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Topic: My sewing machine is teaching me humility.  (Read 6566 times)
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abinka
« on: November 23, 2004 11:31:23 AM »

My bf's grandma gave me her Singer sewing machine and I was extremely happy that I would finally learn machine sewing, as I've been doing everything by hand for years now. I gave it a whirl today, followed all the directions, but for some reason when I sew the front looks great and the back is a giant tangled mess of thread. I thought there was something wrong with the bobbin so I took it out and tried to sew without it, and still a mess. I've also tried to adjust the tension. Does anyone have ANY idea what I might be doing wrong? I'm sitting here with a pile of fabric and a broken heart  Cry
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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2004 11:41:34 AM »

First of all, you can't sew without a bobbin on a sewing machine.
I've had similar problems when my bobbin was incorrectly threaded, so check that. Make sure that after you wind the bobbin, there's no little piece of thread sticking out of a hole on top of the bobbin or anything like that that might be getting caught.

I'd say just take all the thread off the machine, make sure there aren't any little bits of thread anywhere. and then rethread the machine.  Make sure it's all done correctly.

 Also, try test sewing with a different colored top and bobbin thread so you can see which one is getting all bunched up.  Which ever one is is too loose for the
other.  So if it's the top thread, try increasing the tension, if it's the bottom thread, try decreasing the tension.
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Lindsayanne
« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2004 12:06:40 PM »


What type of material are you trying to sew? And are you being careful not to push or pull the fabric through but letting the sewing machine take it at it's own pace?

It sounds like a tension problem, but I've also had this happen when something was threaded incorrectly (your thread is through the needle and the wire loop just above the needle, right?) or when I was trying to pull a heavy weight fabric through.

I would advise rethreading it completely with a different thread (you never know) and trying to sew on a different type of material and seeing if you have the same problem.

Also, my bobbin is supposed to turn counter-clockwise in the case- although it seems "wrong" to put it in that way. I put it in wrong once and had thread bunching- could this be the culprit?
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2004 01:36:06 PM »

My sewing machine is a mystery to me, as well.  All those knobs and threads.  I am going to take lessons in January, and in the mean time I am leaving gifts of incense and flowers for the machine in an effort to appease it.

Edit:  the idea of using a different color of thread in the bobbin is a great idea--it really helped me see how the stitches come together.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2004 01:38:18 PM by Shawnkyr » THIS ROCKS   Logged

abinka
« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2004 03:26:50 PM »


What type of material are you trying to sew? And are you being careful not to push or pull the fabric through but letting the sewing machine take it at it's own pace?

I would advise rethreading it completely with a different thread (you never know) and trying to sew on a different type of material and seeing if you have the same problem.

Also, my bobbin is supposed to turn counter-clockwise in the case- although it seems "wrong" to put it in that way. I put it in wrong once and had thread bunching- could this be the culprit?

Thanks ladies, I will definitely check all of these things. I'm sewing just some normal print fabric, cotton I guess. I might have been pulling or pushing a little, because I kept feeling like the machine was stalling on me (because it was, trying to get through the vast loops of crap in the back...sigh). The machine was still threaded from my bf's grandma's use god-knows-how-long-ago, including the bobbin. I tried to futz with it, but next time I sit down with the machine (probably shortly after the holiday when I come back home) I'll rethread everything and give it another shot. Also by then (my birthday is December 1 and hopefully I'll be getting a digicam!) I will be able to show you the mess I made, if I have the misfortune of doing it again.
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« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2004 03:57:08 PM »

Try re threading the machine again.  Some times you may have missed putting the thread between the tension plates.  Use the same thread you are using in your bobbin.  Using different types of theads in your bobbin will also cause this problem.

Pull the bobbin out and dust where the bobbin sits.  Sometimes dust will inhibit the bobbin mechanism from working properly.  Strange but true.

Some times just changing the type of needle will even make a difference.

Always check on a scrap of fabric that you are using to make sure the machine is sewing correctly before you start sewing on your project.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2004 12:43:23 PM by qazicat » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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Eibhinn
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2004 01:15:54 PM »

I had the same problem and the nice Singer store lady explained it to me.

When your presser foot is down the tension discs in your machine are engaged, ie. pressed together.
If you thread your machine with the foot down it doesn't thread through the tension part properly and so you have no tension at all on your non-bobbin thread. This leads to annoying giant loopy thread maddness on the underside that you (and I) experienced.

When threading, make sure the foot is up, and then just before you thread the needle put the foot down and pull gently on the thread. You should feel tension, telling you the machine is threaded properly.

Lovely Singer lady was quite annoyed that they don't put this vital point in the manual. I felt dumb for not knowing how to thread my machine properly until she told me that they get at least six machines in for repair each week for just this problem. And it is a tiny little store in the middle of nowhere. So we're in good company.
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abinka
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2004 03:54:04 PM »

Wow! So by "up" do you mean depressed? Should I depress the pedal when threading or the opposite?
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AquaNetRocker
« Reply #8 on: November 29, 2004 01:28:34 AM »

 I think what Eibhinn is talking about is not the pedal.. but the little foot piece that the needle passes through, the piece that you lift up to put fabric in the right spot and then put down to hold it in place... does that make sense?

 I've had this problem before, however I always thought the problem was with my stitch selector.. I'm going to have to investigate Smiley

 Good Luck
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abinka
« Reply #9 on: November 29, 2004 03:36:33 AM »

Oh, that foot (hehe)... yeah I think it was up, but I'm going to try it all again when I rethread the machine this week. I'll post again if it continues...so frustrating.
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nutritiongal
« Reply #10 on: November 29, 2004 03:14:16 PM »

Hello. Whenever that happens to me it's because I forgot to put my presser foot down. Which is frequently because I forget things like that.
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Tempost
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2004 12:14:40 AM »

Since this is an old thread, you've no doubt solved the problem by now, but I thought I'd pass along this advice I got when I was a wee babe of a sewer. 

If the stiches on the bottom are screwy, rethread the machine.  If the stitches on the top are screwy, check the bobbin.  About 80% of the time, this fixes things for me - unless the machine is really dirty and needs a cleaning and oiling.

Singers usually have the threading instructions in the machine.  The left hand side of the little knobby thing that goes up and down (I'm sure that is the technical term) should open like a door and there should be a diagram inside.
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« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2004 07:48:39 AM »

Humiliation is built in on every machine ever made.
You're not supposed to understand them, just worship. Smiley
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abinka
« Reply #13 on: December 16, 2004 03:29:27 AM »

I've actually gotten so bogged down getting things done for this Saturday's Punk Rock Flea Market and Xmas gifts I've just hand-sewn the things I needed. But after the holidays I will attack and conquer that insolent machine!
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« Reply #14 on: December 16, 2004 07:18:19 AM »

Good luck!
It helps to really take your time with the instructionsbook and go through it step by step. I made a terrible buy last year. I bought a Singer without even knowing if it was working or not (mostly to have a machine for my daughters since I don't let them go near my darling Pfaff)
When I came home it was just a mess. Nothing worked, including the instructions, and it all ended with me throwing it all away. I spoke to my "dealer" and he said that Singer is a problemchild (maybe because he is pro-pfaff)

Well. Good luck with the sale! And Merry Christmas!
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« Reply #15 on: December 16, 2004 01:35:44 PM »

Oh, I love my Pfaff (see offering comment above).  It is way too good for me.  My mom has a 40-ish year old Bernina.  People laugh at her for using it, but it sews great and is destined to be inherited by me, as my future backup machine (for when my future high tech machine breaks down).
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« Reply #16 on: December 16, 2004 02:26:17 PM »

My mom had a Bernina too that I of course stole from her as soon as I discovered the fun of sewing. I had it until my kids were born and I had to start sewing jersey-clothes. That's when I switched to the Pfaff, but only because it had jersey-seams.
I rather wish I had kept moms machine for backup, but I had to throw it into the sale to afford the Pfaff Sad
Now since my daughters are big enough to use a machine i really wish I had one less fragile than my beloved.
The Pfaff is a passion and most people I've spoken to, who owns Pfaff are rather passionate about them.
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« Reply #17 on: December 21, 2004 06:10:56 AM »



I have to say, as a beginner, the Pfaff rules!  I bought the Hobby 1016 in August, not knowing I would love to sew and not knowing about accessories for the machine.  The instruction manual was awesome, learned all about the machine and how to troubleshoot.  The 1016 is a very basic machine, for about $120, but a workhorse (my first projects included sewing plastic together for messenger bags).  I purchased it at the Fabric Place in CT(www.fabricplace.com), and they have a deal where you can trade your Pfaff in and get credit for it towards the next model for up to one year--which is what I got a month later!  The Pfaff Hobby 1042 is the last machine I will need (it does some basic serging too!)--the needle moves, there are lots of  feet included (zipper foot, clear foot, buttonhole, etc) with many accessory feet to purchase also.  It also has a one step buttonhole, decorative embroidery stitches--and the list price is about 399.00.  The Pfaff and the book Sew Fast Sew Easy have made me love to sew!!
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« Reply #18 on: December 22, 2004 02:57:49 AM »

Good for you.

The only "problem" with Pfaff at least in Sweden is that it's not that easy to even find on the market and accessories are even harder and rather expensive. But I don't care. I love my tiptronic 1071 anyway. I will have to trade it in eventually since I do sew quite a lot and I've had it for 15 years now, but I'd never trade it for anything less than Pfaff.
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iolande
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2005 06:36:11 AM »

I know this thread is getting old, but as no one has mentioned it - check the tension on the bobbin itself.

Pull the bobbin case out of the machine but leave the bobbin and thread in it.  Check for the following two things:

1)  The thread should pull smoothly and easily out of the case
2).  You should also be able to hold the thread and the bobbin & case will just hang in the air without anymore thread coming out.  (ie the bobbin and case won't head straight for the floor)

If this isn't happening for you, look on the side of the bobbin case and you will see a small screw, you will have to turn this one way or the other until you can do both 1 & 2.

And that is how you adjust the bobbin tension. 

I hope this helps as I have had problems similar to what you have said and I have fixed it in the following method.

Io
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abinka
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2005 07:54:31 AM »

Cool thanks for the tip. I've been a knitting fool lately so I've been neglecting my sewing machine (and I have to admit it really pissed me off that I couldn't figure it out) but when I get a chance to give it another go, I'll definitely try all of the above until I am victorious!
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iolande
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2005 05:26:48 PM »

Another thought . . .

my mum's old machine and some of the industrial machines at college had this odd quirk (all though my old machine didn't seem to) -

make sure that the needle is in the highest possible position before you start to sew other wise the tension is loose and pulls the thread out in a mess under the fabric (my sewing lecturer told me that after all my sewing samples had a bunch of messed up threads on the bottom - now I do this as a matter of course).  To ensure that the needle is in the highest possible position, make sure the metal thing that the thread goes through is as high as it will go (the metal thing that moves up and down at the front of the machine that you thread the thread through after you put it through the tension discs).  My lecturer also let me know that most machines usually make it difficult for you to pull the fabric out from under the foot unless the needle is in the highest position, then the fabric will slide straight out with no resistance from the threads in the machine.

I hope you understand all that!  Let me know if you need any clarification

Io Smiley
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« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2005 06:17:45 PM »

And once again I LOVE my pfaff that automatically leaves the needle in its highest position unless you program it to always stop in the fabric. either way it's a simple and marvellous feature...among others Smiley
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dusk
« Reply #23 on: January 27, 2005 07:40:21 AM »

the only sewing machine my mama will let me use is an old singer that she had a motor put on, and i have *never* been able to use it without her threading it for some reason - i'd check it all dozens of times and yet for some reason it still got stuck. until today... have discovered that if i thread the needle left to right it works. but if i thread it right to left i am likely to end up with pieces of needle. Is this normal?!
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« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2005 12:42:53 PM »

I dont know if someone has mentioned this because i havnt looked at all pages but but kept "stalling" as u put it, duz it kind of make a whirring sound but nothing happens? Anyway, mine turned out to be the bobbin thread was loose - doh! as it winds up make sure its tight. xxx
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BelovedGoddess
« Reply #25 on: June 20, 2005 03:57:59 AM »

Humility?  MY machines have taught me very colourful language - would make a sailor blush  Embarrassed

First thing to ask is how old is the needle?
Needles only have an 8 hour sewing life before they start getting blunt, it's recommended to start each new garment with a new needle.  I remember when we first got an overlocker back then they were a real bugger to thread.  My sister used my mother's overlocker, told me it wouldn't work properly and she had ripped out all the threads.  They expected me to rethread it, first thing I did was check the needle which had a bent tip - 20 second job but it took me an hour to get the stupid thing rethreaded and reset all the tension. 

Also check that the bobbin is the right way around in the bobbin case, the machines I have used have always had the bobbin going around in the opposite way when you pull the thread - mine turns anti-clockwise.

Mum bought my other sister a Singer for her 21st, no one could get that machine to work right.  Mum would lament that it was a top of the line machine, I just told her it was crap, didn't even feel solid. 


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katie-bee
« Reply #26 on: September 01, 2010 07:45:49 PM »

I had the same problem and the nice Singer store lady explained it to me.

When your presser foot is down the tension discs in your machine are engaged, ie. pressed together.
If you thread your machine with the foot down it doesn't thread through the tension part properly and so you have no tension at all on your non-bobbin thread. This leads to annoying giant loopy thread maddness on the underside that you (and I) experienced.

When threading, make sure the foot is up, and then just before you thread the needle put the foot down and pull gently on the thread. You should feel tension, telling you the machine is threaded properly.

Lovely Singer lady was quite annoyed that they don't put this vital point in the manual. I felt dumb for not knowing how to thread my machine properly until she told me that they get at least six machines in for repair each week for just this problem. And it is a tiny little store in the middle of nowhere. So we're in good company.

AWESOME advice.  I'll be trying it tomorrow in hopes that my circa 1980s-pfaff will start behaving itself and I won't have to pay to have it repaired.  maybe I should stock up on some needles, too.  I only have one left and mine is definitely past eight hours of use by a few days.
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