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Author Topic: using seam tape  (Read 2477 times)
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sugarbaker
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« on: July 30, 2010, 02:00 AM »

a question for those of you who tape your seams prior to sewing... how do you keep from gumming up your sewing machine needle? 

I like using tape, and was having great success with a brand from a local fabric shop, but found that it yellowed my white fabric.  Because of the yellowing, I switched to a tape from an online supplier.  The new tape is clear, and has yet to cause any discoloration of the fabric, but it tends to leave adhesive goo on the needle, which leads to breaking the thread (using guterman 100% polyester).  Furthermore, if any of the adhesive spreads to the sewing machine foot, I have feeding problems.

Curious to hear if anyone has found a solution to these problems (while still using tape to secure the seams prior to stitching!).  Thanks for any input.

-Stephen
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REVflyer
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« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2010, 04:27 AM »

contact one of the builders on the other forum (for kite builders) as I'm sure this is a common topic there.

I'd say to up-grade your adhesive tape (3M's 9460 bonding tape is so strong you don't need sewing at all!) or run the sewing machine much faster (full throttle baby!) so the needle generates more heat passing thru layers.

try a teflon coated needle or sewing aid solution.

Teflon-coated foot,

upgrade your thread to commercial sail building quality thru a kite building supply retailer

different needle (tried one designed for leather or denim yet?)

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RonG
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« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2010, 05:30 AM »

Sewer's Aid is helpful - whenever I clean the needle off, I give the needle a quick wipe with it.

Good polyester thread, as mentioned above, makes a difference in how well the thread moves through the needle even in the presence of adhesive.  Making sure you're using a sharp needle helps too.  I replace needles pretty often.

One other thing that helps is keeping the sewing speed up.  The faster the needle moves through the fabric, the more heat is generated - this seems to keep adhesive from building up on the needle.
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MtnFlyer
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« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2010, 07:36 AM »

As was mentioned above, there are several things you can do.
- Use good quality tape (since Steve doesn't carry it, you can find some here)
- Use quality thread, like the Gutermann Sew-all polyester that you're using. That's all I use.
- Use a drop of Sewer's Aid to lube the needle. Wipe off the excess.
- Pull the glue "buggers" off the needle as they develop
- Use a Microtex Sharp needle. I use 12/80 or 14/90 Schmetz. Do not use universal or ball point needles.
- Sew fast. Kmac originally gave me that tip as it really does build up some heat on the needle. I try but can't do this accurately, so I deal with it via the other methods above.

I've never had build-up to the point it got under the foot. I can't see that happening unless the tape protrudes from the fabric lap. Pull it off the needle when it's just little balls.

Hope that helps.
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Bob
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« Reply #4 on: July 30, 2010, 08:00 AM »

All the above advice is perfect, but I no longer use Guttermann's thread, it is way too "Nubby" now which picks up the glue. If you can find Metlers Polyester it is good, don't use the cotton wrapped though. Coats & Clark's new Poly wrapped Poly is good too, stronger then Gutterma's and much smoother. I know Gary's article says ... that was 10 or more years ago and I said the same the 10 years I worked in fabrics, things change.

Many people are using a "Thread Oiler" with luck, this is just a small piece of foam attached somewhere on the thread route soaked with Sewers Aid or Silicon, the thread just needs to touch it to pickup a little of the lube.

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« Reply #5 on: July 30, 2010, 08:50 AM »

Oh and regarding broken thread, change the needle, don't buy bargain needles, the thread gets pulled back and forth through that eye a dozen times or something, it has to be smooth. Also check the hook, that's the part the bobbin rides in with the hook to catch the thread, if the needle ever got bent and hit that it may have left a Burr that will snag the thread. Polish it with some very fine sand paper if it feels rough at all.

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"Living is easy with eyes closed, misunderstanding all you see" John W Lennon

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Gamelord
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« Reply #6 on: July 30, 2010, 12:55 PM »

Just rest a sponge wet with rubbing alcohol against the needle while sewing.  No more problems.  You can do this with a Popsicle stick and a zip tie so that your hands can still be free to work the fabric.
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KaoS
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« Reply #7 on: July 30, 2010, 08:38 PM »

... up-grade your adhesive tape (3M's 9460 bonding tape is so strong you don't need sewing at all!)

No, no! go the other way and downgrade your tape.  The less sticky ones release much less gum (and you can reposition them easily).

Use high quality, sailmakers, bonded polyester thread (Serafil, Synton, etc.).  It shouldn't be "fluffy" at all.  The fluffy ones that you buy at dressmaking suppliers pick up gum every time they pass through the needle (around 10 to 12 times before they form a stitch).

Buy a thread oiler and use silicon oil in it.
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Kevin Sanders

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sugarbaker
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« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2010, 07:53 AM »

thanks everyone for the hints.  I will apply them as practical.  I typically use a coated sailmaker's thread (when using white or black) and have not had problems with the stronger thread... but my latest project I've been trying to match thread and fabric colors. 

I did pick up some bernina coated needles and some sewer's aid... so we'll see how that goes. 

It's interesting to learn about the hook for the bobbin. I've not had a chance to check mine yet, but I'm curious as to it's condition since I am not the original owner of my particular sewing machine.  Thanks again for suggestions!

-Stephen
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Will Sturdy
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« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2010, 04:40 PM »

The above is very good advice. Here's what I've learned from my Bernina bernette 65, singer 690U, and consew 199RB-3A

Sewing at full speed on the bernina didn't make it fast enough to help. The singer was fast enough that it made a bit of a difference. It wasn't until I upgraded to the industrial consew that it made a really big difference, but you do have to watch out for melting thread on really long seams when using one of those fast.

Thread oilers are great. A bit of sewing machine oil did a lot. Make sure that the bobbin thread gets oiled as well, else the bobbin hook can get gummed. Wipe down the seam after sewing it to remove excess oil. I found this necessary on both my bernina and singer. The consew did not need it.

All of the machines require regular cleaning of the bobbin hook assembly. Gum and lint (even using bonded polyester thread) build up rapidly and can cause great problems. If your machine starts acting weird, the first thing you should do is take it apart. Clean everything that moves or touches thread. Oil all of that. Wipe off the excess. Sew a bit on scrap and then wipe down the entire exterior of the machine and empty out the oil pan before sewing on anything you don't want oily.
Lots of modern machines make cleaning a pain. It's well worth the trouble though. If you really want, take it to a shop and get them to clean it for you. I find it a lot more simple to get a working knowledge of how the machine works and do it all myself though. If it's really complicated to take apart, take pictures as you go along so you can make sure it all goes back right.

Mess around with different needles. I can't remember off the top of my head what needles I used in the bernina and singer, but I remember that the different machines liked different needles. Just a personality thing.
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« Reply #10 on: August 01, 2010, 05:30 AM »

I take it a stage further than just bonded thread I soak my thread in silicone spray polish before use and leave it to dry for  couple of days before use.
Using a spray ( I use back to back to black dashboard polish) the solvent lets it soak right through the spool and you get enough creeping onto the needle, foot and bobbin that nothing gums up but not enough to mark the fabric.

I'm using an old Bernina Record, nice machine to use but not fast enough to rely on speed to avoid clogging up
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tcope
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« Reply #11 on: August 01, 2010, 10:26 AM »

[quote author=sugarbaker link=topic=3641.msg33468#msg33468 date=1280588020It's interesting to learn about the hook for the bobbin. I've not had a chance to check mine yet, but I'm curious as to it's condition since I am not the original owner of my particular sewing machine. [/quote]This can make a _huge_ difference! I had someone walk me through this... mine was in good shape but that glue from the tape was all over the hook! I cleaned it up with rubbing alcohol and the machine worked perfectly! This is the big problem with the tape... the needle pushes it into the bobbin assembly area.

I taped some hook and loop on top of my machine. I put a few drops of sewers aid on it and then sandwich the thread in between the two pieces of hook and loop (Velcro). As mentioned I also soak my bonded thread in silicone. I spray it and spray it and spray it. I think this also helps protect the thread over time.

Personally, I avoid tape as it's a pain to keep off the needle and also gums up the bobbin assembly. I use either clips or hot tacking. But on small projects and ones with many small pieces, tape might be worth it.
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Todd Copeland
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sugarbaker
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« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2010, 10:27 PM »

follow up to this topic. 

I've pretty much stopped using seam tape, as I've found that a glue stick works better, especially for curved seams.  the only portion of the kite I use tape for is the leading edge, and I place the tape in an area that will not be sewn through.  So far, this has been the best solution and I haven't had to worry about breaking thread or needlessly cleaning my machine for several projects now. 

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