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Topic: Stitching is puckering on lightweight fabric  (Read 9074 times)
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Katxena
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« on: November 12, 2008 01:48:03 PM »

I'm trying to make what should be an easy skirt -- an a-line mid-calf skirt with an elastic waist, back darts (trust me, I need them) and an underskirt.  But I can't get my stitching smooth.

The fabric I'm using is a sheer, lightweight, flowy 100% polyester.  Because it's sheer, I'm planning a solid underskirt in a similar fabric that's a bit heavier and not sheer.

I tested my thread (dual duty) and tension on some scraps of each fabric, and the puckering on both was terrible.  I've dialed my tension down to almost zero, and the puckering is still terrible.  It's definitely puckering on the top. 

What should I do?  Could changing my stitch length help?  I am using a brand new needle.

I almost feel like I need a walking foot (which I do not have), but it doesn't seem like the two layers of fabric are slipping. 
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BT
« Reply #1 on: November 12, 2008 02:10:27 PM »

That is soooo frustrating! Try the following:

1. Change to a lighter weight thread.
2. Change to a smaller needle.
3. Hold the fabric taut in the front and back of the needle when stitching.
4. Try a verrrry narrow zig zag instead of a straight stitch. This will allow a small amount of stretching.
5. Use a narrow strip of water soluble stablizer under the foot since you don't have a walking foot. This will keep the layers from slipping. Since your fabric is polyester, you can just wash out the stabilizer when you're done with the project.

Hope this helps!

Deb
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« Reply #2 on: November 12, 2008 02:24:48 PM »

Deb has some great ideas to help you out.  I would like to add a bit to those.

I have found that on lightweight polyester fabrics you will get much better results with a microtex (aka sharp point) needle in a very small diameter (11/70 or smaller).  If you are using a universal point needle, the results won't be nearly as nice.   A shorter stitch length may also be necessary.
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« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2008 03:20:57 PM »

Can you adjust the foot pressure on your machine? If you can it may be contributing to the issues at hand if it's too heavy.
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Katxena
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« Reply #4 on: November 12, 2008 05:17:45 PM »

Thanks *so* much.  The three of you have given me great ideas.

My sewing machine is a 1946 Singer Featherweight.  I have a zigzag attachment, but using it would be my very last option, because it moves the fabric from side to side, rather than the needle.  Likewise with adjusting the pressure foot -- I'm sure it can be done, but I have no idea how.

I had thought of using water soluable stabilizer, but I wasn't sure if that would work.  I tried holding the fabric loosely, on the theory that if I pulled it I might make it uneven.  I'll try the opposite and see what happens.  I'll also try a shorter stitch length to see what happens.

Before trying the stabilizer, I'd like to try a new needle.  I've always used singer needles in my machine -- can I use a different brand of needles?  I might try to find a microtex needle.

The thread I'm using is Coates & Clark dual duty -- what would I look for in a lighter weight thread?

Maybe I should just buy a walking foot.  I quilt, so I could use one.

Thank you again!
« Last Edit: November 12, 2008 05:19:11 PM by Katxena » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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« Reply #5 on: November 12, 2008 06:35:39 PM »

The presser foot pressure is DEFINITELY adjustable on your Featherweight.  Turn the adjustment screw clockwise for more presser foot pressure and counter-clockwise for less.




As far as the taut sewing technique, you don't want to pull on the fabric in such a way that will complete with allowing the machine to feed the material.

Threads Magazine has a Great "How-To"  article in PDF format called "Drivers' Ed for Sewing Machines".  It explains the taut sewing technique very well and even has photos to help.   It's free.
http://www.taunton.com/promotions/pdf/Threads_DriversEd.pdf

Do you have a manual for your featherweight?  It actually covers much of this.  Here is a link to a free manual for your machine:
http://www.ismacs.net/singer/manuals/221K.pdf

As a general rule, the heavier fabrics are sewn with a longer stitch, and lighter weight materials are sewn with a shorter stitch. 
« Last Edit: November 13, 2008 03:53:03 AM by Sew-Classic » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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Katxena
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« Reply #6 on: November 12, 2008 07:06:39 PM »

Oh wow.  I had no idea what that knob did, thank you for explaining it!  I got this sewing machine from my mom, who got it from her aunt, so I mostly only know what my mom told me -- and she only knew what her aunt told her.  I do not have a manual, so I really appreciate that too.
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BT
« Reply #7 on: November 13, 2008 01:46:12 PM »

Wow, I didn't even think about adjusting the pressure! I guess that's because my machine doesn't have that adjustment and I forgot all about it  Undecided My Bernina is supposedly "self adjusting" but it would be nice to have the option to override its little brain.
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« Reply #8 on: November 13, 2008 07:01:15 PM »

It's not very professional but I came up with a technique that works quite well for this kind of thing once when I was in a hurry and was fed up with dealing with the fabric. (I seem to come up with a lot of ideas in situations like this.)

Basically you make a sandwich. It works for either super stretchy or slippery fabrics. Place long strips of paper on both the top and the bottom of the seam you are sewing, and sew right through the paper as well as the fabric in the middle. The paper gives it a heavier weight and more structure (not to mention it will keep pleats and rouching in place). I just pinned the paper on as I was pinning the two layers of fabric, and you can use simple lined binder paper (it's actually better than computer paper cause it's a bit thinner).

It looks ridiculous as you are sewing, but once you are done the needle has perforated the paper at very close regular intervals and it rips right off like you were tearing it out of a pre-perforated book. If there are any small bits of paper residue they come out in the wash.
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« Reply #9 on: November 14, 2008 07:47:41 AM »

Cherry,

That's a great tip.  Whatever works...works!  I've even used toilet paper and strips of tissue paper as you describe,  in certain circumstances.

Actually, I find that the smaller needle opening and narrow presser foot of the straight stitch only machines actually do an excellent job with some of the "nightmare", pucker prone fabircs like silky polyester.  - small, microtex/sharp point needle, all purpose thread, slightly shorter stitch length, and I'm good to go!

Many machines are marketed as having "automatic" presser foot pressure.  I've owned several, and of the one's that I've had (including a classic Bernina 830 and 1630, a few Pfaff's, and some Janome's), the only thing "automatic" about them was that they were "automatically" fixed at a single, default setting.   Shocked

Oh well.  The fixed setting was just fine most of the time anyhow.
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