Top 5 Things to Consider when Purchasing a Sewing Machine
Get the best machine you can for what you can spend. Consider this an investment, like a good camera or bike.
Buy from a dealership, not a big chain store. When you buy from a dealership you are also gaining a resource – getting assistance, experience, advice, and usually a machine owner class where they can guide you through all the features of the machine and learn how best to clean and maintain your machine.
Sit down and sew on the machine. How smoothly does it run? Does it make a lot of noise?
Take swatches and samples of fabric you work with (or hope to work with) and test out the machine. A little bit of time spent with a machine and your swatches can go a long way in determining whether the machine is right for you.
Get a machine you can grow into, but not so big that you feel intimidated to use it or feel bogged down by unnecessary features. Consider what you plan on using the machine for and what you hope to possibly do. If it doesn’t now, can it help you accommodate these goals later?
Basic Maintenance: Tension & Skipped Stitches
Poor thread tension often comes from an incorrectly inserted needle. Machine needles have a flat side that should always face the proper direction of the sewing machine. Consult your sewing machine manual.
Check that the bobbin is wound correctly. It shouldn’t have any loose threads or loops sticking out. Never wind thread onto a bobbin that already contains thread – always use an empty bobbin. Only use bobbins that are designed for your machine. Keep in mind that cheap thread can affect your tension.
Tension can be adjusted easily using the tension dial, but consult your sewing machine manual before doing so. The tension is too tight if the lower thread is pulled up to the top of the fabric, in which case, reduce the upper thread tension by adjusting to a lower number on the tension dial. For the opposite problem, when the upper thread is pulled too much to the underside of the fabric, the tension is too loose. Adjust the tension dial to a higher number.
Skipped stitches are symptomatic of several things, but a bent needle may be the culprit. When the stitches randomly start skipping, change your needle. If the stitches return to normal, then the problem was a bent needle. It can be caused by such things as tugging too hard on the fabric or the needle hitting a pin. Relax your hold on the fabric, and allow the feed dogs to pull it through.
Make sure your machine is threaded correctly. Keep the pressure foot up every time you pull the thread through the machine.
Another cause may be that the needle and thread are mismatched. Be sure the use the correct needle and thread for the job. Use ballpoint needles for sewing knits and sharps for sewing woven fabrics. Different weights of fabric need different sized needles, sometimes just changing the needle size will solve the problem.
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