JUKI Tip: Working with Your TL Needle Threader

At JUKI we know how important it is to know your machine’s features and how to use them, so starting this year at JUKI we’ll be sharing monthly tips for creating on, and using, your beloved JUKI sewing and quilting machines! This month we’ll be focusing on the TL Series and its Automatic Needle Threader. Showcasing each step, and how the feature works, follow along below to view our Tip Video and breakdown.

Needle Up/Down Feature

The first step is knowing where your Needle Up/Down button is, and when to use it. Now the most important step to using your needle threader is, making sure the foot is in the down position (engaging the tension) and using your Needle Up/Down button to lower and raise the needle.

You’re going to start with having the needle in the highest position, before using your needle threader, so your machine can thread your needle.

Check out time stamp 1:42 to learn where you can find your Needle Up/Down button.

Threading Your Needle

Stopping right before the eye of the needle, we’ll be using our Needle Threader today to get our machine ready to create.

To start, your thread should be at the point right before needle-eye entry.

Next, we’re going to pull our thread off to the side and lower our mechanism all the way down. Now grab your thread and go behind that metal groove on the needle threader, and into the two grooves on the white piece of the mechanism, while holding your thread off to the side. Check out the time stamp 4:00 in our video about for an example of this section.

Now, when we raise the mechanism, you’ll see a loop formed with your thread on your needle. Once you see the loop, pull the thread carefully through the needle and to the right, completing your needle threading!

To learn more about the TL series visit our JUKI Home Sewing YouTube page here, or visit your local JUKI Dealer here.

Have questions about your JUKI machine? Let us know down below! We look forward to creating more JUKI Tips to help you bring your projects to life.

JUKI Spotlight: An Inappropriate Quilter with Leslie Bercher

Known for creating beautiful quilts, sharing tips and tricks for your sewing rooms, and her quilting podcast with co-host Rochelle Rice, we’re excited to spotlight Leslie Bercher, Quilter and podcast host for Inappropriate Quilters! Joining us for this month’s spotlight, we got to interview Leslie about her journey in quilting, the podcast’s beginning with co-host Rochelle, and how she created her brand.

It all started with Leslie’s grandmother, Helen. Helen was a member of a church that held Auxiliary Meetings where other members would quilt, crochet, and embroider. It took Leslie several years to watch her grandmother attend these meetings and see her create beautiful projects before picking up the hobby. So it was 2018 when Leslie, with two of her best friends, decided to take a class called ‘Quilt 101’.

“My first quilt was a log cabin, and I made two immediately. That was the beginning, and I haven’t looked back.”

Leslie began sharing her work online, finding a passion for creating and taking the time to build these quilts and designs. It was after a friend recommended she create a profile on social media, explaining she was missing out by not joining the online community when she opened her account. Opening herself up to the idea, she began posting and sharing her projects, excited to see how many beautiful quilters were out there in the world.

It was online that Leslie found a supportive community in her projects and offered her the opportunity to network and build relationships with new people! Consistently supporting one another in their ideas, and encouraging those who have lost their “sew-jo,” as Leslie says, has made the community, unlike any other group she’s been a part of.

This community has also been the inspiration for countless projects she’s created, inspired by other creators on social media. While not a modern quilter, she finds inspiration in all their designs picking from their color selections, patterns, and quilting textures. She also focuses on who she is creating, letting that drive much of the inspiration.

At one of these quilt retreats with the quilting community, she met Rochelle, someone who, according to Leslie, “has never met a stranger.” Leslie and Rochelle were placed in the same group, and their group’s theme was chickens! With their organized and over-the-top decorations, they couldn’t resist having a group mascot, Leon, the rubber chicken.

One day, during the retreat, Leon went missing! Leslie convinced Rochelle was to blame for the Rubber Duck disappearance, and she took it upon herself to ‘borrow’ Rochelle’s foot controller from her machine when she wasn’t looking. The joke would fall back on Leslie when Rochelle returned to the retreat the next day after a nice early night in, unaware her controller had been taken in the first place! They were fast friends after that, bonding over jokes and laughter.

 A couple of years later, the podcast topic would come up between the two friends. During a dream quilt vacation, a sewing retreat where two of their favorites, Camille Roskelley and Angela Walters, would attend, they were having breakfast when the idea popped into Leslie’s head.

With only an idea and some research, Rochelle purchased all the equipment while on their retreat and had it shipped to her home for when they arrived back in town. Excited about their new project, there was only one thing missing, a name! But, as their friends joined in on the conversation, one name stuck out. Walking away from their breakfast table, their friend Angela turned around and offered up “Inappropriate Quilters,” the perfect name for the inappropriate duo!

“Angela was getting up from the table and casually said, ‘oh, I know what you should name it. Inappropriate Quilters.’ We looked at each other and said, “that’s it!”

From there, the show project was on! Weekly episodes, released on Saturdays, became the norm where two quilting friends could join together to discuss life and quilting. With no script in hand, the two friends meet at Leslie’s studio weekly to record before she finishes editing and schedules the episodes Saturday morning. Finding their way into other quilters’ studios through their speakers, their show focuses on just two friends who love quilting, allowing listeners to feel like they have friends in the room with them when they’re creating.

One topic Leslie loves to cover is the process of creating and organizing your studio space. As quilters and sewists know, having a space that encourages creativity and allows you to move and build your projects is important! As an advocate for ‘Function and Beauty,’ we asked Leslie what recommendations she can offer to those building their studio space today.

“You have to start with function. But if it isn’t cute, it better have a very good reason to take up your space!”

What else can you find in Leslie’s studio? Her JUKI! With her Haruka TL-18QVP, named Camille after Camille Roskelley, Leslie has been able to create beautiful quilts and projects she loves. With 95% of her projects involving straight-stitch, she chose a machine that fit her needs. Her top three features at the time were: consistent straight stitch, an automatic thread cutter, and speed! Her best recommendation to sewists and quilters looking for a new machine is to focus on what features are important to you, figure out what type of stitches you plan to create with, the speed, and visit your local dealer! A local dealer can listen to everything you may want and offer machine recommendations and test-sewing.

Leslie’s quilting has opened up a community for her, allowing her to be creative, meet new people, and enjoy her hobby! As she’s transitioned to a content creator and business owner, we asked what advice she’d offer to someone trying to build their brand. “There are so many little things that you didn’t plan. Be gracious with yourself in the process.” Setting up the government business aspects of a shop, like tax ID, sales taxes, and even finding a partner, can be challenging, but the final product is worth it when you love what you do!

We’re so excited to continue seeing Leslies’ brand and content grow, especially with possible plans of opening a YouTube page for creators to join! Listening to feedback from the community she’s created is vital, and she trusts them to lead her toward new and exciting project ventures. So even with her reservations about being on camera, you can expect Leslie to meet her community in the middle and find a way to join the video world!

From quilting to running a podcast, we had a great time getting to know Leslie and going behind the scenes for her projects. If you’ve enjoyed getting to know Leslie and want to keep up with her and Rochelle’s podcast and future quilt projects, join us in following her socials and websites below!

Blog: read here!

Instagram: follow here!

Linktree: Find Leslies channels here!

YouTube: watch here!

Podcast: Inappropriate Quilters – available where you listen to podcasts

Inappropriate Quilters Shop: shop here!

JUKI Small Business Seminar: 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Small Business

Mistakes have a bad reputation in society, and we always try to avoid them, but mistakes can be seen as a lesson. Most people are afraid of opening their own business because they don’t want to make mistakes. However, those who own a business know that mistakes happen, and what you do after that matters. 

Business mistakes don’t stop your company from succeeding, but what they can do is help you figure out where you went wrong and help you create a better plan for the next time. Of course, you can’t avoid mistakes, but you can turn them into a learning experience and build a better company from them. 

The good thing is that we can prepare for some mistakes and hopefully prevent them from happening! So today, we will go through some of the top mistakes new business owners make and how to avoid doing it yourself. 

5 Common Mistakes New Businesses Make

Mistakes happen, and that’s okay! The key to avoiding them is having prevention plans in place. Here are the common mistakes we’re going to cover today and how you can avoid them:

  1. Don’t Forget Your Business Plan
  2. Know Your Finances
  3. Don’t Spread Yourself too Thin
  4. Know Your Target Audience 
  5. Don’t Forget Your Marketing Plan

Business Plan

Before you begin your business, one of the first things you should create is your business plan. This plan alone can help you succeed and stand out from competitors. What a plan can do for you is help you build momentum by creating a clear and researched idea that you can now put into play. 

Many people who want to start their own business tend to bite the bullet and do so without constructing a plan. Unfortunately, when you don’t know your niche, finances, business model, and logistics, you’re setting yourself up for future problems. These mistakes will cost you money, time, and effort. 

To avoid these mistakes, you need to create your business plan first and identify any unknown aspects before starting. For example, how are you going to ship your products? Where are you going to buy inventory from? How will you get your product out there?

Whenever you create or do something in your business, read back on your business plan to ensure your logistics, finances, and marketing can handle it. By creating your plan and having something to reference when making changes, you can fully comprehend what is happening in your company and improve.

Know Your Finances

When you don’t know your financial health, your company could be in trouble. 

When you start your business based on a hobby, we often skip the part where we get our ducks for finances. However, ask any business owner, and they’ll tell you that knowing your finances is one of the most important things to stay on top of. 

The good thing about business math is it’s pretty simple seeing how profitable your business can be:

Profit = Demand x (Revenue – Expenses)

The thing is, these expenses are everywhere and can pile up quickly if you don’t stay on top of them. Here are some of the costs you can accumulate in your business:

  1. Operating 
  2. Marketing
  3. Product
  4. Shipping
  5. Team

Here’s an example of the profit formula in play:

Assume 10,000 people are searching for handbags online per month. If half of this audience finds your e-shop, that is 5,000 potential buyers. 

Now let’s convert these viewers at an average of between 1% and 2%; that’s 50-100 sales. So if your average order value is $100 and you have a net profit margin of 30%, your profit will be anything between $1,500 and $3,000 per month. 

While these are rough estimates, if you’ve done the math on your product or service, you know what to expect once sales begin. Avoid common financial mistakes by keeping track of your potential profits and cash flow using the above formula.

Need help creating your business finance budget? Check out our article here on how to make your budget and calculate profit today. 

Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin

While it can be exciting to open up your shop, one of the common mistakes many make is selling too many products. We know that when one item doesn’t sell well, our first response could be to add new and exciting products, but this isn’t always the best solution.

Remember to focus on your brand, not the products, when it comes to deciding what merchandise you’re going to sell in your shop. For example, if your brand focuses on a niche for handbags, you shouldn’t post products that aren’t related, like pet accessories or gadgets. Knowing your brand and audience is how you’ll obtain sales. 

A better example of adding a product is if you create handbags, you can add new products like wallets. It keeps within your niche and stays true to your brand. Spreading yourself thin with by-products can often be due to not knowing your brand or audience well, so it’s best to plan out what products you’d want to create first, then make and add them.

Know Your Target Audience 

When you’re planning your business, take into account who your target audience is. The best research for this will lead you in the right direction for what products to create and where you can reach your audience. It’s easier to create a product for an established niche than to create a place for a product. 

When it comes to researching your niche, keep in mind to review their numbers and analytics and how to interact with them. Keeping up with your niche can assist you in making sales, updating or creating new products, and building that connection between your business and the consumer. 

Remember, even niches have niches, and finding your ideal customer can take time and research. 

Have trouble finding your niche? Check out our article here for some tips to start today.

Don’t Forget Your Marketing Plan

You could have the best product in the world, but without proper marketing, no one will know about it. So if you’re setting up your online shop, that should mean you have a business plan ready. Within this should be your target audience. Creating your marketing plan should be easy once you know who your customers are! 

Keep in mind that if you don’t know who your customers are or where to find them, you will have a difficult time creating a marketing plan. 

Try and focus on a well-rounded marketing plan that hits all corners of your niche. Of course, some channels will have more traffic than others, which is okay! However, whatever channels you decide to market on, make sure that they receive the focus needed to get your brand and product out there. Whether organic (non-paid) or non-organic (paid advertising), ensure your plan is in place before opening your shop.

Have trouble creating a marketing plan? Check out our article here on how to write your marketing plan today. 

Mistakes Happen, Be Prepared! 

Don’t let mistakes be taboo for you and your company. No one can predict when things will go sideways, but we can be prepared and ready to bring it right back on track. Keep in mind these tasks below when it’s time to start your small business:

  1. Make sure to create a business plan
  2. Keep up with finances and have a budget ready. 
  3. Focus on what products are essential, and stay away from stretching yourself too thin. 
  4. Know who your niche is and how to reach them
  5. Create your marketing plan before setting up a shop

These tasks may take some hard work, but you’ll be happier with the success rate of your company and the comfort of having something to follow along with or fall back on when those mistakes happen.

Are you ready to start planning your business? Join us here to learn more about how JUKI can help you become your own boss today!

It’s Always Halloween with Christina O.

With the fall season upon us and our favorite spooky holiday around the corner, we’re here to introduce Christina O, owner, and designer of Agashi! A handmade collection, the Agashi style focuses on modern gothic apparel & accessories; intended for those who love to celebrate Halloween every day of the year. Join us this month as we get to discover the history of how Agashi came to be and how Christina found her passion for fashion and running her shop.

From a young age, Christina became obsessed with sewing and crafting. From creating outfits that her Barbie dolls could wear to upcycling projects on her mother’s old Kenmore, Christina would constantly find a way to work on her craft. Then, with dreams of leaving her small town after high school to become a fashion designer, she focused on what she would need to do to achieve her goals.

Classic & Bat Wing Kiminos

Coming from a family where becoming a fashion designer seemed more like a faraway dream than reality, Christina was prepared to do everything it took. Evaluating her options, she entered her community college before transferring to Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) for their fashion merchandising program. While her path to becoming a fashion designer changed for Christina and may have been different than she planned, her dream is still happening!

“It wasn’t going to happen easily for someone like me, and I was prepared to do whatever it took. Not having many resources will force you to become resourceful.”

While Christina admits she would’ve chosen the path of the self-taught designer over school, her hard work was beginning to pay off. After college, her downtime was focused on sewing and creating. However, after trying her hand at creating accessories for her shop, she soon realized apparel was her favorite project to focus on. By Halloween of 2010, she was able to move to Philadelphia, where she ended up meeting her future husband, Paul.

It wasn’t until 2013 that Christina launched her current fashion brand Agashi! With only $50 worth of material, she was able to put together a few harnesses and kawaii-style dresses for the first few months of her shop opening. Over the next couple of years, Christina would go on to add theatrical crinoline pieces and obtain some of her first custom-order customers, burlesque performers! This success was a step in the right direction, leading to her career change in 2015, where she could quit her day job and place all her focus on her brand.

Battress Gown

It was in 2017 when Christina and Paul moved into their first home in Philadelphia. Agashi began growing faster than ever, surpassing their home space and pushing Christina to open up her first official studio space in 2018, including shop assistants. While the shop continued to see great success over the next couple of years, 2020 brought the shop to a slow down, causing Agashi to be brought back home after closing the studio due to the pandemic.

Due to Christina’s passion for the business, Agashi is still live and running! She also launched her first YouTube channel for sewing, DIY, and Behind the Seams content during the summer of 2020, creating a new connection to her community of followers and new sewists. During this time, she began modeling a new path for her business, one where her passion for creating fashion and teaching sewing skills could intermix. Now, Agashi offers smaller quantities of made-to-order wear at faster turnaround times, allowing Christina to slow down and push her passion for teaching into the mix.

One focus about Agashi that never changed was sustainable fashion. While she acknowledges that not everyone has the financial ability to only buy made-to-order, Christina sees sustainable fashion as “buying with a purpose and purging clothes slower.” To avoid over-production, Christina focuses on creating made-to-order pieces and upcycles 90% of her fabric scrap pieces when sewing.

“My entire process is slow, intimate, and intentional. I’m grateful to have customers who invest in my custom pieces. They aren’t ordering for instant gratification, but rather an affordable luxury item they can cherish.”

Battrix Velvet Bralette (made 100 from upcycled velvet scraps)

Avoiding offers from manufacturers, the quality of her work and products is what Christina focuses on when creating her apparel. With each project feeling personal, she continues to place a lot of thought, time, and labor into each stitch of her pieces. Her dedication and message seep into her packaging with a handwritten thank you note, sustainable packaging, and self-sewn reusable gift bags.

While the shop’s plans for sales may have changed, her fashion design hasn’t! Those lovers of the gothic aesthetic and Halloween can find a piece they’ll love in Christina’s shop. Christina was inspired by cinema with darker themes like Addams Family Values, The Dark Crystal, and The Return to Oz. She found herself naturally drawn to the characters portrayed, connecting to the “weirdos” of the films. As someone who grew up having trouble making friends, finding a connection in these films inspired her to design fashion for grown-up sizes. With a variety of minimal designs, horror lovers like herself can easily wear fashion with spider webs and bat wings, celebrating their gothic ways!

Her style inspiration can also be pinpointed to vintage lingerie catalogs and old runway shots from McQueen, Mugler, and Gaultier. Victorian and Rococo fashion inspire Christina heavily over today’s fashion, feeling that the style now is only a repetition of the past.

“Agashi is for anyone who celebrates Halloween once a year or every day.”

It’s this niche design and theme that brings attention to Christina’s shop, where lovers of all Goth and horror can find fashion pieces that fit within the modern world. Thanks to social media, Christina has been able to build a community of over 100 thousand followers that have followed along the journey to where the business is today. Whether they’ve followed because they found interest in the shop, or her recent videos showcasing tips and tricks to sewing, she’s been able to utilize these platforms to grow her business and expand her brand awareness.

Ayumi Seifuku Classic Collection

As a business owner focused on social media for branding, she consistently posted content multiple times a week that revolved around her work and brand aesthetic. With Instagram being her platform, she’s focused on showcasing her work and her as a creator and behind-the-scenes looks. Focusing on building that connection between her customers and art is one of the reasons she’s been successful, with social media allowing her to connect with other creators, customers, and sewists.

While today’s social media can be more brutal to gain popularity on, Christina’s advice is to diversify your social media presence and focus on platforms that will help build your community. She recommends focusing on video content that’s popular right now and seeing how you can share behind the scene looks or process videos, as viewers will always love feeling like they can relate to you! Sites like Tiktok and YouTube are her favorites. This is thanks to their ease to use and the sewing communities that have been built.

Her new focus on sewing tutorials and tips is an excellent passion for Christina. When asked about her current sewing machine choices and what she would recommend for a new sewist, she reminded us that finding the perfect machine is just like dating!

“You want to know what you’re looking for and find the best machine to match your sewing needs and goals. And yes, just like dating, you will be disappointed with some machines.”

Her first tip for new sewists is to find a second-hand or vintage machine. Focusing on budget-friendly when entering a new hobby will allow you to get a taste of the craft while letting you hone your skills. A few basics, like a straight & zigzag stitch and a buttonhole feature, are perfect when starting off. Once you feel more comfortable or your skills begin outgrowing your machine, you can start focusing on upgrading and buying the suitable machine for you. For Christina, this answer comes in a rotation of 3 domestic sewing machines, 4 sergers, and 1 coverstitch machine, one being her trusty TL-2000Qi!

Greta Peignoir

It was in August 2020 when she searched for a “straight stitching beast,” focusing on the features wishlist, the budget, and the space, she chose the TL-2000Qi. Looking for industrial power that would fit her studio space, Christina loves its power and the finished quality of her projects when she creates on it, using it for her final seams on every order. Her dream goal? All industrial JUKI machines!

Beyond her tips and tricks for sewing, Christina also has advice for sewists out there who plan to open their small businesses. “Always invest in yourself and learn from your mistakes,” she says, encouraging those out there to keep investing in their passion and to never stop learning. While Christina earned a degree in Fashion Merchandising, she still acclaims herself as a self-taught sewist and designer. She encourages you to find your best path, whether it be fashion school or self-taught, and to learn at your own pace to enjoy the journey.

Focus on building relationships with those in your community, and choose it over the competition. Christina focuses on finding her own identity and experiments by not comparing herself to others. Because of this, she’s been able to plan the new future for Agashi. With a new effort to prioritize her mental health, Agashi will begin scaling down on made-to-order apparel and start focusing on teaching sewing next year. This will include DIY sewing kits for clothing and accessories and focus on those who don’t have many resources to learn sewing beside the internet.

“There is plenty of space for everyone to succeed together.”

Grateful to the community she’s been able to build and proud of how the brand has grown and evolved over the years, Christina and her brand Agashi will continue to flourish in the fashion industry! We can’t wait to see the new changes soon to come, and we’re excited to learn alongside her followers! If you love Halloween or want to learn new sewing tips and tricks, join us in following Christina’s journey below and wishing her a Happy Halloween!

Find Agashi and Christina below!

Agashishop.com

Instagram

Facebook

Etsy (Paper Bats)

Tiktok

Pinterest