Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sewing Machine Experts . . . PLEASE HELP!

I received a comment on my last post that I addressed as best as I could, but I thought I would also share it with the group at large (in case you're not a person that trolls the comments on random posts just for fun) in the hopes that someone might be able to offer a little more "seasoned" advice.

Here's the situation:

I am having some issues... extreme issues with my sewing machine...

The thread was bunching... the tension was just not measuring up.
I changed needles
I adjusted bobbin screws
I cleaned the machine using compressed air...
I opened the cover and tightened every screw
Put it all back together again.
I gave it a hug
And still....

It seems to cope best a the highest upper thread tension level... no matter what the bobbin screw was at.. It varied... a lot.. I tried it until i was ready to kick it out the window.. and still....

What else could i do?

Just keep trying with the bobbin screw? I mean I've been adjusting the screw on my bobbin holder piece. Heeeelp!

(Not the sewing machine in question, but another gal who's broke-down.  Ain't she a looker?):

Aaaarrrrrrwwwggghhhh! Help!
Image by storebukkebruse via Flickr

 I'm going to include my response so you can see what not-super-helpful advice I had to offer:
Ok . . . I am totally NOT a sewing machine expert, but the one thing that stood out to me that you said you did was something I feel like I read/heard somewhere that is a major no-no which is using compressed air to clean it.  You're talking about removing the throat plate and cleaning the lint out, right?  I've always read that you're supposed to use that dumb little brush because the compressed air can actually blow the lint into spots even more and jack things up more.  Soo . . . that's obviously not what started the problem, but that also probably did not help the situation.  Hmm . . . at this point you may just need to bring it in to a sewing machine repair person and get them to work with it.  The only other thing I've ever known that sometimes makes a difference is using better quality thread.  I tend to use whatever I have on hand (which includes a lot of vintage thread that my mom gave me when I took up sewing a few years ago), but even on my much newer machine, I can tell that it sews better with gutterman than it does with some old coats and clark (though I haven't had problems with new coats and clark).  Have you ever brought your machine in for a tune-up?  I started out sewing on my mom's machine (which was about . . . .hmm . . . 30+ years old when I began) and it had NEVER been tuned up.  The last time I used it (sometime within the last year to help my sister make some kitchen curtains) it was making some crazy noises . . . like JACKHAMMER noises and I kept having to fiddle with the tension.  My theory is that all the years of NOT being tuned up got it to this point, but I do believe if it was properly serviced it would work great again.  (No idea what kind of machine you have, but hers is a Singer Stylist . . . not plastic parts or anything . . . so not a lot of bells and whistles, but built to last, you know?)

Wish I had more to offer you.  I love that you said you gave it a hug.  I would have done the same thing.  I am a total spazz when my machine does something weird and somehow I always think sweet-talking it (Think: "C'mon, baby.  Don't do this to me.  You can pull through this girl."  Oh yeah . . . the dramatic stuff) will help.  So far my problems have really been user error issues, so I've eventually figured them out.  My machine is fairly new and hasn't been the problem.

Do you still have your manual?  Sometimes there is a troubleshooting section in the back or so that will help you figure out what you need to do for a variety of different issues. 

Ohh . . . I'm so sad you're having troubles.  Nothing feels worse than sitting down to the machine when the creativity is flowing and finding she's not feeling good.  Let me know how it shakes out.
Ok, my sages.  Here's where you come in.  Any other brilliant bits of advice for a sewist in need?  Please leave a comment if you can.  If it was my machine, I know there'd be some nashing of teeth until I was able to get the issues resolved.

Thanks, friends!


Tammy @ she wears flowers February 15, 2011 at 4:53 PM  

Wish I could help, but...my serger is acting kind of like this. I didn't give her hugs, though!! ;( I am thinking I am going to have to break down and take her in to the repair store, but will be interested in anyone else's advice in case I can fix it before I have to pay to have it repaired! Thanks!!

Skooks February 15, 2011 at 5:03 PM  

Oh goodness! I hope some good advice comes in. My serger is problematic as well, but I'm pretty sure it's because I have no clue how to use it properly. I should probably take a class or something so I can actually use it.

Anonymous,  February 15, 2011 at 7:30 PM  

First, as simple as it sounds, check and double check to make sure the thread is going in all the correct locations. I have found if it isn't, I have problems, especially if I don't "set" the thread in the bobbin holder. I have a Singer and an Elna.

Second, in 36 years of sewing, I have never adjusted the screw on my tension. Sounds like something that should only be done by a repair person. Since she states she has done it many times, the screw itself could be stripped.

I hate spending money going to the repair shop, but better safe with a small repair, than with a big repair.


Megan February 15, 2011 at 8:19 PM  

This sounds so much like the problems I was having a few months ago, in fact I think I tried all the same things. I'm going to sound like an idiot here because I don't know how to describe this (and I'm a fairly new sewer), but the main problem was that my bobbin case had come apart...so, the case wraps around itself, and right at the end it should "clip" into itself. Mine had come out right there (barely noticeable unless you were looking for it), but it prevented the case from holding the bobbin in tightly. Once this was corrected, and I reset the tension settings, the tension seemed perfect again.

My second issue was that I had used sticky-back velcro on my machine (I know..I am a new sewer, this was a hard lesson learned!). I believe this is what led to the bobbin case issue. So, I thoroughly cleaned it out with rubbing alcohol, and my machine has been running smoothly ever since.

If nothing else, maybe she can rule this out, but I really hope she's able to fix her machine! This situation is very frustrating!

Skooks February 15, 2011 at 10:25 PM  

Jilly and Megan -

Thanks so much for chiming in! I knew some of you lovely ladies would come through for me. :)

urban craft March 6, 2011 at 12:19 AM  

arg! This happens to me all all all all all the time! The only thing that I have found is that you should unwind the bobbin and rewind it. The tension is always hard to gage too but I have read that sometimes the bobbin catches itself. Hope this helps.

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