Author: Amy

8 Free Motion Quilting Tips for Confident Beginners

My mantra when it comes to free motion quilting is, “practice, practice, practice!” Especially while teaching a beginner’s class. I encourage beginners to doodle designs and practice stitching first without thread, then doing a bunch of practice pieces. Pot holders and quilted mats for fur babies make good practice pieces, followed by place mats.

tips for free motion quilting
8 free motion quilting tips for confident beginners.

But when you just can’t stand to do another practice piece or an emergency quilt project comes your way, there are some tricks to help your free motion quilting look its best and I’m linking a previous article of mine here for you.


These tips have to do with your set up, batting, thread choices and color, backing, and doing what you can to relax during the process. Click here to read the article: 8 Free Motion Quilting Tips for Confident Beginners.

Rip It!

If you follow Sew Simple’s facebook page, you may have seen some of the live videos I’ve been doing. I repost them on Facebook so you can watch it anytime, but Facebook doesn’t always show every post to those who like our page. That’s just the way Facebook works. The more you comment, Like, or Share a post the more likely you’ll see our tips, videos, and news. But I’m going to try to post highlights here on the shop’s news page.


Janome Skyline S9

I am so excited about the latest machine in Janome’s line up, the Skyline S9, and honestly, it takes quite a bit to get me thrilled about a new model. But this sewing and embroidery combination machine has some super-duper bells and whistles on it that you will actually use and yet, the price is reasonable for a machine of this type.


It’s not that it looks all that different. In fact it looks pretty much like the other Skyline models (S3, S5, and S7) but it also does embroidery. The MSRP at $3,999 is a full $1000 less than the MC9900, which is another sewing and embroidery machine of a similar size. We can’t advertise our actual price on this machine online, you’ll have to check with us instead.


And yet, this baby does so much to make embroidery so much easier! The full color, large touch screen makes it easy to see designs on the machine. It also has a ton of great editing features so you can combine and edit designs right on the machine. You can resize, flip, rotate, copy, and combine regular designs with any of the 20 fonts in the machine plus quite a few other edits to make designs unique to you. This machine also comes with its own software for your windows computer so you can edit before sending to the computer.


Enjoy choosing up to 250 embroidery designs, including 40 exclusive designs by Anna Maria Horner along with 300 stitches. With a maximum embroidery size of 6.7″ x 7.9″ and sewing speeds of 1000 stitches per minute, the Skyline S9 provides a full suite of powerful capabilities to ensure all projects are beautiful, yet easily executed.


This great machine includes Wi-Fi capability that makes it easy to send embroidery designs from an iPad or computer straight to the machine. You can also move designs to the computer directly via cable or USB. In addition, the Skyline S9 includes three iPad apps: AcuEdit, AcuMonitor and AcuSetter to make your sewing and embroidery time more efficient. I’ve been playing with the Accusetter app a bunch and it’s fabulous!

Accusetter app and Janome S9

The Accusetter app was previously only compatible with the Memory Craft 15000. It allows you to use the camera on an iPad (I use an iPad Mini and I think you can also use an iPhone) to take a picture of your project in the hoop and then overlay an image of your embroidery design over the picture and re-position it until it’s absolutely perfect. Hooped that T-shirt crooked? No problem. Once you’ve got the embroidery image positioned in the app, send it back to the machine and the design is automatically adjusted to stitch out where you wanted it.


In the above photo, note the two colors of red thread. This is the junction of two stitchings of the same design side by side. Look how perfectly they match up. No need for printing paper templates, marking or rehooping. I even purposely hooped the fabric crooked for the second stitching– note the basting line which is parallel to the hoop edge.


Imagine— a perfect line of embroidery around the hem of a dress, perfectly placed logos over a shirt pocket, combining multiple floral motifs for a huge design. For this Sashiko-style design and similar ones like it, you can dress up a plain fabric into something unique whether for a garment, bag, or background fabric for applique.


This machine has a full 8.25 inches to the right of the needle, so it’s a great machine for finishing your own quilts, whether you use the built-in walking foot (Accufeed foot) or easily drop the feed dogs and use free motion quilting. Sewing and piecing is a breeze as well and there is a wealth of feet that come standard with this machine.


I’ll post more about this machine as I have more time to play with it, but I encourage you to visit the shop and check it out!

Connect with Us

One of the reasons we bought Sew Simple is we love helping and connecting with creative people and helping them with their sewing needs. I am an introvert’s introvert and can become one with the wallpaper when in a crowd, but when there’s sewing, quilting, and creating to talk about, I come out of my shell. If you’ve met my husband, you already know he’s quite the outgoing talker. He loves the variety of machines he gets to work on. We make a great team.


We want to connect with you! We are having an open house event September 16-17 during regular shop hours. We’d love to meet you, show off some of the changes we’ve made in the shop, and demo some of our new machines. Come join us, enjoy light refreshments, and make sure to put your name down for a drawing of prizes.


During the open house is an excellent time to sign up for our fall class offerings. That’s right, after many questions from customers and a little prodding, I’ve finally committed to a class schedule. You can read more about them by hovering your mouse over the drop down menu above where it says “Shop News” and clicking “Classes and Events.”

Sew Simple of Lynchburg Sewing machine sales and repair

September is National Sewing Month and we’ve put all our machine feet on sale. Janome feet are at least 20% off and all AccuFeed feet for the 6600 and 7700 are marked down 40%!  We also carry a wide selection of vintage machine feet which are all $2.00 each! These can be hard to find, so come take a look. The right foot for the job makes a huge difference. Plus many of our feet fit on a lot of the other machine brands out there.


If you can’t see us in person, you can also find us online. The shop has a Facebook channel which is pretty active. I’m far from a social butterfly but I started my business online, so I’m on most of the popular social media places. I don’t tweet or snapchat–whatever that is. But as a Craftsy instructor, it’s expected to have a fairly large presence online. (By the way, that’s a special instructor affiliate link that will allow you to get my Craftsy classes at 50% off anytime). I’ve got a separate Facebook page for my blog where I do the bulk of my writing and tutorials.


I also have an online shop. It’s mainly for my Craftsy students as you can get anything there at Sew Simple, but you might want to check it out. We will probably start to offer more products from Sew Simple there over time. It’s been hard to get into the swing of things here at Sew Simple and keep up with my blogging, put I can always snap a picture, so I post on Instagram a lot lately with both items of interest to quilters and to our local customers. I don’t plan on setting up separate profiles for these things– I just wouldn’t be able to keep up!


I also have videos on YouTube. Thankfully, the only parts of me seen there are usually my hands, as I demo something at the sewing machine up close and in detail. There will be more shop content on there as we go forward. Then there’s Pinterest….that wonderful source of inspiration and time sucking vortex. Poke around on some of my boards and you’ll see what I’m finding interesting and what might end up in the shop. Don’t forget email. See the homepage here to sign up for the shop’s email newsletter. I promise not to spam anyone, nor fill your inbox too often.


Yeah, I get around…..but it’s all in the name of creativity with needle and thread.


Don’t think this is all one sided. These are places where I like to get feedback and help others. Ask questions, request certain classes, times for classes, products, whatever and I’ll do my best to help.

Janome feet artistic cutter sewing machine repair

Sew Simple’s New Look

Whew! Finally a few minutes to sit down and share here with you about all that is going on at Sew Simple lately.

If you’ve been a long time customer and came in at least every six months or so for the last several years, you know that I like to rearrange furniture, or in this case, display tables, machines, etc. Mr. Heckman was a very good sport about my attempts to change things up.

Janome feet artistic cutter sewing machine repair

As owners of Sew Simple of Lynchburg, Eric and I have really switched things up. Not only have display tables been moved, but so has the cash register counter! That leads to a whole new traffic pattern and I really like it as it gives us more room to set up for classes and to show new merchandise. There are new machines as well as a huge display of nearly every Janome sewing machine foot ever created. We’ve brought in a full display of our favorite embroidery thread, Glide and are awaiting a display of serger thread.

Sew Simple of Lynchburg sewing machine sales and repair in Lynchburg

I’ve done a little painting almost every weekend to freshen things up as well as moved some lighting fixtures to brighten things up as well. The shop is now the location for shooting my YouTube videos, so the lighting has to be good.

We love to service and repair your sewing machines.

One thing that hasn’t changed is serving our customers with smiles and making sure that their machines are running great. Eric is constantly working on machines, doing house calls (Yes, we can come to you if need be!), and as usual, being the chief Mr. Fix-it for me. He also is my “shipping department” for our online shop (Amy’s Quilting Adventures), sending out orders of rulers, ruler feet, and small quilting tools around the world. All our products and shipping materials are in the shop as well!

Sew Simple Assistant at the Janome 14000
Our shop assistant is stitching up a few signs for the shop!

Our three kids are usually in the shop during the summer too. My eldest is very helpful around the shop. He vacuums most mornings and enjoys “opening the shop” by raising the blinds and putting up the “OPEN” sign. He’s a great “go fetch-it” helper for both of us. My daughter is incredibly creative and loves to sew. She’s not fond of patterns, so her creativity sometimes doesn’t quite turn out as expected, but she’s learning a ton. Our youngest? Well, he’s the chief giver of smiles and cuteness.

Leah, threading a serger.
You may have noticed that the Heckmans have shut down the old site, so change your bookmarks to this site, or add us to your feed reader (I use Feedly myself to be notified of new posts from my favorite sites). Speaking of social media, I have added links to my regular blog, the shop’s Facebook page, shop’s email, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. here on the site. See the icons at the top for those links. I got my start as a quilting blogger, then Craftsy instructor, so I’m probably more active online than most small business owners.

My next big goal is to get my line up of classes for this fall pulled together and let you know about them.

So Much to Write, So little Time….

We’ve been busy cleaning, painting, moving tables and machines all the better to serve you while still continuing to repair and service machines. There’s so much I want to share with you, but it will take a little time to get this website sorted out and my thoughts written down.


I am so excited and privileged to carry on a great tradition of reliable help to sewists, seamstresses, quilters, embroiderers and creative stitchers in south-central Virginia and beyond.


Come visit the shop at 4900 Fort Avenue and see what we’ve been up to. Bring your machine in for a mechanical version of a spa treatment or a repair. Take a look at our new machines as well. We’ve got some fabulous new models from Janome to help make your creative stitching projects easier and more fun whether you’re working on a utilitarian repair or alteration, a gorgeous mix of color and shape in the form of a garment or quilt, or any other project involving fabric, thread, and stitching.


Stay tuned for more shop news and more information about who we are and what we do.