Sewing · Tips

Automatic Pressure

Some, if not most, of the newer sewing machines come with a ton of stitches (most of which you probably won’t use) and something that, while on the surface seems attractive, in reality is something you don’t want; I’m talking about automatic presser foot pressure!

When sewing different weights of fabric, one needs to adjust the presser foot pressure accordingly. These automatic, mostly computerized machines, purport to adjust this for you… but I’ve not found that to always be the case. How does the machine know that a seam of 4 folds of denim is just about to be shoved under the foot and to loosen up as it were? It doesn’t and it won’t, and therein lies the problem, you have no way of overriding the presser foot pressure, there’s no knob. You’ve effectively ceded control to a blind machine.

I’m not totally against automatic pressure, when you’re sewing like weighted fabrics it works reasonably well, and if that is all you’re doing, like piecing quilts or making shirts all out of the same fabric with simple seams then go for it.

I will make the case you should learn how presser foot pressure works and how to use it. Chances are, you’re going to want to experiment with your skill set, push your boundaries and try something new, and in so doing, you’ll hit that wall where you don’t have full control over your machine. It should do your bidding, not the other way around.

Suggestion: If you’re just starting out, get an older machine, one from the time of vinyl records, made from a cast iron skeleton and have it serviced. These older machines were meant to take a beating and keep going, which is why they are still around in droves. Search eBay, your Grandparent’s garage, garage sales and the like. You should be able to pick one up for very little and with a good servicing it will be ready to go in no time. You aren’t going to hurt these machines, and the best thing of all, they have presser foot adjustment.

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