Stitch Tension and Needles


Singer Sew Mate™ Sewing Machine Model 5400 - Fast Start


Lesson Info

Stitch Tension and Needles

When you turn the machine on, it automatically goes to straight stitch, so too, so are straight stitch. I've got a couple of fabrics here, and I'm going to just put the fabric underneath like so and lower the presser, foot lifter that's very important to lower the presser foot lifter when you start to so I've seen beginners, and if you are a beginner, I just want to call this out to your attention. I've seen now where people just put the fabric under here like this, they don't lower this down don't know that they're supposed to, so I'm telling, you know, and they start, they step on the foot controller and start sewing and nothing's happening and it's just making a mess. It can't draw the fabric through, so you have to put the presser foot lifter down. What happens there? They're these little things that look like teeth underneath your foot, the's air called feed dogs and what happens is when you put your fabric under here and then you lower your presser foot onto the fabric, the press...

er foot presses down against the fabric and the feed dogs and the feed dogs are actually moving as you so. They come forward that come up, they grabbed the fabric, push it to the back, drop down so it can come and get the next pass of it, and so it moves around and run. So the feed dogs are what? Draw our draw the fabric through as you so I find a lot of times when I've done sewing classes with new students, they tend to feel like they're supposed to pull the fabric back or push it and pull it at the same time, and you don't have to do that. The feed dogs do all that work for you, all you need to do is drive it, just steer it so let's let's do that. We'll just so a straight a straight stay here. Wait now with this machine like you always want to do, is stop with your needle in its highest position until the needle just begins to descend, and then you can remove your work from the machine, and when you remove your work, you can either cut your threats with scissors or there's a thread guide over here at the side of the machine that will leave your thread tales nice and long if I sometimes see people cut their threads real short, like close to the presser foot and the only there's nothing wrong with doing that other than that. When you take your first stitch the next time you so your thread will probably come out of the eye of the needle and you have to thread again. But eso, when you use your thread trimmer here at the back, they kind of magically become a nice, long enough size so that that won't happen to you. So that's a good habit to get into to prevent that. So let's talk about the reverse stitching, because when you actually, when you do so a seam, you you need to lock the stitch so that, um, it doesn't come undone. That would be like in your garment construction or home to core projects. You need to lock the beginning and end of a seem otherwise. If you just start sewing, eventually these stitches will start coming undone. So you have here a tw, the top of the front here of your machine. Rather, you have a button that is for reverse sewing, and so you can press that you can start sewing forward a couple stitches and then so backwards by pressing that. And then when you so forward again, then you locked your stitches in place on the same thing is true when you come to the end of whatever your sewing way, come the end of your scene you want to lock the stitches at the end as well so you can just press that reverse button again and then so forward again, look your foot off the controller so forward again, make sure that needle is in its highest position and draw your workout and trim your thread and then you successfully sona seem that won't come and done, um, because you've locked it at each end. Okay, so, um, let me tell you a little bit, then, about, um I want to talk about tension now what a balanced tension looks like I'm going. I've got a slide that I want to show you because it's kind of hard to show you this, you know, just live on a swatch of fabric cause it's so small something to move over to the monitor, and this is what your tension should look like on your piece of fabric when when you test this for yourself, when you have your machine at home, it's sometimes a good idea to put maybe one color of threading the needle and a different color and the bobbins so that you can really see how they are in relationship to one another ah but here is that this would be the top of your fabric and this is the underside of your fabric and you can see right here how needle thread bob and thread and how they kind of interlock right here in the middle of the fabric and that's a nice balance stitch now when you're sowing if you have um this is the top of your fabric and if your needle thread looks almost like it's a straight line with these sort of I'm sure we'll run your finger over the top of this almost feels like little beads of the bob and thread sticking up too much your needle thread is probably too tight and in which case we'd have to loosen the needle thread tension a little bit and I'll show you how to do that in just a second in the congress lee here we have where the needle thread was too loose and they'll probably look almost normal on the top side but when you look on the underside you see that same sort of beating effect on the bottom and and uh here the needle thread is too loose there's just too much thread in the needle tension and the bob and threat is almost like it's a straight line because they're just too much needle thread so in that case we want to increase the upper thread tension but we always try the needle, thread tension before we ever go down and do any adjustments to the bobbin. So let's, come back over here and I'll show you how to do that. Um, there's a dial here, it the front of your machine and this is your tension dial, and you'll notice that there's a cutaway right here that kind of is your marker, so to speak, and this wheel has a numbering system on it from nine, which is the tightest down to zero, which is the loosest, and if you turn these numbers and you see, oh, that number five has a little boy box around it that's kind of your average tension for most of your sewing and that's kind of like maybe where you'd start with any fabric or thread you're working with, you would start there. And then, if you're noticing any abnormalities in the way the stitch looks, you can adjust from there either a lower number, tow, loosen it up or a little bit tighter to tighten it up. Ok, now, how do you even know that you have good tension on the machine? So I'm going to show you ah, thread a test for the bob intention and a test for the upper thread tension so that you know you've got them. Threated correctly. So right now, because I just sown, I know that I've threaded the machine correctly, and how I can tell is when I have my presser foot lifter raised, and my tension is open or released, I can freely pull my thread through here, okay? When I put my press her foot down, and I pull this thread, and I can really feel the resistance in here, it's really firm, I know that. Then I've got my machine threaded, right? Because when I release it, the fact the thread flows freely, if I had my press or foot lifter down, and I was able to pull this thread really freely, that is an indication that I have missed something. When I threaded, I probably miss the take up lever, something I missed in here, and the best thing to do is just cut your thread, pull it out and raise the presser foot lifter and re thread your machine. Re threating is the best way to check against that. So then, you know you've got the proper tension on that thread, and you can adjust up or down from there. However you wish, depending on what you're selling now in your bobbin that's, a little different, that down below, this robin case actually has a tiny little screw on the side and how you can tell your tension is ok and you're bob and if you kind of jerk your wrist a little bit like this and it's just drops like a little tiny bit, it should drop have just a little tiny bit of drop to it this one feels a little tiny bit, so just a little bit of drop to it then you know you've got, like, good tension, but if you have something like this happen, I'm going to deliberately kind of do it wrong I can get it toe give it in there, get in there, get that really loose if it just if this just drops drops down like if you're if you just jerk your wrist and this just falls, you know that that tension isn't correct for that bob in case and you need to tighten this so you know, kind of that rule of the screwdriver lefty loosey righty tighty the same thing here you can tighten it up by just turning that little screw just a little bit and get that back where it needs to be and then we'll put that back in again where the arm reaches up at twelve o'clock and you push the straightforward feel its seat in there and then we'll turn the hand will toward us on ly toward us, not away from us to draw up that bob and thread and then we're ready to start selling again. Okay, so, um, I have another slide. I'm going to show you appear on the monitor, and that is another a place where you would adjust your needle, thread tension. And that is for the decorative machine stitching, so you'll notice the top side of the fabric looks like a zigzag stitch, and I can see a little bit of the needle thread on the underside. But the bobbin thread doesn't appear at all on the topside and that's kind of what you I want with decorative stitching, because you just want to see that pretty thread. We'll do some of that in a little bit will work with some decorative threads, but there's a case where you would actually deliberately loosen your upper thread tension to give you that effect. So the upper thread relaxes a little bit and and it appears on the underside, just a little tiny bit. Now I'm going to go to the next slide where I'm going to show you that this's what it might look like if you threaded your upper thread incorrectly where I was talking about where maybe you didn't have your press or foot raise before you start sewing and at some point or other we've all had that happen to us where your sewing along and it looks just perfect on the top side and then you turn it over and it looks like this just mess of thread like a bird nest on the underside and again believe it or not, but that's most of the time that is your upper thread was not threaded correctly and I would clipped the thread, pull it out, re thread the machine and do that tension test I just showed you and that should correct that problem for you. So to continue I want to tell you a little bit about needles because needles can affect your selling as well we'll get sewing here in a little bit, but I want you to see some of these basics before we move on because it's very important in your sewing and I have mice here we go here there I have with me some fabrics that I want to show you how they relate to, um needles, so to start out there all kinds of different needles on the market and but the the two most the three most basic kind of in this move to the next slide is we have regular point ballpoint and heavy duty there are other kinds is well but those air kind of the main ones and here's what I want you to see is when I take a look here at this stack this is my woven fabrics what that means is they're not stretch knits they're not t shirt fabric sweatshirt, fabric anything stretchy like that they're the woman's here I have ah kind of a silky this one is ah woollen like you'd make a nice skirt or dress on a slight weight wool it's another type of silky this's flannel here's a metallic even it's a quilting cotton silk do peony this is an outdoor fabric like of patio furniture kind of fabric burlap and denim so for fabrics like this what you would use is a unit a regular point needle it says here's style twenty twenty if you look at the package it says woven fabrics this has a sharp point at the bottom if you look at the needle that's on the left side you look at the bottom of the point of the needle it looks much point here than the ones at the to the right of it the point of the needle pierces through the fibers too give you a nice clean stitch um so that's why you want to use the twenty twenty for the woven fabrics there's another style of needle that you can use four year woven zzzz well it's called the two thousand this is a a a needle that is a chromium type needle and it's a little longer lasting than regular twenty twenty's but both of these air designed for woven fabrics and you can't go wrong with either one of these sometimes the packaging might look a little different depending on where you're shopping but basically you want to look for the twenty twenty or the two thousand because those are the indication that there for the woven fabrics now when you have things like your stretch fabrics which are these right here here I have this is like a stretch velvet seethe stretch in it here's a jersey or a t shirt in it this is a ponti knit ponti is very popular for dresses and skirts and trousers in the fault beautiful knit this is often seen for baby blankets it's a stretchy soft fleecy fabric here's a swimsuit fabric, a ribbing and sweatshirt fleece so any of these are stretch fabrics and in the case of stretch fabrics what you want to use for those is a ballpoint needle and that's what you see there on the slide in the middle that if you look at the point of that needle compared to the one on the left it's a much more rounded point knits the ball of the ballpoint actually works its way in between the knitted stitches of ah knit fabric and so it's a better suited for the knit fabrics and the chromium counter part of that is the style two thousand one so for knit fabrics or stretchy fabric you want twenty forty five for nit or a two thousand one chromium cause those air also the ballpoint for nit now the reason this is important if you were to use ah woven needle on a stretchy fabric, you might be experiencing stitches that air skipping because it's just kind of bouncing off those knits it's not piercing through so you might be getting erratic stitching or skipped stitches and that might seem very frustrating and you might just need to change your needle and you'll be fine similarly, if you were to put a ballpoint needle and work with that on a woven fabric that could give you a little different problem if you can imagine the ball point of a needle piercings one of these silk ease it can actually snagged the fabrics and if you've ever been sewing and it kind of tends to every so often just pull a thread that's either a needle that's older damage and needs to be changed or it could be that you're using a knitting needle on a fabric that's not appropriate for that needle and in which case you'd want to switch to thie the correct style of needle so thie other thing that you want to see, I'm not just movies out of the way is the's packages whether they were the ballpoint excuse me, the woven or the ball point? They also had here some different numbers the's were size numbers not only are the needles different in terms of what types of fabric that they're appropriate for, but they're also different sizes. So for example, here you have eleven, fourteen, sixteen or it'll say like, eighty, ninety one hundred same thing here eleven, fourteen, sixteen all this is in your manual, too, by the way, your instruction manual, here's eleven, fourteen, sixteen and so on, and what that is is the smaller number means the needle is thinner or finer, and so you're eleven's you would use for your lightweight fabrics basically, you're fourteen's you would use for your medium weights and your sixteen's for your heavyweights. We even have heavy duty needles that are even one size bigger size eighteen, and that might be for those heavy like outdoor fabrics where you have a lot of intersecting seems and it's got a pierced through a lot of layers that heavy duty needle really does the job for that so makes a big difference he will also want to marry the correct threads with your needles and all we'll talk about that just in just a moment, but I really wanted to bring your attention and needles because I find that sometimes the biggest stitching frustrations you have are just simply you're not using the right needle if we have time today to also talk about some specialty needles, which are the twin needle for decorative twin needle sewing, selling two at one time and ham stitching needles, which give you kind of an heirloom look and if we get time, I'll show you those as well. One other needle I did want to show you is this one here for the for the leathers here you'll see I've got this is an actual like leather skin there's this's a oilcloth you can see the shiny shiny nous of the oilcloth vinyl there's some pleather here and some swayed cloth for anything like this. What you want to use is a leather needle um they come in a couple different sizes as well, depending on the thickness of the leather you're working with. But the good thing about this is it's got it's got a wedge point so it if used too large of a needle on on a leather it'll make a hole that's too big in the in the scene, so if you use a lead leather needle it's more of a wedge point so it makes a cleaner cut into each stitch yet the eye of the needle is larger to accommodate the thicker threat if you look on the diagram on the monitor that needle that's on the right hand side you notice it has a larger hole in it a larger I we call that and so that you're able to use thicker and heavier threads because of the eyes larger so that's I just wanted to make sure you understood the importance of using the right needle and singer needles are what our recommend we had a question earlier this morning but singer needles are what you want to use in your machine and not something itude other brands and the reason that's important is other brands of needles are just slightly longer and even though you might start working with them and for a little while they're working just great eventually they're going to start wearing because there kind of hitting down in that bob and area because there just a little long and you could start experiencing skipping stitches might even start causing some damage to your machines so singer needles no matter where you buy them wherever as long as they're singer needles that work in your singer machine. So make sure you know that as well. So let's talk about how to change a needle so I'm going to use my screwdriver and I'm going to switch to a heavy duty needle and just show you some heavy sewing so here again I'm gonna remove the thread from the needles I can take it out, move it, they will cut and take that out and I'm going to stitch something that we probably all at one point or another have wanted to have a pair of jeans or um alter them because they're too long two short whatever turn him into a pair of shorts because they're your favorites but they don't fit anymore they're too you've all grown them your kids you make him your kids may be want to make them into shorts now because they're getting so tall so whatever whatever reason we're going to him that up but you can get at the fabric stores and anyplace where they sold sewing notions they often have this they actually call it jeans thread and they try to do it to match the colors that you see in, uh store bought jeans I've seen blue grays and and this one is pretty standard this is the gold one, so when you use a heavy heavy thread like this, you want to use a heavy duty needle because probably this thread is too thick to fit into the eye of my standard size fourteen, which is for medium weight fabrics and that's what comes in your machine so we're going to use a screwdriver they were going to come here to our needle clamp, screw and we're going to just loosen that up but the slot of in there and just turn that to release the needle one thing I was sharing this morning you might want to grab either a piece of fabric or a piece of paper doesn't really matter, but when you removing needle from the machine just I, you know, had a good grip on it and I got it out of here, okay, but if you thought, oh, dear, what if I drop my needle? You know, it could drop down into the whole here and you'd have to fish it out from inside the machine and so it be having a little piece of something here in case you drop the needle it's like a little safety net for your needle that's a good little tip to know, but when we go to replace the needle, you'll notice that needles have you know, if you can see this well enough on camera not but there's a rounded side and then the back side of the needle is flat and you always want the flat side to go to the back, so drop the needle down here in the whole first and then put it up. You want to make sure it's all the way up if you don't have the needle all the way up when you tighten this screw you may not so properly might you might be skipping stitches you might hear clunking so you just want to make sure that needles all the way up and then just give it one little tweak with a screwdriver you don't have to really, you know, overly turn it, but just make sure it's in there securely so it doesn't work itself loose and then we'll go ahead and put our heavy duty threat on here put our school cap on oppressor foot lifter is raised I want to make sure my take up levers in its highest position so it can receive the thread and I'm going to bring this it's in here like so bring this around up over the top over and just make sure I see it go right into the eye of that looks good and then tuck it around that thread guide and then we'll thread the eye of the needle again okay, looks great and then will so over arm scene and you can just decide how you where you want to guide this depending on your thickness of your the depth of the stitching that you want to start sewing there on, I'm going to probably lengthen my stitch length a little bit because this is set for just sort of average stitch link for maybe stitching medium weight fabric and this is a little heavier so over here on my panel stitch zero zero is a straight stitch, but I and my my optimum stitch lengthen with their set for me, but I want to make my stitch longer. So these are my with buttons, and these are my length buttons, so I won't increase stitch length and let's see if that look a little better, it looks more like a normal genes stitch when it's longer way, and I know everybody is wondering if I'm going to go over the long way go reason if it if it does that to you, just lift this up in advance just a little tiny bit, and there we go and then just continue on well, that just do that again, so we'll start again and I'll just started resume selling here. It could be that our needle just caught exactly right at that edge, and so I just tried toe move it over just a little here, so that's, all you have to do is just lift that just may be moved just past it probably caught right at the edge there, but were successfully sewing through these like all these all these layers because we have heavy metal in it. If you had a size fourteen when they're like the one that came in the machine, probably what would happen. Is, we would have probably broken a needle or bent the needle when we went over the thickness. So heavy duty needle is what you need for that heavy stuff like that.

Class Description

Learn how easy sewing can be with the SINGER® Sew Mate™ electronic sewing machine.

Every sewing machine has its own distinct and helpful features. Learn how to get the most out of your model from Singer expert Becky Hanson.

In this Fast Start you’ll learn how to take full advantage of the SINGER Sew Mate’s variety of features. You’ll learn how to thread your Singer Sewing Machine, and quickly and easily program your settings and master the range of your machine’s functionality.

Don’t be intimidated by your machine! Learn how to get the most out of your machine's features and tackle those sewing projects the easy way.