Things That Frustrate Me: Sewing Machine Help?

I’ve been working pretty steadily, sewing most of the day. Then, as I’m feeling a good rhythm, and nearing completion of some of the laptop bags I’ve been making, my sewing machine decides it wants to be a jerkface and throw a fit.

GEDoes ANYONE know what the heck this is? What causes it? How to fix it???

I’m at a complete and total loss. The machine will work perfectly fine, with no problems and then suddenly, BAM! It does this crap to me. What you’re seeing is the thread coming from the bobbin all jacked up. And it bunches and jams up the needle and I have to do battle with the machine to get my fabric back. It starts doing this out of nowhere and, if I’m lucky it’s a once or twice deal, but sometimes it will keep it up for hours before it manages to straighten itself out somehow. It makes me want to throw my machine out a window. These hissy fits that my machine throws waste a butt-load of thread. I often get upset and say, “Screw this” and go back to sewing by hand (which takes eons by comparison).

GEThis was taken the other week when it was doing the same thing.

Do any of you, my readers, have any experience with this? Can any of you offer me any help? I’ve had this machine for 11 years. My mother bought it for me. It’s a White 935.

GE GE

I actually meant to take pictures and post this a few hours ago, but then I had to hunt for my camera (it is a rather crappy camera, I know), which frustrated me even more.

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Finishing the Rag Rug: What I have learned

I first began working on the rag rug just shy of a year ago. (You can read all about the humble beginnings here) I had never woven anything before, on a loom or otherwise, but I wanted a way to use some material I had laying around and wanted to try out the technique. I always get excited to try something I’ve never done before, I always jump into these big projects head on and learn as I go… I’m actually kind of surprised I even managed to make a small practice swatch! That being said, I ran into several points of frustration that resulted in long periods of walking away from the rug to work on other things, which is why it took me so long to finish. This is how I learn though, through experimentation.

Trial and Error Learning

Experimenting with dye:

I knew I wanted to make my rug black and red. I also knew I didn’t want to have to go out and buy a lot of new fabric either (as that would be expensive as well as defeating the purpose of utilizing old material), so I thought it would be wise to dye some old white bed sheets to the colors I wanted. That should be easy, right? Oh boy was I ever wrong! Not only did I spend hours cutting and dying fabric (note: dye first, _then_ cut!), but I made a mess and all I had to show for it in the end was some pink and grey fabric. For all the other dye noobs out there: Rit is no good if you want strong colors. Do some research before jumping head first, which is what I should have done.

Types of fabric:

While most of my material came from old bedsheets (cotton is awesome), I wanted to use what I had handy as well. This meant cutting some strips from old pants as well as an old satin sheet set I’d had for some years that was worn from cat claws. Satin frays like a mother and, while it certainly made use of the material, using it was a giant pain. The fabric from my old pants was thicker than the other material, and while that’s not really a problem in itself, I should have cut them into thinner strips, as the difference in thickness contributed to the my other major problem…

GAUGE!

Notice that pink/ grey piece in the center, I wanted to make sure my dying efforts weren’t for naught, and it serves as a reminder of my journey in making this rug.

 

Just as with knitting or crochet, gauge is important. Gauge, for those readers who may be unfamiliar with the term, is the tension and tightness or looseness of a knit, weave, etc. When you are following a pattern and knitting asweater, you want your gauge to match that listed in the pattern or the sweater will be too big or too small. The problem with this rug is that the gauge is not uniform. The gauge is super tight at the top and very loose toward the middle. So, how do I fix it? I do not want to unravel all my hard work and re-do it. I can either tighten up the lower rows or I can add some material to the upper rows or some combination to even it out. However, no matter how I go about it, there is no getting around that this is going to be another time consuming process. It’s quite aggravating when I really want to be done with it and get some use out of it, not to mention, I’d like to move on to other projects.

 

Running from Frustration

I have yet to determine whether this works to my benefit or to my downfall, but, I am forever juggling multiple projects at the same time. More often than not, I start a new project because I’ve gotten fed up with a previous one. I’m trying to be better about going back and completing already started projects… I currently have 4 projects I am in the middle of: The Rag Rug, a jacket I started around this time last year, a latch hook kit, and an afghan I started in September. The only thing anywhere close to completion is the afghan.

Complications with The Rag Rug

  As of right now, I have completed 49 out of 176 rows of the rug. I’m not nearly as far along as I originally hoped to be by now. (Granted, I’d be at least 5 rows further along if I never had to undo and redo rows because I didn’t pay attention to the pattern.) There are multiple factors for this. The project isn’t portable at all, so I only work on it when I am home. When I *am* home (when I’m not at work, out of town visiting family, at an art show, or spending time with my boyfriend), my attention is also being taken by trying to clean my apartment or watch a movie, which is hard to do while I work on the rug as my back is to the TV. It’s also while I am at home that I work on writing these blogs, check email, Facebook, etc. As the weather gets nicer I find myself getting cabin fever quicker, always wanting to go for a walk and enjoy the sunshine. Of course, allowing myself these pleasures cuts down on my productivity. However, there is one other reason I’ve been avoiding the rug lately: I’ve noticed that the lower rows of the rug are bulging out. I don’t know if this is a tension issue, or due to using scrap material of varying thicknesses, or what. I don’t know if this is something that can be easily smoothed out once the rug is taken off the pole. Because of this, I’ve been somewhat putting off rug production – I’m worried I’ll do all the work, think it’s done, but then have to go back in and fix it somehow.

The Mandarin Jacket

I started working on the Mandarin Jacket shortly after I finished the Nowhere Man jacket early last year. I replaced the entire front panels (by hand!) so that I could create and utilize frog button closures. I then used brocade to make the bottom band and the collar. The collar was hard for me as I had no pattern to work from and was using scrap fabric to try different variations. Because an iron will melt brocade without a press cloth (and a press cloth obstructs my view of the fabric), I had to create the creases with tiny hand stitches near the edges. After all that, I learned a valuable lesson when trying on and trying to close the jacket: brocade has no stretch. Suddenly, a jacket that fit me fine before no longer wants to close. I was so wrapped up in the concept that I failed to consider the properties of the fabrics I was working with. I haven’t touched it since, but I still have it, waiting for the day when I will come back to it.

The Latch Hook Kit

I picked up the latch hook kit from the I.D.E.A. Store a couple months ago. I knew it had a hole in the mesh when I got it. I’ve just been trying to work around the hole in the meantime. I know I have extra mesh around my apartment somewhere…  Until I find it, this will wind up in the unfinished pile.

The Afghan

I started the afghan when my mother came up from Florida to visit. I knew I wouldn’t be able to work on the rug, so I began this endeavor so I would have a decent travel project. The pattern I’m following is called “Blue Star” from the book Blue Ribbon Afghans. This is probably closer to being finished than any other project right now, simply because it is portable – I take it to work and to my boyfriend’s all the time – and because it doesn’t take much brain power for me to follow a pattern (unless I stumble upon any errata).