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Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
thick thread problems re backpack 0- tips? on 02/28/2012 11:59:36 MST Print View

Finally started testing sewing for backpack, got thick nylon thread as recommended. I'm in the USA, so any suggestions ideally should be readily available here.

The problem is the bottom thread always lies on the bottom, after examining sample seams with a magnifier, I can see the problem easily, the thick threads when they knot are simplyy too big for the hole created by first a 16, then 18 size universal schmetz needle.

First I thought it was the fabric, but tried it on 200d oxford, and it still lies on the bottom even with tension cranked to full. This machine, a heavy kenmore from the 70s, has no problems sewing the actual stitch, the hole is just not big enough from what I can see for the knot to pull up through into the center of the materials. I've adjusted the bottom tension on bobbin holder too, but when I examine the holes, it's fairly clear to me that dense nylons simply will not let the big knot through when it's bigger than the sewing machine needle hole by a significant amount.

I did some reading here last night, found one person suggest that maybe something like a Singer 18 jeans needle would be better. I can't find bigger needles so I don't think that's an option, but when I examine some backpacks, a Lowe Summit pack, for example, I can see that they use really big needles, 22, 23, and even thicker thread than I'm using from the looks of it.

I tried now a few different heavy nylon types, Coats & Clark Extra Strong Upholstery, Super-Tuff heavy duty nylon sewing thread. I also got the Gutterman heavy polyester, but that looks to be even thicker than the nylon upholstery threads.

Someone here recommended c and c dual duty plus thread, which I think one fabric store locally has, they had the upholstery stuff. I can also check out Nareens in Berkeley today.

Is this a problem do you think of the needle type, brand, thread, or combination thereof, and how can I solve it without buying endless amounts of heavy nylon threads and needle assortments?

The machine itself is pretty powerful, old school heavy duty, and I mean heavy, sews other fabrics fine with standard gutterman threads and needle sizes.

Sometimes in online info sources they talk about various thread types, but those pieces of information do me no good since the thread I can actually buy doesn't give me that information, like tex number etc, so the specific brand and type is what I need if I need a certain thread.

any thoughts appreciated.

Edited by hhope on 02/28/2012 12:39:05 MST.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: thick thread problems re backpack 0- tips? on 02/28/2012 12:40:46 MST Print View

Can you include a picture?

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: thick thread problems re backpack 0- tips? on 02/28/2012 12:49:34 MST Print View

Are you sure you have the bottom tension adjusted properly? New needle?

Hobbes W
(Hobbesatronic) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: thick thread problems re backpack 0- tips? on 02/28/2012 12:59:37 MST Print View

My friend, it sounds to me like your sewing project is completely out-of-control. Seriously - step back and evaluate the issue from a clean-sheet perspective. (Your Kenmore has more than enough power to deal with any materials you may wish to use.)

OK, here's a simple chart that I use with great success building quilts, packs & tarps:

Quilt seams & hems: M50/M90/1.1 rip (uncoated) - Microtex 70/10 with Gutermann "SewAll" ie Mara 100 (Tex 30)

Tarp & pack seams & hems: 1.3 sil (1.1 coated) - Microtex 80/12 with Guterman Mara 70 (Tex 40)

Tarp tie-outs; pack attach points & buckles (shoulder, sternum & hip straps) - Microtex 90/14 with Gutermann Mar 70 (Tex 40)

Get some cheap materials, perhaps 1.9 from Joanns, and experiment getting your thread tension dialed in. For around $5, you can fine tune that mofo down to perfectly balanced threads (that is, you **cannot tell** what is the bottom vs top stitch).

In fact, I've found that because I'm changing out needles/thread with respect to fabric, I never have to adjust my thread tension once I've run a test stitch pattern before starting a new project.

Edited by Hobbesatronic on 02/28/2012 13:01:31 MST.

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
no pic on 02/28/2012 13:01:59 MST Print View

my camera doesn't do closeups that close, but the thread knots lies on the lower piece of fabric, ie, it's not able to go up into the material.

Yes, I have tried new needle, just got singer universal 18 yesterday to see if a bigger hole would do it, 16 didn't work.

I've tried various lower thread tensions, from super loose to standard, ie,, you can lift bobbin holder by thread without it slipping, but if you jerk it, it slips.

I could try bobbin tension very tight, but I don't quite see how making the bottom tension tight would help the knot move up into the fabric layers.

I'll pick up some sears 18 jeans needles today, otherwise I can't really say. This thread is very thick though, I haven't seen either brand I used mentioned by name here, but other sources online mentioned upholstery thread as a heavy nylon thread, the various kinds I have gotten seem about the same diameter by my 10x magnifier, and the knots it forms seem to be about 2x larger than the hole from the needle, give or take.

What brands/models of needles / threads have you hadd personal success with re sewing with nylon thread that is thick on backpacks? Reading I found that mchale uses even heavier thread on their packs, but those heavier ones are apparently too thick for almost all home machines.

I decided to stop at the shoulder strap bottom connectors because the thread just doesn't work right on the seams, especially not on bar tack, then one side is all jumbled up, the bottom side.

I'll see if I can get a pic, but I don't think I can, but this is the standard knot lying on bottom layer, not center, issue as far as I can tell. My guess right now is that upholstery thread usually goes into fairly loose materials, so the knot can quite easiuly get pulled into it, but these nylons are so dense and tight,, especially with coatings, that they simply don't give way. Obviously many people have resolved this issue given the fine packs I see shown here routinely, though now that I think of it, most people don't mention what specific thread and needle they used.

I could have this sewn immediately if I switched to the standard weight gutterman, but I really want to give the strong stitching a go so the pack actually lasts.

Again, any ideas appreciated. I have a fair amount of cheap 200d oxford i can play around with before failing on the real pack materials so I don't mind doing some testing to figure this out.

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
tex number on 02/28/2012 13:08:44 MST Print View

Hobbes W, what you say confirms my suspicion, the nylon upholstery thread is simply too thick and solid.

The problem I have found with almost all the online sewing documentation is that it refers to thread data that is simply not on the thread when you buy it. And given most people I read said to use bonded nylon heavy duty thread the only thing I can find like that literally is the upholstery thread.

Is that heavier gutterman the same as their black m782 heavy duty polyester? That to me looks even thicker than the upholstery thread.

What I'm doing now here is definitely stepping back, since I couldn't make the thick thread work.

So is nylon really the way to go for packs? I realize now that almost all the documentation simply skips this key point. For ultralight materials of course it doesn't really matter, I'm using a mixture on this one of wv21 an dtx07, just because that's what I ended up with, but that's not related as noted, this problem happens on all the dense fabrics, 200d oxford on up.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=47231

that thread suggests Mettler Metrosene Plus, and notes 'The heavy weight Gutermann thread is too heavy for home machines', which seems to be the problem I'm having, the knot is simply too big.

Edited by hhope on 02/28/2012 13:13:23 MST.

Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: thick thread problems re backpack 0- tips? on 02/28/2012 13:30:20 MST Print View

I haven't tried heavy-duty/upholstery thread with my machine and simply used regular Gutterman available at my local Joann's. If you have the same model sewing machine as I do (Kenmore Model 1937) then the needle direction is very important to getting it to punch through thicker fabric. I was having trouble going through multiple layers of 70D where the bottom thread appeared to have tension issues as it also laid flat regardless of any tension dial changes. Check your manual to be sure, but on my machine I believe the flat side of the needle needs to face away from you. Also, the Microtex brand of needles are much better at tightly woven fabrics like ripstop than a universal or denim needle.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: tex number on 02/28/2012 13:31:46 MST Print View

If the bottom thread lies on the bottom, then the top thread isn't being pulled up at all

Like, there's no top tension at all

Is the top thread correctly going through the top tension plate?

Is the thread going through the arm that pulls on the thread to tighten it?

The differences between different thread and needle seems like a "wild goose chase", you're attacking the problem from the wrong direction, shouldn't be that much difference between them, they should all work

Paul Johnson
(johncooper) - F

Locale: SoCal
Backpack Sewing Thread on 02/28/2012 13:39:07 MST Print View

I have the same issue with the stitch staying on the bottom when sewing with heavier threads. In particular, I'm using Gutermann Heavy Duty 100% Polyester with either #90 or #100 needle. I have spoken with the local Viking Dealer and their comment was that the issue is not related to the fabric or bottom tension. Rather, the top tension is simply not high enough, despite having the tension set to max. They can adjust the tension internally.....for a fee of course.

I confirmed with another sewing machine dealer/repair shop and they concurred. I am having the adjustment made next week and we will see.

Joel Hulett
(jhalan) - F

Locale: Midwest
thread tension on 02/28/2012 14:11:07 MST Print View

I have two kenmore machines and the same problem you have had. two things. first if you want to use apholstry cord you will have to take it to a shop to get the spacing adjusted to accomidate the large diameter thread. This will also render said machine useless for any other type of thread by the way. Secondly, I have had good luck with with coats and clark heavy thread, however, in order to use it you must crank the top tension to 9, and take a tweeker and crank the bobbin tension as tight as it will go. Your sewing machine/110/18 needle will not like this but it will sew. The question you need to ask yourself is is it worth the trouble. I do you use the heavy thread often, however since I have the bobbin casing dialed in, I have it marked so I know which casing to use with different threads. Hope this helps.
I have a model 86(straight stitch only) and a model 52 (zigzag).

side note: realisticly the only need for the heavy thread would be for 500d and up type stuff. You match the weight of the thread with the weight of the fabric typically. as noted above.
Good luck.

Brendan Swihart
(brendans) - MLife

Locale: Fruita CO
Nylon thread on 02/28/2012 14:15:38 MST Print View

Nylon thread is usually slicker than polyester thread and often requires much higher tension. If you can't get enough tension by the tension knob, often (especially on industrial or older "heavy duty" machines like you say you're using), there are extra holes in the thread path (for example on posts on top of the machine or on the take up lever) that you can wrap the thread through extra times to increase tension.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
icky thread and seams on 02/28/2012 14:28:35 MST Print View

if you are using the HD gutterman .. good luck. it's Great Stuff for hand sewn repairs in the field, but a bugger to sew with. i suspect it does not flow thru the needle at all well.

and, in that we are taking the longer view here .. when was the last time you had a std normal gutterman seam fail on you because the thread packed it in ?
come on.. the thread ?
decent thread will rip to shreds most any material people on this list sew.

the direction i mean to go is ... why use HD thread ? do a few tests with normal thread, and play with your machine until you can walk the tension form bottom to top and it does what you want. then you are in control. then you can make choices.

the strength of thread sort of adds up over the zillions of stitches you put in, like wrapping a fishing pole ferrule. at the endpoints of a seam, you can go to a wide zig-zag stitch and set the length to zero. nail it down a dozen times,,, now pull That puppy out !

mchale uses huge thread, but dan's got machines (and about 35 years of knowledge) to do this for him.
i suspect that projects on this list will be well served with std weight threads, and sound design.
i have installed pack (very heavy) strap mountings using std thread with excellent results.

at any rate, until you can walk the stitch up and down with the upper tension knob, back away from the final product and keep experimenting.
also, even with everything perfect, bottom tension is REAL REAL touchy at the adjustment screw. you can get lost there easily. there are videos on it.

good luck
v.

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
thanks for feedback on 02/28/2012 16:52:36 MST Print View

great feedback, thanks. Since had some time today I went to Naraen's outdoor shop in Berkeley (well known in SF Bay Area, long time outdoor gear repair guy), and asked him. He said: I never use nylon thread, it's too hard to sew, always bunches up on the bottom, etc. Recommended C&C polyester, a bit heavy style, so I'll try that. I don't always follow what he says, he doesn't like ultralight fabrics, but the fabrics I'm using here, and materials, are the kind he's worked with for decades now, so I think I'll just do what he said to try and see how that goes.

While sewing this stuff with the light gutterman would be easy, I was more interested in learning how to do it the really durable way, but didn't realize some of these things simply will not work. I wouldn't want to go much higher on the tension, already it's almost impossible to pull through thread at the top setting (so the tension works fine, the knot is just too big and hard for the nylon it's supposed to get pulled through).

I'll try the various threads I got today, always a learning curve, heh. I would say thread/needles have been an oversight in a lot of online how to make a backpack guides, it's something that is just blipped over, then some people say use heavy nylon which I have to agree with Naraen, it's just too hard to use. Wish I hadn't bought those spools of it, oh well, the price of learning I guess. It's not unusual to actually just forget what you have learned and assume the knowledge is inate, this might be one such case, every otehr sewing matter I've hit was pretty easy to figure out with patience and a bit of reading.

But really good tips in general here, thanks. Can't tell you what the C&C Naraen sells is, it's just cardboard spools without any labels, he said he thought it was the best you can use, and I do have to give someone who has sewn gear for decades a nod re experience with the basics of materials, even if he's not up on the latest weird stuff like dimension polyant or cuben.

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
stop do not pass go on 02/28/2012 17:08:14 MST Print View

"at any rate, until you can walk the stitch up and down with the upper tension knob, back away from the final product and keep experimenting."

thanks for the reminder, that's helpful to hear it said, I tend to be impatient, but I agree, until I have control over this I should stop now on the real project. My failure to do that is why I posted, glad I did. Hopefully this will also help some other people who might have the same issues.

Re the light gutterman, my feeling is that the backpack is not at all like other gear, it actually holds suspended weight all day, and is subject to swaying forces all day, each and every step I take. That's why to me it was worth seeing what the strongest I could do is.

Edited by hhope on 02/28/2012 17:10:01 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: thanks for feedback on 02/28/2012 21:00:36 MST Print View

Hi Harald

I do not like Gutermann for very light fabrics, but it's OK for Taslan or similar medium-weight synthetic fabrics. I like Rasant for silnylon and silk. There are those who say they would not give C&C thread to a friend, but I can't speak from a lot of experience. I do know that threads which look at all 'fluffy' are not worth the trouble.

I use both light (Rasant) polycotton thread and a heavy bonded nylon thread, plus many others. I have no trouble getting a properly-formed stitch with the different threads, but I do use an old black Singer for the heavy threads. No, I do not think the heavy nylon thread is hard to use.

Yes, you need to sort out the upper tension. It is just not tight enough. Yes, you need to use a suitable size of needle, but be aware that many of the recommendations would have you use a needle which is far too big. That said, I use a #100 for the heavy nylon.

Cheers

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
surrender? on 02/28/2012 21:09:26 MST Print View

Peter, I think you may be right, these heavy threads require such huge needles that I don't think it's a great idea to do it that way. I got a pack of 19s, which do finally now work with the thick polyester threads (didn't try the nylon), but are so thick that they pull up on the thicker materials when coming out, and the machine can barely get them started, even with full tension on the presser foot. Tested some of the thicker threads CC dual heavy, that are not nylon, did manage to get the knots to be in the middle of the material, but I'm not really convinced it's a good idea to proceed with these heavy threads, and definitely not with the heavy nylon threads.

The 19 needle is huge, I recognize the size of the holes from my Lowe packs, I'll check out the microtex needles, have to find somewhere that carries them, haven't had these types of issues though with standard threads. I'm guessing you are right, most people here I would guess are using the normal gutterman. Agreed on the bartack type seam, that's not really possible to rip out no matter what thread it is. Maybe I'll leave the thick stuff to mchale, sounded like a good idea but I've just now literally spent more on needles and thread than the entire pack was supposed to cost, quite a bit more. Price of learning I guess.

Once I wear out my current batch of schmelz needles, which is going to take a while, I'll try the other brand.

What is that thicker gutterman actually called, I didn't see anything with those terms in any sewing / fabric shop, just various names, like standard, heavy duty, quilting, top stitch. One thing I've realized going to standard fabric stores is that they do not view materials at all like you myog types do, so they almost never have any idea of the technical specs of the fabrics or threads. In other words, you can't ask them the tex number of a gutterman thread, they won't know.

Roger, thanks, what I've realized / learned is that words like 'heavy' without a specific brand/model have almost no meaning with threads. There are no data id numbers on the spools to let you know what it is technically. So a 'heavy' polyester has to be qualified by what it is, ie, what is it I will ask for and buy?

I guess I can in theory increase the tension more if I want for thick threads by adding a washer under the tension plate that the dial pushes onto to create the tension, that's an easy trick, but that's getting to be a VERY high tension, I can barely pull the thread through the tensioner now as is, when it's set to the higher tensions.

Might be worth a shot though, I have all these darned spools of thread and thick needles now, would be shame to waste them all.

Basically I think I need to figure out how to make what I have work, this is starting to get way too expensive for a quick and fun myog pack project.

It's hard to reconcile all the views, a guy who has sewn / repaired outdoor gear for decades likes the c and c thread, thinks it's the best, someone else loves the gutterman, and most people seem to find it fine for their needs, you like the cotton/poly mixes, difficult to actually form any judgement that's meaningful with such a wide range of views, especially when all seem to be based on fairly significant empirical experience.

Edited by hhope on 02/28/2012 21:22:53 MST.

peter vacco
(fluff@inreach.com) - M

Locale: no. california
surrender? nahh.. the night is young. on 02/28/2012 23:19:01 MST Print View

" needles and thread than the entire pack was supposed to cost, quite a bit more. Price of learning I guess."

Absolutely the cost of learning. and it was cheap too. we don't make our own stuff to save money .. do we ?? if money mattered, would any same person take multiple summer's off to go and walk.. ?
forget money, this is UL, BPL ... whatever.
----
thick gutterman thread is 33 yds on a small spool, where as the actually usable stuff is 110 yds.

i suspect Roger C may be on to something, in that i have never really had serious wood for the gutterman's way of running thru the machine, but, it is what Joanns stocks, and before i started burning thru MaxiLock (on 3000 yd spools), it's just what i grabbed, and when i switched colors, i had not to dork with anything.
as per Roger's comments, the gutterman does look a tiny bit (as much as peter can see anymore) fuzzy. where the MaxiLok is a cleaner finish.
( i have some polyarn here that would make Roger turn in his grave it's so soft and puffy )
--
"I guess I can in theory increase the tension more if I want for thick threads by adding a washer under the tension plate that the dial pushes onto to create the tension, that's an easy trick, but that's getting to be a VERY high tension, I can barely pull the thread through the tensioner now as is, when it's set to the higher tensions."

ummm ... thee ist going to pretty quick run into issues on that front.
----
" difficult to actually form any judgement that's meaningful with such a wide range of views, especially when all seem to be based on fairly significant empirical experience."

yeah ! is that Fascinating.. or What !

(here's a little tip ... thick won't work. peter's a troll. go with Roger)
---
in the world of motors, we sometimes change so much stuff at once, that the true path is lost. then .. one needs to "baseline" the engine, which normally involves going back to stock, and undoing all the "better ideas" that the customer had. this will usually (on a motorcycle) be the same fellow that insists he needs more power, but has not quite bothered to learn how to use the front brake yet ...
--
so :
put in a #17 needle (unless it bends on the way down, then it's too small). install nice, new, thin, standard, normal, thread. use THE SAME thread top and bottom. check you bobbin tension as per u-tube videos. trial run on real material (NOT silnylon) like perhaps 1.9 coated, or whatever you have that's cheap. i use construction paper sometimes when i've got a real issue to work out.
and needles can get bent. they bend all the eff'n time when you are starting out. a bent needle is a goner. that's why they sell them by the package full.
---
you're work'n Way too hard on this.
have you started drinking yet ?
i'm pretty sure it helps.

cheers,
v.

Samuel C. Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
thick thread on 02/29/2012 00:03:34 MST Print View

"that thread suggests Mettler Metrosene Plus, and notes 'The heavy weight Gutermann thread is too heavy for home machines', which seems to be the problem I'm having, the knot is simply too big."

That was me. Sorry to hear of all the difficulty you are having.

The solution for me has been just to use lighter threads that are still strong enough to handle thicker materials. It takes expensive industrial machines to produce the products offered in shops with the heavy thread. For me, it's not worth the trouble to try for a similar appearance, when the less heavy thread will do just as well with two stitch lines. Have never had thread separation on packs, tent guy points, or mesh bands on the seats and backs of camp chairs (using many stitch lines) - so why worry.

As other posters suggest, I do experiment with scraps of the same material to be sure the stitches are right before sewing the work. It's well worth the extra time.

The best thread I've found was a cotton covered polyester from DMC, but they discontinued it; hence the change to the Mettler Metrosene Plus, which is polyester covered polyester. Roger has noted that the polyester cover can heat up and melt with high speed sewing, but my sewing is sporadic and low speed, so no problem. Like Guttermann, Mettler also makes a heavier outdoor thread, usually displayed with the Metrosene Plus if the store has it. You might try it. I've never liked the Guttermann lighter thread because it is not strong at all, and their heavier product, again usually displayed with the lighter, is too heavy for my Kenmore "ZigZag" circa 1960s machine. I still prefer the DMC if the colors I have left match the material.

You might also try experimenting with Singer's ball point needles, heavy fabric needles, and cutting needles, like ones Singer makes for leather. My machine will go through webbing and thick material, but sometimes needs a little help by manually turning the large wheel to the right. The ball points seem to work best, but I try other Singer types when those do not. Incidentally, I've had poorer results with the other brands of needles, but that could be just because I found Singers that work and am too lazy to go through all that with other brands - don't know.

Stopped using C&C because Roger advised the quality is not very good, and some links that posters have provided here support that. The Rasant people in CO gave me a really bad time, so I would not buy a wooden nickle from them; but I'm sure their thread is everything Roger says it is, and if their US distribution has increased to cover your area, you should try it.

You might also go to a machine repair shop to make sure that your top thread tensioner is working OK; but my guess is that the thread is just too heavy for a home machine.

Good luck.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: surrender? on 02/29/2012 08:18:57 MST Print View

"It's hard to reconcile all the views"

At the risk of stating the obvious, that's what you get with advice like this, try out different ideas and find what works for you

Maybe you should take your machine to a fabric store or sewing machine store and have them show you how to use it.

Harald Hope
(hhope) - M

Locale: East Bay
coming together on 02/29/2012 14:34:18 MST Print View

Excellent information, thanks. Now if we can get Roger to get very specific on the rasant types/model / name.

Peter, thanks, I think I'm seeing/discovering exactly what you are saying, leave it to me to find the limits of the tools or methods, then bang my head a while, then return to what works. That's tragically typical for me.

So to be clear, and for anyone else who comes across this thread, which is a virtual certainty, here's the actual threads being discussed, correct any errors:

standard gutermann, ie, what all the outdoor fabric shops sell. Not the heavy polyester stuff, at 33 yards a standard spool, but the 110 yard stuff, or larger spools. This is what is being referred to as thin thread. I think.

I'm not able to connect this with any tex number, is this the tex 40/mara 70?

Rasant threads, specifics not known, haven't seen this in fabric stores so have to order it online I guess. Would require thread id numbers for let's say black to actually know the specific types Roger suggest are very good for thin nylons like silnylon, unless I'm missing the point.

Mettler, check out metrocene plus, see how that thickness is.

All thick threads, like the heavy duty gutterman, the c and c heavy, and the nylon upholstery threads, are a wash, avoid them and save your money until you get a real industrial machine and go into actual production. If I get it right. So stack those somewhere and enjoy their nice shapes. Or colors, whatever.

Needles, use larger and thicker as the materials get thicker, but use the same thread if your machine can't handle the thicker stuff. Mine can actually sew with up to 18, 19 is a touch too thick, but because tensioner can't create tension enough to pull the knot up into fabrics that are densely woven, like nylons, dimension polyants etc, the heavy thread doesn't really work. Needs industrial machine, this fits with what I see in my industrially created packs re sewing.

I'm not taking the machine to a sewing shop, that's way too expensive, plus the thing weighs 50 pounds, tough carry on a bike, did it once, that was enough, but I have dismantled it in parts to fix things already, and am familiar with the tensioner innards, it's quite simple system mechanically, pressure plate pushes against disk that creates tension. Uses a spring, so there is a chance the spring wears out over time and fails to fully tension, but I'm going to go with the experiences here, and just give up on the heavy threads, the motor analogy is good, that's the same method you use when creating software too, start with the basics you k now works, then move out from there.

It's obvious that with the bigger needles and thicker materials, the smaller knots of the standard gutterman type thread, or the mettler, I'll check that out, will have no trouble moving up into the fabric layers, so that's how I 'll do it.

I stopped at the shoulder strap attachment points, was the first thing, so it's not a lot of material lost.

If there are further specifics you feel will help others avoid errors, or if I made errors in my summary, please feel free to correct them.

I really like the kenmore, that's a tough, powerful, old school machine, hard to understand how they could get 50 pounds of steel into that small space, but they did. But it looks like I found it's upper limit, also found its lower, it doesn't like silnylon much, but it likes everything else.

Thanks very much for the great input and feedback, there is / was a definite weakness in online documentation / myog how to s in this area, I think this helps clear everything up, or at least bring light to the question.

Peter, your words resonate, might be my tools, but I think what you say is what I should do in general, thanks..