The machine I am doing some sewing on right now is not my own dear little faithful Bernina Sport. I’m using one made in China, bought some years ago in a French supermarket, lugged over here by one daughter, passed to another and valiantly repaired by a machine shop in Bethnal Green. For some reason I have snarl ups on the brain.
Is there an unwritten law that when you need to be super accurate, yet full of hope hurriedly grip a difficult corner or a thick wad of crossing turnings aiming to jam it under the presser foot and flick the foot down with a spare finger, the machine will make a grinding noise and stop with the needle stuck half down in the needle plate ?
And right about now what you forgot to check jumps smartly into your head?
(to pull the two threads towards the back before starting, to lower the needle into the fabric , to check that the stitch length was right and the tension ok, maybe you even popped the bobbin in with the thread going in the wrong direction bobbin or didn’t spot the top thread leaping out of the tension discs or take up lever when you pulled the last seam out?)
Cursing in your preferred language, you start snipping away, diving into the bobbin race, pulling out the bobbin, and disentangling a birds’ nest of snarled up thread. Where does it all come from by the way? Your machine hasn’t made one decent stitch, and there’s yards of it wrapped round the innards.
Of course, things would have gone smoothly if you’d taken the time to hold the cursed corner pieces in place with a few judicious hand tacks, or pressed, trimmed and hammered flat your crossing turnings.
Sound familiar? Round about now I remember my own Tip – thread up a few hand needles with matching thread, jab them into a spare pin cushion and put them by the side of the machine before you start a project.
How is it that the sewing psyche boldly resists stopping mid project to thread hand needles?
A variation on the thread nest theme is the super fine fabric one. Does your machine love to suck chiffon into its guts and churn it round the bobbin race making a gaping fraying hole in the middle of a bodice section? Been there. Naturally, not having checked that I’m using an appropriate needle and thread combo or bothered to find some tissue paper to support the fabric between the feed dogs and the bottom layer. The only save for this one is recutting the piece or some creative embroidery, which makes it all the more surprising that I still employ this foul up in my sewing room.
Next snarl up, the floppy stitch .
Not a technical term, but picture this. You have a thick piping cord to stitch up to. The fabric is hefty. Piping feet don’t come in anything like the right dimensions. No matter, you’ll use a zipper foot and eyeball it. Shucks! The sole of the crappy zipper foot is way too tiny to exert enough pressure through all those layers and the stitch ends up floppy, uneven, weak and ready to pull apart.
Ciel Bleu gives a Gallic shrug, lights up a Gauloise, puffs Turkish smoke in your eyes and says “Over to you babe”.
The only solution, take your life in your hands and press the fabric down hard with a finger as close to the needle as you dare, stitching in short bursts. Or, bite the bullet and hand tack the whole thick wodge into submission first. Or, use a pencil with a rubber eraser tip instead of your finger. Chicken!
More famous and infamous foul ups shortly. Send me yours?