Getting started with an industrial sewing machine can seem like an intimidating prospect, but all it takes is a little practice to become a confident and skilled sewer! We’ve put together this list of our top 10 tips to help you unlock the full potential of your new equipment.
Get to know your machine
Read the manual - Unlike domestic sewing machines, industrial models don’t usually come with instructions. However, you can find manuals for most machines online, and these can be a handy resource to read through before getting started.
Thread it up - It’s important to learn how to thread your machine properly. Threading incorrectly results in poor stitch quality and machine performance, and can even cause damage to the machine. There are instructional videos available online if you aren’t sure where to start. Alternatively, if you have purchased a sewing machine from us then our team of technicians are here to help, and are on-hand to talk you through it or assist you with any questions you have.
Familiarise yourself with the tension settings - Adjust the tension settings to ensure that your stitches are even and balanced. Make small changes to start with and bear in mind that different fabrics may require different tension adjustments.
Get the hang of the foot pedal - Practice with the foot pedal to ensure you have a consistent speed and control over your sewing. We’d recommend starting slowly and increasing your speed as you gain confidence. If you’re used to a domestic model then the speed and power of an industrial sewing machine may initially come as a bit of a shock!
Practice makes perfect
We’d always recommend practicing on a piece of scrap fabric before getting started on your work. This will give you a feel for the machine’s speed and confirm that it is set up correctly. You can also experiment with settings such stitch length, tension, etc. to understand how they affect your sewing and help you choose the right finish for your application. When you purchase an industrial sewing machine from us we encourage you to send in a sample of fabric so we can set it up correctly before sending it out to you, but it’s still a good idea to have a test run!
Before you get started, we’d recommend that you familiarise yourself with your machine’s safety features. Industrial sewing machines are very safe, but with any equipment there is the potential for injuries if they are not used correctly. Always turn the machine off before opening the head up for any reason, and ensure that loose clothing, jewellery, and long hair are secured when sewing to prevent any accidents. In addition to this, you might choose to wear ear defenders if you are working in an environment where many machines are operating at the same time as it can get quite loud!
Don’t forget to backtack
It’s really important to “lock” your stitches with what is known as a backtack. This involves sewing back and forth on the same spot at the start and end of a seam to prevent it from unravelling. Many machines come with “automatic backtack” which will automatically add these stitches to secure seams in place. For those that don’t, or if you’d rather do it manually, most have a backtack lever or button located on the machine head which can be used manually for the same purpose.
Get the knack
It can take some adjustment to get the knack for feeding your material with an industrial sewing machine, particularly if you’re used to using a less powerful domestic model. Trying to actively force the fabric forward can damage the machine and result in needle breakage and inferior quality stitching. The most important thing to remember is to let the feed dogs do their job and not force the fabric through the machine. Each industrial sewing machine has a specialised feeding system which is designed to move the material through at exactly the right speed for the best results. It does the hard work for you, so all you have to do is guide your fabric gently to make sure the seam is straight.
It’s always a good idea to plan ahead and keep consumables such as spare needles, bobbins, thread, etc. on hand so you don’t end up having forced downtime when you run out! We provide some spare needles and bobbins in the drawer of each industrial sewing machine to get you started, because we know how frustrating it can be when you don’t have the parts you need. If you are running low then our spares team are on-hand to send out replacements with the fastest possible turnaround time.
Keep it clean
Many common problems people have with their machines can be easily prevented with proper machine maintenance. The best way to keep your industrial sewing machine in good working condition is to clean it regularly and make sure it is oiled correctly. This will ensure that it is performing at its best, because dust and lint can build up and cause thread jams and other issues. We recommend using either a lint brush or compressed air to clear the bobbin area under the needle plate. You can also remove the thread tensioning knob to clean the area between the tension disks where thread lint can build up.
It is very important to keep your workspace organised. A clutter-free workspace is essential for safety, efficiency, and stress reduction! Keeping all your tools, spare parts, and materials organised and within reach will save you time and prevent distractions. We build every industrial sewing machine with a handy drawer under the table where you can keep essentials such as needles and spare bobbins in one place.
Have the right equipment
As obvious as it may seem, ensuring that you’re using the correct industrial sewing machine for your application is crucial! Unlike domestic models, professional machines are not all-rounders. If you aren’t sure which machine is best for you then contact our team and we’ll be happy to give tailored advice based on your requirements. It’s also important to make sure you have all the accessories you need, including a good quality chair, cutting equipment, and other extras such as a light, to enhance your sewing experience.
Measure twice, cut once
This is something our workshop team say on a regular basis! it might sound like a cliché, but it’s useful to bear in mind no matter how experienced a sewer you are. It’s also important to account for your seam allowance when measuring up. Taking the time to double check your measurements before sewing can prevent wastage and save you a lot of time later on!