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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

More sewing machine advice

When I think of something like this I will post it.

My friend who was trained in a European sewing machine factory also told me this:

1. Most sewers use far too large a needle, this is particularly true when they work with thick or dense fabric. 

His rule: use the finest needle you can. He liked 60 for thinner cottons and rarely used a heavier needle at all, say a 100 (this is metric translate this to a 16). 

In fact he said that the most important part of the needle was the point and that the pointier the easier it was for the needle to pierce the fabric - for wovens he recommended a "sharp" needle and didn't really like universals which he said were like rose wine- not as pleasing as the right red or white. His all time favourite multi-purpose woven needle was a 70 denim (Schmetz makes these among others) which he said was the pointiest needle and did a far better job with heavier fabrics that say a 100 (16) universal. 

"Which would be easier to nail into a wall," he said, "a fine finishing needle or your elbow?" The larger the needle the more area and therefore force required. Stitch quality is lost.

2. Machines, particularly those with metal bobbin cases "love oil." Without oil the friction of the machine causes the metal to swell as it heats and this causes wear and consequently creates loosening in the parts so the efficiency of the mechanism is lost. Like how old machines rattle.

A good hook oil (one that goes in the bobbin case) is clear, not coloured, and evaporates in the air - this prevents oil build up. He advises "washing the hook" every once in a while and showed me how to do this.

You put a piece of paper towel down in front of the machine and take the thread out. You then put quite a lot of oil into the bobbin case on the hook (the finger that goes around the bobbin in the case), put down the presser foot and run the machine fast for at least 5 minutes. All the little fibers will come flying out of the machine with the excess oil.

I do this to my Pfaff regularly and it really improves my stitch.

OK now off to work.


Karin said...

Great post! It's fun to hear little tricks of the trade.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, I read a Threads article that said you should match your needle to the thread you're using, not the fabric. Since I generally use a fine thread like Metrosene, I've always used smaller needles (usually 70). I've never had a problem.

I totally agree with what he says about universal needles, too. I use stretch needles on knits and sharps on wovens. Quilting needles work nicely on wovens, too, because they pierce the fabric easily.

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Interesting...I tend to use a smaller size needle and now I know there is a justification for rather than I like the way the stitches look!