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sewing heavy canvas
SG1

SG1
Advanced Beginner
Texas USA
Member since 1/1/09
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Date: 2/22/12 10:20 PM

I'm sewing up an iPad bag for DH, and I can't get a perfect straight stitch. My fabric is really gnarly polyester outdoor canvas and it looks like the needle is deflecting off the fibers instead of breaking through them. I'm using a size 100 Jeans needle - should I get something larger? The tension looks perfect.

When I'm able to sew perfectly straight and keep my stitching line exactly on the same grain, the stitches look fine. If I wobble a little bit (which I do, and now that I really look I didn't cut it perfectly on the grain...which kind of doesn't matter, because I'm sure I won't be able to fold perfectly on the grain either!!) then the stitch looks to zig a bit as it moves over a fiber.

Is this something I'm even going to be able to fix, or should I get over it and start sewing anyway (i'm only working on my samples)?

nancy2001
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nancy2001  Friend of PR
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In reply to SG1


Date: 2/23/12 6:13 AM

I see you have a Viking Sapphire 850 sewing machine. Viking machines are known for their excellent piercing power --I have the previous model, the Platinum 770, and have used it to sew many handbags.

I believe your machine has automatic tensions -- my machine has manual tensions and I usually set the presser foot to 2 and the needle tension to 8 for handbag.

Are you using one of Viking's guide feet, such as the Edge Stitching Foot? These special guide feet can help keep your stitches straighter.

A size 100 Jeans needle is too small for your bag. Whenever I'm sewing a handbag or totebag, I use a size 125 sharps Organ brand needle (HAx1, 130705H, 15x1, size 125/20) which is the largest size you can buy.

Note Schmetz does not make needles in this size. Size 125/20 Organ needles are not available in sewing stores, but you can order a box of 100 needles on ebay for just $13.99, including shipping.

Other tricks to use with your 125/20 size needles are to manually turn the handwheel over intersecting seams and to trim the seam allowances as much as possible. But keep in mind that you may still have to accept some wobbly stitches no matter what you do.

------
No sewing project is ever a complete success nor a total failure.

Sarsez
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Sarsez
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AUSTRALIA
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Date: 2/23/12 6:39 AM

Hi,

Here are some ideas.
1. Canvas is very tightly woven so from what you describe it does sound like the needle isn't piercing the fabric correctly so I would try perhaps a leather needle or a microtex sharp. I wouldn't go bigger. It might be making your machine work harder than it needs to. In fact, I'd be tempted to try a smaller needle esp if the thread you are using is normal garment thread. Of course, make sure your needle is new and sharp.
2. You may also be having a few fabric feeding problems too. (nom nom nom!) I'm guessing the fabric is quite stiff with a bit of weight? If it is tough for the needle to pierce and the feed dogs are a little off feeding fabric through, it may contribute to wonky stitches.
3. I would work with a single layer cut out with that sort of fabric. You will end up with greater accuracy in the grain.

It maybe that you are working on the outer limits of what your machine can handle too. Other fabrics that have good abrasion resistance and water repellency such as cordura and 600 denier polyester with a PU backing are much nicer to sew.

HTH

Sar's

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24th Nov 12 to 28th Nov 13
Fabric and patterns rules for me.
Remember to shop your stash girl!
Remember to keep sewing to your wardrobe plan!

clt3
clt3
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Date: 2/23/12 7:20 AM

I don't think canvas comes in polyester. Do you mean something like Sunbrella? You can also try using a microtex needle.

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Singer 66-16. Singer 600e, Kenmore 158.1913 , Viking 1100, Brother 4000D, Brother Quattro traded for Brother PR1000!, Bernina 930, Bernina 1130, White 634DE gave away to a friend,
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stirwatersblue
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stirwatersblue
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Date: 2/23/12 7:24 AM

I made an apron out of outdoor canvas at Christmas, and I noticed the same thing (I also have a Viking). I sew with regular cotton canvas a lot, and definitely found it harder getting a nice stitch on the poly canvas. I'm afraid I wasn't as dedicated as you are in trying to perfect the stitches, so I don't have any advice there... but I did just want to say it's not you or your machine, it's the fabric!

Good luck!

------
~Gem in the prairie

SG1

SG1
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Date: 2/23/12 10:14 AM

Thank you, everybody! Lots of good info here!

I'm on a bit of a deadline with this project, so I won't be able to order any needles. However, I think I'll order some anyway just to have around in case this kind of project comes up again (which it will).

After some more testing last night I found that a stitch length of 4mm (I was testing at 3.5) helps make the stitches look a bit less wobbly. When I sew the actual bag, I will use a guide foot and that should help me keep things straighter.

I think I have a "good enough" look for this bag, although I'll play a little more with some settings later. Next time, I'll take my time picking fabric (he'll just have to be happy with this bag for the time being!) so I won't have to fight the fabric so hard to make things look nice.

Thanks!

skae
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In reply to SG1


Date: 2/23/12 11:43 AM

the stitch will look wobbley because of the gnarly polyester outdoor canvas. I sew through some of that stuff. It doen't pierce
It deflects. where the needle finds a hole it will go through. Maybe putting a longer stitch will look better.
good luck.

------
Ecclesiastes 11:7,8 Nothing on earth is more beautiful than the morning sun. Even if you live to a ripe old age, you should try to enjoy each day, because darkness will come and will last a long time. (CEV)

M.S.
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M.S.
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Date: 2/23/12 2:38 PM

Before you go ordering those big needles, check your sewing machine manual. Most new machines won't take bigger than size 16. A few take an 18. Save the Size 20s for vintage machines like Singer 201!

Tom P
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Tom P  Friend of PR
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In reply to M.S.


Date: 2/26/12 1:52 PM

With that heavy fabric, you may be stuck with it. A leather needle may cut it's own hole through the fabric, you don't necessarily want that as the fabric will start to wear there.

A larger needle will limit how much the needle deflects. On a zigzag machine, the needle mechanism can also move side to side, and it will if the fabric is heavy enough. If you can get to a vintage straight stitch machine with a large needle, that's going to be the best.

On the plus side, the stitching that's enclosed won't really show if it's not 100% straight. Try to limit the topstitching if it's not coming out good.

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