Around a week ago, I bought a mini sewing machine on an impulse. I’ve been trying to figure out whether these little things are any good at all. So I decided to put my mini sewing machine to the test by making it perform some basic and some not-so-basic jobs. And you know what? The results put a big fat smile on my face.
So what can a mini sewing machine do? Well, it can sew a kick-ass straight stitch. But that’s not all. From sewing tight curves to nicking other sewing machine accessories, this little thing can actually pack quite a punch. So here’s a run-down of 10 clever things that I managed to do with my mini sewing machine.
1. A mini sewing machine can top stitch directly from a thread reel
In most pictures of mini sewing machines on the internet, you will see a bobbin attached to the front of the machine. This is supposed to provide the thread for top stitching your fabric.
However did you know that a mini sewing machine also has a hidden spindle for thread reels? You can pull it up and place any standard thread reel on this spindle. Now you can directly use this reel to thread your sewing machine and top-stitch with it.
2. A mini sewing machine can sew around fairly tight curves
I wanted to check if my mini sewing machine will perform along curves. To test this out, I took a piece of fabric and lightly drew the shape of a cloud on it.
Then I used my mini sewing machine to outline the curves of this cloud. I also managed to create a twirly pattern inside the cloud. And you know what? The sewing machine actually performed pretty decently around these tight curves!
In all fairness, because the stitch length is fixed, I should have used a slightly larger curved pattern to trace around. But even on this small twirly cloud pattern, the sewing machine managed to start and stop precisely where I wanted it to. This allowed me to turn around the tight curves easily.
I think the only thing hindering its precision along curves is the length of its stitches. You see, the stitch length on this mini sewing machine is fixed at a kind of long-ish size. This hinders its performance around very tight curves. Gentle curves are no problem though.
How so, you might ask? Well, think of stitches like foot-steps. If you want to do tight pirouettes on the floor, you have to take small quick steps. So to create tight curvy patterns on a fabric, you need a small stitch length.
Alternatively, if you want to swish and glide on the floor like ice skaters, you have to take long sweeping strides. And so similarly, to make sweeping curves on your fabric, your sewing machine is best off with a longer stitch length.
Which leads me to my conclusion: use longer, gentler curves when using a mini sewing machine because its stitch length is pre-set at a longer size.
3. A mini sewing machine can sew through two layers of stiffened craft felt
I took two layers off stiffened felt with a 15% wool fibre composition and I stitched these using my mini sewing machine. The machine performed beautifully and gave me a flawless straight stitch through both the layers of felt.
This makes me think about cute projects like felt Christmas ornaments or heavy fabric purses and bookmarks. They should be a breeze when using this machine!
You will need stiffened felt to create these though. You can easily create stiffened felt at home quickly and cheaply by following my easy tutorial in this post. Alternatively, you can watch my video teaching you how to make stiffened felt at home. Both these tutes will save you lots of time, effort and money so do check them out!
4. A mini sewing machine can even sew through three layers of stiffened felt!
Okay so I wanted to push the envelope a bit and see how far I can take this mini sewing machine. So after sewing two layers of felt successfully, I created a stack of three layers of stiffened 15% wool mix felt.
To place the thick felt layer underneath the presser foot, I lifted the lever higher than normal. The felt slid into place easily.
Once I started sewing, I couldn’t even feel that I am using a super tiny sewing machine! The stitching was smooth and easy, and the mini machine stitched through all the three layers of felt perfectly.
5. The mini sewing machine can easily sew double-sided bias tape
I used a thick double-sided bias tape and sandwiched some stiffened yellow felt between the folds. My mini sewing machine easily walked over the bias binding without any glitches.
When I flipped the project over, I discovered a tidy finish without any tugging or puckering whatsoever.
You know what this means right? It means that you can use your mini sewing machine for all kinds of projects that require binding. For example quilts, potholders, mug rugs, placemats, table runners and even quiet book pages whee!
I’m giddy with excitement at this discovery. More on this soon!
6. You can easily back stitch by simply turning your project through 180 degrees
A reverse stitch is crucial when you are starting or stopping to sew because you want to anchor your thread in place. And a mini sewing machine doesn’t have a reverse stitch button. Bummer.
So should I dump my mini sewing machine? Nopes.
You see, I discovered that I can easily back-stitch any project by simply swiveling it through 180 degrees. Three stitches later, I swiveled the project around again and hey, I was good to go!
The whole thing literally took less than 30 seconds and I didn’t even miss a reverse-stitch button yay!
7. A mini sewing machine can easily create ruffles
Ruffles are cute. I wanted to make ruffles. I wanted my mini sewing machine to make ruffles. So I decided to test this out.
First I grabbed a scrap piece of fabric and did a simple straight stitch along its length. Then I separated the top and bottom threads on either end. I grabbed the top tread and started to pull and scrunch the fabric towards the middle.
I ended up creating small ruffles whee! I secured these by topstitching along the original stitch line again. In hindsight, I should have used a lighter fabric instead of the rather heavy-duty upholstery fabric that I had. But hey, it still worked!
I’m sure I’ll get a flawless result if I use a lighter fabric in future.
8. A mini sewing machine can easily quilt through polyester batting
To test this out, I took a piece of thin cotton cloth and sandwiched a piece of polyester batting between two layers of this cloth. I then proceeded to quilt a straight line all around and through the middle of this batting sandwich.
My mini sewing machine breezed through the quilting process. And within seconds, I was able to sew over this sample quilt sandwich.
I decided to split up the two quilted squares with a pair of scissors. I ended up creating two little cosmetic pads that my girls decided to use immediately for washing their faces haha!
9. A mini sewing machine can wind bobbins. Yes really!
There is a clever hidden mechanism inside the hand wheel of my mini sewing machine. A small spindle pops out as you turn it.
You can place your empty bobbin on top of the spindle and easily wind it by using your mini sewing machine. No fear of hand winding hooray!
10.You can use other machine bobbins on your mini sewing machine!
This is probably my favourite mini sewing machine hack. I borrowed a clear bobbin from my other sewing machine and popped it on the top bobbin holder. After threading the sewing machine, I tested stitching over a piece of green felt.
While sewing, the bobbin turned smoothly and the thread came through without a glitch! This is important because it means that you do not have to go around investing in lots of bobbins designed for this particular mini sewing machine model.
As long as you have enough bobbins available for a handful of bottom thread colors, you can easily use any thread reel or bobbin for top stitching.
Have you got a mini sewing machine? Or are you thinking about buying one? Did you find any surprising tricks that your machine can do? Comment below and share the giggles.
How do you adjust the tension on a mini sewing machine?
To adjust the tension on a mini sewing machine, look for the thread tension screw as in the image below. Imagine that it is a milk bottle cap. When you want to loosen the thread, turn this screw anti-clockwise … kind of like when you are opening a milk bottle. And when you want to tighten the tension, turn the screw clockwise … kind of like when you are screwing the cap back on.
The tension on your mini sewing machine will be perfectly adjusted when both the top thread and the bottom thread appear evenly along your stitches. So make sure you do a test run first on a scrap piece of fabric!
To learn more about the different parts of a mini sewing machine, check out my post here where I share lots of photos along with what the different parts do.