Friday, October 24, 2008

Try To Use The Right Needle

Today there are many different kinds of needles. New techniques demand new tools. New applications create demand for specialty items.

Sewing today is far different from the textile production of the 1930's and 40's. The introduction of the home zig zag sewing machine in the 1950's and the home serger in the 1960's caused a revolution in how sewing was done. The results are spectacular. The introduction of computerized sewing machines in the late 1980's and 90's expanded the possibilities even further. Sewing machine repair has also changed.

The variety and potential of sewing machines has been expanded a thousand fold. Consider that during the 1940's the top of the line sewing machine boasted a straight stitch with a few gadgets. Today a top of the line sewing machine will have literally thousands of stitch combinations. The sewing machine repair technician needs to learn all the ins and outs of the new mechanical and computerized parts in the sewing machine.

Along with the revolution in sewing machines, has come a huge expansion in the variety of specialty needles available. There are many sizes of home sewing needles 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 16, 18... There are sharp point needles, ball point needles, universal point needles, winged needles, twin needles, triple needles, quilting needles, embroidery needles, leather needles, denim needles, big eye needles, long scarf needles, stainless steel needle, titanium needles, and more.
Singer sewing machines use to use a color banded system. Today needle packages are usually marked simply based on their size and specialty application.

Using the right needle will make your project go smoother and easier. Matching the fabric, thread, and needle is almost an art in itself. However, when you use the wrong needle, expect problems.

As I indicated in my last blog, it is important to differentiate between the user error and true mechanical problems. Education is often the solution to the first. Sewing machine repair is the solution to the second.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Needles Are Not All The Same

As a sewing machine repair technician, it is essential to be able to tell the difference between real sewing machine or mechanical problems, and user error.

While it is probably not a good idea to tell a sewer they made a mistake, often what they see as a mechanical problem is simply a case of user error.

This is especially true when a customer attempts to use knit or stretchy fabrics without changing their needle. Even the best sewing machine will produce skipped stitches and poor quality stitching when the user fails to use the proper thread, needle, and fabric combination.

Needles today are made with very specific applications in mind. Some have very sharp points to penetrate tightly woven fabrics. Some needles have rounded or ball point tips to slide through knit fabrics without pricking or catching the knit fibers. It is essential that you use the right needle for the application at hand.

Recently, I had a customer bring her sewing machine in for sewing machine tune up. She complained that all of sudden it just started skipping stitches. I asked her about her project. While she had sewn for many years, she did not realize that a special needle was needed for knit fabrics. Most of her sewing had been on woven cottons, but she just wanted to do this one project using a very stretchy fabric. The result was frustration.

As a sewing machine repair technician, I believe it is our duty to explain to our customers the simple solutions to their frustrations. Simply stated, if you sew woven fabrics use a sharp or universal needle. If you sew on stretchy fabric, use a ball point of stretch needle. It saves loads of frustration and possibly even a sewing machine repair bill.