3 Surprisingly Useful Sewing Tricks

As enjoyable and rewarding as sewing is, it’s not without frustrating moments. We do a lot of sewing over here at Sailrite, and we’ve found a few unconventional techniques that are really helpful for avoiding aggravation. Make those hair-pulling moments few and far between with these surprising sewing tricks!

1. The Taped-Quarter Trick


Do you have trouble remembering to hold down the loose needle and bobbin thread before stitching? This first suggestion keeps those loose threads out of your way and off your mind. It also eliminates a possible ugly rats nest of thread for the first inch of sewing. Place a piece of double sided tape (we use Seamstick, because it’s handy) on the back of a quarter. Stick the quarter just behind and to the right of the sewing machine needle (around the 1-2 o’clock position). Then, before you start sewing, slide the loose needle and bobbin thread under the quarter. This will keep your stitching perfect from the start!

2. The Sideways Tenara Trick


Tenara thread is a high quality thread that comes with a lifetime guarantee, but it can be difficult to sew with. Skipped stitches are a common problem with Tenara thread. There are various solutions for this problem (see more in this video), but an easy one that our customers have found to be successful is hanging the thread cone horizontally. By arranging the thread cone like a roll of toilet paper, the thread is not twisted as it comes off the cone top, which removes kinks in the thread at the hook that cause skipped stitches. You can find information on this and other sewing Tenara tips here.

3. The Double Tension Knob Trick


This last tip is specific to sewing with the Sailrite Ultrafeed LS-1 and LSZ-1 Sewing Machines. The Ultrafeed tension knob provides a guide for which direction to turn the knob for general thread tension settings. If you need a more specific reading on the tension, you can remove the outer cover knob by wiggling the knob while pulling it towards you. Once removed, you can see how tight or loose the tension is set by looking at how the smaller tension knob is threaded on its post. The further the knob is screwed onto the post, the more tension. Starting tension for marine canvas is when the outer surface of the knob is flush with the end of the post.

For more helpful sewing tips and project guides visit www.sailrite.com. Do you have any unique helpful sewing tricks of your own? Leave a comment and share them!

  1. This is a great post and filled with great useful information. Thank you!

  2. Doghouse said:

    Now, that is a good idea!

  3. James O'Brien said:

    I took a more permanent approach in holding the bobbin and needle threads in place while positioning the fabric into place. I drilled, then tapped a # 8 thread into the base of my LSZ-1 at the 2 o’clock position approx. 3.5” from the needle. I then used 2 SS finishing washers to sandwich 2 rubber “o” rings between them. I then used a #8 SS oval head machine screw to hold it to the base of the machine and adjusted the tension. I will E-Mail a photo if any one would like to see it.

    • Nikki said:

      Thanks for sharing James. That’s quite an ingenious solution!

  4. Arno S. said:

    I used a permanent solution for the tensioning knob. After removing the outer knob I carefully drilled a hole in the center, the size is already outlined on the knob. Afternoon replacing the knob, the end of the post is always visible

  5. Jeremy said:

    Long ago I took off the cover from the tension adjuster (like tip #3). Easier to see where the knob is at that way.

    Also, the nut at the end of my forward/reverse stitch length adjuster kept wiggling tighter.
    Since I almost always use the longest stitch, I just put a dab of blue locktight on the nut, so now it stays in place at the longest stitch length. If I need a shorter stitch, I can still move it there, just without the nut to keep it consistent.

    One thing I need a tip on is while winding bobbins – the thread comes off the little “button” thingy that you’re supposed to wrap it around 2-3 times.

    • Nikki said:

      Hi Jeremy,
      That’s a common problem with the bobbin tensioner. Take your thread and go through the pig tail then wrap it around the bobbin winder assembly spring twice. Feeding it through the pig tail then the tensioner keeps the thread from coming out of the tensioner. Hope that helps!

    • Ken Browne said:

      I pull the tread through one of the top holes and hold it with my fingers while the bobben starts winding up. Where I stop and cut off the end piece flush and return to finishing up topping off the bobben

  6. Dave Pope said:

    Presser Foot adjustment. After several sewing projects I can’t remember the default setting for the presser foot down pressure. After study – I think the screw knob can be adjusted as followes. With the presser release lever up and the needle in the highest position, the top of the internal shaft should be level with the top of the screw knob. I think this is the starting default position.

    • Nikki said:

      The presser regulating thumb screw doesn’t have a true “default” position, because different assembly types need different types of pressure. Lighter materials/assemblies require less pressure, heavier material/assemblies require more. But the method you’re describing is a good starting position for sewing marine canvas projects. Thanks for sharing, Dave!

  7. John Hughes said:

    The “tenara roll on its side” hint was the single best thing that ever happened while I was building a new sailcover. Suddenly I could back-tack without getting rat’s nests every single time!

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