Sewing machine needle not centered: does it matter?
August 10, 2020 1:47 PM   Subscribe

I have a Singer 4411 Heavy Duty sewing machine. The needle can be moved to left, center, or right by a dial. If I turn the dial so the needle is as far to the left as it can go, it comes down in the middle of that little gap in the presser foot. This is true for various types of presser feet, from various companies.

I can sew on buttons, do zig zag, etc. Everything seems fine. The only weird thing is that whenever I'm sewing a straight line, the needle is set to the "all the way to the left" position. Does it matter?
posted by The corpse in the library to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (12 answers total)
Best answer: No, it does not matter, unless you want to be really really close to something, like a zipper or a quilting topstitch.
posted by Melismata at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2020

Best answer: If you do zig zag at full width, does that mean that at some point the needle hits the needle plate, or is it still only moving between the left and right edges of the hole? (or to put it another way, is the gap on your presser feet at the center of the hole in the needle plate or presser foot, or closer to one side?)

What really matters is for the needle to not hit outside the hole when it comes down, so if it seems centered relative to the hole then you should be fine.
posted by trig at 1:58 PM on August 10, 2020

Response by poster: I've done topstitching and it seems OK, since I just leave the needle all the way to the left (or, in the middle) and work from there. I haven't done a zipper yet but will be in my project-after-this-one but I think it would be the same?

At full width, the zig zag doesn't hit the needle plate no matter which position the needle starts out in.

Basically my needle-position options are middle, right, and further right.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:51 PM on August 10, 2020

Best answer: Yeah, the only time I ever realized that the needle position could make a difference was when I used a fancy hemming foot that sort of channeled the folded fabric into a very specific place. If it had been smaller, I might have needed a different needle position, but it's really not something the non-pro needs to worry about. (My Viking brags about having 25 needle positions, and I'm like, no.)
posted by Melismata at 3:27 PM on August 10, 2020

Best answer: This sounds normal. The hole in the foot lets you see what's going on on both sides of the needle - if you want to sew close to something, you'll just turn it so it's on the side where you can move the needle closer.

You'll want a different foot if you're putting in an invisible zipper, probably one that is just a metal bit in the middle and open to allow clearance for the zipper on the side.
posted by momus_window at 3:35 PM on August 10, 2020

Best answer: I guess one more question is how wide your widest zigzag stitch is. I think on your model it's supposed to be 6mm? If that's how wide your stitches are in reality, then you're probably centered fine and have no problem. If your maximum is more like 3mm then you're still fine for most practical purposes but something's wrong with the machine and might be worth fixing, especially if you'd like the ability to sew wide stitches or use a wide twin needle.

With zippers it depends on the zipper foot you use. It's definitely possible to sew them without any special foot though (and the old straight-stitch machines generally had only one needle position anyway, so it's not really limiting).
posted by trig at 3:40 PM on August 10, 2020

Best answer: I have a Singer Heavy Duty too and I think the needle position gets mismatched to the needle position dial when I’ve hopped between stitches with the needle not set to “center”. Presumably there’s some way to hop to and from the mirror-image stitches to reset it, but I haven’t found it.

I do check that the needle swing won’t cause problems with a few test inches on scrap cloth.
posted by clew at 4:44 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Interesting, clew -- I don't remember my machine being this way originally, so maybe that's what happened.
posted by The corpse in the library at 6:54 PM on August 10, 2020

Best answer: This might be relevant but I can’t click through to most of it:
posted by clew at 8:40 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It says the stitch width needs to be set to 0 for the positioning dial to work properly (and presumably your selected stitch should also be straight stitch).
posted by trig at 10:13 PM on August 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Best answer: That did it! Machine off, width to 0, stitch set to straight stitch, needle position dial set to center, and now when it’s on it behaves as I expect. Thanks, trig.
posted by clew at 4:47 PM on August 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Nice! Thank you. (Yeah, everybody gets a "best answer," you all helped me.)
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:55 AM on August 12, 2020

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