Saturday, November 22, 2008

.....and Old Trash

Now, here comes the "Old Trash" portion of the blog.

I HATE MY SEWING MACHINE. My husband bought it for me for Christmas last year. We went to Joann's together and he let me choose the one I wanted to ensure it was a good one. HA! I should have done so much more research (or any at all...) prior to that trip. My mother has a Singer machine and I knew that it had a good reputation. Hers is a work horse- it was like 25 years old and she sewed everything with it- now mind you this was 20 years ago....she STILL uses it! That sucker is about 50 years old and it's still running strong. So, of course, I thought it was a no brainer- just chuck whichever Singer machine off the shelf and into my cart and I'll be merrily stitching along well into my golden years.

NO. SUCH. LUCK. My relationship with this p.o.shaving cream began a couple of months after Christmas. First mistake....the warranty is only good for 90 days...a fact that bit me in the butt while I was working on the Chocolate Strawberry bag....but I get ahead of myself. I bought a ton of patterns at Joanns that were on sale for a buck. I chose one that I absolutely loved since I saw the example on the mannequin in the store. However, since I haven't sewn since I was just a wee jumping bean, I decided to practice on some old hubby's bed sheets from college. (As an aside, my hubby is fastidious when it comes to taking care of his stuff...his bedsheets, though over 15 years old, were barely beginning to fade. No, we hadn't used them in 10 years, but you get the idea.) I was very pleased with the final outcome, though it came through so much anger, strife, tears, and screams at that machine. For some reason, my machine loves to gobble up the thread from under the feet and then leave me with a nice, huge, tangled bow which I have to spend hours ripping out before trying again. I took it back to the store and they said, "Operator error." I wasn't making sure the needle was ALLLLL the way up before removing my work and cutting the thread, so it was pulling a ton of thread from the bobbin.

Ok, so I can admit when I'm wrong...I was wrong to buy a machine that doesn't have the automatic needle raise function. ARGH. So, fast forward a few months...I've now got a handle on raising the needle to ensure there aren't any more tangles (though, it does still happen from time to time...even when I do make sure the needle is up....the thing is possesed I tell you.) So, I was working on the Netski bag- remember the nice detailed stitching on the handles and interior? Well, I've loved it so much that I've incorporated it into every bag that has a plain fabric for lining. However, I didn't want to just have the same stitches over and over again. That's when the other shoe dropped- there are over 30 decorative stitches available on my machine....only 5 work. ARRRRRGHHHH!!

Through no character flaw of my own, I decided to wait before calling the store to see if they could fix it. You know, in case it decided to say, "Oh! I'm so sorry I've been causing you so much grief Gege! Poof!" and spontaneously fix itself. Sooo...I was working on the Chocolate Strawberry bag and I was using the same stitch I'd been using on all the previous bags. And then I noticed...the darn stitch wasn't working anymore. !!!!!!

I called Joanns...they told me that they just sell the machines....they don't fix the machines. So I'd have to send it back to Singer. I called Singer....they told me that my 90 day warranty was up, so tough cookies. I called a local sewing machine company....they'd fix my machine for free...IF...I had bought it from them. Otherwise, it's $90. NINETY DOLLARS. Pfft- whatever queers. I'm going to utilize the same stitching as long as I can and put that 90 bucks towards a better machine. I took out the needle and tried reinsterting it...maybe it got loose and that's why my ol' faithful stitch wasn't working. That did seem to do the trick, but only for that one stitch. none of the others work still. you'll see the same decorative stitch on all my bags. I guess it's a trademark. ;)

Ok- rant off...hopefully I'll get a shiny new machine this Christmas, right honey? Honey? Bueller?


  1. You know, I did the same thing. Hancock Fabrics was having a big sale on Singers. My mom had a Singer..... I should have bought an antique. LOL

    Next time I am doing more research! The one I got isn't that good for quilting and crafting. sigh.

    Your bags are great!

  2. I don't know about Singer, but I am perfectly happy with my Kenmore. I have made about six quilt tops of various sizes and, with the exception of the tension needing to be reset frequently, I love it. You might want to look into Kenmores. I also got mine for Christmas, but from Sears. Also your bags are beautiful. I saw them on the 'Share projects' part of the West Virginia Fiber Artists group on Ravelry.

  3. Definitely- an antique Singer would have been the way to go!

    Jenny, I was actually looking at a Kenmore model. I've heard lots of good things about them- thank you! And, it's cool to hear from a fellow West Virginian. :)

  4. OK, I hope I can help you out a little bit here. I am an avid sewer and have been sewing since I was 8 years old (and I am 53 now), so I like to think I know a bit about sewing machines. The first thing you need to do is find a sewing store that you can take basic sewing lessons at, and that knows your machine. A lot of these problems are probably very easy to deal with, when you learn the basics of the machine. Then you will know if it truely is operator error or a crappy machine. Also, it is VERY VERY VERY important that you have the right sewing needle for the fabric you are using, and that you are using the proper thread in the needle AND the bobbin, again to match the fabric you are using. AND VERY VERY VERY important as well is this: change your needle about every 8 hours of sewing time. I know this sounds like a lot, but believe me, it is well worth it, as a dull needle causes all kinds of problems, including some that you listed about stitches that worked ok for a long time and then didn't!!! Also, it would be good to invest in a good basic sewing book. I think some of the best are found at Nancy Zeimens web site: Get the ones that are written by her or co-written by her. She does a great job explaining things in details with lots of pictures!
    Also, there is a really great website that you can purchase sewing machine needles and all kinds of other stuff for very good prices. I buy pretty much all of my needles from them. It is
    There are some great web sites that do a really good job of explaining the essentials of the proper threads and needles and will explain the differences in them. I recently purchased a really great book that goes into details about all of these as well. This book is called:"Needles & Threads & Bobbins, Oh, My!" written by Nancy Goldsworthy. The books subtitle says that it is: "A Quick Reference for Today's Quilter"; but I think that it would be a great tool for any one who sews. She really explains the needles and fibers and things in an easy way to explain understand them and I find it very useful, even for me after all these years of sewing. You can find that book at the web site: I purchased mine at a Quilt show and don't remember how much I paid for it but it is well worth it. You can search on the internet for some good sewing web sites that give details as well. I find it very helpful to have a few reference books on hand at all times! You can check your local library for reference books too. Go through some that they have and if you find some that are really helpful then you can look into purchasing them. There is also a sewing guild that you could join and get lots of help with these type of things. They have local chapters all over. I think the name is American sewing guild. Their website is: Anyway, that is all for now, I hope this helps. You can contact me via email if you have anymore questions or concerns. I am the one that asked about the watermelon hats for my crochet group: The Hat Ladies (of Corona, Ca).

  5. Oh, something else that I have heard from many sales people about the Singer machines. The newer models of the Singer machines are made by a different company then the older ones. I grew up on one of the older model singers. Now that doesn't mean they are all bad, just not what they used to be. The best thing to do when buying a machine is to do research ahead of time, talk to people who have machines and have had them AND USED THEM a lot and see what brands they like. ALWAYS buy your machine from a store that offers free lessons on that machine from knowledgeable instructors. No matter how good the machine, if you don't know how to use it or how to get help with using it, the machine will do you no good. I own quite a few sewing machines. I will tell you a little about them starting with the oldest ones first:
    I do own a Singer that my late husband bought for me from Costco in 1992 or 1993. Since I had owned Singers before, this one actually turned out to be a pretty good little work horse. I wasn't doing so many crafts or any quilts back then, but I was making cloths and dolls and such for my 6 kids (two girls and 4 boys). That machine worked very good for many many years. I still have it and a few years ago had to finally replace the drive chain (or whatever they call it on sewing machines) on it. It probably wasn't really worth the cost of fixing but I have a sentimental attachment to it.
    cont on next post....

  6. The next one is a Brother PE300D, embroidery and sewing machine. I have found that the Brother machines, although more costly then Singer, are exceptional machines. I LOVE this one. I originally bought it because of the embroidery features. The embroidery feild on this one is about 4" x 4". I decided that if I didn't use the embroidery very much, at least I had a second sewing machine to use if the other was in for tune up. I used the embroidery and sewing a lot!!! It is still a great machine.
    So the next purchase was a Serger. I was making t-shirts and such and wanted to have that professional edge when sewing on the knit fabrics. The Serger that I bought is a White speedy lock. GREAT Machine, I used it a lot and only recently purchased a newer model (not because the other one didn't work, but because I wanted to upgrade to one that had more stitches such as a 2 thread stitch and the other one didn't do all of the things my newer one does). Ok, so then I got into quilting and the next purchase is a Viking MegaQuilter machine. It only does straight stitches but sewes at an awesome 1000 stitches per minute and will sew through ANY fabric I have used on it. It is a GREAT machine and the options that I wanted besides the ability to sew through everything is the fact that it has an auto thread clipper so that when I am sewing I dont' have to look for my scissors, I can just use the button (this is great when I have quilts on my quilting frame and I don't have to try to get underneath it to clip the threads). Vikings are great machines as well, although can be a bit more costly. There actually is another machine that I can't remember if I got it before or after the Viking, and that is another Brother, this one is a great upgrade from the other one and it is the Brothe Duetta 4500. cont.....

  7. . It is AWESOME. Look for sales on these and make sure you get lessons, it does a lot of stuff and you want to know everything if you get one of these. It has a 12" x 7" embroidery feild, it does all kinds of stitching and quilting stuff, it is just really cool. It has an auto needle threader, auto cut, all kinds of things to make life easier. And then to the latest buy, that is my new Serger. As I said earlier, it has more capabilities then my other one. It is actually a Singer and so far so good. I did take lessons on it as the book was a bit confusing to understand, but the Lady that tought me was really good and really knew a lot about it. I bought that one from inside Joanns store, but it was at the Viking store inside, they are not a part of Joanns but just rent space inside there. But they do give lessons on any machine you buy from them. That is the place I also bought my Mega Quilter from and I have been really happy with all of the above mentioned machines.

    Another thing I forgot to mention in the prior comment was about cleaning your machine. It is just as important as changing needles a lot. Each time you have sewn something that took a few hours sewing time, you need to get your brushes out (and maybe a mini vacuum attachment) and clean the lint from the machines bobbin area......that can cause some of the problems you are having with "nesting" if lint is caught in there, it can cause all kinds of problems. Also check you owners manuel to see about oiling too. Most machines need to be oiled too quite often.
    Ok, done for now, sorry it was so long.