I’m going to start with a rhetorical question.
“Do you just switch on your sewing machine and start sewing without changing any of the factory settings to adapt to what you are actually sewing?”
Recently I had a discussion with someone regarding the use and availability, or not, of a walking foot for a particular machine and this started me thinking!
All models and makes of sewing machines are so some extent ‘individual’, by that I mean that the ‘factory presets’ are all slightly different. But on every occasion one is used it is used to sew something different and in a different way, so why should we expect that the machine can differentiate between all these ways of being used without input from the operator?
Stitch length, width, selection are just one set of presets that need to be changed. Needle size relates not only to the cloth being sewn but also to the thread chosen to sew it.
How many people consider the thickness of what is being sewn and alter the foot pressure accordingly? Until quite recently in sewing machine terms there was no such thing as a walking foot, adjustments were made to the machine settings to allow the sewing of thicker fabrics or more layers. Feed dogs were not able to be dropped below the level of the footplate and to compensate for this a raised footplate was made available to produce the same effect.
Here are a couple of examples that you may not have thought of.
This one is for the Patchworkers
When you are sewing across seams that have already been sewn and pressed to one side how often do you find that for some reason when you go from sewing 2 layers to sewing several layers your stitch length shortens?
Have you considered altering either the foot pressure, to account for all the extra layers OR the stitch length to allow for extra movement over the additional layers OR both? Not for the whole of the seam but just to cover the areas where there is more bulk.
And this one is for the Dressmakers
Do you keep the stitch length the same when you are sewing a straight seam and a curved seam?
What effect do YOU have on the stitches, when it is you who are manipulating the fabric through the stitching mechanism, rather than when the natural movement of the feed dogs is feeding the fabrics through in a straight line?
By lengthening the stitch you allow the pre set movement of your machine a little extra time for you to manipulate the fabrics into position and prevent any pulling out of shape.
These are just two simple examples of how, by using the adjustments available on the machine, can improve your use of a sewing machine and by that action improve the quality of your work.
It is a constant mystery to me how people will change needles , threads and machine feet before even considering altering the settings on a sewing machine to accommodate what is being sewn.
So the next time you go to your sewing machine take a few minutes to alter whatever needs to be altered to suit whatever it is you are working on and remember you can make changes as you sew if you need to.