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    Entries in sewing machines (2)


    New Sewing machine :)

    I decided it was time for a new sewing machine. Not for classes - I use my Janome J3-24 for those as it's such a reliable machine that I've had for around 8 or 9 years now. I want to replace my home machine. I have a Singer Brilliance 6180 which is great for dressmaking & most sewing, but doesn't deal with all the layers involved in bag making well. It also doesn't have a way to drop the feed dog, just a plastic plate to cover it. That works fine for sewing buttons on, but it doesn't really cut it for free motion embroidery. 

    I ordered a Necchi online, but when it arrived, it wasn't what I needed. So I called the company, and after talking about what I needed, they switched the Necchi for an AEG 260. It arrived on Friday, and I didn't get the chance to open it until early evening.

    I've never come across an AEG machine before, even though I've seen a lot of machines in my classes & workshops. It's german made, and comes with a 15 year guarantee, so it should be fine, but I thought I would give it a proper test.

    First, on some mid weight scrap fabric, I tested each stitch pattern. I especially love the ones shown in the detail photo . The flowers are lovely, but more importantly - CROCODILES! That one is going to be used all the time!

    Then I tested all the buttonholes. You can see where I started the second one too close to the first and had to abandon it. I don't know why anyone other that a professional tailor would need 8 buttonholes, but I like to check them anyway. I'm pretty sure that I will use the default one most of the time (top, rectangular), but I also really like the top left one with the pointed end bar & rounded (rather than keyhole) top. 

    Finally I tested layers. The bottom left photo shows the results. I didn't change needle or thread, but switched to denim. The straight line was sewn through 4 layers. All the others were sewn through 8 layers, without the slightest problem.  The only thing I haven't tested yet is free motion sewing but as you can drop the feed dog, I don't anticipate any problems All in all, it's a great start - and it looks like I'll be able to sell my Singer! 

    What do you do when you get a new sewing machine? Do you leave it in the box like lots of the people who end up on my sewing classes? Do you test stitches like I do? Or do you just dive right in and make clothes?


    Sewing Troubleshooting

    I had a message on facebook from a friend the other day. She was asking if I had experience with old hand cranked machines. Her daughter wanted to do more machine sewing but "we seem to have no luck with modern machines (they always knot up under the material)" 

    This is a problem that comes up all the time in my Sewing Machine 101 classes, so I know it's a really commom & VERY frustrating problem.

    Hand operated machines can come up with the same problems too - and I find them frustratingly slow, so before giving up or buying a vintage machine, here are my tips from hard earned experience!

    1) Are you using cheap thread? It's a false economy, use a quality brand like Gutermann or Coates. Cheap thread breaks & knots. Good thread is comparatively expensive, but it's worth the investment for the use of your time & lack of frown-line making.

    2) Use a new needle. Blunt needles also cause knotting. They get blunt far quicker than you probably think. If you have never changed yours, do it now!! Also use the appropriate needle for the job - I am currently sewing aprons, and sewing through multiple layers so I am using a jeans needle. Needles are not very expensive. Buy lots, have them to hand. 

    3) Have you hand wound the bobbin? It causes problems - all machines can wind bobbins, which is more even, and stops knotting. Take the time to look at your manual & work out how to thread them automatically. It's always easy, as you have to do it a lot.

    4) Clean the dust. Get a paintbrush & get all the fluff out from where the bobbin goes. If you can, take the needle plate off and clean underneath. Then oil the bits that move.
    5) Rethread your machine from scratch, threading the top bit with the sewing machine foot up, not down. It makes a difference in some machines, no idea why.

    6) Always start sewing in from the edge of the material. You can reverse back to the edge, then keep going forwards.

    These should sort out 90% of machine problems. My friend has said that she is guilty of using cheap thread & some of the other suggestions, so she is going to give them a try & let me know. If you have had problems with threads knotting. skipped stitches, thread breaking or needles breaking you should find these useful too. Good luck! xx


    PS - For the experienced sewists - did I miss anything? What are your top tips?