January 30, 2010

It's Called a Stop-Motion Screw for a Reason: The Sewing Saga Continues

After my last post I sat down and tried out the sewing machine again. I set up my work station and with the sewing machine manual by my side I began to thread the machine, which again posed a certain level of difficulty. Although the picture for threading the machine in the manual was vastly more clear than the other manual, I still had some trouble figuring out how to get my thread looking like the thread in the picture. Once I got everything set up, I took a deep breath, secured some fabric with the presser foot and eased my foot on the pedal. And...the machine stalled: it made a few stitches and then stopped with the needle still in the fabric. I used the hand wheel to bring it back up and then proceeded to scroll through the manual for the solution to my problem.

I made sure that I had everything set to the right setting and, thinking that the thread tension was the culprit, I fiddled around with that for a little bit. After a few minutes I concluded that I had everything ready to go. Ever wary of stalling the machine again, I used the hand wheel to make sure that everything was in working order. And to my surprise and delight, it worked! Happy with my moderate success I pressed my foot on the pedal and was sewing! That is until the needle got stuck and the machine started to make terrible revving sounds. My newly achieved glee soon dissipated into frustration.

As I had done many times before I turned the hand wheel towards me in order to bring the needle back up. When that didn't work I turned the wheel slightly away from me: a maneuver that, although forbidden, had worked for me in the past. But that didn't work either. Naturally I turned to the manual, and then the Internet for answers, but came up empty handed. The manual offered no help regarding needles stuck in the down position and Internet forums regarding this problem assumed that one was able to lift the needle back up, which I, unfortunately, was not able to do. Finally I abandoned my teach-yourself troubleshooting efforts--which have served me well in the past--and called my aunt, the owner of said machine.

Pretty much how I was feeling. (Disclosure: original artwork by one of my favorite Internet peoples, NatalieDee.)

I explained to her the issue at hand and she did her best to solve the problem. After about five minutes of tech support, we decided that it would be best to meet up the following Saturday for a little one-on-one sewing lesson. A time was set and I then proceeded to fiddle with machine some more in order to release the needle and get everything back in pre-fiasco order. Thankfully I was able to accomplish this task and put everything away. But I found myself growing increasingly more frightened that I had broken the machine: I knew that the stalled motor noises that it had made and and the fact that the take-up lever didn't move when I turned the hand wheel were not a good signs.

Which brings us to today: my aunt came over and worked her magic. We sat down together at the machine and she helped me set it up, which was actually quite helpful because not only did she demonstrate how to thread the machine correctly (I was soooo close last time!) but she solved the problem. Apparently I had somehow loosened the stop-motion screw--a component of the machine that I didn't even know existed as its own entity separate from the hand wheel--which had rendered the hand wheel useless. She tightened it by holding the hand wheel in place and turning the stop-motion screw clockwise. And then: everything worked!..and I felt like a dummy.

I sat down in front of the machine and she gave me a few pointers on how to get things running smoothly, for which I am very thankful. So I've been practicing a little bit, trying my hardest to sew a straight line and to keep track of when I put the stitches in reverse. Things are going pretty well. *fingers crossed* Moral of the story: call a buddy when you get into a jam and keep your stop-motion screw tight.

Next step: make stuff!!! My short list includes a tote, some t-shirt modification patterns , an apron and hemming/altering a dress.

(My latest felt creatures and goodies coming soon!)


  1. Such sewing machine adventures! I'm shocked that I can actually get mine to sew because the only thing I know how to to is thread it and fill the bobbin (just barely)
    I can't wait to see your projects! Will you be posting pictures? You better. :)

  2. Of course! As soon as I get around to making something...