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  1. #1
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    straight stitch or zig zag?

    So are there specific applications for when you would choose to use a straight stitch vs. a zig zag? Making an underquilt and was wondering if it made a difference? I am assuming a zig zag would allow more stretch but is it also stronger? Any input is appreciated.

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    Brute1100's Avatar
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    Senior Member ibgary's Avatar
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    Good ? Sorry I don't have the answer, but ill share what I have learned. Ive learned to use a longer stitch, because its easier to rip out if I need to redo it. I also learned the the longer the stitch is the weaker it is, so I use mid length zigzag. That gives it strength but also allows for fairly easy removal.

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    Every piece of gear I make is straight stitch - 8 stitches per inch. I've never come across making anything yet that needed a zig zag stitch. If I used stretchy material like spandex or something, then I would be using zig zag for the stretch factor. One of the reasons I got my Singer 201 was for the great straight stitches it makes.

    As for strength - I've had material rip everywhere except along the stitched line. A well balanced (top and bottom tension) stitch can be very strong. I'm sure the Rev will have something to say about it soon.
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    Senior Member DemostiX's Avatar
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    You will use a straight stitch for most applications. Look at all commercial gear to confirm that.
    Zig-zag (zz) is used when stretch and forgiveness is desired.

    Four kinds of stretch and forgiveness: One is from the thread itself in normal use . Second is from the stitch line, which lengthens as the zz gets pulled from two dimensions to one. Third is for the the fabric, because the zz distributes the load over a broader area.

    The fourth forgiveness is for user error in sewing with too many straight stitches per length , creating a potential perforated tear-line in the fabric. ZZ, of course, halves the stitch density.
    Last edited by DemostiX; 01-09-2013 at 12:50.

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    zig zag came into popular use in the home market when the double knit fabric was introduced to the retail trade. A stitch that allowed more stretch was required for that fabric. As stretch fabrics became more popular and technical additi9on stretch stitches were developed for the home market. Given the fabrics and applications used in gear making there is virtual no reason to use a zig zag except for button holes which show up very infrequently in gear.
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    Zig zag is something really only useful on very large sustained loads (30-50# per stitch) on stretchy fabric (like racing sails for example) or on very loose weave fabric (burlap and the like). To be honest any thread a home use machine can use will fail long before the fabric and zig zag is used to spread load on fabric. For any thread under db130 you aren't gaining any strength and are really only gaining very very little stretch. It's great for bar tacks on the ends of chain stitches if you have a chain type machine as well.
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    I use a straight stitch, most of the time. But I did make a hat out of fleece, and needed it to stretch so it would fit around my head, and not be to tight. The zig-zag worked great. I also made a pair of fleece wristies, and used a ZZ stitch across the back of my hand, just as a kind of border. Again, I wanted/needed the fabric to be able to stretch, so a ZZ. Anyone care to guess how I figured this out?

    I can't remember which I had made first, but I think it was the wristies. Went to put it on, had the fabic stretching in the right direction, but it wouldn't where I had sewed. Hmmmm, wonder if the ZZ would allow it to stretch, so on the next one, that's what I did, works great.
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  9. #9
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    Got it. Straight stitch. LOL. You guys are insanely knowledgable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hasselhoff View Post
    Got it. Straight stitch. LOL. You guys are insanely knowledgable.
    Haha...well, you asked.

    I, too, thought zigzags were stronger, but learned that straight stitches 8-10 stitches per inch are best. There was a thread somewhere that addressed this and quoted from a military parachute guide that directly stated that straight stitches were to be used in the construction of parachutes...well, that would definitely be an application where you would want as strong a stitch as possible!

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