Author: Amy

How to Remove a Vintage Machine from a Cabinet

Have an older machine that needs service, but you don’t want to load it and its cabinet in the car? Don’t worry, you can take it out. See this video to see a great tip on removing it. I’ll do another the next time we get a machine in a cabinet here in the shop. Once it’s been taken out of the cabinet, usually there’s a way to unhook the electric cords and/or unplug them. Just take a peek up under the cabinet.

Need a Foot? Shank Type is Important

I see so many folks trying certain sewing techniques without the best foot for what they are doing. Your sewing is much better and more enjoyable when you have the right tool for the job. Or foot, in this case.


Here at Sew Simple we have a plethora of feet!


Not only do we have the spinning tower of Janome feet for nearly every technique you can think of, we also have a pretty good selection of feet for vintage machines. Plus, many feet can be used on other brands’ machines.


We’re pretty knowledgeable when it comes to matching up feet to machines, but there are a lot of machines out there; vintage, antique, brands with no nearby dealers….


What’s the first step to matching up a foot for one of these machines?


It’s determining the shank type.


If you’ve followed along at Amy’s blog, Amy’s Quilting Adventures, you know that she teaches two classes with Craftsy on quilting with rulers. This technique requires a special foot and with over 19,000 students enrolled in just the first class, she’s gotten pretty good at answering the shank type question.


You can read her whole post on determining shank type, though it’s primarily focused on ruler work (quilting with rulers in free motion). But here, we’ll distill it down so you have the knowledge you need to know when you come get feet for your machine at Sew Simple.


First, does your machine have a vertical bobbin and metal bobbin case or does it have a drop-in type bobbin? Next, we look at the actual presser foot bar (aka the shank).

how to shank type


First, remove the shank or foot from your machine. We’re going to measure from the center of the screw hole where the shank or foot attaches.


Some machines have feet that attach at this hole, while other machines have a snap-on shank and the feet are easily interchangeable. Removing whatever is attached at the screw hole makes it easier to see the measuring point.


Now lower the presser foot lever. We need the machine to be positioned like you’re ready to sew even though the foot isn’t attached.


Again, make sure the presser foot lever is down.


Now measure from the bed of the machine to the screw hole.

how to find sewing machine shank type

If the distance is 1/2 inch, you’ve got a low shank machine. (Low shank on left, high on the right)


If the distance is 1 inch, it’s a high shank machine.
low and high shank

Above is a standard low shank Janome machine on the left and my beloved Janome ruler foot combination on a high shank machine on the right.


Those are the easy machines. But there are some machines that don’t fit into these two main categories.


First there are some machines that are high shank machines, but the needle position is different than regular machines. These are the straight stitch only machines like the Janome 1600P and its clones: Brother 1500, Husqvarna Megga Quilter, Juki 2010, etc. These are considered a high special and use the same feet as the Janome 1600P. We’ve got feet for these machines.


There are some machines that fall somewhere in between high and low. These are usually Pfaffs, but not all Pfaffs are medium shanks. Before declaring your machine a medium shank, make sure the presser foot lever is in the down position. Pfaffs that use a special half-way position for free motion are considered medium shanks.


Berninas are….well, Berninas. See your Bernina dealer.


Some vintage machines have slant type shanks. They need slant type feet. We have a decent selection of these.


Additionally, most modern machines (other than those high speed 1600P types) now use a snap on shank and then the feet attach to it. You may need to look for feet that have the foot and shank as one unit, but many machines can be fitted with a modern snap on shank with makes changing feet so much easier!


Still have questions on what feet fit your machine? You can always bring it in for us to fit it with a foot or take a few pictures with your phone and bring that in.


We are happy to help your sewing be as enjoyable as possible!


We are central Virginia’s Exclusive Janome dealer and repair/service center. We also perform knowledgeable sewing machine repair on a wide range of sewing machines. We also conduct classes on a variety of sewing techniques and is the only place to learn quilting with rulers from Amy in person.

How to get Better Stitches: Mystery Issues Part 1- Thread Caps

Sometimes when sewing we get a mystery issue. You know the kind, everything looks right but every once in a while the thread tension goes off for a bit and then is fine. Or there’s a noise that catches your attention and then disappears. Or the thread breaks and after re-threading, everything is fine. Sometimes it takes re-threading a few times, changing what seems like a minor variable, and then it’s OK…maybe just for a while….


Or maybe it’s not fine and you take the machine to the dealer and they check it over, re-thread it and everything is fine. Frustrating to not have a clear cut explanation isn’t it?


Some people will pass it off as a fluke, some will blame themselves, others will blame the machine.


What follows is one in a series of posts I will be doing on some of the causes of these mystery issues. Yes, there are reasons for some of them. Sadly, these things won’t fix every mystery and sometimes the issue isn’t knowingly or permanently fixed, but this series will give you several troubleshooting steps to go through to help with these things. Sometimes you fix something without really knowing what you did.


The first one involves how your thread feeds. If the thread doesn’t feed evenly, it can cause inconsistent tension, cause the thread to jump out of the proper threading, or breakage.


First, is your thread good? Cheap thread can have tons of lint, inconsistent thickness, even slubs. Old thread gets weak, dusty (hello? dust = lint.) Sometimes even the good stuff can fail us. Maybe you got a spool that was damaged, impacted by a manufacturing issue, or something else. Is it a coated hand quilting thread? That stuff is not good for machines! Leaves a residue in the tension discs and bobbin case, plus is springy, causing twists and loops in the thread path and even in the finished stitch. Some threads are delicate and take extra care with use- special needles, a different spool pin orientation, different tension. Sometimes a rayon spool is grabbed by accident. Rayon is easily broken when used like a polyester thread. Cotton breaks easier than polyester.


I’m not saying don’t use a good rayon or a quality cotton. Heck, sometimes we can even get by with using the cheap stuff. But sometimes the thread is the issue.


Sometimes how the thread is fed off the spool is the issue.


I’m going to finish up this post with just one particular issue about how thread feeds off the spool/cone, but I’ll be writing more about some other variables in this series.


If you are using a horizontal spool pin on your machine (sideways), you need to use a spool cap.


A spool cap (sometimes called a spool holder) holds the spool or cone on the pin. These usually come in two sizes (there’s a third type I’ll talk about in a minute) and are meant to not only keep the spool from coming off the pin, but to hold the thread slightly away from the actual spool. This keeps the thread from getting snagged on the spool, especially if it’s an older spool with the notched edges and a slot cut in it for the thread end.


It’s not necessary for the spool cap to hold the thread tightly against the attached end of the spool pin. I like to let there be enough space that if the thread pulled on the spool as it unwound, that the spool could rotate. This would keep it from jerking.


Nobody likes jerks, especially your machine. In fact a jerk can cause the machine to get its thread in a wad. (If your brain substituted panties there, it’s ok.)


In our shop, we still see some vintage/older/mature/aged sewing machines. Some of these machines do have the horizontal spool pin, but may also have a separate spool cap-like piece that is meant to be on the pin before the thread is placed on it, then a spool cap to hold the thread in place like above. If this base is missing, thread might get hung up at the base of the spool pin or rub against the machine.


Obviously, if these spool caps get damaged, nicked, dirty/sticky it can cause the thread to occasionally get jerked or feed poorly. Keep them clean and in good condition.


I mentioned a third type of spool cap earlier, and now I’m going to tell you about this wonderful little Janome item. This tiny little savior of my thread collection debuted with the Skyline S5 and has come standard now with most of the newer, bigger machine models. Many people (dare I say some Janome dealers) might not realize its potential, but it can be used on nearly all Janome machines on the horizontal spool pin. It can also be used on Kenmores, Elnas, and other brands of machine. I don’t know if other brands other than Janome and probably Elna have a similar part. I order these lovely little special spool caps as a replacement part by the dozen or more.


Why are they so awesome? Well, there are new threads out there that are cross-wound onto cones; my beloved Glide, Cairo Quilt, and the bigger sized Aurifil for example. These threads don’t want anything to come between the top of their cones and the machine. Maybe you’ve been doing this:

wrong spool cap for cones

Or this:


But what you need to do is this:



This cute little special spool cap is made just for these types of threads. As the cone gets smaller, there’s a bigger chance that the thread can loop around these other spool caps.


This is just one of many things that can solve your mystery issue. Can you get by with using the other spool caps on these types of cones? Probably. We’ve all done it from time to time, I’m sure. But it’s another thing to check when you have those intermittent mystery issues.


Spool caps are cheap. Messing up a great quilt/project or an unnecessary trip to the repairman isn’t. (BTW, if you aren’t local, we sell this special spool holder at Amy’s Quilting Adventures.)


One of the best ways to keep your machine running great is keeping it cleaned and oiled. If it’s been a while since you’ve had your sewing machine serviced, or your in need of sewing machine repair, we are happy to help you. Sew Simple has been the place to go in south-central Virginia for sewing machine repair, service, and quality Janome machine sales for nearly 30 years.

Year-end Fabric Sale

fabric sale Sew Simple of Lynchburg

It’s nearly inventory time and we’re having a sale on all fabrics. December 29-30 (Thurs. and Fri.) all fabric on bolts will be reduced by $2 per yard and all precuts will be 20% off. These are all our high quality quilting cottons and our beautiful Art Gallery denims and voile.


We will be open 10-5 both days and closed for New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

Anna Maria Horner M100 Janome

We just got in the new Janome sewing machine inspired by designer, Anna Maria Horner. Take a look:

Anna Maria brings color and inspiration in the form of craft, sewing, needlework, books and friendly how-to. Since 2006, her every growing library of fabrics has delighted and adorned creative souls around the globe. Anna Maria has been the Spokesperson for Janome America since 2011. As of 2014, she is the founder and proprietor of Nashville’s Craft South store. Craft South opened the doors to its permanent location during spring 2015.

Designed by Janome’s Spokesperson Anna Maria Horner, the AMH M100 is a beautiful answer for the maker who wants to create custom garments and home decor. The AMH M100 includes all of Anna Maria’s favorite features and accessories for her everyday garment sewing, patchwork and quilt making. It has a wonderful selection of 100 built-in stitches and includes cutting edge, easy convenience features that give you an essential variety for your diverse sewing needs.

Utilize the AMH M100’s built-in needle threader, snap-on presser feet, automatic thread cutter, auto-declutch bobbin winder and 7mm stitch width. These features make your sewing easier and more convenient.

My favorite feature on this style of machine is the needle-down setting, which makes the needle stop in the down position everytime. It’s like having an extra hand while sewing. The tie-off feature is pretty awesome too. Press it and the machine stitches in place 4 times, securing your line of stitching without any messy back-tacking. The backlit LCD screen with easy navigation buttons make choosing stitches a breeze. Enjoy a smooth and quiet operation while you create garments, quilts and gorgeous home decor with this great sewing machine.


Come on into the shop and check it out!


Sew Thankful

In celebration of all we have to be thankful for, Amy has changed up our window art at Sew Simple of Lynchburg.

We at Sew Simple are so, sew thankful to serve the central Virginia area with quality Janome sewing and embroidery machines, fabulous sewing machine repair and knowledgeable service with a smile, and now fabric, notions, and classes.


We hope you are celebrating a year of many blessings this Thanksgiving Day.


Small Business Saturday

After the hustle and bustle of Black Friday and the craziness at the big box retailers, join us on Saturday, November 26th as we continue to give the customized service that only small businesses can give.

shop small with Sew Simple of Lynchburg

  • The first ten customers will receive a #shopsmall tote bag with their purchase.
  • Receive a free precut fat quarter of your choice with any purchase over $50.
  • Purchases over $100 will receive a free fat quarter, plus a special gift.
  • All floor model machines will be marked down to fabulous prices for Small Business Saturday only!

No floor model machines are older than 6 months, most are much newer. All have a full warranty and our 3 year free service. If you haven’t seen our beautiful new fabrics, Saturday is a great day to check them out.

As always, we thank you for supporting this family business. Without your continued support, we wouldn’t be here.


I am so excited to announce here that Sew Simple of Lynchburg now has fabric. This will help us support our classes better and help our customers with their creative endeavors. Prints by Corey Yoder and Bonnie and Camille, cross-weave cottons, and even some “Grunge” which makes a fabulous background. We’ve got high quality basic solids as well.

fabric wall at Sew Simple of Lynchburg

It’s a small selection, but it plays nicely together. As it sells, we’ll add to it. I’ve got even more on order for January and February delivery which will coordinate with these prints. I can hardly decide which fabrics to pull first for a sample!

Come take a look and feel the quality.

buy great machine embroidery designs here

Janome Embroidery Designs

Ever since Sew Simple stopped carrying Dakota Collectible CDs a few years ago when downloading designs from the internet became so popular and affordable, I’ve been trying to figure out how to share with our customers the embroidery designs that we love and don’t carry as CDs. Giving out a printed link for a specific design is cumbersome and we’re not set up to sell downloads through our web site.

By the way, did you know that we do have an online store? It’s part of Amy’s earlier work as a Craftsy instructor and quilting blogger: Amy’s Quilting Adventures. Check it out. We’re still trying to figure out how to integrate this web store with Sew Simple.

But I digress…. Janome has developed a partnership with OESD (Oklahoma Embroidery Supply and Design), an embroidery design and supplies company which allows us to set up as an affiliate to promote their designs (and other designers)  and products  with our customers. For our work in sharing their products, we get a tiny portion of the sale when our customers make a purchase through our links. Designs are offered in a multitude of formats as well for those of your who haven’t made the change to our wonderful embroidery machines or have an off-brand back up machine.

buy great machine embroidery designs here


This allows me to access a lot of their designs and stitch them out and share the best of them with you! We all know that not all designs stitch out like their pictures and sometimes you need to see the design in its stitched form before realizing what you could do with it. It also gives us some interesting options for our machine embroidery classes.

Our “Shop News” blog is a great place for me to share the information with you so you can easily click through to the design. No need to write the info down and key it in later. We’ll also share these through the shop’s Facebook page.

OESD and their superior tech support handles the download portion of your purchase as well as shipping any physical products they may offer. We just share the product links with you.

Physical products? Yes, they sell physical products as well. You can order the embroidery designs as downloads, as CDs, or on USB drives. There are other physical products they sell as well. That’s part of the arrangement that I’m not wild about. I’m a shop, not an advertising agency, but I can’t stock everything either. So if you find products that you love on the site, order them if you must, but if it’s something we carry in the shop already, I bet we’ve got it at the same price or better and you won’t need to pay for shipping. If it’s something you think we should carry, let us know and we’ll look into it.

So how does it work? First go to and click on the buttons as shown in this screen shot below.

Janome Embroidery site

Links to the site that we post for you will give us credit for your purchases, but you can also select us (Sew Simple of Lynchburg) as your “store” through your log in settings. Choosing a store doesn’t increase the price you pay at all and Janome also has special deals that you can only access by choosing us as your store.

When you buy designs through this site, your designs are also saved into your account there. So if your design is lost as you move the files or your computer crashed or needs replaced, you can download them again at no charge!

Customer support for is provided by the site management team, not through Sew Simple, but since we know the site because we use it too, we are available if you need someone to help you in person.

Best of all? Janome has declared the month of October as Janome Embroidery Month and are giving away free designs each day directly on their site here: Janome Embroidery Month

Scroll to the bottom of the above link and you’ll see a Janome sticker campaign. We have a limited number of these stickers in the shop. Come get yours before they’re all gone!


Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.