Introduction: Sewing Basics: Choosing a Sewing Machine to Make Baby Blankets and Quilts

Sewing machines have come a long way, baby! The Singer machine on the left is one that my Grandmother, Mama Tobey, used from the 1920s until the 1980s. The one on the right is the 2017 Brother CSi6000 computerized sewing machine that I just bought for this project. Mama Tobey taught all four of her daughters to sew on that old Singer machine. It does a couple of basic stitches, has some attachments for button holes and zippers but basically that's it. The 2017 model has gizmos and gadgets galore, but I wonder sometimes if it would just be easier to go back to the Singer? I'll let you know as I gain more experience and skill in the sewing realm.

Step 1: Step 1: Do Your Homework

Decide on what's important to you and then start doing some research.

  • Manual or Computerized
  • Sewing clothing, home projects (curtains) mending or sewing quilts, decorative stitches?
  • Basic machine with basic stitches or Elaborate machine with several attachments and settings for wide variety of projects
  • Is Cost an issue? Sewing machines are from $75. to $4,000.+ dollars.
  • What are some features you Have to have?
  • What are some features you can let go?

Once you have your personal sewing preferences, view some YouTube videos featuring the Pros and Cons of each machine.

Step 2: Step 2: Talk to the Experts- Go to a Sewing Store and Speak With Customers and Sales People.

Talk to the Experts at a local Sewing store. Find a friendly sales person or customer to discuss their preferences when it comes to sewing machines. Experienced seamstresses will have opinions about what to watch out for, and what is needed. Gather some more information here before making your final decision.

For more information about Tulsa's B-Sew Inn click here:

Map Directions to B-Sew Inn:

For more information about JO-ANN Fabrics and Crafts click here:

Map Directions to JO-ANN's:

Step 3: Step 3: Purchase Your Sewing Machine

Decide which machine is right for you and purchase it.

Step 4: Step 4: Purchase the Baby Blanket Supplies

1 yard of fabric front side 36"

1 yard of fabric-back 36"

1 package Iron-On Batting

1 package of Binding

1" width 2 bobbins

ready to go 1 spool of Thread

Scissors or

Rotary Cutter

Cutting Board Mat

Iron Ironing Board

1 package of straight pins

1 magnet pin holder

Sewing Machine

a large table (I used the dining room table) or


a comfortable chair

natural light or a well-lit room is a must

Step 5: Step 5: When Your Sewing Machine Arrives...

Enjoy, it's Christmas morning for you! Once again familiarize yourself with your very own sewing machine. Set it up reading your instruction book and probably watching a video, if you're like me and are a visual learner.

It would be a great idea to take a Beginners Class on "Getting to Know Your Sewing Machine". B-Sew Inn offers FREE classes to anyone who wants to learn about their machine. Class sizes are limited so you must register online or call the store to reserve a spot. Once you've registered don't forget to bring your machine and ALL those little parts with you to class. They will teach you the basics of Your machine as well as provide the thread and materials to practice sewing.

For more information about Tulsa's B-Sew Inn click here:

Step 6: Step 6: Familiarize Yourself With the Sewing Machine, Tools, and Parts

A walking foot isn't talking about when you're walking outdoors. Why are there so many different kinds of needles? Do you really want to use scissors or do you want to use the handy-dandy rotary cutter? Learn as much as you can about the machine parts and tools before you start sewing. Read, watch YouTube videos, and then read some more. I promise you'll be glad you're already familiar with all those little parts that come inside a big plastic bag, stuffed inside your brand new sewing machine.

Step 7: Step : Threading the Bobbin

The bobbin is what sews the underpart of the material, tying the top thread to the bottom thread to hold the material in place. It's imperative to know how to properly thread a bobbin (most machines will do this- but you have to know which direction to (clock-wise or counter-clockwise) to begin the threading process.

If a bobbin is not wound properly it can tangle the thread and get stuck in the machine, make knots on your material, and just be a big pain.

Step 8: Step : Thread the Needle (Top Thread)

How to use an AUTOmatic Needle Threader

1. Go to the Beginners Class at B-Sew Inn. Have the instructors help you practice threading the needle at least 583 times before you leave the building.

2. Read the Instructional manual and study the diagrams of "how to" thread the needle.

3.Thread the needle.

4. Repeat.

*If all else fails, thread the needle the old fashioned way: find a kid with good eyes and have them thread the needle for you. Give the kid a cookie.

Step 9: Step : Practice Sewing: a STRAIGHT Line and on a Piece of Scrap Fabric

Practice sewing a straight line.

  • Use the guides to the right of the needle as your guide.
  • SLOW and STEADY gets the job done right.
  • Guide, don't pull, the paper and later, scrap fabric.

Experiment with the stitches and the tension of the thread.

  • If you have a computerized machine, decide which stitch you'll use by looking at the pictures of stitches on the front of the machine.
  • Slowly start the machine and sew a couple of inches on a scrap piece of material.
  • Adjust the thread tension by turning the dial.
  • To have tight stitches use the lower numbers 0-3.
  • 4-6 is midway.
  • For looser stitches, use the higher numbers 7-9.
  • Depending on the type of stitch, the thread tension will have to be adjusted accordingly.

Step 10: Step : Iron Maiden

Break out the Ironing Board and Iron and your favorite tunes. It's time to press all the wrinkles out of that fabric and dance the boring-ness away.

  • Decide where you want to sew your first straight line.
  • Pin the material together. Have the straight pins positioned so the head of the pin will not be aligned with the sewing needle.
  • Iron or Press a clean fold (seam) where you want to sew.
  • This will make it easier when you're guiding the material through the machine to follow in a straight line.
  • Continue until all sides are pinned and pressed with a clean fold.

Step 11: Step : Ready! Set! SEW!

  1. Place the needle in the corner of the fabric where you want to begin stitching.
  2. Lower the needle first, into the material.
  3. Next, lower the foot (at the back of the machine you'll feel / see a lever that lowers the presser foot. around the needle. The presser foot holds the material being sewn in place.
  4. At the SLOWest speed begin to sew. If you have a foot pedal, slowly start applying pressure to the pedal.
  5. Once you feel comfortable, slowly increase the speed.
  6. You'll have to watch the GUIDES along the right side of the presser foot to help you keep the material straight.
  7. Complete sewing on this side.
  8. As you get close to the end of the fabric, slow down.
  9. Try and stop sewing with the needle down- in the fabric.
  10. Lift the foot presser lever (on the back of machine)
  11. Slowly life the needle UP out of fabric.
  12. Carefully pull fabric out from machine.
  13. CUT the thread closest to the material. Leaving 2 inches of slack (or extra thread) hanging off the back of the machine.
  14. Turn fabric to so you're ready for the next side.
  15. Begin sewing the next side. Repeat steps1-15.
  16. Continue sewing all four sides of the blanket

Step 12: Step : Continue Sewing 4 Sides of Baby Blanket

Step 13: Step 13: Add a Binding to Edge of Baby Blanket

1. Pin the binding to the four sides of the blanket.

2. Make sure the pins won't be in the way of the needle.

3. Lower needle and foot into the edge of the material.

4. Slowly start sewing, using the foot peddle to increase speed.

5. Sew to the end of the blanket.

6. Turn blanket and continue sewing along the edges until all four sides are complete.

Step 14: Step 14: the Finished Product

Finally, the baby blanket is finished! It looks pretty good for a first, sewing attempt.

Things I learned:

Prepping is the key:

  1. Pin the fabric together and get it straight with a ruler.
  2. Iron crisp edges and corners (this will help sewing straight lines)

Add more padding to the blanket. Purchase two packages instead of one.

Material will shift while you're sewing, don't over-correct. Just guide it back to the correct position.

Fill a couple of extra bobbins at the beginning of the project and have them ready to go. (this way you don't have to stop in the middle of sewing to fill a bobbin).

Invest in a great pair of scissors or Rotary Cutter. (this saves much frustration!)

Slow down.

Don't stress out.

Find a sewing buddy you can problem solve road blocks. It's more fun to share with someone!

It's only material and it can be re-done.

Enjoy the process more next time!

Step 15: Step : Cost

Material for baby blanket 2 (yards) X $4.99 = $9.98 Hobby Lobby

1 pkg. Iron on Batting $9.99 Hobby Lobby

1 pkg. Binding $6.99 Hobby Lobby

1 spool of Thread $2.00 Hobby Lobby

bobbins - included w/machine N/C

1 pkg. 170 Straight Pins $2.79 Wal Mart

Magnet Pin Holder $4.99 Wal Mart

Iron (I already had iron but if you need one) $35.00 Wal Mart *price varies and can go as high as $75.00

Ironing Board (if you need one-price varies) $45.00 Wal Mart

Sewing Machine Brother CS6000i model $169.00 Amazon -free shipping

Scissors (if you need one-price varies) $12.00

Rotary Cutter w/Cutting Board Mat (medium size) $69.00

*** $366.74

***This is what I have spent on this project so far.

$366.74 - $69. = ($297.74)

or-individually purchase

Rotary Cutter + $35.00-

Cutting Board Mat (size and price vary) + $50.00- $100