Overlocker weirdism

So one thing about overlockers is that most of them come with a feature called differential feed. This lets you vary the ratio between the rate at which fabric is fed in and out of the area under the presser foot and needles. It is supposed to be a magical fix for tricky fabrics where seams won’t lie flat. If the seam is stretching out you make the inward feed faster than the outward feed, and if it gathers or puckers you make it slower.

This sounds great in theory and you can find loads of blog posts explaining it. It’s also what my machine’s manual suggests to do to correct stretched or gathered seams. But it never really works for me. I can see a small difference when I adjust the feed, but I often find I get gathered edges on lightweight fabric even with the differential feed down at the minimum. This sample is a case in point: three thread overlock seam finish on a lightweight fabric with the differential feed at 0.7 and everything else at the default settings. Awful.

Puckered overlocker edge

The problem seems to come from the needle thread; the loopers look fine. Reduce the needle thread tension, and suddenly all is well.

Flat overlocker edge

Does this happen to anyone else or is it just that my machine has overenthusiastic tension?

Tension trouble

My sewing machine’s not happy. The tension’s been slightly off for a long time, but recently it’s got a lot worse. For a long time I thought the problem was the needle tension, which I keep having to turn up higher to get even stitches. But this week the bobbin started rattling and sticking. The thread broke. And every so often, the bobbin tension went really tight and everything jammed until the scissors came out.

I guess it really needs a good service. Obviously there comes a point where faithfully cleaning it after every project and changing the needle just isn’t enough!

I think the problem might be something to do with the bobbin holder.

See that tiny little screw at the front? You aren’t supposed to adjust it, but according to the Internet it controls the bobbin thread tension. The machine was behaving so badly on Monday I gave it a tiny tweak to loosen the tension, and that helped. It’s not as good as new but it hasn’t jammed since. I’m hoping this will be enough to keep me sewing through the Christmas break. I will get it serviced after the holidays. Honest.

Admitting defeat

I am admitting defeat with my metallic drill fabric. I should never have washed it.

I thought I’d got enough of the wrinkles out that I could still sew with it despite the strange texture. I cut out Vogue 8644, fashion fabric and lining. I armed myself with some denim needles and wound a couple of bobbins. I gave the sewing machine a really good clean. I tried sewing some practice seams on a scrap of the fabric and can report that a denim needle in size 90 worked well.

Then I picked up the bodice front, which is cut on the fold, to staystitch the edges. The fold had turned into an impressive crease which I thought I’d better remove before sewing. I took it to the ironing board and pressed it. Leant on it. Wetted it. Turned the iron up to maximum. The crease wouldn’t budge. I folded the crease in the reverse direction round the edge of the ironing board and pressed it like that. That just raised a shiny patch on the right side of the fabric. OK, I thought, I can cut this piece again out of the leftovers as it is small. Luckily before I did that I thought to check the skirt front, also cut on the fold and much larger, and that had a similar crease. At which point I threw in the towel. The metallic drill pieces are in the scraps bag and I’ve just washed some pale blue cotton drill from the stash to use instead.

On the up side, my machine appears to no longer have the nagging tension problem it’s been developing for a while.