Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ways To Improve Stitch Quality

The closet door opens. Your sewing machine is there neatly tucked away in its case. You pick it up and carry it to the kitchen table. You remove the case cover and take out your sewing machine. You are ready to sew. Unfortunately, it does not work. Suddenly, the creative excitement and anticipation turn to outrageous frustration.

This is the single most common cause of discouragement for sewers. Sewing machines that are not working properly; are like a car that will not run. Why not just quit and forget it?

Sewing consistency includes regular sewing machine maintenance and care. Infrequent sewing, tends to increase basic sewing machine problems due in part to neglect. For both the occasional sewer and the more active sewers, it is important to identify sewing machine problems and resolve them. Your sewing machine manuals will offer many tips and helps, but here is a simple sewing test that can make a big difference.

Problems have causes, and the mission of the sewing machine user is to figure out those causes and find answers to those difficulties.

When you sew, you come to expect certain things. Most of all you expect a properly formed stitch. When a good quality stitch fails to appear, it is a sewing crisis requiring immediate remedy.

Here is a simple but effective test every sewer needs to know in order to keep your machine operating properly. To perform this simple sewing test, set up a medium straight stitch and sew a seam four to five inches long. Using a zig zag stitch, repeat the test. Then examine the quality of stitches you just sewed.

Inspect your test seams. How do the stitches look? Ideally, the threads along the top of fabric snugly lay on top of the fabric separated by small puncture points. It should look the same when you inspect the bottom of the fabric.

Unfortunately, your test sew may expose some flaws. You may see skipped stitches, loose threads, balls or bunches of thread on top or beneath the fabric. You may even find that your sewing machine is not sewing.

When you see messed up stitches, begin your search for causes. Check three things: threading issues, needle, and hook-needle settings.

When you see problem stitches, the first step is to replace your needle. It is the most important and least expensive part on your sewing machine. It can get dull, develop burrs, or even be the wrong needle for your application.

Needles have different sizes and types of points. If the needle is too large or small for your fabric and/or thread; you will see distortions in your stitch quality. Sharp and universal points work well with woven fabrics, but will skip on knit or stretch fabrics. Ball point needles work well on stretchy fabrics, but will skip on woven fabrics. Bottom line: install a new needle that is right for the job, fabric, and thread.

Rethread using good quality thread. Avoid cotton covered polyester threads. Avoid snags and smooth rough spots. Follow the thread guides. Seat the tension discs. Make sure to connect with the take up lever and tension spring.

When the tensions are unbalanced; excess threads will collect under the fabric or on top of the fabric. While feed timing may, distort tensions causing threads to collect under the fabric due to faulty feeding. This, however, is much less common than the more frequent offset by either the upper or lower tension assemblies. The solution is to adjust the upper tension. If excess appears under the fabric, increase the tension. If excess threads appear on top of the fabric, decrease the upper tension.

If changing the needle and adjusting the tensions just does not work, you may have a problem with hook-needle settings. Most sewing machine users will need to take their machine to the shop for professional assistance to repair sewing machines.

From the sewing test, the user can identify and resolve most stitch quality problems. It is important not to become frustrated or upset. Instead, relax and process this simple test and double check the three major causes of faulty stitch quality.

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