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Old 05-21-2011, 04:09 PM   #1
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Help with heavy material sewing

Hi Fellow Sunline Campers.

Need some help on a camper mod. This one involves sewing 840 denier polyester material that we are using to make an enclosed end on the awning so we do not get drowned when it rains coming out the door. Have run into some technical difficulty.

DW who sews everything has not used this type of heavier material and we can't seem to figure out the right tension/stitch length settings to make the stitch to come out right.

We are using a Bernina Virtuosa 155 machine and we "think" we are using a no 90 needle.

The thread is bonded polyester T90 thread

We have adjusted the bobbin tension from nominal to loose to tight. Too loose for sure all bundles up, tight works better but we still do not have the right combo.

Need suggestions on how to figure out how to sew this type of material, longer stitch/shorter stitch, bigger/smaller needle, etc?

I know from the camper mods we have posted we have some very talented seamstress's and looking for some pointers.

Thanks

John
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Old 05-21-2011, 07:23 PM   #2
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So, my first thought when I saw you asking for advice about sewing was that Cindy is a sewer so this must be an interesting delima I made Steve a backpack back in the 70s as a college project. Believe it or not he still uses it. It is made out of waterproof, heavy polyester that sounds similar to what you're talking about. I would use a sharp (as opposed to ball point) needle. A small needle may actually break. Use a heavy thread, and a long stitch length. The longer stitch length will create less holes in the fabric. I can't speak to the tension because I think that may be machine dependent, and may have changed over the years. Lots of this stuff could have changed over the years ie. there were only 2 weights of thread back in the day It sounds like you have some scraps to practice on, which is always a good thing. You might want to waterproof the seams with seam sealer that you would use on a tent.
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Old 05-21-2011, 08:29 PM   #3
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Pam,

Yes Cindy is a sewer... what I do with wood and metal she does with material and thread... And we both have our own independent work shops and today I realized why

I saw that piercing needle in the instruction book you where talking about as opposed to the more ball point and I mentioned that to Cindy. She says it has no problems piercing the material it is the lower bobbin thread pressure that seems to be a muck... In this case I'm in the major learn mode.... sewing on the machine is something all new to me. And me being me.... trying to apply metal and wood skills to material does exactly translate.... I'm sure you can relate being married to a similar profession hubby....LOL

The material weight is like a kids back pack or a carry on the plane luggage bag. We up'ed the stitch length to the longest the machine could create thinking it might help. It sort of does but the same not straight jagged and every now and then loose loop stitch on the bottom side still exists.

Since the book and you both talked about the piercing type needle we can try that but can't figure how it will help the bottom thread issue but at this point it is something to try. Does the ease of the needle entering the material help the pull up of the bobbin thread? Remember, engineering guy here...

The seam sealer, yes know of that but don't know if we really need it just yet. We are creating a vertical flap at the end of the main awning. Our rear main entry door is right next to the end of the awning. When it rains you get drenched going in and out of the camper. I wish they would of put the awning back about 2 feet to the end of the camper. Last year I hung a tarp up on that one end and it controlled the problem to a manageable state. We we thought we could create the tarp effect more custom fit as the tarp was about 8 feet too long... wrapped on the angle of the awning arms. As far as leaks the 21 foot long front section is still wide open so a seam stitch drip may not be a problem. But I do have some sealer if needed, thanks.

Do you remember having any lower thread issues on Steve's back pack?

Thanks

John
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Old 05-21-2011, 09:23 PM   #4
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John,

I think your loose threads on the bottom are from the fabric feeding. Since your werking with such heavy material it will help to be consistant with feeding the material into the machine so you do not overfeed or starve the needle.


My reasoning is that the tension on the thread is by drag on the thread before stitching. The feed of the fabric will effect this if the feed feet have different supply pressures such as having to pull the material or the material being pushed to fast.


The stitch per inch probably should be around 8 per inch. With that setting and playing with the tension and feeding you should get acceptable seams. That is unless the lower bobin really does have issues.


jim

PS: but them I really know nothing about sewing and this is all a guess.
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Old 05-21-2011, 10:31 PM   #5
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John,
How long are the stitches on the edges of your awning? Could you as someone at an uphostery shop about the bobbin tension?
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Old 05-21-2011, 11:10 PM   #6
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Does she happen to have another machine? When my mom and I need to do something with heavy fabrics we go back to the OLD machines - Like the treedle (foot powered) or we each have Singer Featherweights. They just seem to handle the heavier stuff better.
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:55 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnB View Post
Pam,


I'm sure you can relate being married to a similar profession hubby....LOL

The material weight is like a kids back pack or a carry on the plane luggage bag. We up'ed the stitch length to the longest the machine could create thinking it might help. It sort of does but the same not straight jagged and every now and then loose loop stitch on the bottom side still exists.

Since the book and you both talked about the piercing type needle we can try that but can't figure how it will help the bottom thread issue but at this point it is something to try. Does the ease of the needle entering the material help the pull up of the bobbin thread? Remember, engineering guy here...

Do you remember having any lower thread issues on Steve's back pack?

Thanks

John
Hi John
Oh yes I can definitely relate to the engineering mindset
I was taught that the sharp needle is for woven fabrics and the ball point is for knits. The logic being that the ball point wont break any threads in a knit. Imagine snipping a thread on a knit scarf and how it would unravel. The sharp isn't going to always break a thread, but if it would, it would be a problem on a knit. Since it's literally like a ball point pen it may be having more problems piercing your heavy fabric than you imagine, thus creating the occasional jagged stitch where it has to go through between the threads.

As far as the tension, having a extra bobbin thread on the back usually just means that your top tensions are out of whack. In other words, extra the bottom means the bobbin tension is too loose, allowing too much thread to flow out of the little spool. That issue can also cause little loops to go all the way through to the top though, depending on how tight your top tension is. Maybe both are too low, because if the top is too tight and the bottom too loose, then you'd have little loops on the top. You will probably just need to play with this, but try the sharp needle before you play. I would use a stitch length of 6/inch.
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:28 AM   #8
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Thanks a million Pam, that helps. That was what we needed some what is possibly going to to help or at least point to. We have the grand kids right now, sleep over, so once they go home Cindy may take a quick ride to JoAnn's to get a fine piercing point needle. They list it as a jeans needle in the instruction book.

We also picked up the lead on using a walking foot and Cindy actually has one for this machine. Reading the instructions for it sounds like it may help as well as they are suppose to help feed more difficult material. And we have vinyl widows to put in these end panels which it lists in the walking foot that it helps with sticky material too.

Will report back later.

Thanks

John
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by clueless campers View Post
John,
How long are the stitches on the edges of your awning? Could you as someone at an uphostery shop about the bobbin tension?

Dona, well there are a lot of edges..... We have 2 large panels that are 60" wide and 110" long. The 1st step is to join the 2 panels, a double sew and fold over seam, that is where we are stuck as we have not made it yet 3 feet..... Then double hem all the edges, sew in the angle to match the awning arms, sew on holding straps and put 2 vinyl windows in. And if this works... make one for the other end of the awning too....

Once we figure out what we are doing wrong we can better predict where this will end up. I'll have to start searching for upholstery shops if we can't get this to cooperate. Me being me.... trying to understand why it isn't working then we might be able to help it.


Quote:
Diane Wrote:

Does she happen to have another machine? When my mom and I need to do something with heavy fabrics we go back to the OLD machines - Like the treedle (foot powered) or we each have Singer Featherweights. They just seem to handle the heavier stuff better.
Actually we do have and older, 1950 - 1960 vintage Singer that use to be Cindy's mom in the basement. However it has tension issues and does not even sew normal material right. As far as power, I used it to sew a Boy Scout Catamaran trampoline back together. That heavy screen type material is 4 times thicker then what we are doing now, but I had tension issues there too but it held and is still working for the Scouts and that was like 10 years ago... That older machine does not have reverse so you have to rotate the material 180 degrees and back sew to lock the stitching. These awning material pieces we are doing are close to 10 feet long and fliping the material to lock the stitch I would have to figure out how to do that. Is there another trick?

Now that you bring up the old machine I need to get that into the shop to get it fixed. Hoping they can still get parts for it. That thing for the size a machine it is will pound thru just about anything you can get under the presser foot. I may be doing more awning work here soon, have a slide topper to work on. Thanks for planting the seed to get it fixed.

John
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Old 05-22-2011, 09:50 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim-Bev-2363 View Post
John,

I think your loose threads on the bottom are from the fabric feeding. Since your werking with such heavy material it will help to be consistant with feeding the material into the machine so you do not overfeed or starve the needle.


My reasoning is that the tension on the thread is by drag on the thread before stitching. The feed of the fabric will effect this if the feed feet have different supply pressures such as having to pull the material or the material being pushed to fast.


The stitch per inch probably should be around 8 per inch. With that setting and playing with the tension and feeding you should get acceptable seams. That is unless the lower bobin really does have issues.


jim

PS: but them I really know nothing about sewing and this is all a guess.

Thanks Jim, we are into the investigation stage right now. Do you have a sewing background? I need to do more awnings if we can ever get past this 1st project.
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:53 AM   #11
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John,

I was raised by a seamstress, my grandmother, so I played around the machines and I also did some auto upholstery when I was young. So I have been around it but no I am not professional by any means. And I don't know diddley about the different machines.

You'll get past this project for sure. I found the steps for setting up to be first choose the pitch, stitch per inch that I liked and then adjust tensions. I had to rip stitches many times because I was tired and let the material hang instead of holding it so the machine didn't have to werk so hard and let the feeders slip. That did cause some bad stitches.

Good Luck with it all and that is a neat idea to protect the door.

jim

edited to add: I did watch my grandmother lift the foot and do the reverse locking stitch 'by hand'. She would spin the machine by hand and place the needle where it needed to be. That part was especially interesting to me.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:44 PM   #12
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I'm glad to report back that we are making headway. Cindy went to JoAnn's and picked up some piercing type needles and we added the dual sole walking foot she had from quilting. The results are night and day. At the moment we are good to go except I need to make a small drag device for the thread feed.

We bought an industrial spool of thread, has a 1" hole in the spool... just a little big for the standard machine..... Reading on line others made a simple stand and wire loop where the thread feeds straight up and then thru the loop to feed the machine as normal. The only issue is there is zero drag on the thread. It needs a little like it get's from pulling off the spool. If Cindy just holds the thread slightly with her fingers the stitching comes out about perfect. It comes out good without the grip but about perfect with the slight drag. I have to create something to add about an once of drag so the thread will not go slack feeding the machine.

So once past that we are full sew ahead. Or at least start the project back up again and see if we can get further then the 3 feet of messed up stitching we where at yesterday...

Thanks everyone

John and Cindy

PS if this works.... look forward to a new mod to show up in the near future.
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Old 05-23-2011, 07:05 AM   #13
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And of course we'll need pictures
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Old 05-23-2011, 10:18 AM   #14
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I have moms old "Sewmor" sewing maching, and she always told me it was supposed to even be able to sew leather, BUT her nor I ever tried to sew leather. I just might have to check it out sometime. I have sewed 3 or 4 thickness of upholstery fabric on "my" machine when I'd make new cushion covers, but never tried leather on it either. Keep us posted.
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Old 05-23-2011, 11:19 AM   #15
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Quote:
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And of course we'll need pictures
Will do for sure! Have you ever seen any of our mod posts without pictures?

Stay tuned for incoming....
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