I was thrilled to finally get my new machine back home late last week!
Another lesson I received at my sewing tutorial was the value of good thread, or rather, a scolding for using cheap thread!
I had Coats & Clark, Dual Duty thread, in my machine. The instructor taught me that was probably the reason my machine was making a clacking noise and that the repairman would probably scold if he saw that thread.
As an easy guideline: Don't buy the cheapest thread at the store unless they only carry Gutermann-type quality threads. My drawer is full of Coats & Clark which, it turns out, is made with a mix of cotton and polyester. Ahem. The polyester in it stretches and stresses your sewing machine. If you try to break the thread or just try to pull it between your hands, you will easily see it stretch.
The top thread especially is under tremendous pressure because of the stretch, and you will get better results and keep your machine in better shape if you spend a little extra on higher quality, all-cotton threads.
I had that graphically illustrated to me this weekend.
I decided to make a Valentine's Day pillowcase with an appliquéd heart for my son in California. And I wanted to make it RIGHT NOW while watching Minions with my family. I cut 25 2 1/2" squares to piece into a heart. I placed them in 3 rows of 6, 1 row of 5, and one row of 3 and cut a paper heart pattern to fit that.
Unfortunately I realized that I didn't have a contrasting thread to appliqué the heart unless I drew from my Coats & Clark stash (where I found a perfect color.) Before reaching the halfway point around the heart, my Janome began making the clacking sound again. Ugh. I finished the border stitching but selected off-white Gutermann thread to quilt the heart--not what I had initially planned to use but among the three colors I had available.
I also learned that those who have been freehand quilting for awhile make it look much, much easier than it actually is (so don't look too closely at it!)