Friday, October 15, 2010

Dissecting Your Sewing Machine - It's Just as Terrifying as It Sounds

my new sewing machine :D
Image by Arcadiareptiles via Flickr
Feed Dogs.

You've got them on your sewing machine, but do you really understand how they work?

I thought I did.  Yes, I *thought* I did, but apparently I did not.

I *thought* the feed dogs were the things that move your fabric evenly under your presser foot so your stitches look nice and precise.  (For the record, this is true.)  My concept on *why* they work however was not as equally honed.

Anyway, a week or 2 ago, I decided I was going to attempt making a wallet.  It was a fun little project . . . when all was said and done I think it turned out ok.  Part of the design involved attaching bias binding by hand to one side of the wallet and I REALLY don't like doing that (my stitches are all crazy like as I have not really mastered the hand sewing in that area). 

Sorry.  That is totally beside the point.

One of the FIRST instructions for this particular pattern is to "quilt" the top layer.  Any old way you want.  And *here* is where my FEED DOG story begins.

Stay with me, Jimbo.

So even though I have less than zero experience doing such a thing, I decided to drop the ole feed dogs and do some free motion freestyle quilting on top.

Because how hard can that be?

Apparently quite.  Long story short:: I suck at it.

So after ripping all those crazy swirls out, I decided to just pop the feed dogs back up and do some basic outlining of the flowers on my fabric.

Except those dogs stayed down.


I couldn't help it.  I totally flipped out.  This was right after my whole "cleaning out the feed dogs from years of neglected lint build up" episode from a few weeks ago.  I was beside myself.

I beckoned Mr. Skooks.  "I BROKE IT.  AGAIN."

Mr. Skooks, though awesome, is not a small machine repairman.  Nevertheless he started taking Connie apart a bit to see what the problem might be.  I left the room for a moment to tend to Kee-ku and when I came back I saw all of Connie's guts EXPOSED and I FREAKED.

He had actually done nothing more than remove the cover to her motor unit.  But still.  It was a terrifying experience for me.  I wonder if it would be like watching a successful open heart surgery.  The dude is getting better, but in the meantime you're watching his insides which really . . . YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO SEE.

Anyway, I left the room again because it was just too traumatizing.  A few minutes later the following interaction takes place:

  • Mr. Skooks: Sweetie?
  • Me: I broke it.  I KNEW IT.  I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS.  I have never dropped those STUPID FEED DOGS in the ENTIRE TWO YEARS I'VE OWNED THIS THING and then they BREAK the FIRST TIME I DO???  I don't have the MONEY to fix this right now.  It probably costs A MILLION DOLLARS TO FIX.  STUPID STUPID STUPID.  WHY did I have to DROP the feed dogs?  WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY???????????!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Mr. Skooks: Um.  You didn't break it.
  • Me: Wha?
  • Mr. Skooks: Did you *try* to sew on this at all after you switched them back?
  • Me: Um.  I dunno.  No.  Because they didn't come back up.
  • Mr. Skooks: Right.  Except do you know how they work?  Watch this.
    • Insert visual of Mr. Skooks turning the hand crank as we both watch the feed dogs go up and down and up and down.
    • Insert me looking like a total dingbat.
  • Me: I'm an idiot.
  • Mr. Skooks: Um.  No you're not.  
  • Me: I can't believe you married such a crazy idiot.
  • Mr. Skooks: (laughing.  A LOT.)
So yeah.  There's your lesson on feed dogs for the day.

The moral: Know thy machine.

The other moral: You don't want to be in the same room as me when I *think* I *may have possibly* broken my sewing machine.  I am a total freakshow.


Tammy @ she wears flowers October 15, 2010 at 9:31 PM  

Oh my gosh!! This has happened to me--more than once because, apparently, the first time wasn't scary enough for me so I did it again and couldn't remember why it happened! I freaked on my own for a LOOONNNGG time and then figured it out by accident both times.

The whole time I am reading this I am thinking, "Uh-ohh! Please just turn the hand crank (is that the proper name??), please just turn it!! I am so glad you "fixed" it before you broke it while fixing it.

Just for the record, my husband is not allowed to touch my machine--inside or out!

Thanks for sharing--suddenly I don't feel so alone! ;)

jojoebi-designs October 16, 2010 at 12:25 AM  

LOL. I have a background in engineering so I have no qualms about pulling things apart, it's when I put it all back together and discover and extra screw that I start to get worried :o)
Glad you machine is fixed and happy again.

Unknown October 16, 2010 at 9:36 AM  

i tried to drop my feed dogs... cant find the manual.. apparently its not possible and i need to buy a darning plate but i found that out AFTER the bit that holds the bobbin fell out and i cant get it back in.

aubrey October 16, 2010 at 9:27 PM  

I would have been distraught too! I asked if I could lower the feed dogs when I bought my machine--sounding all like I knew about doing such a thing. I have never, ever done it. And I was amazed when more of the 'table' removed and there were all these levers for the feed dogs. Maybe someday

Skooks October 17, 2010 at 12:33 AM  

Everyone -

THANK YOU. I do not feel so completely dorky and alone now. :) I really need to take a basic "getting to know the parts of your sewing machine" class. Apparently I have a lot to learn. :P

Sara October 18, 2010 at 10:09 AM  

Just the term "feed dog" is scaring me. The machine intact is scary. The machine opened up? Fright fest. Good thing Mr Skooks stays calm under pressure.

emilyc @ Sew Super Sweet October 19, 2010 at 8:33 PM  

Oh my gosh, I break into a cold sweat every time I have to take apart my sewing maching...even if it is just to change a needle or put on my walking foot! LOL The poor thing has been taken apart so many times, most recently because my little man put 17 pins down inside of it and the cover broke off!

Just take a look at her and you will feel better!

urban craft October 27, 2010 at 12:29 AM  

oh my god, where has this post been all my life. You've seen my crafting, you know I totally have no idea how the feed dogs work, or even how the actual machine works itself. You and Mr. Skooks are my hero.

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