Photo credit: Mrs. Williamson at Stitch and Boots
Thank you so much to Becky, Julie, Mamafitz, Claire, Nicole, judidarling, Anne, Debbie, Carla, Mary, Dana, Gwen and Summerset for talking back to my confession last Friday! I asked how often people adjust the needle position on their sewing machine, and for what applications.
For a while after reading these comments, I found myself suffering from some serious ANP (available needle positions) envy. My machine offers 3 positions - left, centered and right. Becky's machine has five positions. Debbie's machine has FOURTEEN positions! And it sounds like Mamafitz's machine has an almost INFINITE number of positions!!! (She said it can "move over incrementally.")
(It's funny that I should have experienced ANP envy, because I rarely use anything other than centered!)
Then, when I was looking into this on the internet, I came across this site that made this point:
"Some sewing machines offer you left, right and center needle positions, but you can adjust those settings by making adjustments in the stitch width."
So, it looks like my machine offers quite a few needle positions too. ;)
Anyways, everyone who responded takes advantage of the ability to shift the machine needle left and right from center. By far and away, the most common application of this capability is for top-stitching and edge-stitching - with 9 votes.
Julia expanded on how she top-stitches - with the needle in the leftmost position, using a 1/4 inch foot with an edge guide.
The second most popular reason to shift the needle position is installing zippers - 6 people mentioned doing this.
After this, there were a variety of reasons called out by 1 or 2 people each:
Summerset and Becky both pointed out that sometimes a particular foot (the zipper foot, in Becky's case) actually requires that you shift the needle off-center.
Claire and judidarling shift the needle to increase the amount of fabric that they can have under (or in contact with) the foot - they like having that extra control.
Debbie also called out increased control - she moves the needle to get each seam to line up exactly where she wants it.
Gwen mentioned shifting the needle position when applying cording and piping.
Similarly, Nicole shifts her needle to the far left when applying bias tape.
Finally, Claire also called out understitching.
So, it looks like are quite a number of good reasons to experiment with moving your sewing machine needle left and right!
I was happy to hear that my application - getting 3 rows of gathering stitches nicely lined up - was new to at least a couple of people. And I've already put your advice re. top stitching to use with the dress I started last weekend!
Thanks again to everyone who took the time and trouble to leave a comment! Now I'm going to go stitch a sampler that shows off all the many needle positions I have available on my machine! ;)