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Message Board > Sewing Machines > Pressure Adjustment?? ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

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Pressure Adjustment??
Why??
sewingsilly
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sewingsilly
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Date: 5/9/12 8:33 AM

I have owned many, many sewing machines over the years and have been sewing for more years than I'm probably willing to admit and I would be interested in someone explaining Pressure Adjustments?? I have NEVER adjusted the pressure on any machine I've ever owned but find it to be an important feature to many of you. Would anyone care to explain why they adjust pressure?
Thanks!

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Soolip
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Date: 5/9/12 8:43 AM

Once I was sewing bridesmaids dresses that were made out of moire taffeta. I was using a machine that didn't allow the user to adjust the pressure of the pressure foot. The feed dogs marked up the delicate taffeta badly. I switch machines, lightened the pressure, and was able to finish the dresses. I've also had feed dogs chew holes in certain fabrics, which lightening the pressure helps.

Certain knits stretch badly on the crossgrain. Lightening the pressure helps with this too.

Recently, I was sewing some heavy textured fabric that was feeding unevenly. Increasing the pressure fixed the problem.

It's not something everyone may need, but you will be glad you have the ability if you ever sew on knits, very delicate or very heavy and unevenly-textured fabrics. People may assume that because they've personally never adjusted their presser foot pressure that the feature is not that important. I don't adjust it often, but on the occasions where I have had to, this feature has proved to be invaluable.

-- Edited on 5/9/12 8:49 AM --

ThePadre
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Date: 5/9/12 8:56 AM

It mostly depends on the fabrics you sew. If you don't sew anything at the extreme ends of the spectrum (taffeta or acetate on the light end or heavy canvas or patches on the heavy end), you might not notice it.

All the pressure adjustment does is to control how much downward force the presser foot exerts on the fabric. Delicate fabrics are prone to getting marked up by the feed dogs if they're squeezed too hard against them (much like the times I've squeezed too hard with a pair of pliers and left marks on what I was squeezing). Too much pressure on delicate fabrics can also cause the layers to slip, with the bottom, which is grabbed by the feed dogs, getting pulled ahead of the top, which merely slides on the smooth underside of the presser foot.

Heavy fabrics will slip -- failing to be pulled through -- with insufficient pressure, which will make the stitches uneven and ugly.

For some reason, I don't miss the adjustable pressure so much on my Janome L-108, but I do agree with Soolip that, really, it's silly for manufacturers to omit it. There's already a spring on the presser foot to provide pressure even on a nonadjustable machine. The cost would be trivial to add a small adjusting collar to make that pressure variable. (Which makes its absence hard to accept on machines that cost more than $200 new.)

lisalu
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Date: 5/9/12 8:57 AM

Until recently, I didn't even realize that this was a "desirable" feature (i.e. not found on every machine). Since all my vintage machines have adjustable pressure I assumed it was a standard feature like stitch length adjustment. After all it seems pretty simple and basic. With all the machines out now that have advanced features like the needle up/down function, I'm kind of surprised that presser foot pressure is even as issue.

Soolip - since you're in on this discussion - can you explain why all machines don't have this function?

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Jim (Singer 301), Margaret (Singer 201-2), Betty (Singer 15-91), Bud (Singer 503), Kathy (Singer 221), Liz (Singer 221 Centennial Edition)
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Soolip
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Date: 5/9/12 9:26 AM

I honestly can't. Cost, possibly.

I've heard some people argue that newer machines are somehow more technologically advanced and don't need this feature. The fact is, I've had to adjust the pressure on machines made only a few years ago, as well as on my own vintage machines. It's just a good, basic feature to have in case you need it.

The odd thing that doesn't jive with the "technologically advanced" argument, is that certain manufacturers leave this feature off all of their lower-end machines, but include it on their higher-end, more technologically advanced models. This makes me think it's a cost-cutting measure, though as Fr. Basil pointed out, the cost for including it would be minimal.

Marie367
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Date: 5/9/12 9:26 AM

I adjust the pressure all the time. I have always been a garment sewer primarily. This was a must have for me when I looked for a machine. It is not put on many low-end machines and some of the higher end do this automatically. As some of the others have said, reducing the pressure makes it easier to sew knits or sheers without damaging the fabric or creating puckers and skipped stitches.
After checking the threading, adjusting the pressure is the next thing I do if I have funky stitches.

PattiAnnJ
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Date: 5/9/12 9:38 AM

I have expensive machines and a less expensive Singer 1507. They all have pressure adjustment.

I never paid much attention to this feature until I started working with sheer/delicate fabrics. Now it is a must have.

When you grow up with 5 brothers, then marry and have sons and grandsons....frilly has been eradicated from my vocabulary!

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dfsews

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Date: 5/9/12 9:47 AM

I usually experiment around with a scrap of fabric prior to sewing the garment, in order to determine the optimal pressure setting.
As mentioned, delicate fabrics and knits can require different settings. Fleece, bulky fabrics, and slippery fabrics also may need it.
Adjusting the pressure allows you to get the most even feeding of fabric. I consider this feature a "must-have" on a SM.

sewingsilly
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Date: 5/9/12 9:57 AM

WOW Thanks everyone for your responses. I have certainly learned something valuable today!! I've never had any machine chew up any of my projects, but wonder if a little heavier pressure would have made it easier to manage difficult slippery fabrics. Great information!!

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AminaHijabi
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Date: 5/9/12 10:51 AM

It really depends on what you sew. I never needed it until I started quilting, and then not until I started this most recent project which I somehow managed in my inexperience I guess, to use slightly higher loft batting. Still no issues until I started the actual quilting, which issues were not resolved with the walking foot. Got a different machine with adjustable pressure foot pressure, reduced the pressure slightly, suddenly my layers are feeding even more evenly and all my stitches are very even in length and no more puckers on the back. There's some video on youtube illustrating this as well, pressure foot pressure as it relates to quilting. You could say that a good part of that is my own inexperience, but since I am so inexperienced why make things worse for myself? And yes, knit fabrics because too much pressure and you stretch the fabric then you get wavy hems.

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