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Different fabric, different tension

Different fabric, different tension

Old 06-13-2014, 06:40 AM
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Default Different fabric, different tension

I bought 6 batik fabrics to use in a wall hanging from a quilt shop, so nice quality fabric. I had the project about half done when my new sewing machine started skipping stitches and then eventually not catching the bobbin thread to stitch a seam at all. I rethreaded the machine with both the spool and bobbin, changed the needle, cleaned my machine, used different thread, changed the pressure on the presser foot, etc. When I would sew on a piece of scrap it would sew fine and I would think I had it fixed until I started sewing on my project. Then I got wise and used a piece of the batik for a scrap and sure enough it wouldn't sew. Turns out it was the fabric all along and when I started having problems with it skipping some I was using the one batik with another. When I used two layers of the problem batik is when I started having problems of it not sewing at all. I adjusted the tension and got it to sew again. The other five batik fabrics from this same purchase sew just fine with the automatic tension setting on my machine.

I've solved my problem but I'm posting this in case others have had a similar experience or in the future may be sewing and start having stitch problems. It may be the fabric and not the machine. In all my years of sewing I've never had something like this happen. I've had to adjust settings for different types of fabric but never when the only apparent difference in fabrics was the color.
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:49 AM
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I've said for years that color makes a difference in the "feel" of a fabric.
Glad you found the problem AND a solution for your situation.

Jan in VA
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:58 AM
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Wow! This is fascinating. And very good information to know. Thanks for posting it!
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Old 06-13-2014, 06:59 AM
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That is so weird!! Thanks for sharing, I would never have guessed something like this. That's some good sleuthin'!
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Old 06-13-2014, 07:34 AM
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Did you prewash your fabrics? Not trying to start a debate here, everyone has their prewash philosophies- I'm just wondering if the problem fabrics had more than normal excess dye that might have caused the problem?
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Cybrarian View Post
Did you prewash your fabrics? Not trying to start a debate here, everyone has their prewash philosophies- I'm just wondering if the problem fabrics had more than normal excess dye that might have caused the problem?
No I did not prewash the fabric. I'm making a wall hanging and never expect to wash it so don't have to worry about bleed and such. Good question though.
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Old 06-13-2014, 08:26 AM
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Glad you figured it out and got things to work in the end.

Another consideration ... while you changed your needle, did you change the type of needle?
Often times with batiks, you want/need a sharper type of needle than a conventional Universal. Perhaps with a different needle type, you could have avoided tension adjustments.

As you discovered, when doing practice work to check that all is working fine ... it's important to replicate it fully with the same fabric, batting and threads. Likewise, if the fabric has been pre-washed, starched etc. ensure the practice piece is the same in that way too.
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Old 06-13-2014, 09:32 AM
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I have certainly learned to check many things when having an issue with my machine. Thanks for all the good tips!
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:12 AM
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I was taught with batiks to use the next size up sewing needle. Thanks for the information.
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Old 06-13-2014, 10:19 AM
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I use batiks all the time (have never prewashed) and have never had anything like that happen. Just wondering what type of needle you were using? A lot of people use a "Universal" which is a combination of a ball point and a sharp, I have had really good luck using a "sharp" needle when sewing. The batiks are closer woven than standard quilting cottons (higher thread count). I'm not saying this was the issue but wanted to throw it out there.
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