Tips And Tools Tuesday – Balking At Bulk?

Does your sewing machine BALK at a bulky seam?  Mine does.



Sometimes I need to sew over an intersection where many seams converge as in this eight-pointed star.

When the presser foot reaches the bulkiness, it “balks”.  It just sits and sews in place.

I used to have to tug a bit on the fabric to get it to move under the presser foot. That’s not a good idea for at least two reasons. Sometimes, when I tugged, I’d actually be pulling back the needle along with the fabric. That can be dangerous as it could hit the throat plate and bend or break.  Also, by tugging on the fabric, I never knew exactly when the presser foot and feed dogs would move the fabric under the needle. I’d tug on the fabric and suddenly, whoosh! It would fly under the needle, creating a couple of huge, uneven stitches.

Not cool. :/

Also, I’m a pinner. When I have an intersection that needs to line up just right. I pin.


I line up the intersection, and place a pin just before and just after it so there won’t be any shifting. I don’t remove the pins until the needle is straight down in the intersection. That means….

I sometimes sew over pins. Now, I don’t just sew lickety-split, pedal-to-the-metal over them. I slowly and carefully hand-walk the needle over the pinned section.





Now, because I pin, and carefully sew over those pins, I am rewarded with perfect intersections like this one.

Well, if these scenarios have happened to you, I’ve got a tip for a tool that will make you do a happy dance!



It’s called a Jean-a-ma-jig.



I bought it many years ago for when I needed to sew my husband’s work jeans.




Simply, pick up your presser foot, slide the Jean-a-ma-jig in behind the needle and push it forward to butt up against the bulky area to be sewn. Drop the presser foot and slowly begin sewing. Place your finger at the back of the Jean-a-ma-jig to keep it in place as your presser foot moves forward.  When your needle is down in the center of the bulk, you can lift the presser foot and move the Jean-a-ma-jig around to the front, butting it up to the bulky section.  Sew a few more stitches until the needle is past the bulk. This eliminates the roller coaster effect that creates huge stitches as the presser foot slides down the hill.



The slot in the middle is an inch long and allows room to sew while the presser foot moves easily off of the bulky section.






This Point Turner by Oxmoor House also, has slots, so it can be used in the same manner as the Jean-a-ma-jig.

Its slots are 3/8 inch and 3/4 inch, and it is not as thick as the Jean-a-ma-jig. It stills works very well and is great for getting pointy points, too!



The next time you have a bulky seam, give this tool a try.

Leave a comment below and let me know how it worked for you.

As always, I hope this tool makes your quilting easier!


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