Roller Presser Foot

February 11, 2006 by  
Filed under Die Cutting Machines and Supplies

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problems setting up a sewing machine.?

Hi s there a list somewhere giving basic instruction on how to set your sewing machine to sew:

thin nylon.
thick nylon (like rucksack straps).
coated fabrics.
cotton fabrics.
thick cotton fabrics.

I have a basic understanding about tension, length of stitch etc, but no idea what to change (or if I need to) when sewing different fabrics.

any help or advice would be very welcome.

Cheers.
p.s. I understand, and use differing strength needles and thread.

In general, the thicker the fabric, the longer the stitch, and the heavier the needle. Choose the needle style by the weave or knit characteristics of the fabric and the thickness of the fabric (for your heavy rucksack straps, for instance, if I couldn't get a good stitch with a size 16 jeans needle, I'd go to a size 16 quilting needle, which is meant for thick jobs.)

Generally, do not adjust the bobbin tension on the machine. Almost all tension problems on home machines are either top tension issues or thread jamming issues (particularly if you're getting puckering). Standard tension for virtually all stitches, all fabrics is 4; if you have to go out of the range of 3-5 to get good stitching, you're generally going to find that your machine has another problem... dirty tension, misthreading, warped or worn tension, something like that.

If your machine has adjustable presser foot pressure, use that to aid in fabric handling, particularly if plies of fabric want to scoot. If it doesn't have adjustable presser foot pressure, put that on the list of must haves for your next machine.

On needles: among other pages on the Schmetz needle site (look around!):
http://www.schmetzneedles.com/education.html
(and print out the needle ABC and keep it with your sewing stuff!)

On seam puckering and how to tell what's causing the problem: http://www.syntheticthread.com/seam_puckering_bulletin.htm (lots of really good information on that site about needle/thread/fabric interactions -- though aimed at industrial sewing, a lot of it still applies.)

Coated fabrics often stick to the sewing machine, to the presser foot or to each other. Tissue paper above and/or below and/or between the plies of fabric can help (I often use cheap toilet tissue, the kind that is sort of glazed and doesn't do a particularly good job for its nominal use. It's made to disintegrate in water, so any little bits left after you're done sewing come out in the wash.) Roller feet, teflon feet and walking feet can help.

I'm not sure what you mean by "differing strength threads", but if you're using upholstery style threads that are thick, they are generally not meant for home sewing machines and will often score the tension disks, causing the need for repair. Thread should fill approximately 50% of the eye of the needle -- if there's only 40% of the width of the eye free, go up in needle size or go down in thread size. If you've not seen a comparison of a "suite" of needle sizes: http://www.picturetrail.com/sfx/album/view/17206792

Don't use thread that will not break before the fabric will. It's a whole lot easier to resew a popped seam than it is to reweave or patch fabric that is torn.

If you're trying technical gear sewing (and you may be from the sounds of things), DO NOT SEW CLIMBING EQUIPMENT. DO NOT REPAIR SLINGS OR SIMILAR WITH A HOME MACHINE. If your life depends on a piece of gear, buy it professionally made. The stitch pattern, the stitch size, the weight of the thread all figure into the performance. Professionally sewn gear is worth it. Sew as many backpacks, rain pants, gaiters, jackets, bicycle shorts, etc. as you want, but do not sew climbing gear.

More helps: http://www.specialtyoutdoors.com/ (especially sources, links, gear making tips)
http://www.amazon.com/Sew-Any-Fabric-Reference-Fabrics/dp/0873496434 (mostly fashion fabrics)
http://www.amazon.com/More-Fabric-Savvy-Resource-Selecting/dp/1561586625 (more beginnerish)
http://www.amazon.com/Sewing-Outdoor-Gear-Rochelle-Harper/dp/1561582832
http://www.amazon.com/Sew-Repair-Your-Outdoor-Gear/dp/0898860571
http://www.amazon.com/Sewing-Activewear-Singer-Reference-Library/dp/B001M0BO5C

From your use of "rucksack", I'm going to guess you're in GB, perhaps. I'd suggest you might want to look around at Kate Dicey's website: http://www.katedicey.co.uk -- she may know of other books of use to you with outdoor goods. I know she sews for her husband and son and has made a lot of outdoor kit over the years.

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