One fat mess

First, some blog business before the actual post:  I haven’t uploaded pics yet to my last post.  Sorry the holiday weekend got away from me.  I promise to update it soon.

I forced myself to face my intimidation of the single fold bias tape last night.  I’ve been procrastinating thinking about the process of sewing the last week or so, hence the lack of sewing posts of late.  I’ve had the muslin cut out for about two weeks for the Spring Top sew along and it’s been glaring at me accusatorily from the dining room table ever since.  The pattern calls for single fold bias tape to make a casing for the elastic so that the neckline and hemline are elasticized.  See picture below…

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

HP 101 No Sweat Easy Sew Bubblelicious Top and Skirts

My question is why use bias tape to encase the elastic when you could use the fabric?  I am using this pattern not only to create a top for me to wear, but also to learn to sew, to increase my skillset.  So I am going to do the muslin exactly as the pattern says to sew it.  However, I reserve the right to change it on the final fashion fabric version later (try saying that last part 10 times fast). 

Back to last night’s adventure…  I read the instructions for the bias tape attachment.  Of course they didn’t make sense at all to me until I had read them about 40 times, but who’s counting?  The first thing I notice is that they have you stitch the crease of the bias tape to the seam line (5/8 seam allowances) and then have you trim the excess seam allowance.  Why not properly size the pattern so you don’t have to trim?  Seems like an unneccessary step to me.  Can anyone tell me why?  So I obediently in a dog-like manner (no offense to dogs), pin my bias tape crease a 5/8 inch away from the edge of the muslin and go to my Singer 5160.  I have black thread in the bobbin and needle, but who cares; it’s a muslin, right?  I check my stitch and tension settings and rethread my needle just in case.  And I start to sew.  Well, except that my needle jumps to the side about 2 inches into my line of stitching.  Why you ask?  Well just take a look…one-fat-mess

That hot mess, my friends, is what my sewing machine wants to produce.  That’s what comes from the bobbin thread.  I checked my bobbin several times.  I changed the tension.  I rethreaded.  I prayed to unnamed gods.  I watched tv.  I took a sip of coke.  I had some parmesan cheese (did I mention my addiction to parmesan cheese yet?).  I rethreaded again and played with the tension for the sheer fun of it again.   And nothing worked!!!!!

Why can’t I just go to the sewing machine and sew?  Why is it I am always troubleshooting?  This might be a serious killjoy for me.  Is it the machine?  Or is it user error?  Should I get a new machine?  Is the Singer 5160 a piece of junk?  I searched on PatternReview for a review of it and couldn’t find any. 

What do the people say?

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10 responses to “One fat mess

  1. Was your machine made in the early 1980s (a period of time when the Singer machines were TERRIBLE)? I can’t find any info on the 5160 machine in the 2000-2002 blue book.

    The worst thing a beginner can have is a machine that needs trouble-shooting all the time.

  2. Not sure when it was made. I bought it off of Craigs list from someone claiming it was brand new. But your guess is as good as mine. *heavy sigh*

  3. You have any neighbors or relatives who could take a look at it for you? Or if you are mechanically inclined, take a look at the repair/cleaning info you can find online. Can you think of any way to get another machine (or borrow one for a while to see how things are supposed to work)? In what part of the country
    do you live? Maybe one of your readers has an extra machine.

    “Brand new” may mean it never worked for the person who bought it originally. Or maybe there’s just something out of adjustment — you could take it to a repair place and have them look at it. But generally the 1970s through 1990 Singer machines aren’t worth much.

    I very nearly stopped sewing completely in the 1970s due to a nasty Singer Stylist that I got in 1969. And I knew I loved sewing and I was NOT a beginner.

    Have you asked about this problem at PR?

  4. Oh, about that seam allowance.

    Here’s my take:
    Generally it’s better for home-sewers patterns to have all the seam allowances the same. It’s really easy to forget which seam allowance is which size, especially if you cut out one day and sew the garment a few days (or months) later.

    But if you were going to mass produce this garment, definitely cut the seam allowance so you won’t be doing any trimming.

    Or if you are a person who can remember the changes, go ahead and cut them the width you want!

  5. Unfortunately, I don’t have anybody close by to look at my machine, but will take it in to be serviced definitely. And thanks for the tip about seam allowances. I will definitely need to keep them all the same, knowing how I come back to things weeks later. *blushing*

  6. Have you had it serviced before?

    When you pick it up afterwards, be sure to sew on it in the shop. Also take all the thread out and rethread the bobbin and the top and test again before you leave the shop. (This is just to be sure you won’t need to take another trip back there anytime soon…. Yes, I love ellipses too…)

  7. You didn’t mention if you did the following things? 1/ New needle
    2/ Clean the bobbin case – I’ve had that mess when I haven’t cleaned the bobbin case for a while – you need to pull the whole thing out per the manual and get ALL the fuzzies
    3/ Clean the tension assembly – I use compressed air
    At least try these steps before bringing it in to the shop, as it can get expensive for an overhaul – and a cheap craigslist machine may not be worth it – you may want to save your pennies for a better machine.

  8. Unfortunately, yes, I did all those things too. I think there’s something wrong with the bobbin case; the thread keeps coming out of the tension assembly.

  9. Oh well – and I see by your latest post that you’re in the market for a better machine… Good luck!

  10. I happen to have a Singer 5160 and the same thing keeps happening. Its very frustrating. I think I’m going to upgrade to a Brother with an LCD screen. I am tired of dealing with this bobbin issue.

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