Favorite Sewing Machine Features

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0000:19:10 Favorite Sewing Machine Features


Episode Summary

National Sewing Machine Day (June 13) is the same week as Juneteenth (June 19). This episode recognizes African American inventor Garrett Morgan. It is well known that he created the 3 way traffic light: before Morgan’s innovation, traffic lights were either red or green. He introduced the yellow light, a public safety precaution still used today. One of his lesser known inventions is still in use today: the capability for a sewing machine to stitch a zig zag stitch. Generations after Morgan’s inventions, sewing machine technology continues to thrive.Tune in to hear some amazing sewists share their favorite sewing machine features. What sewing machine technology do you most appreciate?

Episode Notes

Special Thanks to those who visited the  Black Women Stitch Club on Clubhouse and participating in this conversation.

Joanna Ali

Leona Braithwaithe

Erica Bunker

Courtney Cooper

Nikki Griffin

Naomi P. Johnson

Queenora Irvin


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Read Full Transcript

Lisa Woolfork 0:00

Hello everybody, before we get started today, I wanted to tell you about Juneteenth and some exciting plans we have coming up.

Juneteenth is a celebration of Black freedom. This year the Stitch Please podcast will celebrate Juneteenth all month long under the umbrella of creative liberation inspired by Alexis Pauline Gumbs teaching us that "freedom isn't a secret, it is a practice." The Stitch Please podcast will celebrate the many ways that Black women, girls, and femmes get free, stay free, and be free. Tune in for the entire month of June for some absolutely amazing episodes that you will not want to miss. See you there.

Seizing Freedom Promo 0:57

You might have learned that the Emancipation Proclamation and union victories ended slavery in America, but there's so much more to that story. Season freedom is a new podcast from VPM and witness stocks that uses firsthand accounts to show how Black people define freedom for themselves during the Civil War and Reconstruction. Find us at vpm.org/freedom and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Lisa Woolfork 1:39

Hello stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together. Hey, friends, hey, welcome to this fat quarter episode. A fat quarter if you don't know already is a quarter yard of fabric that has a little bit of junk in the trunk if you know what I mean, a little body yada yadi. It's designed to be more useful for quilt projects such as applique, or craft projects that requires a more robust piece of fabric. So, a fat quarter is a more consolidated version of a traditional quarter yard of fabric. A quarter yard of fabric measures nine inches by 44 inches wide, typically for quilting cards. And that is not particularly useful if you are using paper piecing, for example as a way to assemble your quill. So, instead of using that long skinny rectangle, they use a fat quarter; a fat quarter in the context of Stitch Please means that we are going to help you get your stitch together in 18 to 22 minutes or less. That's right, each back quarter episode will be 18 to 22 minutes, or less, so here we go. Today's fat quarter episode continues our series about Juneteenth and creative liberation. We are stopping and pausing to honor Garrett Morris, an African American inventor who was responsible for such amazing inventions as the precursor to the gas mask for the three levels traffic light. Back in the day before Morris, traffic lights only had green and red. There was no yellow, it was just green and red. And he introduced the idea of yellow, it's hard for me to even imagine what that must have been like, but either you go or you stop. There's no slow down, speed up, I don't know, it just sounds really bizarre. Thanks to Garrett Morris, who's genius created this meaningful safety innovation that we've had for many years. So, one of the things that Garrett Morris also created was an attachment for the sewing machine that allowed it to stitch side to side. This is what we know as the zigzag stitch. And he has a patent for that invention, and I don't remember the year, but he spent some time in the 1920s working at a sewing machine repair shop and then he had his own his own sewing machine business, and it's just really cool to learn a lot about Garrett Morris. So, the connection for us today is that for our fat quarter episode, that's right in 18 to 22 minutes or less, you are going to hear from really wonderful sewist in our community talking about what their favorite sewing machine features are. So, you're about to hear from them right now and maybe you want to think what is your favorite sewing machine feature? Do they line up with what the folks that we're speaking with today have shared? Stay tuned to find out.


Hello, my name is Courtney. My Instagram is Courtneymadethis and my favorite option on my sewing machine is the thread cutter. I bought my sewing machine specifically for the thread cutter. I hate cutting thread, and I love that there is an option after I finished stitching where I can push a button and cut some threads. So that is my most favorite option on my sewing machine. Also, I'm lazy and appreciate the fact that there is a start stop button but that means that my foot pedal situation has gotten a little fuzzy over the time because you push a button and you start stitching, and you can stitch away, but thread cutting, absolutely number one.


Hey Lisa. Hey everyone, I'm Queenora of Queenora Renee Fabrics. You can find me on Instagram at queenora_renee, or my business at queenora_renee_fabrics. I have two things on my sewing machines that I absolutely love and are my favorite features. The first is the one step button maker. On my very first sewing machine my button homemaker did not work. I didn't know if it was the machine itself or maybe the foot was just too big to really compensate for what I was trying to do, but for the first years of my sewing, I did manual button holes with the satin zigzag stitch and bar tacking it. So after doing manual buttonholes for years, my newest sewing machine does the one step button hole and it is wonderful. I'm happy to have it and then to compound on that, I have a start stop button on this machine that I did not have on my previous machine. And, with the one step button hole maker, I can press start, and it just goes. And then in my regular sewing, I can just hit start and it just goes, start and stop. That is my second favorite feature. And it really helps even with just rounding a bobbin I don't have to put my foot down and get shin splints for winding a whole bunch of buttons, I can just set it up, start, let it do what it do and then stop. So those are my two favorite features.

Johanna SoVeryJo 8:41

Hi Lisa, my name is Johanna from soveryjo.com and my favorite sewing machine feature has got to be the knee lift slash thread cutter. I know that's too technical, but once I upgraded from my starter machine it came with a knee lift and I love it so much because I don't have to stop and reach behind my machine to lift the presser foot when I finished stitching. I know it sounds like such a simple thing, but it makes a world of difference to me, and I just totally love it.


Hey there, I'm Nikki from SewingMyStyle. Thanks for including me in this conversation. I absolutely love my bobbin notification. I am always running out of bobbins. So when my bobbin tells me that it's almost out, that's like when you drive your car and you're running out of gas. You know exactly how much you got left and how far you can go. So, I play chicken with it all the time because it gives me a notification and I look at my garment and I think, "Okay, can I get finished?". And sometimes I can't, sometimes I can. But it's also supported by my stop and start button, which I know is a lot of favorites, but that way, when I'm filling the bobbin up and rewinding, I can just hit stop and start and I don't have to sit there. I know how long it takes, I can go up to the table, come back, whatever. So yeah, I would say on my machine, it's a great feature that I didn't have before, and when I got this one, it was like, yes, that is my favorite.


Hello, my name is Leona. I'm from London. I'm a kean home, and I'm mostly sew for myself with the occasional gifts for friends and family at Christmas. In terms of my favorite sewing machine feature, I thought I'd I provide about three. Number one is the automatic thread cutter. For obvious reasons, it's super easy, you just press the button at it's such a game changer. Number two is the fact that when I stopped sewing, the needle stops in a down position, and that makes it easy for if you're pivoting and you're overworked, whatever you're doing, which I think is really quite helpful, and it enables you to do those pivots in sections without losing your place when leaving a room when you stitch. My third one is the automatic threader, depending on your lighting and your sewing area, etc, it can be quite difficult to thread your machine. And just having the automatic threader is just so much easier and just cuts the time of threading your machine in half.

Erica Bunker 12:01

Hi Lisa, thank you so much for having me on, and hello to your audience. I'm Erica Bunker, and my blog is Ericabunker.com and you can also find me on Instagram at Erica Bunker. My favorite feature of the sewing machine is the auto thread cutter, and on my machine, there are three different ways this feature works. The first one of course, is the auto thread button on the machine. And another way is that you can program your stitch to either tie off or back stitch and cut the thread at the end of the stitch. How cool is that? And a way I had never seen before is a thread code switch that's right on the foot control. It's a small pedal that's attached to the right side. And I also have to give honorable mention to my knee lift, cause girl, once you go knee lift, you never go back. That muscle memory will always be there, and now I need to track down a serger with a knee lift because when I'm serging, my body just automatically shifts for that. My knee is like looking for that knee control to finish off my sergen project. Thank you so much, Lisa for having me on.


Hi, this is Naomi. My favorite sewing machine features are the automatic thread cut, automatic tension, and variable speed control. An honorable mention is the needle threader. What I love about automatic thread cutting is that I just push a button and it's done. A little knot gets tied and the thread is cut, and so that's one less thing I have to think about or worry about when I come to the end of my project. I love automatic thread tension because tension is a place that can get really really tricky if you don't know what you're doing with the sewing machine, and so having a machine that is able to sense my fabric and my needle and my thread and figure out how my stitches needs to be without very much input for me is game changing and like life changing. It just saves me so much headache and just trial and error in my sewing. Variable speed control though is my favorite because it allows me to put my foot to the pedal and just sew. I can raise it to the highest speed when I am in a straightaway or when I am sewing something that is repetitive. And if I am doing detail work or work that has a lot of curves where I need to just really take my time and go slowly, I can lower the speed all the way back down, and not worry about how much pressure I apply with my foot to the pedal, so I really love that. And then the honorable mention for the needle threader is because as I get closer and closer to the big ages, my eyes, which were never really that great to start get more and more challenged, and so using the needle threader on my sewing machines is just a step boost, so I don't have to spend that extra 10, 20, 30, 90 seconds trying to thread the needle through, put the thread through the eye of the needle rather, it just happens automatically with the push down on a little button on the side of the shank of the needle, and then it's done. Thanks for listening to my input on my favorite sewing machine features.

Lisa Woolfork 16:47

You've been listening to this Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at Blackwomenstitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, p a t r e o n and you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews, but for those who do, for those that have a star rating or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the Stitch Pleas podcast that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together.

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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