Tuesday, June 03, 2008


Never mind computer rage.

Why is it I can't find any clipart of sewing machine rage?

Do a google image search for computer rage, and you have pages and pages of pictures of people ready to thump their monitors with anything from their fists to nine-irons. But could I find anything similar for sewing machine frustrations? No! Does noone else in the world ever feel like drop kicking their sewing machine through the window?

I couldn't even find a picture of a tangled mess of bobbin stitch, which is the catalyst for the big whinge you see before you here! [I should have taken a photo, shouldn't I? There looks to be an opening for freely available images on sewing machine tangles and disasters.]

Give me my computer any day.

I have a sewing machine. And I know how to use it. Or I should. (Don't most women know how to use a sewing machine? Isn't there a gene for sewing and mending that is female-specific?)

The problem is, I've never learnt the ins and outs of stitch tension, and needle selection. I tend to just try and sew on a generic setting, then come over all terribly frustrated when something goes wrong. (And curse the fact that I never learnt how to sew properly.)

Where do people learn how to wrangle sewing machines?

I know that all that is required is to calmly and coolly troubleshoot my way through it with the manual, and many pieces of sample material. I've done that before. (And with an overlocker, which requires even more tension troubleshooting..)

But me with a sewing machine is like Groundhog Day... with a twist. I never remember what I've learnt!

I always forget what sort of needle should be used on what material, and even if I could remember, how do I identify them when you all but need an electron microscope to read the markings on the needle. (Given that lately I need to put on those magifying glasses to even thread a damn needle, we're pushing the proverbial uphill here...) Oh, god, what a pain in the neck, why can't I just pull it out and sew. All I'm wanting to do here is hem a pair of bloody pants - not create a garment from scratch!

Yesterday afternoon: Cait's school pants. Need to be shortened 10cm. After the cutting, and refolding up the hem, all I had to do was stitch around the bottom by machine. Right?

Errr, no.

Total catastrophe with the bobbin side of the stitching (as you can see, I'm also really up on my sewing terminology) ending up in an almighty tangle. They are actually stretchy material - so it struck me, belatedly. So I probably should have changed the needle, or the tension, or something...

I unpicked it, resisted the urge to headbutt the machine, then calmly walked away. (And started cooking dinner with the aid of a glass of wine.) It was pretty stupid, after all, to be trying to do it in the late afternoon where I had no daylight to help cast light on the subject.

Today, however, is the last day I have time to sit and hem two pairs of pants (I am busy the rest of the week, then off to Sydney on the weekend, which is the deadline for one of the above pairs of pants to be taken up), and I'm debating whether sitting down and just handstitching the goddamned hems will be quicker than troubleshooting the tension on the bloody machine.

Me and my sewing machine skillz ! Just something else to add to my amazing repertoire - the one that goes something like "jack of all trades, master of none."

How are you with a sewing machine? Is it a dying art do you think, or is it just me?

An hour or so later: Success. A calm approach, the finding of, and installation of a jersey/ballpoint needle, and The Machine was all sweetness and light and on its best behaviour, as if to mock me for my outpouring of woe. Make a liar out of me, why don't you... you... MACHINE!

Now the only concern is whether I've done the right measurements for Cait's pants, because they just look kind of short.... If you hear a scream about two and a half hours from how, you'll know what it's about.


Sewing is...um...something I pay other people to do. I commend you for producing anything with a machine that is as foreign to me as a lawn mower.
sewing gene?? I think not.

I'd never even think of doing hems on my machine. It hides in the basement but my needle and thread box is close at hand for easy work.

Found a great shop that does hems for under $5.00. He gets the job done for me.

Now I just have to find someone to make seat cushions for my kitchen.
As you may (or may not) know, I have had a love affair in the past with my sewing machine. Now we feign indifference for each other as I find "other things to do" and don't spend as much time on the pedal.

Bobbin crap will get you, tension or no tension - a bit of fluff behind the bobbin casing can cause it, and upside down bobbin can cause it, the extra bit of thread you held when you started filling the bobbin can cause it - it is the blue screen of sewing machines when it happens too!

Glad you came out all right in the end.

Spotlight run free classes on all sorts of crafty things - including, I believe, basic sewing machinery.

Other needles - I am lucky to have a spare. Tension - scrap material test drive until the upper and lower stitches don't pull through.

Give it a clean and an oil and whisper sweet nothings to it every once in a while, and it may show you love again next time.
Yep a dying art. Congrats on being an artist! (I think misery is a required part of good art, isn't it?)

I sew, but only when the cost of quality clothing enrages me to it.
I've been sewing since I was 9, professionally since I was 17, and my sewing machine has a mind of it's own. It works perfectly, then the stitch length knob thing starts to drift and I go from 18 stitches an inch to 6, or the tension slowly drifts until I discover the bobbin thread is, like yours, a tangled mess. This isn't supposed to happen to someone who's supposed to know what they're doing! But it does. And I find stepping away with a glass of wine to be the perfect solution.
I think I'm missing that sewing machine gene Tracey. Lucky for me, my mother in law isn't...
Oh Pixie... I'm with you! I hate sewing... that is why God invented shops as far as I am concerned. Lazy I know. Saves me therapy with the stress of attempting it though... I love lawn mowers on the other hand... outdoors is fun!

Jeanie took my sewing machine (well I may have sold it to her, I'll let her tell you that one) and had her love affair with it. It was sadly unloved with me...

Trace - a heads up that you have been tagged for your beauty secrets (by me!)... check my blog for the question list!


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