What’s wrong with my sewing machine?! (Or, trying to sew a scottie dog)

Scottie Dog WIP

Apologies for the hideously lit photo, but this isn’t a blog post so much as a cry for help. Literally! Can you help me diagnose and / or fix my sewing machine?

I have a simple Janome (who I recently named Norman) and it doesn’t do much, but it’s always done it all just fine. I’ve had it for a few years and even though I’ve never really given it much care, it’s always been very well-behaved, putting up with a lot of crap from me.

When I made my Liberty pillowcases the other day, I noticed it making a louder sound, then just a few minutes after, starting sewing poorly. It feels like the feed dogs have these odd moments where they aren’t pushing forward properly, and it becomes very difficult to sew in a straight line and the stitch length becomes erratic. That night, I apologized to Norman for never ever cleaning him and did all the things you’re supposed to do. Dusting, wiping, oiling, etc.

That worked a treat, until a few nights later, when the same happened after a bit of sewing. Since I had never cleaned or oiled him, I thought that might not have been enough to get it all back in ship-shape, so I did a second round. I’ve kept all oiling to just one drop at a time, so I don’t think I’m now over-oiling.

Now I want to sew this lovely scottie dog you see here before you and, again, it was all going swimmingly. Then I heard the louder sound and witnessed the wonky sewing. This time I tried testing it out on some scrap fabric and it was totally fine. What the what?! I went back to my scottie, it was fine for another few seams, then weird again.

Sigh! I can’t imagine why Norman would be like this to me. I mean, I know I’m kind of a crappy owner, but I do love him, really. So I’m stuck for the moment and this post is both telling you about my crafting troubles and a shot in the dark to see if anyone out there is a sewing machine wiz-kid and has any tips for me. I should send Norman to the sewing machine doctor for some official maintenance, but I sure do wish I could finish my redecorating sewing first!

4 Comments on What’s wrong with my sewing machine?! (Or, trying to sew a scottie dog)

  1. Robin W in MS
    January 22, 2013 at 19:22 (5 years ago)

    Sounds to me like a bobbin winding problem. Try a newly wound bobbin. Also the bobbin itself might be bent or damaged. Even slightly will cause problems.

  2. Sarah
    January 22, 2013 at 21:34 (5 years ago)

    I sympathise! and agree with Robin it sounds like a thread issue. Things to check 1. threaded correctly (I know everyone rolls eyes at this but its true!) 2. Bobbin – Is it threaded at the correct tension and is the casing looking ok? 3. Check your needle is in the right way round (Just throwing that one out there as it’s one I’ve done before and it can really mess up your mojo!)
    Hope one of ’em helps and your scottie gets finished as he looks adorable!

  3. anne
    January 23, 2013 at 03:17 (5 years ago)

    This is going to sound like a weird option, but have you tried taking all the thread out and running it full tilt for a minute or two. My Pfaff occasionally has a temper tantrum and tries to eat my fabric (wonky stitching that gets caught under neath). After trying all the usual things (cleaning, re-threading, new bobbin, etc.). I pulled all the thread out and ran it to try and see if I could see or hear anything noticeable … and it fixed the problem. I think in my case it was an issue of things getting out of sync on the inside because it happened while I still accidentally sometimes used the knob (the big on on the side, which you aren’t supposed to touch on some modern machines, apparently). It took me a while to remember to not touch the knob and the wonkiness happened a couple times more, but this technique worked each time.

  4. Dani
    January 29, 2013 at 12:38 (5 years ago)

    I won’t lie – I used to ABUSE my home machine. Every once and a while it would do something really weird, so I learned to just take it apart. Like, as far as I could go without disengaging the motor. Take all the covers off (just make sure it is unplugged and you remember where everything goes to put it back on). Quite often there would be a chunk of fluff or a thread or something obviously wrong once I got it apart. Tighten up any screws that look loose, etc. The only time this didn’t work for me was when my power foot (the thing you step on) had started to bite the dust. I had to replace that whole part, which was thankfully cheap.

    I hope it helps!


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