I am Angela and I love to sew. I started sewing as a child and by the time I was a teenager I was wearing the very latest fashions to go out in. All me-made. I am passionate about reducing the amount of textiles sent to landfill, and encourage you to repurpose fabrics and clothes I started this blog in order to have a way in which to pass on my gained knowledge, and my professional knowledge to you, Sewing is empowering, you can save money by making items, make money by selling then, You can pass your knowledge on to others. What is there not to love? Interestingly I am a direct descendant of the Flemish weavers who came over to England in the 1300's. I find that fascinating especially as most of my family from as far back as I can trace are somehow involved in the manufacturing of fabric . . I have a degree in tailoring with a special interest in WW2 fashion.

Monday 27 December 2021

Troubleshooting your Sewing Machine with Jaycotts.co.uk

A Jaycotts Blog post  with Alex Jaycott and myself 

I asked Jaycotts about troubleshooting Sewing machines as we all have problems from time to time and we don't always know where to start to sort it out.

This is their advice:


The biggest issue we encounter is mis-threading of the sewing machine 

Having sold and serviced sewing machines for over 30 years I can honestly say that the biggest headaches for customers are actually caused by mis- threading the sewing machine!

everyone does it from time to time whether beginner or expert, novice or sewing teacher 

What do you mean by that Alex, what should we be doing?  Angela


Well , it is important to thread the machine  exactly as shown in your manual.For example  if someone miss-threads the take up lever, they usually don’t notice it and when the machine jams it looks as if the problem is the bobbin area  - when in fact it isn’t

So I guess my point should be that if you have an issue, the first thing to try is: re do your upper thread, taking care that the thread goes right into the take up lever. Incorrect threading can cause the machine to jam almost immediately.
If you  still have problems after that then go on to checking the bobbin area.

So, even though it looks as though the bobbin thread is at fault, that is not always the case? Angela


Correct Angela, 
The problem appears to be coming from underneath - the bobbin area - so diligent customers then strip out the bobbin area, clean it, put it all back and try again (never thinking to re-thread the top thread) - but still a jam occurs as the top thread is still not correctly in the take-up lever!

Yes, I am guilty of that. So, assuming my top thread is correct, and I still have a problem, how do I check the bobbin area? Angela 


There are two types of machine, ones which load the bobbin at the front, like your Bernina 350PE for example 

And others which have a top loading  bobbin.The Brother sewing machines for example
before doing anything, always refer to your manual for your specific machine instructions. The bobbin case needs to be removed and checked for lint and bits of thread, so give it a clean out before putting it back together again.

Also, again check you machine manual - usually the bobbin is inserted with the thread running clockwise. If the bobbin is inserted the wrong way round that too will cause problems 
The manual will explain everything you need to know about cleaning your bobbin case.

Thank you Alex, I must admit that I keep my manual handy and constantly refer to it, but some people don't I believe.

What about the tangle of thread I sometimes get when my fabric gets stuck too? What causes that? Angela


Another threading issue is to do with the presser foot  - I call it the birds nest effect!

When threading a sewing machine its important to have the presser foot in the UP position
The reason in this opens the machine tensions discs - you can't really see the discs but its important because when the discs are open the thread can go right in and be gripped properly when sewing 
If you accidentally thread the machine with the presser foot down, the discs are closed and the top thread isn't gripped so when sewing you get an unholy mess on the underside of the fabric exactly as you describe.

The pressure foot is lowered  only whilst threading the needle. If you have an automatic needle threader then the foot needs to be down in order for it to operate.

So what you are saying is that the foot should be in the raised position when threading the machine and only lowered in order to thread the needle? Angela


Yes that is correct, it seems complicated but it's not really.

Ah, thank you, that explains it. My embroidery machine will not operate or do anything unless the foot is in the correct position.

 Can you tell me if thread is important or not, because good quality thread is expensive Angela 


From there we move on to thread - a big subject!
Its surprising how many customers will pay a considerable sum for a lovely new sewing machine and then use old or cheap thread.
Its like buying a new car then topping up the oil with old stuff out of the shed !

Poor quality thread can break easily or can drag or snag as its sewing, causing tension problems, thread jams and other frustrating issues.
A quality thread such as Gutterman sew all thread     is smoother, stronger and actually gives off less lint, meaning it not only sews better and makes for stronger more durable seams - its actually better for the long term running of your sewing machine.

So, I shouldn't buy the cheap thread I see around? Angela

Definitely not! Alex

The cheaper threads are usually made from the cheapest “scrap” fibers, rather than the smoother, better quality long fibers found in the better threads. The difference is easily visible when you look at the threads – the cheaper thread is much more uneven, with thick spots & thin spots, fuzzy fibers, and large degrees of inconsistency in thickness.

“So what?” you say
 Fuzzy thread can cause poor stitching, poor or inconsistent tension (you can even see differences from one stitch to the next), and can leave more lint inside your sewing machine that quality thread does. It’s even more noticeable with dark colours like black and navy blue! You can actually see the thick and thin spots of these threads caused by the fibers and the build up of dye.

Quality thread gives a better looking, more consistent stitch, leaves less lint, breaks less often, and holds up longer!

So, you may save a few pennies on the thread, but if your fabric is good and your project is important, why ruin it with bad thread? Besides, you’ll save money on having your machine serviced more often!

Thank you for that information Alex.

I seem to have a huge array of sewing machine needles, these are just some of them. Why isn't there a needle for all, and how often should I change it? Angela 


Yes, it does seem confusing, there are many different types of machine needles and within the group's there are different sizes too! A look at the machine needles we have on sale will demonstrate that! Sewing machine needles

Some are speciality needles and you may not need them very often. For example wing needles, leather needles and metallic needles you may only ever use once in a while . If you have an embroidery machine you will certainly need to use an embroidery needle -  they have a larger eye to accommodate the embroidery thread.There are different sizes for different fabrics just like regular needles

How do I know what size needle I should use and what about stretch and jersey needles? Angela


Yes, it can be confusing.
Regular or Universal needles are used for sewing all types of woven fabrics. They all have a number and the lower the number the finer the needle and the higher the number the larger the needle. 
Size 70/10 Fine: For voile, tulle, organdie, satin, etc.
Size 80/12 Medium: For cottons, poly-cottons, poplin, taffeta
Size 90/14 General: For curtains, sheeting, cotton, twill, linen, etc.
Size 100/16 Heavy: For curtains, suiting & heavy sheeting

Stretch Needles are also for virtually all domestic Machines.

These needles have a medium ball point, special eye and scarf.
Stretch needles are most suitable for elastic materials and highly elastic knitwear. The medium ball point, specially designed eye and scarf prevent skipped stitches

Ball point or Jersey needles are used  when sewing knits and some stretch fabrics. They are made especially for sewing on knits.
The medium ball point does not damage or break knit fibres

This diagram shows how different the various needles are, they are so small they all seem to be the same at first glance

Every time I finish a project I take the machine needle out and throw it away to remind me to change it for my next project. Is this good practice? Angela 


That's very good practice Angela. When you think about it your needle works very hard, going in and out of layers of fabric thousands of times to produce one garment. They do not last very long, so after sewing one garment or after about nine hours of sewing the needle is blunt and needs discarding.
Do you know that we get machines in for servicing because they are not working and the only thing wrong is that the needle hasn't been changed in ages. An old needle really does affect the performance of your machine.

This is a handy chart to help you to choose the correct needle. The link to sewing machine needles is Sewing machine needles but don't hesitate to call if you are unsure which one is best for your project.

Thank you for all this useful information Alex, I have certainly learned a lot.

It's our pleasure, don't forget that you can contact us by telephone on 01244 394099 or fill in the contact form here Contact jaycotts

And don't forget to sign up for our newsletter and be the first to learn about new products, special offers and sales etc

Threading and other important information 


Alex Jaycott