SIGNUP - FREE Membership and 1 FREE Sewing Lesson
| FAQ | Login
 

Platinum Sponsor
PatternReview.com
PatternReview.com

Forum > Sewing Machines > 5mm vs wide track (7-9mm) machines ( Moderated by Sharon1952, EleanorSews)

Please LOGIN or Join PatternReview
Go to Page:
5mm vs wide track (7-9mm) machines
Pros and Cons
RipStitcher
star
RipStitcher
Advanced
Member since 5/28/12
Posts: 2778
Send Message

      
thumbsup 2 members like this.



Date: 9/10/12 11:57 AM

I posted this in another thread... but this, to me, seems it should be a topic all it's own.

I'm probably the only nerd in here that gets obsessed with this issue... Seems this isn't an issue to most people... but this is one issue with the new machines that I needed to be able to solve.

On 7mm and 9mm machines, the feed dogs are spaced farther apart, obviously, to accommodate those wide stitches - compared to the 5.5 mm machines.

And yes... those 9mm machines create BEAUTIFUL decorative stitches that the skinny girls can't do. :)

If you're doing a 5/8 inch seam allowance, there's no harm, no foul in having a wide track machine. You have plenty of fabric going under the foot to catch both feed dogs.

If you're doing a very narrow seam allowance - 1/4 inch or less - and if your needle is in the center needle position - you basically lose the use of the right feed dogs.

By only running on one feed dog, you need to be more careful to guide the fabric yourself because the machine is not making two points of contact to feed the fabric straight. For most stuff, this isn't a big deal.

By de-centering the needle to the right, it is possible to get your fabric to track under both feed dogs. BUT (and this is a big "but") ... if the foot you are using is depending on the center needle position to function properly - such as most 1/4inch seam feet, rolled hem feet, etc... then you're back to losing the right feed dog action again - because the foot won't work for its task if you are not in the center needle position.

Also... the size of the standard presser feet on 7-9mm machines are HUGE - because they need to cover both feed dogs that are wide-trackin'. For doing most things, this isn't an issue. For doing detailed, tiny work - it makes the task more difficult.

If you shop for a new machine - and if doing tiny rolled hems, seams, or tiny turn arounds is important to you - then bring fabric along (or a half finished troublesome project example that includes this sort of thing) and try those things on the prospective machine.

Pay special attention to how the fabric is making contact with the feed dogs.

In the case of rolled hems, etc.. the rear feeding dual feed on Pfaffs & Berninas is a big help - because it pulls the fabric from behind as well as from that one side.

The rear dual feeds are good once the fabric is far enough back there for that thing to catch the fabric. So that, IMO, works great unless the object being worked on is too tiny to get back there.

On the upper-end Janomes, (which was a delightful surprise to find!) there is also another set of tiny feed dogs that are almost directly in front of the needle - which also makes a world of difference in how the fabric is being fed straight into the machine - *before* it gets to the needle. I haven't seen this on other machines.

This particular issue was important for me because I do make a certain thing that requires super-tight turn arounds in a topstitching fashion on a tiny object. (I've made dozens of these - so I know what I'm capable of doing adequately on my old 5.5mm machine)

The 7mm wide New Elna Lotus (that I got my granddaughter this summer) was *very* difficult to use for this - as in "impossible" - I was not happy with the quality of the outcome I could achieve. I tried making the project twice - and it wasn't pretty! If there had been a rear dual feed of some sort - it still wouldn't help because the edges of the project don't go back that far.

Since attempting to do this particular thing on her machine, I discovered that by using the overcast (M) foot on my 7mm wide Horizon, the task could be accomplished - partially because of the extra feed dog in front of the needle that most machines don't have.

So if this is all more than you wanted or needed to know.. I get that. But I bet, out there somewhere, are some folks that are trying to do some tasks that are just not workin' out on these wide machines - just like the probs I had.

The feed dog vs fabric issue is one culprit.

I just took a couple of pictures of my old girl - an Elna SU62... and of Abby - my new Horizon. Oh heck.. I'll go shoot one of the New Elna Lotus, too... and be back in the next post to show how different they are.

Oh... If someone else has a good close-up picture of a Featherweight's needleplate - it would be awesome if you could post it. Those machines *are* -and have been- the Cadillac of straight stitching for decades.

------
My pattern video is on www.BionicGearBag.com
The drama is on: www.RipStitcher.com

Wish list:
Sashiko
Ovation serger
Bernina 880 - Just cuz.
Bernina Tula Pink 350SE

Love my:
Babylock Ellisimo Gold
Bernina 550qe
ElnaPress

RipStitcher
star
RipStitcher
Advanced
Member since 5/28/12
Posts: 2778
Send Message

      
thumbsup 3 members like this.



Date: 9/10/12 1:15 PM

So here's the first pics. I put the same foot on both machines to hopefully help illustrate apples-to-apples. Explanations are below each picture.



This is a picture of the feed dog layout on a 5mm stitch width machine. This is a 1975 Elna 62SU. (been my baby for almost 40 years!) There are 4 feed dogs.

Notice the *awesome* feed dog squarely in front of the needle? They just don't make 'em like this anymore.



And here is the layout on the Janome Horizon MC7700QCP. Janome sells this as their -7 point- feed dog system. The two little, single, teeth in front of the needle are feed dogs.

Both of the above pictures were taken in needle-up position.

Now... with a simple 1/4 inch seam foot on....



So here is the old girl again. This particular ruler is designed to set up a machine for a perfect scant 1/4inch seam allowance. There is a needle hole in the ruler. So when the needle is down into the hole on the ruler, the edge of the ruler is where your exact edge of the fabric should be to create the scant 1/4 inch seam.

So imagine that the yellow ruler is your fabric. You can see that on this machine, both sides of the feed dogs are well under the fabric. And this machine has that nice hefty feed dog *directly* in front of the needle as well. So there are 3 points of traction on the fabric *before* the fabric gets to any feed dogs in the rear.

But this is what happens on the wide-tracker machines....



Notice the right feed dogs hanging out there in the wind - beyond the edge of this 1/4 inch seam foot? This means the fabric is only being fed by the left feed dogs on most machines that are wide. I selected this Horizon partly due to having the extra two teeth in front of the needle - because this means there are three points feeding the fabric before the fabric hits the rear feed dog(s) instead of just one.

Now keep in mind everything I just illustrated is about how the fabric is being *fed* into the machine. If anything horrific is going to happen when you're sewing, isn't it usually when you're trying to get those seams started? So the one culprit is how fabric is being fed *into* the machine... not after you're well underway and the rear feed dogs have now gotten something to chomp into... or when a typical rear dual feed gizmo of some sort gets to grab the fabric.

To anyone that doesn't get involved in any super-tiny work - the above might not be an issue at all. If you can always start your seams with the rear feed dogs having some fabric to bite into - that always helps.

But if your'e doing miles of 1/4 inch seams - this is one aspect of how a machine handles that fabric that you should pay attention to.

Having just the left dogs moving fabric for quilting is OK... it's just that (I think) it's important to recognize what you're dealing with.

For my wide tracker machine... here are the two options I work with for 1/4 inch seams:



I like this Clear View Foot (available lots of places - it was cheap). But notice how on my machine that I'm still losing the use of the right long feed dogs. But the two little feed dogs in the front help greatly to offset that.

Or here's my other choice:



Heh heh... Don't freak out! But this foot is huge... I get that! The picture above doesn't have the AccuFeed engaged - because I wanted to show the feed dogs through the ruler (as if the ruler was your fabric)

So to show apples-to-apples, here's that foot with DFG (dual feed gizmo to me - heh heh ) engaged and ready to go...




Notice the DFG feet that are *in* the foot instead of behind it. This creates a super walking-foot-type experience.

If you notice that the edge of the ruler seems to be showing that this isn't creating a scant 1/4 inch seam ...

Look carefully - and you'll see that in order to get the fabric under both feed dogs, the needle is de-centered to the right. This foot is designed to make it possible to get the 1/4 inch seam done through heavy thicknesses without losing any *uuumph* by leaving one feed dog out of the party. :)

Just remember that the guide on the bobbin case is assuming you're working with a needle in its center position. On this machine, that is in the 3.5mm position. But in the above photo, the needle was decentered to the 6.2mm position - in other words, almost all the way to the right. (The 7.0mm position would be as far to the right as this particular machine can go.)

Last thing, before I leave this post... is to also think about how this affects the use of other feet - like rolled hem feet.

I haven't tried rolled hems on this new machine - yet. But I did miles of them on that 62. When I look at the feed dog layout, and the ability to have the fabric being fed from *directly* in front of the needle on the 62 - it makes logical sense that it's probably going to behave when making tiny (as in 2mm) rolled hems with less hassle to me than what this new machine can do.

So there. Hope that helps illustrate how much of a difference there is between a 5mm machine and a 7mm.

I will go take a picture of that New Lotus now just to show the differences of one more machine.






-- Edited on 9/10/12 1:17 PM --

------
My pattern video is on www.BionicGearBag.com
The drama is on: www.RipStitcher.com

Wish list:
Sashiko
Ovation serger
Bernina 880 - Just cuz.
Bernina Tula Pink 350SE

Love my:
Babylock Ellisimo Gold
Bernina 550qe
ElnaPress

RipStitcher
star
RipStitcher
Advanced
Member since 5/28/12
Posts: 2778
Send Message

      



Date: 9/10/12 1:30 PM

Ha!

I was going to post pics of that New Lotus's feed dog system just to show a comparison of one more machine... but that post has been cancelled due to redundancy.

Now remember... I bought that one for my granddaughter... and other than messing around with it a tiny bit in the beginning - piecing one simple quilt...way back in June or so... I haven't touched it. And I haven't tried anything that I would consider challenging on it.

So I popped it on to the table to take a pic... and what do I find?

The *exact* same feed dog layout as on my Horizon.

What a beautiful thing!

I knew it was a 7mm machine... (because I could remember the hassles trying to do that tiny object!) ... but I didn't realize it had the two extra teeth in front of the needle.... I forgot that!

Now, that little Lotus lacks a DFG (dual feed gizmo) and the de-centering can only happen in .5mm increments... but hey... she's a thing of beauty. No wonder I liked that machine!





-- Edited on 9/10/12 1:31 PM --

------
My pattern video is on www.BionicGearBag.com
The drama is on: www.RipStitcher.com

Wish list:
Sashiko
Ovation serger
Bernina 880 - Just cuz.
Bernina Tula Pink 350SE

Love my:
Babylock Ellisimo Gold
Bernina 550qe
ElnaPress

SouthernStitch
starstarstar
SouthernStitch  Friend of PR
Intermediate
Member since 8/24/02
Posts: 10230
Send Message

      



Date: 9/10/12 1:30 PM

Oh some of us are nerds about this stuff right along with you!Many people over on the Bernina yahoo numbers group have talked about this for years.
My machine is 9mm. I've found that if I just use a clear foot and move the needle to the right 3 clicks, I can use that ruler with the scant 1/4 inch hole, place a sticky guide down, and get a great 1/4 seam with the fabric is riding on both dogs.
I like the security of the guide, too.

------
Bernina 780, and 530
Juki TL2010
Babylock Evolution
Singer 403a

When life gives you green velvet curtains, make a green velvet dress.

RipStitcher
star
RipStitcher
Advanced
Member since 5/28/12
Posts: 2778
Send Message

      



In reply to SouthernStitch <<


Date: 9/10/12 1:35 PM

Quote: SouthernStitch
Oh some of us are nerds about this stuff right along with you!Many people over on the Bernina yahoo numbers group have talked about this for years.

My machine is 9mm. I've found that if I just use a clear foot and move the needle to the right 3 clicks, I can use that ruler with the scant 1/4 inch hole, place a sticky guide down, and get a great 1/4 seam with the fabric is riding on both dogs.

I like the security of the guide, too.

Good to know I'm not alone!

And what you're doing is exactly what makes sense!

I just heard so much negativity about the Horizon not feeding fabric properly before I bought... I just think it needs to be thought through to get the result we want.

------
My pattern video is on www.BionicGearBag.com
The drama is on: www.RipStitcher.com

Wish list:
Sashiko
Ovation serger
Bernina 880 - Just cuz.
Bernina Tula Pink 350SE

Love my:
Babylock Ellisimo Gold
Bernina 550qe
ElnaPress

beauturbo
beauturbo
Advanced
California USA
Member since 5/2/09
Posts: 3532
Send Message

      
thumbsup 5 members like this.



Date: 9/10/12 2:05 PM

I think this view that having a 7mm or 9mm needle swing is somehow a bad thing, for normal garment sewing or decorative sewing , is kind of interesting and maybe just more a Pattern Review/Urban lLed internet myth kind of thing. Because I don't find a bunch of people, any other places ever feeling like that at all.

So I will admit I don't understand it at all. And I have never found that to be the case when I'm sewing on machines at all.

Keep in mind though, I'm not using a sewing machine exclusively only to just piece a quilt top with 1/4 inch seams or only making Barbie clothes with ity bitty seam allowances either. If those were the only things I wanted to do, ever, exclusively on a machine, then yes I guess I would pick one, that only does straight stitch and just had a teeny tiny hole in the needle plate and even no zig zag slot there. So in that case, maybe what I would want for just that, is my Mom's old Singer Featherwieght 221 machine, or one of my older straight stitch only machines like a Singer 403, or maybe my first elna, or maybe a Pfaff 30 or any of the newer quilter's straight stitch only kind of machines.

But almost all sewing machines have a 7mm wide needle swing now, have for years and years, and lots have a 9mm one. I think that's a good thing actually. for most sewing and especially any decorative sewing. I actually do get just as nice of a straight stitch on a 7mm or 9mm needle swing machine as a 5mm one. And I can't believe I'm the only one that feels that way at all? I even have machines that can do much wider stitch patterns lets say 15mm to 40 mm wide by just jogging the feed dogs over sideways to do that, at the same time, and I have never ever felt that was any kind of disadvantage at all when regular garment sewing on them either.

There is a big visual, stand back away from your garment difference for me in doing decorative stitching and stitch patterns at a 9 v.s. 7 v.s 5mm stitch width. I know it's only 2mm, or 4 mm but it does make your stitch motifs stand out and be seen a lot better.

The whole PR thing about a 5mm needle swing being better in any way, than a 7mm or 9mm one actually baffles me and makes no sense to me, and I have not found it to be so at all actually.

Do concede though, if only one machine, and all you are ever going to do, is just piecing little bits of fabric with only 1/4 or 1/8 inch seam allowances, then you don't even need any needle swing at all, and only a round stitch plate hole. Don't need zig zag or button hole, or stretch stitches for anything either. If so, why not just use a machine like that for it instead?

Maia B
star
Maia B  Friend of PR
Advanced Beginner
Illinois USA
Member since 10/27/10
Posts: 4701
Send Message

      



Date: 9/10/12 2:30 PM

There was a whole thread on this not long ago, think it was "5.5mm vs 9mm Bernina machines" or some such, but it's great to add pics and broaden the discussion.

I love both and both are "must-haves" for me. I love and use wide deco stitches, but need smaller presser feet and more importantly, closer feed dogs, for many applications. It's never occured to me that needle swing was a factor. I don't know what advantages the 9mm machines have, aside from the beautiful deco stitches, actually, except that it seems all the dual feed machines are 7-9mm. Pfaff used to make 6mm stitch width machines with IDT, so it's not as if dual feed necessitates the wider stitch width, however.

I know there are plenty who strongly favor one or another and those who successfully do narrow hems and seams with 9mm machines, I just think it's worth it to me to have both options readily available.

------
🌸 Plenty of machines, mostly Berninas 🌸

PortlandMaine
star
PortlandMaine  Friend of PR
Advanced Beginner
Maine USA
Member since 1/29/11
Posts: 2238
Send Message

      



Date: 9/10/12 2:51 PM

The 7 and 9 mm Pfaff's Ive had recently had two feed dogs inbetween the front two side feed dogs -- and then two more in the back ... it seemed the feeding was really good for my projects..

But, whatever people like.



------
Quilting up a storm!

wendyrb
wendyrb  Friend of PR
Advanced
Member since 12/30/11
Posts: 3260
Send Message

      



In reply to RipStitcher <<
thumbsup 1 member likes this.


Date: 9/10/12 3:25 PM

This is a fantastic post. Thanks a million for the depth of analysis that the photos illustrate. I joined PR at the end of 2011, so the previous posts must have been earlier. I'm not looking to buy a new machine, but I love to understand my equipment and why the sewing can go smoothly or mess up- for me and for others who post here. So, I thank you for giving me a deeper grasp of the mechanics. I like to know how things work, nerdy or not.

I have a Bernina 930 Record and it causes me no problems. I don't know, what mm machine is that? Happily, my mom gave it to me 2 years ago and she'd had it from purchasing it in 1983. I'm not a decorative sewer, embroiderer or quilter. My charge is to make beautiful clothes that fit; I have my hands pleasurably full with that. Hats off to those of you who do so many things beautifully. It's fun to learn from all your research and everyone's stupendous projects. I'm headed to the sewing room for some pee-wee stuff. I'm finishing up a 1/2 scale bodice, see- it's truly little, of silk charmeuse with a silk georgette underlining. It's homework for Sarah Veblen's great Underlining Class.

------
Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them. Andy Rooney

Pfonzie- my honey Pfaff Creative Performance, Bernina 930 and 830, Evolution serger.

Soolip
star
Soolip
Advanced
California USA
Member since 6/18/08
Posts: 2255
online now
Send Message

      



In reply to beauturbo <<
thumbsup 4 members like this.


Date: 9/10/12 4:11 PM

Quote: beauturbo
I think this view that having a 7mm or 9mm needle swing is somehow a bad thing, for normal garment sewing or decorative sewing , is kind of interesting and maybe just more a Pattern Review/Urban lLed internet myth kind of thing. Because I don't find a bunch of people, any other places ever feeling like that at all.

I prefer doing garment sewing on a straight stitch machine, because it makes the kind of precision work I do so much easier. I find it frustrating to get the curves on a collar band to match exactly on a zig zag machine. 5mm is ok, but 7 and 9mm machines make it progressively difficult. I don't quilt, so I can't comment about this in regard to that particular task.

I use a zig zag machine for certain styles of buttonholes and the occasional blind hem.
Go to Page:
Please LOGIN or Join PatternReview

printable version Printable Version

* Advertising and soliciting is strictly prohibited on PatternReview.com. If you find a post which is not in agreement with our Terms and Conditions, please click on the Report Post button to report it. Sewing Machines >> 5mm vs wide track (7-9mm) machines

Merchants on PR

The Smuggler's Daughter


Online Fabric Store
Web site

Patterns from the Past


vintage sewing patterns
Deals!

Budo Bear Designs


Asian Designs
Web site

Elliott Berman Textiles


Fabrics for Greater Ideas
Deals!

Gwyn Hug


Fabric Shopping Help!
Deals!

 
adv. search»
pattern | machine | member
        
Serging Ahead with your 5 Thread Serger
Serging Ahead with your 5 Thread Serger

Register

Clone Your Favorite Garment
Clone Your Favorite Garment

Register

McCall's 6024

photo
by: RebeccaMar...

Review
Jamie Christina Pretty Ditty Apron Pattern (JC303PD)

Jamie Christina Pretty Ditty Apron Pattern (JC303PD)

Buy Now
Sewn Square One Swing Shift Pattern

Sewn Square One Swing Shift Pattern

Buy Now

Conditions of Use | Posting Guidelines | Privacy Policy | Shipping Rates | Returns & Refunds | Contact Us | About | New To PR | Advertising

Copyright © 2014 PatternReview.com® , OSATech, Inc. All rights reserved.