The Importance of Sewing Machine Adjustments

Posted on January 26, 2021 by Stephanie Triplett

Creating breathtaking sketches and ideas is a wonderful talent to have, though many people dabble into the next realm, clothing design, to make their ideas a reality. You’ll have to entrust in the help of a sewing machine. The sewing machine will bring your designs from paper to real life. It’s important to have the aids you need and even more important to know how to operate them. Having a sewing machine will help produce a garment, but it's important to see to it that the settings are adjusted appropriately. These adjustments need to happen between each project. Even if the change is very small, it could potentially make a world of difference for the finished result.

Tension Control

An important part of every sewing project is within the stitches. They secure the garment and must be assembled with care, or the fabric could experience damage or puckering. Selecting the right thread tension means your stitches won't appear knotted and loose or rippled and too tight. The right tension is achieved when the upper thread and bobbin thread are balanced. Adjust the tension dial if your thread doesn’t have the right tension. In some cases, the bobbin tension may need to be adjusted if the bottom thread appears too tight or loose; this indicates a tension problem with the bottom thread. Needles, threads, and different fabrics will affect the tension settings. A broken or blunt needle or incorrectly threaded machine can also cause tension problems, so try troubleshooting those areas, too.

Stitch Length 

Adjusting the stitch length on a sewing machine tightens or loosens the seam that’s created. A tight stitch will create smooth curves and crisp corners; these stitches are best for reinforcement or delicate/fine fabrics, while loose stitches are best for creating temporary stitches for basting, gathering, or topstitching. Longer stitches (4mm or greater) are also best for thicker fabrics like leather, denim, or multiple layers. It’s important to adjust the stitch length to best suit your fabric and project.

Stitching Options

A straight stitch is the most commonly used stitch, but there are others. It's important to understand how to adjust the machine for different stitch types and fabrics. When working with stretchy fabrics, like swimwear or lingerie, a zigzag stitch will offer the flexibility needed to wear the garment without popping the seam. A zigzag stitch is also great for using decorative finishes. Another commonly used stitch used in sewing is the overlock stitch, which sews over the edge of the fabric and prevents it from fraying. 

Stitch Width

The stitch width is another setting to consider when sewing straight lines; this setting will change the needle position. It also allows the use of various guides to give the most control over the placement of stitches. 

Get to know your machine using Mood’s Ultimate List of Sewing Terms and the importance of making adjustments before, during, and after taking on a sewing project. Adjusting the machine is most beneficial when done in tandem with the correct threading techniques, thread and needle selection for the fabric, and sewing technique being performed. Machine settings alone won't create the perfect project, but they will greatly increase the likelihood that the garment is successful. 

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