Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Testing, Testing

A sewing machine came back to me on Saturday, something that doesn't happen very often. It was a nice basic machine that had some wear and tear so it didn't look as pretty, weighed a ton so I sold it  in a cabinet, and had one of the lowest prices ever. The problem was when it was used by its new owner it broke needles, two to be exact. Hummm. I said to bring it back and we would see what could be done. It came back with the head out, saying it had "fallen" out. What? We couldn't get it to break needles so weren't sure what was going on but this time she wanted a portable with a drop in bobbin. I didn't have a portable with a drop in bobbin for the price point she was hoping for. In fact, for that low price there were only a few others that were nice but also very basic. One that "would do" was finally found and I hoped it would perform well.

I took the returned sewing machine out for a ride. Well, not exactly a ride, but I did need to test it out by sewing with it for an extended period of time. Since it was a nice day, I moved the cabinet and machine out to the back yard into the bell tower, A.K.A. gazebo, so I could sew with the gentle afternoon breeze all around me. What a nice experience!

First I checked out the cabinet and how the machine had fallen out. The screws that held the hinges in place from the underside were loose so I replaced them with bigger screws. The top opening was a bit saggy so I tried the trick of putting toothpicks into the hole where the screw goes in and then screwing it down. This puts new wood into that too large hole and now the screws will fit tight. Sounds a bit like old age and a skin firming product but it works.

Next I tried out the sewing machine only to find I could not break a needle. The tension is a bit tight but seams were not puckered and the end results is quite good. It does have a tendency to need a fairly long tail of thread when starting out or it will unthread itself at the needle. If you pull the thread right from the needle, not a very good habit but seems to be the quickest way, it will pull the needle and break it off. It wasn't going to be my new favorite sewing machine but it did work just fine.

I'm making an interesting dress but it's a little on the plain side so I thought I'd try a technique I read about in The Encyclopedia of Sewing Machine Techniques where you stitch a scallop stitch off the edge and then go back and remove the interfacing you used as a backing. I had read it over and bought water soluble interfacing just for this project. Here it is stitched onto the interfacing and a mock edge of a sleeve:

Scallop stitch off the edge with water soluble paper
Looked pretty good but when I put it under water here's the result:
After water is applied: where did the scallops go?
Of course! The interfacing was giving it all of the shape and support. I went back to the book and checked out the instructions again. Water soluble pen and tear-away interfacing. I already had tear-away interfacing so I stitched it again with the following results:
Another test piece with tear-away paper
I'm not sure I like the size and spacing of this scallop, done on my Viking 1100, but will try a Kenmore next to see if I get results that are in better proportion. The moral of this story? We all make mistakes. Get over it. Move on. Learn from those mistakes. You will be a better person for it.


Thin Man Sewing said...

I am inferring from your non-breakage of needles it was possibly operator error?

Karen said...

The returnee said she watched her friend sew and she wasn't going over a pin or anything like that so I honestly thought there was something off with the machine. Maybe the needles became bent with pulling thread directly from the needle? I stand behind what I sell so I wanted it back. It's even lonelier than before since it had a home...and was returned.