Get Machine Savvy

First published in the 01/31/17 newsletter.

Butt, shank, blade, point, tip .... No, not referring to parts of a cow but rather a needle. I've recently asked several people if they had to have a shot, would they prefer a sharp needle or a dull needle. They raise an eyebrow and give me a funny look and the answer has always been the same, "a sharp needle". I would definitely prefer a sharp needle myself and so does your fabric, your sewing/embroidery machine and your thread as well.

I was hunting around for a microscope so I could get up close and personal with you about needles but they (microscopes) are rather expensive. So instead I did a little hunting online and found some wonderful info on needles complete with the pictures I had wanted all along. I highly recommend a visit to this page: as it would be well worth your time. And the microscopic pictures of the needle usage is very graphic so I hope you don't have a weak stomach. LOL! Seriously tho, if you had to have a shot with the dull needle on the right, you'd probably run away screaming.

Now about some of those other machine parts ... I was recently to a friend's house to check out her newly purchased BabyLock Journey. She was asking me about small lettering that she had tried to embroider but it kept pulling and puckering so I asked her if she had tried to adjust her machine's tension a bit. She was told by the dealer that she purchased her machine from that the tension was factory set and didn't need to be changed. My first thought was, "Well, Really!" If an embroidery or sewing machine's tension doesn't ever need to be adjusted, then why bother putting tension adjustment knobs on the machine in the first place.

There are several reasons why tension might need to be adjusted such as fabric, thread, and even the type of design you are trying to stitch out. So when in doubt, do a test run first and then try adjusting your tension if the test run didn't stitch as anticipated. And as I just said, tension isn't the only thing that will factor in to how well a design might stitch out. I'm simply saying that it is perfectly alright to fool around with the machine's tension to achieve a decent stitchout.

And on to friction ... which is: the action of one surface or object rubbing against another. And your machine parts do this every single time it runs. I've heard people say, "Oh, you don't have to oil your machine." Well, having been raised by a father that was a fabricator, I'd have to disagree. We all know what happens when we let a car run out of oil. It locks up, maybe the block cracks and the engine is toast. Not saying this will happen to your machine but it certainly won't hurt it to have a little "oily" care now and then. I recently had to replace the needle threader on my machine which weighs 80 pounds I might ad. I wasn't about to drag it out to a dealer so I purchased a needle threader online. Once I had the machine apart, I cleaned and oiled it. Now you might be wondering, "How did she know what to do?" It's called YouTube and it's a great resource, not to mention money saver. Go to YouTube and type the name of your machine into the search bar and you might be surprised what comes up. If you can work on your machine yourself, you can save a bit of money in the process. And if your machine is a tad out of wack, you can calibrate it yourself and get it running properly again. YouTube just might have a video for you!

Mary Sue ~ Mother Hen's Quilt Embroideries