07 February 2013

Olive ennui, machine problems

Not so much ennui as - frustration - and not so much with the the piece (silly as it is) as with the sewing machine, my previously reliable and beloved Janome 6600. It skips stitches, it breaks the thread - you can see at top right the way the thread has frazzled. On certain of the background fabrics it won't stitch at all.

This piece - working title Olives of Many Nations - is for the chop. The stitching problems have revealed that the olives would be better added as pre-stuffed blobs, invisibly appliqued, on top of the flag shapes, rather than with fusible web and raw-edge applique, which can lead to a certain clumsy look...

At least it's led to some better ideas! But the machine... I have changed the needle, checked that the needle is inserted properly, cleaned the bobbin area, checked the bobbin [there is a squeak...] - all that remains, according to the checklist in its manual, is that the fabric and thread may be unsuitable.

Could the problem lie in the foot - my new freemotion foot? I got out my trusty "trial sandwich" and first tried stitching back and forth with the normal foot - that works fine. So I tried it out on the olives, and discovered that it's possible to do raw edge applique with the feed dogs up and a normal sewing foot.
Olives aside, I do need to be able to do freemotion for another project, so it was back to seeing if the old freemotion foot - the one with the tiny hole - could be used. It has a screw on top that adjusts the height of the foot from the fabric (whereas the open-toe foot has a protrusion that goes over the screw bar and makes the foot bounce up and down a bit as it sews). When the screw is tight, and the foot hugging the fabric, it works fine, no missed stitches etc ... but as I loosened it, there came a point when a stitch skipped ... loosened a little more, lots of skipping.

Using the tiny-hole foot on the Olives piece was a success - in terms of very few stitches being skipped. One of the fabrics, a thin silk backed with iron-on interfacing, definitely does cause problems. Another thing learnt (beware of iron-on interfacing)! The thread is still frazzling a bit - probably this happens (why, though) when stitches are skipped.

I will finish the piece before binning it, because "taking it to the end" is about the process and the experience gained, not necessarily about having something you'd actually show the world.
"I've started, so I'll finish" - the olives look like islands, or are they swimming upstream?
So it seems the open-toe foot with its jump-motion isn't suitable for this machine. Boo hoo! I like being able to see where the next stitch will be, which the tiny-hole foot obscures. Or ... am I doing something wrong when using it?


Olga said...

I do hope that your machine problems are sorted out. While thinking about your olives I remembered an olive-related implement which I thought I'd pass on to you. When I bought olives from the market in Greece, they would use a large black iron (?)round-headed runcible spoon which was a beautiful object. More small round shapes, however!

You could do something abstract with tapenade, I suppose when the olive ennui gets too bad!

Kathleen Loomis said...

I can't see your free-motion foot very well but it looks to be a closed circle. I had one like that on an old machine and was frustrated because I couldn't see exactly what I was doing. You could cut out the front of the foot with a dremel tool for better visibility. (I never had the guts to try this, as I acquired another foot with the same small circle but an open front.)

grandma joanne said...

I have the 6600 and the 7700. The 7700 came with a 3-way FM foot, a closed circle, an open, U-shaped one, and a plastic, quarter sized, saucer shaped one with a rectangular hole in the center. I use this on both machines but I found I had to put a single needle plate on the 6600 and convert to the single hole plate on the 7700. If I didn't, I had skipped stitches, giant stitches and shredded thread on both. So, if you have the single needle plate, try that with the open foot and see if it works.

beatrice De said...

Machine's problems are very enoying. As ordinator problems. It seems we cant do without.

You can see my last créations on my blog * tricot, couture... A patchwork jaquet wuth silk matelassé, present giveng by my French Paris biogeuse friend.
Will send sample by post.

A +
Béatrice de Lausanne.

Terry said...

I have the same problem with both my Janomes (7700 and my 1600) when using the FMQ foot with the adjustable height (rather than the hopping foot). The 1600 is a straight stitch machine and so has a small hole needleplate only. I have come to the conclusion that it is a combination of having the foot too high, so that the fabric can move up as the needle moves up, and also needle size and type. I particularly notice problems with high thread count fabrics (poplin and cotton sateen, with/without fusible web) and thicker thread combinations. I think I may have solved it (dont speak too soon!) by using a topstitch needle which allows the thread to sit in close to the needle as it travels through the fabric, and has a bigger eye which also helps prevent shredding. Interestingly never had this problem with my 6600P, but always used a hopping foot on that.