My sewing machine came back from the repair shop yesterday.
This was not the answer I had been hoping for. I always hate when you take something in for service because it has an intermittent problem. More often than not, it works great for the tech that’s trying to fix it, and then you wind up back at square one.
He put it through its paces, and didn’t find anything out of line in terms of behavior. He did say the machine could use some lubrication, but that it wasn’t absolutely necessary. They could go ahead and do a tune-up, but that it wasn’t likely to have any bearing on the problems I noticed with the machine. Or I could just come back and pick up the machine, no charge.
I thought about it for a night – this is a $90 tune-up repair on a $300-ish machine – and decided to go ahead with it. After the service was finished, I brought it home and started playing with it.
With some Gutermann black thread, stitching samples on some scraps of my purple plaid shirting fabric, the machine performed just fine. I can tell they did something to the machine. For one, the mechanism sounds slightly different. Not in a bad way, just — different. There’s a few more mechanical clicks I didn’t hear before.
Another way I can tell they actually did something to the machine is that the stitch length is now calibrated differently. The default stitch length (chosen by the machine unless you override it) is noticeably longer than before. I measured it with my seam gauge, and it now seems to be about 4 stitches per centimeter, or about 2.5 mm.
Looking at some “before” stitching samples, the machine’s default had been about 5 stitches per centimeter, or 2.0 mm. The instruction manual says the default straight stitch length is 2.5, so it looks like they fixed the machine to be on-spec.
They also slapped a sticker on the side of the machine. It covers the seam at the case halves.
I’m guessing this is so they can tell if I’ve busted into my own machine, so they can’t be held responsible if I mess things up on my own. I’m okay with that, but I’m not okay with the sticker. At least I’ll know who to call when it breaks again, I suppose.
I loaded the machine up with my greenish-yellow Madeira thread and resumed work on the yellow shirt that’s currently in progress. I got the side seams done and flat-felled, as well as the sleeves and bottom hem.
How does the machine perform now? Better than before, but I still have encountered a few problems. I got a few skipped stitches while finishing one of the side seams, and also a thread nest on the bottom hem. On the hem, I actually saw and heard the bobbin jump in the bobbin holder right before the thread nested.
It could be a bobbin winding/tension issue, or else my machine might be allergic to this Madeira thread I’m using. I have a sampler pack I purchased from Nancy’s Notions, and only rarely use the stuff. In this case, it was a good color match for the project. The machine had no problems with the black Gutermann thread I tried.
I think it will take some more time on the machine to find out if it’s simply a thread issue, or maybe something else I’m not doing properly. For instance, I retightened the needle just in case. Perhaps the skipped stitches happened because I’m using a 70/10 needle for this shirting fabric and that’s just a little too fine.
In the meantime, the machine is working well enough to finish this project. I have to sew the front placket, attach the collar, then do buttonholes and buttons. And then I’ll be ready to show it to you.