

  • Why you should needle your thread and not thread your needle
  • Long thread, lazy girl and what this meant
  • Loving your thread

Loving Your Thread

The idea behind loving your thread is all about removing the excess tension from your thread before you begin hand sewing. If you have hand sewn before or done embroidery, you know that having those threads twisting and KNOTTING while you are sewing can almost make your blood boil. Gahhh! not fun.

Natalie explains how the thread has excess tension left in it through the process of putting the thread onto the spool. She suggests to remove that tension by threading your needle as normal, but then running your fingers down the thread multiple times to remove the excess tension.

So where does the loving bit come it? She also suggests to talk to your thread. Yes, talk to it. It’s almost like when a coach gives his (or her) players a pep talk before a big game. Tell the thread how well it’s going to sew, what a great job it’s going to do holding that button on or holding that fabric together, all while you keep running your fingers down the thread to remove the tension. I did find that bit funny, but I might just give it a go. Who knows, it could help!

Did She Just Say 8 Weeks to Sew One Garment??

The other old wives tales that she talks about are pretty interesting too, but I must admit there was something else she said that caught my attention. It was when Natalie said it takes one of their garment makers 8 weeks to sew a garment! Yep, 8 weeks. This made me wonder just exactly what kinds of garments were they making and how much would they be selling these garments for. I’d never heard of the company before, but with a bit of Googling I found it. My jaw hit the floor when I saw how much some of the garments sell for. You can check out the shop for yourself. The clothing does have a very vintage style to it and it does look extremely well made.

Is Alabama Chanin a well known company in the US? I’m thinking I’d never heard of it before because I live in Australia. Have you heard of the company before? Let me know.

Want to Watch the Video?

creativebug sign up the physics of sewing700

This video is available on the Creativebug website. You can buy the video for $11.95 or you can watch it for free with the 14 day free trial*. I initially signed up with the free trial and now I’m subscribed for the next year or so. I love it and the next video on my ‘to watch’ list is Learn Raw Edge Applique*. Just need my sewing machine back as well now….

And Now She’s Everywhere

You know the times when you just hear about something or someone and then they start popping up everywhere? Well, Natalie was recently a guest on the Thread Cult podcast. You can listen to it here. The quality is a bit poor (I’d recommend listening to it with earbuds) but it’s really interesting to hear the story behind the person and the company so I would recommend it if you want to know more.

Happy Sewing!

*This post contains affiliate links and I thank you if you choose to make a purchase through one of my links. It helps me to spend more time creating.