Lanas Tips from the Workbench

Posted on January 16, 2019

McDougal Sewing Centers Head TechnicianNow that the holidays are over,  most of have some free time to work on our sewing projects. In order to help you create the quality projects that you want, Lanas has some tips on how to troubleshoot problems with your sewing machine. Over the next week, we will be updating the BLOG with his tips for troubleshooting your sewing machine.

1. Change the Needle

Needles are the easiest and cheapest part of a sewing machine to change yet is makes up 50% of seam. We recommend changing your needle every 6-8 hours of sewing on that needle. Needles do not last forever!

2. Clean the Bobbin are of the Machine

Sewing machines need weekly removal of debris from underneath the throat plate. First, remove the throat plate and bobbin case to expose areas that lint gathers. Using a lint brush or a Q-tip, remove all visible dust bunnies. Do not use canned air. This blows the dust further into the gear assembly. Be gentle!

3. Check Upper Threading

If there are huge loops on the back of the fabric, the problem is that the top thread is not in the tension disks. Thread the machine firmly and floss thru your tension assembly. Always make sure the pressure foot is UP before you thread your machine. If the machine is not threaded correctly it will not sew.

4.  Check your bobbin, lower, threading

The bobbin too has its own tension. If the bobbin thread is not in the its tension, the stitch will look unbalanced. If it pulls up to the top, this is an unbalanced stitch. Be sure the bobbin thread “clicks” into bobbin tension.

5. Use Quality Thread

Sewing machines like good thread. How can you tell if thread is good? Thread starts to dry-rot around 10 years, so thread that is from Grandma’s sewing box is old. Thread that is 2/$1.00 is not great thread. If it looks really “hairy” or breaks in your hands easily, it’s poor quality. Your sewing machine will thank you and you will have less headaches.

6. Service Your Machine Annually

Anything mechanical, needs maintenance. Having your sewing machine professionally cleaned will help with many troublesome issues. Trained technicians know how to keep all those moving parts perfectly aligned for precision stitching.

7. Needle not High Enough

Sounds simple but not getting the needle all the way up into position will make stitches not form correctly. Loosen the needle screw and gently lift the needle up. If the needle threader does not line up with the needle’s eye, the needle is not high enough.

8. Needle too small for Thread

Thicker thread must go through a bigger needle. Topstitch needles are a good option for heavier threads. If your thread is shredding at the eye, this may be the reason!

9. Wrong bobbin

I have heard people say they use a “fit-all” bobbin. There is no such thing! Check your manual, google your machine or take the machine to a local sewing machine shop. They will be happy to confirm that you are using the correct size. If you have not had your machine serviced within the last year, have them service it while it is there.

10. Nicks in the throat plate

If you have been breaking needles lately, there may be small burrs on the throat plate. If you Free Motion to quilt your tops, the needle may have hit the plate as you were moving your fabric. Thread can get caught on these rough areas which leads to thread breaks or uneven stitching. A sewing machine technician can usually file these rough spots out.

11. Use the proper pressure feet

There are many pressure fit kits being sold that imply they could fit your sewing machine. There are no “fit-all” pressure feet and if it doesn’t fit properly, it could break needles and jam the needle bar.

Also notice how the foot lines up on your feed dogs for correct feeding of the fabric as you sew. Always use the feet made for your brand of machine to ensure a pleasant sewing experience.

12. Be aware of the parts availability before you OK that repair.

If your sweet machine has been sewing for about 10-15 years or more, make sure you can still get the major parts that break with time before you can longer available.

So, if your sewing machine has reached the end of its life, say a short prayer as you hug her and then SMILE… you get to go shopping for a NEW sewing machine at McDougals Sewing!

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