Sew Successful – Olympics 2012


Over the last few weeks the whole nation (in fact world) has been zoned in on London and the Olympics 2012, it’s taken our minds off the glum broken English weather and seasonal seaside trips and had us indoors glued to the live coverage. The greatest thing is that it hasn’t only been relevant to the sporty type, the whole nation has found it uniquely enticing and have been able to associate with something.


The height of our interest remained on the immeasurable amounts of sewing that went into the Olympic set up. From stage designs and backdrops, to equipment like trampolines and volleyball nets, and the athletes attire we just couldn’t believe the amount of work and detail that has gone in to everything.


Even for the average household, we’ve all been busy; sewing TeamGB logo’s onto clothing, making bunting and accessorising everything with the Union Jack, we’ve been SEW busy!!!


In the Opening Ceremony we were introduced with an impressive visual bang and witnessed an array of stunning and enticing outfits worn by the 15,000 performers, marking the moment the 2012 games began and all the eyes of the world focussed on London and the UK.  (In fact it apparently took 1 mile of clothing rails to hold all the costumes needed for the show!!)


Even the sports gear worn by the Olympians was stepped up a gear this year after the input of top designers.  A lot of name designers got involved with the uniforms and we were eagerly awaiting to see the nations step out in their patriotic colours, as they say: “it’s not the colours you go home with, it’s the colours you came with that matter”!! With Stella McCartney backing TeamGB and Ralph Lauren influencing the US (you can’t get 2 better representatives).


However, what stole the show was the Closing Ceremony with the Olympic Fashion show paying tribute to the great British fashion designers and influencers that have impacted the world for decades. The stadium was brought to a standstill as the nation’s sexiest supermodels emerged from giant lorry billboards and performed a creative ode to British fashion catwalk. The line up included Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss and Lily Cole, all showcasing a series of intricate custom-made gold outfits from our iconic British brands.The amount of work and detail in particularly Naomi’s dress was incredible, and my personal favourite.


We know the slogan for London 2012 is “Inspire a Generation” … we definitely agree that the Olympics have left a legacy and hopefully there will be a generation inspired to sew too!!


Troubleshooting Basics – Doesn’t rotate


Out of all the faults that may happen to you whilst sewing, this may well be the most frustrating: when it just won’t sew!! The noise and the sudden stubbornness of the machine acting like a tantrum toddler often make us think it is something severe & expensive to fix. However, the chances are, you will avoid this problem if you take care of your machine by cleaning regularly and here is a basic rundown of why it may happen, and ways to prevent or resolve it if it does …











This may be because the:

  • The machine is not turned on properly
  • Thread is tangled in the hook
  • A broken needle is hiding in the hook

You could fix this by:

  • Turning the machine off and on
  • Ensuring the power plug is connected properly
  • Cleaning the hook
  • Taking out the bobbin & removed any trapped thread


If you need help on doing any of the above, refer to your Instruction Manual or download one here.


If you have any more advice to add to this, would like any more help or simply want to share your experience … come and visit our Facebook page and let us know your thoughts!!

Troubleshooting Basics – Missed Stitches


Missed Stitches:


Most of us use a sewing machine to add a professional finish to the things we create, so, when stitches are skipped, we have every right to be frustrated.  However, most of the time the blame lies with us, so the secret is to try & do things correctly to prevent it from happening again, and quickly rectify it when it does. Here is a basic rundown of why it may happen, and ways to prevent or resolve it if it does …


This may be because the:

  • Needle is incorrectly installed
  • Needle is bent
  • Needle is old
  • Needle and thread are not appropriate for the fabric
  • Upper thread is not correctly thread


You could fix this by:

  • Installing the needle correctly
  • Checking the needle is not bent, and replace
  • Ensuring the needle & thread are appropriate to the fabric
  • Threading the upper thread correctly

If you need help on doing any of the above, refer to your Instruction Manual or download one here.


If you have any more advice to add to this, would like any more help or simply want to share your experience … come and visit our Facebook page and let us know your thoughts!!

Troubleshooting Basics – Broken Needle










Broken Needle:


Whether you’re a learner or an expert, these things can happen to all of us at some point within our sewing lifetime. However, it’s usually easily solved & fixed…Check out our points below that may help solve a) why it happened in the first place and b) how to help prevent it in the future!!


This may be because the:

  • Needle is incorrectly installed
  • The needle clamp screw is loose
  • The needle is too fine for the cloth
  • The tension of the upper thread is too tight
  • The fabric is being pulled too strongly
  • The bobbin case is not in the correct position


You could fix this by:

  • Installing the needle correctly
  • Firmly tightening the screw
  • Checking you are using a needle appropriate to the fabric
  • Adjusting the thread tension
  • Checking you are not pulling the fabric too strongly
  • Ensuring the bobbin case is in the correct position

If you need help on doing any of the above, refer to your Instruction Manual or download one here.

If you have any more advice to add to this, would like any more help or simply want to share your experience … come and visit our Facebook page and let us know your thoughts!!


Sewing Machine Feet – The Basics


Sewing with machines can be as complex as you choose to make it; the key is to start by knowing the basics and then get “hands on”!! Understand what you want to achieve, what best methods/equipment to use for that and treat it a bit like the concept of driving – “learning by doing”!! Everyone has a personal style and it’s great to throw yourself into that and impress yourself with your results, but the basics are essential to taking care of your machine (and mind)!!!

Below you’ll find some general advice on sewing machine accessories to help build up your knowledge of what’s available:



Buttonhole Foot

To achieve the correct measurements, quality and finish to a buttonhole – this foot is a must have in any sewing box! It saves time and creates a neat, professional look. With buttons being the key to completing any item (both aesthetically and practically) this really is an aid not to be missed.



Embroidery Foot

Perfect for creating decorative stitches and embellishments. I love using this foot; it can transform an old tired piece (clothing/cushions/cards) to a completely contemporary feel or even give an item a more classic transformation. It becomes so personal-it is a tool that never tires me to use. You can sew to a design or just really go with the flow and rhythm of the machine.



Straight Stitch Foot

Used for straight stitch work such as top stitching, seaming, quilting. Therefore it becomes a highly used, essential tool. It provides a great finish as it allows excellent fabric control when working with very fine material through to heavy fabric.


Blind Hem Foot

Like many of the feet the name describes this item exactly – a stitch that you can’t see the hem!! It is a more formal finish, extremely professional and yet so simple. Hand sewing takes time that most of us do not have so this foot makes the desirable result easily achievable with your machine!!


Zigzag Foot

Also known as the all-purpose foot, as this is perfect for most utility stitching and other standard functions. It is a great accessory to have on hand as a back-up foot. It has the benefit of a three needle position – centre, left and right and allows control but movement whilst feeding.


Zipper Foot

This is designed for installing zips accurately; the design of the foot allows the needle to stitch closely to the item. It is also a must when piping with cord.Remember as well as new creations – Zips can be added to renovate old items (clothing and furnishings) to resize or even just bring them to trend!!


**If you know you are sewing a specific project or have a preferred method it is definitely worth taking a look into the ready to go Footwork Kits available by Toyota (ie “Footwork Kit Denim/Jean”) that make it simple to get started!!**


Sewing Machine Maintenance – The Basics



As we all know, sewing machines need looking after, a bit of TLC and regular servicing; after all they are no stranger to the popular concept “for life, not just for Christmas (or birthdays)”!


It’s so common these days that people quickly loose the maintenance momentum that comes with the excitement of a shiny new machine but slowly start to neglect the sewing machine’s needs. My Grandma had the same sewing machine from the start of her sewing career and passed it down to me in great working order. However, without taking care of it and treating it as the delicate piece of machinery that it is she would never have seen it last so many decades.


When you invest in a sewing machine, or any other piece of equipment for that matter, you want it to last as long as possible! And so we want to help you maximise your machine’s performance and efficiency whilst saving you time, frustration and money as repairs not only usually end up being costly but they typically crop up at the worst of times, like mid project, and could have been prevented with following our simple tips and trouble-shooting! And the best thing is, for the majority of repairs all you will need is your regular toolbox!!


To start; our MUST basics …

  1. Know the make and model of your specific sewing machine.
  2. Treat your machine with respect. Keep it clean and brush it down regularly.
  3. Use the recommended sewing machine bobbins, sewing threads, and needles for your sewing machine.
  4. Keep your sewing machine covered when not in use.
  5. Work indoors and ensure your sewing machine is on flat, sturdy surface when working.
  6. Do not allow young children to use your sewing machine unsupervised.
  7. Do not cover the air vents of your sewing machine.
  8. Keep your instruction manual safe, and if you don’t have one you can reprint one here.
  9. Change the needles often. A bent or dull needle will not only damage your fabric, but your machine as well.
  10. Oil your machine on a regular basis.


Sew Successful – Ruffles


We recently recommended a simple and effective sewing idea that can be added to any sewing project to give a professional and unique look: RUFFLES!!

For anyone new to sewing or this technique, ruffles are basically strips of closely pleated fabric used mainly for trimming or decorating your fabric from flat to frilly. Thank goodness for clever people and modern technology…because now gone are the days were, to achieve this look, you’d need a good ruler, pins and a LOT of time and patience…thanks to the amazing Ruffler Foot…transforming and dramatically reducing sewing time, preparation time, (& stress levels)!!  Although at first sight a ruffler may appear bulky and complicated, its innovative design actually makes it very easy to use.


The Toyota Ruffler foot is a swappable presser foot part for your sewing machine that can be used to produce pleats and ruffles for anything from home décor to clothing projects. It speeds up the process of ruffling and has the ability to be adjusted to create loose or tight ruffles depending on your project!! Once you’ve tried and tested it out we guarantee you’ll suddenly find a lot more places and ways to use and add this effect!!


We love helping and inspiring you with your Home Sewing projects and so we thought we’d talk to you in a little more detail about the accessory that makes ruffling easy and fast:

  1. Measure the length of fabric, remembering that a piece of fabric that has been ruffled will be shorter than it was originally (the standard rule is to cut the piece 2.5 times as long as you require)
  2. Your width will be dependent on whether you want a single layer, or folded/double strip (for folded strips simply add the seam allowance onto your width and multiply by two)
  3. Before you start sewing, and once your fabric is all cut out, press the strips
  4. Attach the ruffler to your sewing machine once you have removed the original presser foot
  5. Once the foot is secure it is recommended, and important, to test gather some practise strips on a scrap piece of fabric to get the look you want based on the look you are going for
  6. Insert the fabric into the machine and sit along edge *(raw side should be facing into the body of the machine – watch the demo video to show)
  7. Drop your needle down and start gathering *(remember to keep your fabric moving smoothly)
  8. To secure the stitch at the beginning or end of your sewing, you can back tack if you’re sure it is the desired effect and length, or, you can secure the thread with some fabric glue once you are happy with the adjustments
  9. You now have beautiful strips of ruffles or pleats to add to your projects!!
Sewing; one ruffle at a time …
  • Add length to skirts, tops or dresses that have become too short
  • Add detail and texture to children’s clothing
  • Add ruffle edging to curtains, pillows, lampshades

Sewing With Fur


Don’t avoid working with novelty fabrics; use some of our top tips on buying, cutting, handling and sewing this season’s popular novelty fabrics!

The best place to start is always with a small sample piece of the fabric you’d like to use and to try several stitches on it to get used to the weight, feel, ease and style of stitch. Christmas is the season most likely to use novelty fabrics, so be prepared and give it a go … whether you’re challenged to create a costume for your child’s nativity play, a hot water bottle cover, or just some creative craft pieces. If you really get to grips sewing with fur then you could even create your own jacket … our advice is don’t be scared to try it!

Fur Fabrics:


Choose your design/pattern carefully…try and make it a simple, uncomplicated one with as little seams, detail and fastenings as possible (especially just to begin with). Remember fur fabrics can look bulky especially if they have a shaggy pile, so be wise if using them to create any clothing/jackets and don’t give something a heavy look.


Begin by checking you have sharp scissors and cut in single layers to ensure you get an accurate cut (but remember to flip the pattern piece if a right and left side are needed!). Cutting with the pile is also important so put a little arrow on each pattern piece to help you cut in the direction you choose. Avoid giving the ends a blunt “chopped” look when cutting with long haired fabrics by only cutting the backing fabric (and maybe the odd strand that need to be set free).


If you need to hold layers or edges together it can be quite useful to try out paper clips and tape as well as pins as they hold the thickness and are easy to remove. We recommend colourful glass headed pins with fur as they are so easy to see, sew around and remove which is important – you need to make sure you don’t miss any and leave any in after sewing!! Prevent stretching the fabric whilst you sew by using a small tack or even some tape to stabilise it on the backing. It’s best to avoid top stitching on long pile fabrics and any iron-on interfacings as they can be really messy.


Go around the finished seams on the right side of the fabric and use a sturdy pin to pick out the fur along the seams to cover and neaten them. Also, be careful if you choose to press it as most fur fabrics are very sensitive to heat – to be honest it’s best to avoid any pressing when working with fur and you will find most fur fabrics won’t need it anyway!

Sewing Machine Tip:

Clean your sewing machine regularly to avoid any fur clogging it up, it only takes a moment and can make a big difference to maintaining the performance of your machine!

We’ve created some great pieces using fur in the past, so give it a go, stick with it and keep testing ideas out. Share your creations with us on our Facebook pages and let us know if you have any tips to feed back to us…we’d love to hear!!

Sewing Machine Manuals


One of the most important accessories that will come in the box with your new Toyota sewing machine is the instruction manual…it will become your complete introduction to knowing your machine well and a valuable portal into the world of sewing.

The instruction manual will remain the most important tool you have to keep your machine in good working order so you can always be confident you are getting the best, and making the most, out of it. Toyota has created your manual especially for you, with your best interests in mind because we want you to love and enjoy your machine. The steps in doing these things vary slightly from machine to machine, so be wise and keep your book safe.

Go through the instructions slowly and carefully to make sure you don’t miss out the important bits.

In the manual you will find important information on how to initially set it up, use all the different features and troubleshoot help. It is formatted simply and with pictures to try and make following as simple as possible, however if you have any queries don’t forget you can add us on Facebook.

If you have had your sewing machine for a while, or, if it was given to you and you no longer have the manual with it don’t worry, all is not lost, as Toyota has an amazing section on the website offering you the option to download them here.

Just check your machine for a sticker that looks like this to find the model identity:

Getting Started – Part 2


Setting in the Bobbin:

**(remove the power plug before doing any of the below)

1. Turn the wheel towards you until the needle rises to its highest point.

2. Remove the extension table (slide it out from the base of the machine, towards the left).



3.Open the shuttle cover on the bottom left of the machine.


4. Use the latch of the bobbin case to pull it out of the machine, and take out the bobbin.
5. Place your new bobbin back into the case and pass the end of the thread through the grove in the bobbin case, making sure the bobbin thread winds in a clockwise direction. Pull a few inches of the thread through the tension spring at the side of the case.


6. Insert the bobbin case into the shuttle race so that the bobbin case finger slots into the grove.


7. Close the shuttle cover and replace the extension table.


Drawing up the Bottom Thread:


1. Hold the top thread (from the needle) with your left hand securely and twist the handle towards you.


2. As the top thread catches the lower thread it will pull the loop of the lower thread through to the surface.


3. When able to, pull the lower thread through and pull back about 15cm with top thread.


4. Make sure both threads pass through groove of presser foot to secure.



Congratulations, you are now threaded and ready to start using your sewing machine !!
Why not try several different stitches on some scrap pieces of fabric!!