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Sewing machine extras

When I became serious about sewing, I remember thinking more than once that a non-sewist must be designing the sewing machines. There were some aspects of the sewing machine that were so poorly thought out, it was laughable. In other cases, the feature was there, but hadn’t been taken far enough.

As I take the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q for a test drive, it is very apparent that a lot of thought went into the design. Not only for the comfort of the sewist, but well designed safety features as well.

Let’s take a look at a well designed safety feature.

Single Hole Throat Plate

To my knowledge general purpose sewing machines are sold with a multi-purpose throat plate. There is an oval opening in the plate to allow the needle to move from side to side to make stitches that are wider than a straight stitch.

However you can also purchase a straight stitch throat plate which has a single hole for the needle to pass through.

 

The top throat plate has a single hole - this is the straight stitch throat plate. The bottom throat plate has an oval - this is the multiple purpose throat plate.
The top throat plate has a single hole – this is the straight stitch throat plate. The bottom throat plate has an oval – this is the multiple purpose throat plate.

 

 

When I first started to quilt, I was told that the single hole throat plate produced a better stitch whether you were piecing or quilting. At that time, it was impossible for me to try the straight stitch throat plate as I had to move the needle to the right in order to use my 1/4″ foot. Obviously, the needle would no longer line up with the hole. So I was stuck using the multi-purpose throat plate.

Now with the NEW Quilter’s 1/4″ Piecing Foot P – the needle is used in the center position and the edge of the foot is the guide. This means that I can use the straight stitch throat plate. At last we’re able to use the tools as they were intended!

Straight stitch foot
Straight stitch foot

 

 

I know – you’re thinking to yourself – that’s great, but what happens when I go to do a zig zag. I’ll forget that the straight stitch throat plate is on the machine and I’ll break a needle!

Not so with the Sapphire 960Q. Look what happens as soon as you snap the straight stitch throat plate into place.

The sewing machine turns the SET STITCH WIDTH safety to ON and you CANNOT over ride it. That means if you attempt to choose a NON straight stitch – you get following……..

The sewing machine turns the SET STITCH WIDTH safety to ON and you CANNOT over ride it. That means if you attempt to choose a NON straight stitch - you get following.........
The sewing machine turns the SET STITCH WIDTH safety to ON and you CANNOT over ride it. That means if you attempt to choose a NON straight stitch – you get following………

 

 

Warning on the digital screen for the throat plate on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q
Warning on the digital screen for the throat plate on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q

 

 

And when you take the straight stitch needle plate off the sewing machine – you get this pop-up message.

A pop-up message for the throat plate on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q
A pop-up message for the throat plate on the Husqvarna Viking Sapphire 960Q

 

 

Seems to me, you can’t get better than this when it comes to a neat safety feature. Good bye to the sticky notes that we used to remind us that the straight stitch needle plate was on the machine!

Now that we have a chance to test the theory – does the straight stitch throat plate really make a difference?

I stitched out this sample and I don’t see any discernible difference between the two lines of stitching.

 

The top line of stitching was done with the single hole throat plate while the bottom one was done with the multi-purpose throat plate.
The top line of stitching was done with the single hole throat plate while the bottom one was done with the multi-purpose throat plate.

 

 

I did quite a bit of searching to find some reference to the myth surrounding the single hole throat plate. The only solid reference I could find was in Harriet Hargrave’s Heirloom Machine Quilting book.

While there’s no discernible difference between the two lines of stitching, there’s definitely one advantage: that the single hole throat plate will prevent fabric from being sucked down into the bobbin case because the opening is too big. Not only can it make a tighter and better stitch which is probably not visible to the eye, the single hole throat plate can also help eliminate skipped stitches.

I will do some more experimenting when I get to test out the free-motion quilting stitches.

Thread Nets

I bet all of us can say that at one time or another, we have been sewing along, we hear the sound of the sewing machine change and then SNAP – the needle breaks!

STOP – before you whip out the tools to change the needle, have a look at WHY the needle broke. Is the foot loose? Is the throat plate dislodged? Follow the thread path – is the thread caught somewhere?

If you locate WHY the needle broke – you won’t be in danger of breaking another one right away.

Many times the thread gets wound around the spool holder and can no longer flow freely. The change in the sound of the sewing machine is the machine laboring as it attempts to pull the thread and then of course the needle snaps from the pressure. More often than not – this happens with unruly thread – the fine threads, the metallic thread and let’s not forget the invisible threads.

Here is a spool of invisible thread and you can see how loose the thread is. That is a broken needle just waiting to happen!
Here is a spool of invisible thread and you can see how loose the thread is. That is a broken needle just waiting to happen!

 

 

I took a thread net and inserted the spool of thread inside the net. The net was too long – I could have cut the netting to the right length but in this case – I just folded it back.

The important thing is that the thread is able to flow freely from the spool while the spool is still inside the thread net. Notice the thread is pulled much tighter and no danger of getting wrapped around the spool holder.

The spool of thread inserted inside the Thread Net.
The spool of thread inserted inside the Thread Net.

 

 

TIP for unruly thread

Metallic thread, invisible thread and very fine weight threads come to mind when I think of unruly threads. You pull them out of your thread box only to find that yards of it have come off the spool and are hopelessly tangled.

 

Threads that have a tendency to be unruly: fine threads, invisible thread and metallic thread.
Threads that have a tendency to be unruly: fine threads, invisible thread and metallic thread.

 

 

So how does one keep better control of the thread inventory?

Buy light weight tablecloth vinyl. Cut it into narrow strips – about 1″ by 6″

Narrow strips of light weight tablecloth vinyl
Narrow strips of light weight tablecloth vinyl

 

 

Wrap the strip tightly around the spool ensuring you get the loose end tucked in.  Inexpensive and easy to do – saves time and money. No more thread tangles.

Thread wrapped in a small strip of light weight tablecloth vinyl. No more tangles.
Thread wrapped in a small strip of light weight tablecloth vinyl. No more tangles.

 

 

It’s so exciting to see some of these well thought out features. I’m trying to think of what else I would like the sewing machine to do. Sew the entire project for me? No fun in that!

Come back tomorrow where I’ll show you a very quick and easy project.

Have a great day!

Ciao!

Elaine Theriault is a teacher, writer and pattern designer who is completely obsessed with quilting. Elaine’s Tech Tips column (originally published in A Needle Pulling Thread magazine) is now available online in e-book format at QUILTsocial.com. When not quilting, she enjoys spending time with her two dogs, Lexi and Murphy, or can be found cycling across the country. Her blog is crazyquilteronabike.blogspot.com.

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