Sewing Machine Cover Final Part: Quilting And Making Up

If you’ve read and followed along with the first three posts in this tutorial series you should now be in possession of an embroidered piece of fabric for the front of your sewing machine cover, plus all of the additional pieces cut as needed to complete your cover. In case you haven’t been following along, you can find the previous parts of the tutorial here:

Applying The Springy Goodness

If you have elected to ‘quilt’ the front of your cover you should first spend just a little time ensuring that any stray bits of thread that are hanging from the back of your embroidery are well secured and then cut – otherwise when you apply the fusible fleece they will be pushed against the surface and could distort and therefore show through the main fabric, and the embroidery really shouldn’t be detracted from!

Once the back of the embroidery is neatened, lay it face down on your ironing board. Make sure it is definitely face down as there is no going back from the next step. Next, take your fusible fleece and place it fusible side down on the back of your embroidery, centring it so that there is an even seam allowance at the top and sides of your embroidery, for ease of making up, later.

Following the manufacturer’s instructions, fuse the fleece to reverse of your embroidery, making sure your iron is on the correct setting and paying good attention as to whether the iron’s steam function should be on. That seems very specific and like I might be speaking from experience, doesn’t it… Ahem!

Once your fleece is applied and thoroughly cooled down, lay your piece of lining fabric on the back, square all the pieces up and turn the whole piece over.

A Side Note

The reason, up until now, that I have often put the word ‘quilt’ into inverted commas like that is because I don’t really know or understand the first thing about quilting. I have not read a single page of a book or website on the subject. I did say that this was very much a beginner’s project, so let’s not get too hung up on those details.

I have written it that way, however, because I recall once referring to having (purposefully, this time) shrunk and matted a piece of knitted wool in the washing machine as having ‘felted’ it. Goodness me, a small part of Ravelry exploded that day because I had in fact fulled it and the spread of the wrong word made some people really angry and as a newbie knitter at the time I backed away and thought them all a bit crazy. Anyway, that brings me to where I am today, not really knowing what quilting entails. Dies there have to be more than one piece of fabric involved on a quilt top to make it quilting, or is that specifically patchwork quilting? Do the layered all have to be separate, or is a fusible inner allowed? I have no idea, and the techniques here are almost certainly not ‘proper’ quilting techniques, but I think they give a pleasing result. One thing I DO know is that if you don’t have something called a walking foot then your layers are prone to slipping as you stitch all of them together, so that leads on to…

Quilting

As I used a large checked piece of fabric I already had the lines on the fabric as provided by the design. If you do not have similar you can now draw some on using a disappearing ink pen made specifically for dressmaking. These are inexpensive and I find mine absolutely invaluable.

To help ensure my layers all stay neatly aligned, secure through each of the squares of the  checkered fabric or lines that have now been drawn . The pieces should be secured at regular, close intervals to help the layers stay aligned. The layers can be secured with dressmaker’s pins, safety pins or tacks of contrasting coloured thread to remove later – whichever is your preference.  Keep the pins safely between the quilting lines as the aim is to complete the quilting without having to remove them at any point before completion.

Once all layers are secured, begin sewing the quilting lines using a long straight stitch of 3.5-4mm. I decided not to sew over the embroidered design, so started at the edge of the pice of embroidery and quilted my lines outwards towards the edge of the fabric. I started at the centre line, quilting lines either side until I had sewn the outermost lines, then flipped the piece around and did the same with the horizontal rows of squares. For every row of stitches I left a tail of thread 15cm at the beginning and end of the stitching to neatly secure later.

After no time at all the quilting pays off with a finished piece of soft and padded embroidery.

To neaten the tails of any thread near the centre of the work I used a regular sewing needle to pass any thread that remained on the public side of the piece through to the back at an inconspicuous point along one of the already existing stitch holes and then worked the thread in on the reverse side. In the interest of full disclosure, the back of my quilted piece looks like this.

The final stage is to piece the Sewing machine cover together. To d this take the long narrow piece you have cut and begin pinning with right sides together up one side, across the top and back down the other side of your quilted piece, and sew with a 1.5cm seam allowance.

Do the same with the piece of fabric for the back, ensuring that the right sides of the long strip and the back piece are pinned together before sewing. Once you have something resembling your sewing machine cover, neaten all your steams to prevent fraying and unnecessary strain on the seams by either zig-zag stitching the raw edge and trimming, using pinking shears if your fabric is less prone to fraying, binding with bias tape or any other method that you choose to finish seams with.

Next you’ll want to give your cover a quick press to help shape it to its best. Once it’s looking neat and prim, pop it on your machine and lightly mark in a disappearing ink pen or with a few pins exactly the point at where the cover meets the table or surface that your machine is resting on. If you have an extremely large amount of fabric here you can trim away some excess to make your turned hem a little narrower, but the aim is to hem the cover so that it rests perfectly and neatly on the table. The stiffness provided by the quilting should help the front to almost ‘stand up’ to show off your embroidery work to its best, so use that to determine a nice, straight line. Once you have the hem length established, turn under twice to the back of the fabric and secure with a row of stitching to finish neatly. Give the cover a final light press and pop on to your sewing machine to admire your handiwork.

A sewing machine cover will not only improve the look of a machine that doesn’t quite fit into its surroundings (obviously not an issue if you have a beautifully ornate machine or just love the aesthetics of the one that you have) but will also help to protect from dust and the effect of sun on some plastics, which as reader JodieBodie has mentioned can be quite damaging to the plastic of some sewing machines causing both discolouration and drying/weakening of the plastic. Arguably this is more of a consideration of the hot Australian sun that she has to contend with than it is here in the rainy Wast Midlands, but over an extended period of time UV light can cause damage to plastics at any intensity, so your new Sewing Machine Cover will be both practical and stylish: just like you.

Sewing Machine Cover Part 3: Free Embroidery Pattern And Stitches Tutorial

Once you have gathered your materials for your sewing machine cover (part 1 in this series of posts) and taken all the relevant measurement for cutting your pattern pieces (part 2), you’ve made your way to the really fun and beautiful bit of the project: the embroidery.

Though this pattern is given to  work perfectly with the Embroidered & Quilted Sewing Machine Cover project, it can of course be used for any project or artwork that you may with to use the embroidery pattern with. You can, of course, make your sewing machine cover with no embroider for a more minimalist look, but if you want to really make the project shine it is recommended that you at least give the embroidery a go: it is a complete beginner’s project and only three stitches (all described in the tutorial below) are used.

The embroidery pattern consists only of simple lines. If you wanted a simpler pattern you could leave off the decorative swirls on the side of the machine, but again they are quite simple to stitch and worth the little bit of extra time to complete.

Download The Free Embroidery Pattern

After downloading the Free Sewing Machine Embroidery Pattern you will need to transfer it to your fabric. The PDF download is sized to be printed on an A3 sized sheet of paper, which should be about right for most sewing machines but can be re-sized as needed. If you do not have access to an A3 printer, many libraries and print shops will be able to print the design for you, or you can select to tile the printing on two smaller sheets of paper and join these together (consult your printer manual for instructions on how to do this).

Transfer The Design

To transfer the design to your fabric it is suggested that you use dressmaker’s carbon paper which is wisely and inexpensively available. Give your fabric and iron to make sure it is crease-free and lay it right side up on a stable, hard surface. Place your carbon paper carbon-side down onto your fabric and your printed embroidery design with the print facing upwards on top of this. Once everything is centred, pin all three layers together.

Using a smooth writing Biro pen, trace over all of the lines of the printed design, pressing down on the hard surface to make the marks distinct. Once you are sure that every line has been traced, un-pin your layers and admire your tracing skills ready to start stitching.

A Guide To Stitching The Design

Place your fabric in your embroidery hoop to keep the surface taught and begin stitching over the design that you have marked. As this was my first embroidery project and very much a beginner’s undertaking, I only used three simple stitches in completing the embroidery: running stitch, back stitch and stem stitch. Each of these are simple linear stitches and will give you lines of various weights and properties, all covered in the guide below.

Running Stitch


This is the simplest of all the stitches. It’s simple in-and-out motion is usually the first stitch used by children learning to sew, but there are a few pointers that will help make the stitches more beautiful. The stitch can be worked left to right or right to left – whichever feels more comfortable to work. After securing the thread at the back of the work with a simple knot the needle is brought up through the fabric and then back down in a series of stitches that follow the pattern line. To keep this stitch neat the stitches should be of equal length and at an equal distance – spacing should be reviewed for consistency.

  • This stitch has the ‘lightest’ look of all the stitches given here due to the spaces in between the stitches giving the appearance of a dished lines, so use this for the lines of the design that you wish to appear least bold.
  • The ‘weight’ of the stitched line can be given a different appearance by lengthening or shortening both the length of the stitches and the space between them (refer to step three in the diagram above). A line of long stitches with short spaces in between them can give a heavier look then a line of very short stitches which are spaced further apart. Use this to give variety to your lines of running stitches.
  • A suggestion of a change of speed or weight can be given by slowly adjusting stitch and space length along a line of stitches. A line of stitches where the stitches begin very long and then gradually get shorter until they appear only as pin pricks can give the impression of the line tapering off into nothing, or into the distance.
Back Stitch

This stitch provides a clean, solid line of exactly the same weight as the thread(s) you are working with. Unlike running stitch there are no spaces between the stitches so a well executed back stitch will give you a nice, clean, solid line. This stitch should be worked right to left for a right-handed person, or in the opposite direction for someone who is left-handed. Instructions are given here for a right-handed stitcher.

Step 1: After securing the thread at the back of the fabric with a simple knot, bring the needle up through the fabric (A). Pass the needle back down through the fabric to the right of point A at the desired stitch length (B) and back up through the fabric (C) to the left of point A. Points B and C should be the same distance from point A for neat, even stitch length.

Step 2: To make the next stitch, pass the needle back down through the fabric at the left point of your last completed stitch (point A). You should aim to pass the needle through exactly the same point where your needle first made a hole. Bring your needle back up through the fabric to the left of where your thread emerges from the fabric, again maintaining an even stitch length (D).

Step 3: Continue in this manner, passing the needle down through the fabric at the left point of your last completed stitch and back up through the fabric to the left of where your thread emerges, always with an equal stitch length. In the third diagram above, the needle movements are as follows:

  1. Up at A
  2. Down at B, up at C
  3. Down at A,  up at D
  4. Down at C, up at E
  5. Down at D, up at F
  6. Down at E, up at G

This stitch is very neat and easy to execute once the rhythm of the stitches is established. Remember to review stitch length for consistency and to stitch carefully along the lines to ensure a smooth finish.

  • The weight of back-stitched lines can be altered by the number of strands of embroidery thread used. A single strand of embroidery thread can be used for very light lines and up to three for more substantial lines. The Sewing Machine design was stitched throughout using three strands of embroidery thread for a bold result.
  • When working around tight curves a shorter stitch length is preferable so as to give a smooth contour to the lines rather than a staggered or jagged appearance, unless that is the look specifically desired.
Stem Stitch

This stitch provides a weightier line of slightly overlapping, smooth stitches that appear like satin at a longer stitch length and as if to twist rope-like around each other when the stitches are kept very short. This is the boldest of the three stitches given here and should be used for the lines which are desired as most prominent.

This stitch is similar to the reverse side of back-stitch and has a similar rhythm when being worked. There are several ways of working this stitch and the method given here helps to ensure that the stitches are neat and all worked around each other in the same direction.

Step 1: After securing your thread at the back of the fabric with a simple knot, bring the needle up at (A). Pass the needle back down though the fabric at a point to the right (B) at desired stitch length. Bring the needle back up through the fabric half way between points A and B at point (C) whilst holding the thread above the stitching line with the non-dominant hand until the thread is completely drawn through.

Step 2: Pass your needle down through the fabric (D) ensuring that the stitch length is kept consistent. Bring the needle back up at fabric at point B, through the same point in the fabric as the end of the previous stitch. Keep the thread held above the stitching line with the non-dominant hand until the thread is completely drawn through.

Step 3: Continue in this manner, ensuring that the trailing thread is always held above the stitching line whilst the needle is drawn through, to keep the stitches working around each other in the same direction. In the third diagram above, the needle movements are as follows:

  1. Up at A
  2. Down at B, up at C
  3. Down at D,  up at B
  4. Down at E, up at D
  5. Down at F, up at E
  6. Down at G, up at F

The stitch length should be regularly reviewed to ensure neat and consistent work. By making sure that the needle passes through the fabric at the same point where the stitches meet will result in a smooth stitch line with no jagged edges.

  • Shorter stitches have a shorter distance to travel around each other, so the result is a more twisted ‘rope’-like result with some texture.
  • Longer stitches can result in a smooth line with a satin-like appearance.

Which Stitches To Use

The sewing machine embroidery pattern can be stitched using any combination of the three stitches above, as well as any others you may enjoy working. The design can be stitched using only one of the stitches if so desired, but by varying the chosen stitch, colour and number of strands of embroidery thread used and variables such as stitch length the overall appearance of the design can be given subtle variation. Main outlines can be worked in bolder stitches whilst delicate design elements can be worked with a lighter touch.

The key things to remember if this is a first embroidery project is to take your time and enjoy watching the work build. Experiment with stitching on a scrap piece of fabric to test variables and to see if you favour particular stitches.

Once the embroidery is finished it will be used to complete the sewing machine cover in the next post, so stay tuned!

Sewing Machine Cover Part 2: Measurements And Pattern Pieces

The first post in this project gave details of the skills (many optional, all suitable for beginners) that you can use to make your very own beautiful embroidered sewing machine cover.

Making a sewing machine cover to fit your machine’s specific measurements is pretty simple as long as you take a few basic  requirements into consideration.

You’ll need to take the three basic dimensional measurements of your machine. Those measurements are:

  • Your machine’s height at its tallest point (which should include the tallest protrusion, which is likely to be your thread spool holder)
  • Your machine’s width at its widest point (which will include the hand wheel, stitch selector dial or any other point that extends beyond the main side of the machine
  • Your machine’s depth – the measurement from the frontmost to rearmost part of the machine – again, all protrusions such as the ‘reverse’ button or any dials or other buttons and levers should be included in the measurement to find the widest part.

Once you have measured and re-measured the height, width and depth of your machine with all protrusions included and made a secure note of these measurements you will use them to calculate the sizes of three rectangles. The first two that form the front and back of the cover) will be the same size. Take your measured sewing machine width and add 8cm. Take the measured sewing machine height and add 5cm.Mark and cut two rectangles according to these measurements.

You’ll cut your final rectangle by first taking the measurements of one of the two main pieces you have just cut as shown below. Take the total measurement of both sides and the top of one of your cut pieces to give you the total length of the final piece. The measurement of the shorter side is given by simply taking the ‘depth’ measurement of your machine and adding 8cm.

If you wish to give a padded, quilt-effect to your finished cover you will also need to cut your fusible fleece pieces. I only quilted the front of my machine cover for stability. To do this simply cut a piece of your fusible fleece to the same dimensions as the piece of fabric you have cut for the front of your machine and then trim 1.5cm off of all four edges (this will allow you to sew the seams without having to tackle any extra bulk). Do not apply your fusible fleece at this stage. To protect the fusible fleece you should also cut a piece of lining fabric exactly the same size as the main fabric for the front of your machine cover.

These are all the simple shapes you need for your sewing machine cover. The next post will cover the embroidery pattern and simple stitches that even a very beginner such as myself can use to decorate the cover.