Saturday, January 29, 2011

Repairs and a possible fix

Thanks for your comments on the Cosmo Bag!

Alas, a new needle has not solved the swishy sound my machine now makes with each stitch. Best guess is the metal shank thingie that moves the needle up and down is gently brushing against something else inside there out of sight. It's not interfering with performance (yet), but it's like an ill-fitting sneaker: you can go for a run but might come home with a blister. Further investigation will be left to the repair guy.

In the meantime, since it's now the weekend and the machine is still sewing okay, I probably won't be able to resist a few more seams before I take it in on Monday. And since the next 'palooza block will go live on Monday morning, I might even do that first thing. We'll see how any further weekend sewing goes.

Marie-Christine, something in your comment on shrinking curves led me to think about (next time) using some kind of light-weight, maybe wash-out, fusible strip to hold the edges of the clipped and turned-back curves in place. Having shrunk the pattern, I was working both with a narrower seam allowance (3/8" instead of 1/2") and a tighter curve, which I clipped generously. All those little clipped seam allowance bits did not stay pressed back, and wrestling with two facing layers of that and the curve was more work that it should have been. A strip of some kind of adhesive that would not interfere with sewing would have helped a lot.

Any ideas, readers? I haven't used that kind of product before, but I know they exist. It would have to be something narrow, that would follow a curve without puckering. I could even pick some up when I take my machine in on Monday.

Meanwhile, I'm previewing February's project, the "Reversible Everyday Shopper," and already thinking about how I'm going to change/resize that one.


  1. Ouch! You not only shrank the bag, but you didn't restore the proper seam allowances?? No wonder you had trouble :-).. Give yourself a break next time, eh?
    Also, don't you clip AFTER you sew? I do, although I'd never really thought of it before this. You need to clip for the seam to lay flat once things are in place, but you can't sew if it's clipped already.
    Sounds like you need an emergency trip to the repair place though. If this was a car, it'd have red lights flashing all over the dashboard. Do not drive further, pull over and get towed to the mechanic. Let them fix it before you mess up something deep in there, with the 'gentle' swishing. You have my deepest sympathy..

  2. "restore the proper seam allowance" LOL!!!
    That's the sort of extra work I never do.

    I had no trouble at all using a 3/8" seam allowance here, until the final curve (where the problem wasn't SA size so much as the unwillingness of the fabric to stay pressed to the back).

    A fatter SA makes curves more difficult to sew, because there's a bigger discrepancy between the raw edge and the sewing line. For example, many garment patterns which use 5/8" SA for most seams will reduce to a 3/8" SA for the neckline/facing seam, to accomodate the curve.

    For the bag, the outer handle edges have already been sewn together. So, for the inner edge, the handle and lining piece are each stay-stitched and the SA clipped and pressed to the back. Then you line up the pressed edges (wrong sides together) and top-stitch to close up the inner handle curve. No other option, the way the bag is constructed.

    BTW: when seaming a convex to a concave curve, stay-stitching and clipping the convex curve FIRST, then fitting it to the other one, is the only good way to do it. Clipping first is what allows a good alignment of the stitching line, and it's easily sewable. I've done it many times.

  3. I hope your machine is OK! So sad!
    For the seam-allowance-sticking solution, how about the double-sided fusible tape? It's like two-sided interfacing, comes on a roll, and might be small and curve-able enough for you. (This is a terrible explanation, sorry! It has a real name, I forget what it is.) I know there's a spray adhesive too, I used it once to sew mesh shorts. (Ew, but true! I spray-adhesived the mesh layer to the non-mesh layer, like underlining but really lazy.)
    hope that helps! :)

  4. a couple ideas that might help. i would suggest you use a larger seam allowance (stick with that 1/2") then layer (trim them from 1/4", 3/8 and 1/2" or so) ... the seams after sewing them. this will allow you to remove some of the bulk where needed giving your machine a smooth ramp up to the thickest parts. sorry, this is the best way i can think to describe it. if this doesn't make sense let me know and i'll see if i have a pic somewhere to show ... good luck with your machine repair.

  5. Thanks for the suggestions. My theory is that the clipped and pressed-back SA not staying in place had as much to do with the interfacing than seam width. The "SF-101" didn't take as crisp a press as I'd have liked (and I gave it quite a bit of heat and steam).

    @Tasia ~ a double-sided fusible tape would be great; know it exists, but like you don't remember the name. I'll ask at the fabric store when I take my machine in. For any future readers who get this far, keep in mind that you will have already fused interfacing to all the pattern pieces. Before doing that, I'd trim the whole-piece interfacing so it extends only to the seam line, and use the lightest possible weight fusible tape. Otherwise the total layers to sew through might become completely unmanagable.

    @Jovita ~ I'm happy to report that I did grade the seam allowances where feasible (although Amy doesn't mention doing so), and had trimmed the interfacing 1/8" on all sides. Future readers, Jovita is right: grade the seam allowances if you can.

    I also made sure that the side seams on the lining sat just inside the side seams on the exterior, which spreads out the bulk rather it than all piling up in one spot. On the band, unfortunately I was unable to do that; not enough wiggle room to massage the fit.

    On future bags I will experiment with trimming the interfacing just to the seam line on the lining pieces, to reduce unnecessary seam bulk. I also might use a very lightweight interfacing on some pieces.

    Any insight on maybe using a top-
    stitching needle for the final step? I was using a micro-tech sharp (as recommended by the nice lady at the fabric store), but maybe it wasn't hefty enough? I use an 80/12 needle for projects made with quilting cotton, as the "all purpose" 90/14 needles leave visibly larger holes and result in more thread show-through.

    Lots more bags in the book, so I'll try out various options on future projects, and share how they work out.

  6. I always trim my interfacing 1/8-1/4" (I don't measure, just trim it down after it's cut out) for a couple reasons: 1) then it doesn't get stuck down to the ironing board & 2) it keeps the seams a little less bulky. I do like to have it just into the seam allowance so I can still catch it in the stitching to keep it more secure, but prefer not to have it all the way to the edges of the fabric.


    Unrelated question - would you consider adding your e-mail to your profile? I'd love to e-mail back to your comments on my blog, but can't since I don't have an e-mail address for you! :)

  7. Oh, and I forgot to add, I always try to remember (key word - try!) to switch to a top stitching needle. I've found that it really makes a big difference, and I don't think I ever would have made it with a regular needle.